No Love in the Time of Covid
Sitting on the picnic blanket along the River Rhine, playing the part yet still distant and apart, when the words from his moustached lips rapidly gushed “I can go...” At that moment I didn’t know how to unpack that phrase the way I do now [ that knowledge could have induced me to ask “What do you want to do? ”], only to hear myself saying “I don’t know”. I realised I did not have the tools with which to unpack that short but crumbling phrase. Why had the hopes, the potential and thoughts of how we could just be with each other anywhere and everywhere, left me bamboozled, in a state of confusion? Fast forward a year and four months of minimal contact – some texting, a few voice notes, calls, and brief video calls. Both of us tried to make effort to see if travelling to meet was remotely possible, despite not knowing how things would turn out with all the travel restrictions. Yet, I never stopped to think about how I was chasing his validation; that he just wanted his ego stroked every time he came into of my life, reappearing then disappearing for weeks on end. I never realised how dangerous this was to my own heart, mind and soul. So this 'situationship' sagged into a rotten row of unresponsive and unreciprocated texts and voice notes when I finally felt courageous enough to call him out on his behaviour; that I was not going to accept such disrespectful behaviour and that if he could not be real with me, then he had no place in my life. This was not love in the time of a pandemic. His Adam’s apple, where that soothing deep voice had once upon a time drawn me to him, had dropped, hung up like a telephone in a public phone booth. It was what it was. No man was going to behave like, what Bob Marley once termed, a coward: “A man awakening the love of a woman with no intentions of ever loving her back”. Feeling stuck in this wound served to open my own healing path to self-love and self-worth and that there would be no excuses for toxic, disrespectful behaviour. I had been so emotionally intoxicated by such abusive behaviour allowing a “nobody” to treat me this way. He didn’t deserve to be in my life if he wasn’t serving spoonfuls of love, kindness and, most importantly, respect! I had been on the emotional rollercoaster long enough knowing full well that all I was getting was breadcrumbs and consistent inconsistency. I was sick and tired of not knowing ‘”what we were” after two years had already flashed by. I was not prepared to stay in this bubble of existence. I had to come first. Being an option is never an option and I had to remember this every day as if it were an additional mantra to all the other mantras I had needed to imprint in my memory, like ‘This too shall pass’. I knew I had to hold court and take care of my own emotional chaos before it erupted and filled my entire being, or that of my child’s, in the form of parental distraction and lack of focus on my own life. I remembered how one of my friend’s remarked that often people thought they would be taking the whole dunya with them…well, my dear sisters, the truth of the matter remains: our graves are not big enough for people and things that we all wish could stay with us in this life, and neither is choosing someone who is not choosing us, remembering that we choose the love we think we deserve in life. As much as it hurt, letting go was the most freeing thing I could do. I’ve had enough lessons to teach me that this man was not, and could not be there for me, even in the time of a world pandemic.