I miss our community. Starbucks at Ansley, along with the LA Fitness, are two of our “go-to-spots.” It’s where Cesar and I see a lot of our queer friends for whom we are grateful. For us, there is a joy, comfort, even a swagger in our casual, intimate conversations and signs of affection.
Seven weeks into this “mostly” stay-at-home, we miss not having friends to our home for dinner. We miss not bumping into people at Publix or even the skanky locker room. We understand that staying-at-home is oh-so necessary, but it’s a bitch.
Certainly, we have kept in touch. We text. We send funny memes or a few other sundry pics (shhhh). We’ve had some great virtual dinners as well. As we hunker down, we do our best not to feel closeted (ha!), and we have all of you to thank for those “distancing” forms of connection.
Everyone has likely acknowledged at some point that these are indeed unusual, uncertain and even scary times. In the midst of self-imposed isolation, I have also spent some time going deep and cleaning my own internal house. It’s in better shape — not perfect shape, but I’ll take it.
I’ve come up with a few suggestions and musings that I’m taking to heart for myself and want to offer in case they can help others. Here are some relatively serious musings from a not-always-so-serious queer while sheltering in place.
What is this unique space and time, however you are experiencing it, asking of you? How is your self-care? Should you be looking at your larger purpose? What is your “why” for living and being?
Sometimes we self-sabotage, both unconsciously and deliberately. Can you identify any behaviors that you should change or minimize? These behaviors damage you. They cause some internal guilt or shame. Which behaviors would put you in a better internal place if they were eliminated
Relationships are tough. They are worth it, but they are tough. Take an inventory of those you hang with or call friends. Do they support you? Watch out for you? Give you honest feedback? If any friend or acquaintance belittles you, mocks you, or shames you, now is the time to reassess. You don’t need those kinds of “friends.” You can and will find others.
If things are going relatively well with family members, do you thank them? Have you told them “I love you,” and that you value them and need them in your journey of life? Is there something you can do to support their life?
If a family relationship is not going well, would this be the time to muster up the courage to address the issue, behavior, or reason? Attempting to level-set or at least find a “neutral place can be liberating in tender relationships. Yes, it takes courage. Yes, it might mean you need some coaching and support, but that’s OK.
I’m a firm believer that if you have a family member who does not accept you or want to support you for being who you are, shake the dust from your feet. Challenge them to a new way, or you will walk away — and all because of love. Self-love, and for your desire that they learn how to re-evaluate their conditional love.
It’s so important to stay connected with our significant others during this time. Yes, we love them, but let’s be honest, you’ve likely been spending a lot of time together. I’ve had a few “moments” with Cesar — and we honestly, lovingly work through them. Actually, these conversations feel great and always become a form of recommitment.
Does your mate, partner, spouse experience your patience? Impatience? Do you say “I’m sorry” after a “moment.” Do you take time to cuddle because you have a bit more time? Of all your relationships, do you really work on this one?
Talk to one another, share anxiety with one another, and try something anew that’s just for the two of you. Tell them, a lot, that you love them.
If it is not going to well at this time, own that reality and be honest. And, please, don’t let it fester. Do something about it. There is no shame in seeking help and support. It demonstrates emotional investment and care now for a better reality in the longer term.
Yes, now just may be the time to give these things some thought and commit to them even when the time comes to venture out a bit more.
Bill Dickinson, D. Min. is a senior leadership advisor and proud gay man living in Atlanta. Find him on LinkedIn.