V.M., 27, a community specialist in Davis, CA

My life in quarantine is…well, not many words can accurately describe it to be very honest. I’ve experienced re-entering my trauma, a break-up, family passing, etc. From each moment that I experienced, I hope to write about it so I can heal and for you, the reader, to dive into my experiences.

As I entered 2020, my ex-partner and I were facing difficulties. We have been in a long distance relationship for 1 year and 9 months and I could feel we weren’t exactly in love anymore. There were so many misunderstandings from the miscommunication we had through messaging and this took a heavy toll on our relationship. They were a big part of my life because they were able to fly and visit me from Illinois to California. Visiting helped often, but I was not financially stable to do a lot for both of us. I had plans to re-admit and finish my undergraduate degree, and then re-visit a sexual assault case after. As soon as March 2020 arrived, I seeked therapy to help me with juggling academics and re-visiting the trauma. However, this also meant I needed to do therapy and school through online because our country was placed on a strict lockdown. I was not able to see anyone since I had to live alone and seeing my ex-partner was non-existent at this point. I broke down almost everyday because I could not handle the mental toll of focusing on my academics, the lack of physical help I received from my partner, and of course, speaking with authority during a time where Black Lives Moment happened. Discussing what happened to the authority was very intimidating and I was very afraid. The very tense connection between police and civilization was on a very thin line. I remember as I tried to discuss how the assault happened, I just immediately broke down. I have never told an authority what happened and making a report by myself, without the help of my ex-partner or friend, had me shaken.  At this point, the isolation made me feel lonelier and helpless than before.

What devastated me at this time of year was my ex-partner who said would help with my sexual assault case decided to end our relationship because she wanted to leave everything behind us. She had set a goal of hoping my depression would “heal” by April 2020, she hoped I could find the strength in coping with my trauma, etc. These expectations of hoping I could heal by “x” amount of time was damaging more than helping me. Unfortunately, I had felt severe separation anxiety and I would have many sleepless nights. Every morning, my chest would hurt because I felt my only help had left me for their own reasons and the person who assaulted me was coming after me. These anxious thoughts and depressive episodes occurred onwards towards June 2020. During these times, I was very thankful I had a therapist that made me realize mental health does not have a deadline. Everyone has a journey and their justified time to heal at their own pace. From this break up, I wish I was with a mature person who could’ve been there to help me heal, by my side and not someone who needed me to rush my process of healing from my past trauma. If there is one thing that I have learned from this experience, I learned it is okay to accept those who leave you. There is a reason behind every action and you cannot control everything in life. However, you can control how you react to a situation so the best thing you can do is seek help from a professional and most importantly, seek help from a local help group such as a sexual assault survivors group and hot-lines. With the events that unfolded (BLM, strict isolation, academics, etc.), I found support in my friends who deeply love and care for me in isolation. I remember my voice shook and cracked as I told my closest friends how the trauma happened and how that lead me to stray away from finishing my academics because I feared that very person would appear on campus. In times of isolation, I nearly cried every time I told my story. I cried out of frustration, fear, and not having the physical comfort of my friends during quarantine…but everytime I told my story, I felt a sense of relief, as if the burden had slowly begun to slide off of my shoulders. To the reader who has experienced something similar, don’t forget your friends are there to support you. Don’t be afraid to reach a helping hand in these difficult times.

Fast forward to now (May 2021), I have lost a number of close family members due to COVID-19. Uncles who I grew up with are now gone. The lack of physical connection and not attending their funeral seemed surreal to understand that they are now gone. My granny has suffered dementia due to a stroke in 2016-2017. She’s a strong, stubborn old woman, but keeping her in isolation with my parents have made her delusional. This year, her memory has been significantly fading away. Her voice has become very weak and when I spoke to her this Mother’s Day, she said she doesn’t remember me at all. Knowing that her life could end any day now has made me emotional and terribly sad. Even more sad is knowing I cannot visit her anytime soon. I regret not knowing how I could speak in our native tongue properly because I was so focused on perfecting my English and finishing school. And now, it’s been very difficult to cope with the fact that her life is coming to an end soon. I am not sure how to end this piece that I am sharing with you since my eyes are full of tears; however, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this. May we all be resilient and persevere in our experiences.

[submitted on 5/9/2021]

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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