Do you like to be alone? Is there enough variety and thrill within your collection of personal passions, hobbies and interests to be reasonably content on your own? As human beings we all have times when we feel lonely. Some deal with this just fine while others not so much. Could there be anything worse than finding yourself forced into a solitary existence beyond your control with no definitive end in sight? How scary is that? Welcome to these days we live.

Being sequestered against your will – aka sheltered in place – is no easy thing. We are instructed to remain within the confines of our domicile unless absolutely necessary. Should you need to procure food or get some approved exercise, approach no closer than six feet to anyone you encounter. And to make things tougher, throw in an ever changing target end date to this situation. First we must shelter in place until March 8. Then as that target inches closer the date pushes to March 30. But wait, make that May 3. Don’t get me wrong – I fully support whatever effort is required to beat this virus but that doesn’t make the uncertainty any less stressful.

I think it is safe to say we all like to socialize but perhaps on different levels. My daughter thrives on interacting with others whether conducting a barre class or meeting friends at a local farmers market. These days of forced homebound are distressing. She really misses spending time with others, sharing thoughts and feelings and moments with fellow humans.

On the other hand my lifestyle is such that I am not so adversely impacted when left to my own devices. I will say my wife and I are blessed living where we do – in the country but still close to “civilization” with parks and beaches easily accessible. Were I not able to head outdoors for a neighborhood hike or stroll along the ocean whenever so inclined things might be different. But that luxury, that freedom allows us to break up an otherwise boring day with a beautiful wander in nature. 

No matter how much you love your spouse, 24/7 togetherness might be a tad disquieting. It is amazing how quickly you begin to miss that alone time you took for granted not long ago. If you are a neat freak you may discover your significant other is not quite so obsessed. I tell my wife that I tend to graze throughout the day, eating a little here, a little there, never too much but pretty much constant feeding. Now she gets to experience this first hand, “Are you eating again!” What if you like it quiet and he/she prefers continuous background music/noise? Every couple is composed of unique individuals, each proud possessor of innumerable habits and foibles. Our individuality makes us who we are. 

On the positive side learning to compromise and respect each other’s need for space can strengthen a relationship. Living elbow to elbow you become aware in minute detail how your other half fills the day, what they enjoy, what they don’t like, that cadence and rhythm that is uniquely their own. Perhaps you come to better understand their motivations. This is valuable information now and in the future.  If you can get through more than a month cut off from the rest of humanity future challenges might not feel so monumental. 

Another positive is we hear from the kids more frequently! Text messages and shared videos keep us up to date on each other’s lives. Facetime calls help us feel a little less isolated. And you gotta love technology with video conferencing options galore. Last night we did a virtual cocktail hour celebrating our son’s birthday. Not quite like being there but we make the best of our forced separation.

We will get through this – together. It is a wonderful thing to see people step up during times of crisis. Whether delivering food to at risk seniors or temporarily waiving rent for small businesses or paying your cleaning person despite the fact they cannot come to your home. All those little things we do add up. All those little things help make desperate times less desperate. We are in this together. And we can get through this together.

Be kind and be well.