How COVID-19 Changed My Outlook on 2020

Yes, I’ve said it before, but can you believe it’s May already? Four months have passed since the beginning of 2020. Time flies when you’re having fun, they say. Well, time also flies (and drags at the same time) when in a pandemic. Today I’m joining in with Finish the Sentence Friday (which is open all week), for which the question this week is how the pandemic changed your word of the year.

In January, I chose the word Wellbeing as my word of the year for 2020. I was at the time already a bit angsty about it, as I was in a bit of a hypochondriac phase and thought that if I chose this word, I’d die this year or something. Some kind of reverse law of attraction.

Still, so far, my word is still pretty true. I am taking preventative measures to hopefully keep the coronavirus out of my body. Just yesterday, my staff started taking everyone’s temp twice daily with a no-contact thermometer. Since the virus hit the home below mine, I have been a little more scared. At the same time, I still often avoid thinking about the pandemic too much. Actually, I realize that, as the month of April continued, I included fewer and fewer references to the pandemic in my posts.

I had a few hopes for 2020 too. The first one was to keep my marriage strong. I felt I needed to learn to travel to my husband for this, as I thought ultimately living apart wouldn’t be very good for our marriage otherwise. While I still feel I need to learn to travel to him independently once the crisis is over, I have learned that our marriage can survive a time of not seeing each other. It’s hard, but it’s doable.

Honestly, I must say the pandemic has given me a clearer focus on what matters most. I try to appreciate my husband more. After all, he isn’t a given. One day one of us might catch the virus. Besides, we can’t see each other now and it isn’t altogether logical that a marriage survives this.

On my other goals, I did pretty well so far. I’m actually loving it. I don’t know whether the crisis is the reason I’m doing so well, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the factors.

At Every Age

There’s so much I want to write about, but I can’t get myself to sit down and actually write. Well, sitting down is not the problem, as I’m probably still a pretty sedentary person, but actually writing is.

Today, I”m joining in with Finish the Sentence Friday (#FtSF). This week, the prompt is to write about your (or your child’s or whoever’s) favorite age.

I used to think being younger was better. I don’t really know why. Maybe I was conscious at an early age of the fact that life is finite, so growing up meant getting closer to death. I also thought that growing up meant an increase in responsibility, which scared me from an early age on. After all, I knew from as young as age nine on that I was supposed to leave the house and go to university by eighteen. That’s a huge burden of awareness to carry as a child that young.

Now I think being at every age has its beauty. I do worry that I’m declining in health already, and this is where the sitting down comes in. I really need to get more active, because I know that at every age, you can do something to improve your health and wellbeing.

I also think that, at every age, you can retain or regain some level of childlike wonder. We see this in the alters, who each represent a particular stage in development. Some are grown-up for their age, like Jace, the 9-year-old who was told about going to university and leaving the house. Others are more childlike, like Milou, who is 8-years-old and very playful. We also have an adult, Marieke, who, though she’s 32, enjoys sensory learning and play.

In my fellow clients at day activities, I also see the beauty in every age. They are intellectually disabled, most with a so-called “mental age” under six. Now the concept of “mental age” is highly ableist. However, learning about normal child development can teach us some interesting things about myself and others with developmental disabilities anyway. I was intrigued to read about emotional development as it pertains to people with mild intellectual disability and as it pertains to me in some way too. The consultant psychologist assigned to my case in my care-finding process, said I function emotionally at a 16-month-old level. This explains a lot of why I act the way I do. Interestingly though, we don’t have an alter who identifies with this age.

In short, I think every age and stage in development has its beautiful sides and its ugly sides. Childhood means your parents still have a lot of control over you, but it means you have relatively few responsibilities. Adolescence and young adulthood come with increased responsibility and freedom. I don’t know yet what middle age or old age will bring, but I’m confident I’ll find the beauty in it.

Leaving the Path Paved for Me

Today’s Finish the Sentence Friday is a stream-of-conscious writing exercise on the prompt of “leave”. I have not been inspired to write much lately, not even snippets that aren’t “blog-worthy” but that I could’ve published here anyway. Yet this prompt immediately turned on a lightbulb in my head.

Yesterday, I made the decision to schedule an appointment with the care consultant for the agency I receive home support and day activities from. We’re going to discuss my options regarding going into supported housing. There I said it and now I’m hoping my parents never read this blog.

Nothing has been decided yet, except for the appointment with the care consultant having been set for October 4. It isn’t certain that I can get funding for supported housing. I’m not getting my hopes up too high, as there are huge budget cuts to long-term care for people with lifelong disabilities, which is the path I want to go. I could also go the community support route, where I could go into supported housing for the mentally ill temporarily. That most likely wouldn’t be of much benefit, as it’s heavily focused on “rehabilitation”.

However, assuming I can get into supported housing one way or the other, this will mean I’m leaving my husband. Not as in divorce, as living together is not required to be married here in the Netherlands and my husband has said he doesn’t want to leave me. In fact, he supports me every step of the way.

It also, however, means leaving my passing-for-non-disabled self behind. It means leaving the path paved for me by my parents (and my last institution psychologist). I’ll be a huge disappointment to them. I have been thinking of how to break the news to my parents. Thankfully, I can wait with that until the point, should it come, where I’m actually moving.

Since I scheduled the appointment yesterday, I’ve been flooded with memories. I told my support staff at day activities and that got me talking about the time I lived independently in 2007. At the time, I considered getting into supported housing too, but my support coordinator said I couldn’t be in their supported housing with my challenging behavior. This may be the case with my current agency’s supported housing too. That’s one advantage of independent living. After all, no matter how much I struggle in independent living, my husband won’t kick me out for needing too much care.