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title: Lonesome lockdown
As I write this, I'm thirty-three years old and the last twelve months of my life, like _many_ others, has been spent in some form of quarantine thanks to COVID-19. This isn't a woeful tale about life in the pandemic, though, and it's not a feel-good story about coming together in hard times. It's about intimacy, connection, and love.
I was adopted right after I was born; the decision was made while my biological mother was pregnant. I went through 'the system' in the first twelve weeks of my existence and got the paperwork to show for it. This isn't an identity for me, I'm not 'an adopted kid' but I'm one who still deals with attachment and abandonment issues to this day. I have problems with the definition of 'enough', because that's what I never was, and I now have a hard time <del>dealing with</del> accepting positive feedback. Deep down, this is where I'm coming from: hard on myself, wanting approval.
It's taken a lot of work to turn 'family' into a nice word and not one that makes me drink myself into a stupor out of pure anxiety. Family, for me, is not the birth one or the adoptive one, but the connections I've made since that have held strong and kept me alive through the coldest of hells and the hottest of high waters.
You know what insecurity is. Or you're worried because actually, you don't.
The last romantic relationship I had started in the summer of 2009, which is over a decade ago now. It ended in 2010 and as well as being the last relationship, it was also the first. Nothing particularly sexual happened since then and now (as I write this), but it was also the first time I had sex as well as the last.
The fallout from that failed connection, and the pressure from my family (at the time) to find someone to marry and have kids with, was enough to send me deep into the abyss. I was already toe-deep in it for reasons I didn't understand at the time, so it was only a matter of trajectory and I was aiming a solid forty-five degrees downwards.
I'm telling you that because, back then, that's what I thought it was all about: girlfriends and sex. I was massively insecure about it, and jealous to boot. Thank god I changed, but I can't deny I still have insecurities.
It's been a solitary existence then, but one I appreciate a lot. I found my independence, I travelled. I left the UK and spent three years of my life across Barcelona and Jurmala and Riga, in Latvia. Then I came back to London to be closer to who I now consider family, and I haven't moved since. Don't take 'solitary' to mean 'isolated' though: this is where I realised that I loved my friends; and I still do. They were there then and they're here now, and that's where intimacy and love combine to create friendship.
I'm still in the same place I moved to in 2018, I wrote about what happened my landlord the other week (no link, find the post on the front page) but I'm still overall good, right now. Right?
I'm gonna speak for everyone and say, no.
What I've learned through the trial-of-fire that is being thrown into this world as freshly born soul, and being given the decades of time to marinate in it, is that the last twelve months of this collective clusterfuck in the art of humanity _utterly fucking sucks_.
The thing is, we often talk about love and intimacy as romantic or sexual concepts, but they're not that. And as much as I try to put on a strong front and say I can cope with this lack of interaction, I honestly struggle.
I've put on over ten kilograms of weight since the first lockdown in the UK started almost a year ago. At first some of the weight was muscle mass because I was going to the gym over lunch with a close friend. The rest is fast food and shitty diet because we started working from home, and I live alone. It's hard to incentivise myself to cook well, although I do a better job right now.
The feeling of a big hug is one I truly miss. Body language is strong and immensely powerful and you can communicate so much through a hug or a cuddle.
There's the physical feeling of meeting someone face-to-face, sitting down across a table, catching up, and not just listening but feeling what they're saying.
There are the rituals and the routines; the time where you get out your phone when your friend goes for a piss. The serendipitous moments at the bar where you strike up an unexpected conversation. The whole wealth of human interaction that exists precisely because all of these opportunities to connect were implicitly available. So much of _life_ happens in happenstance.
There are a handful of people I truly love too, and while some may know it more than others, it's clear that there are different levels of intensity going on.
This is intimacy. It's the power of the trust you have with someone to reveal an unknown part of you.
And we lose it all when we're reduced to digital connections. It's a loss of a sense.
I'm quite happy in myself being alone, but I've never felt more lonely.