Hello, Love
Published in

Hello, Love

Five Tips to Taming the Covid Relationship Rollercoaster

It wasn’t a dramatic blow-up that almost crushed my relationship, it was careless communication.

Virginia Johnston- Unsplash

It wasn’t a dramatic blow-up that almost crushed my relationship, it was careless communication.

When things get messy, keeping this foundational aspect of relationships in check is essential. But how can we do this when even the slightest misstep can feel threatening or impossible to navigate?

These five tips will help you survive the Covid relationship rollercoaster:

1- Slow your response time- Breathe, ground yourself, and check in with your feelings.

2- Don’t interpret your partner’s behaviour- You don’t have all the facts and it’s a waste of energy.

3- Map out your communication plan- This is what you can control, be simple and honest.

4- Reach out to your social circle- You can count on their support, use it.

5- Ground your intentions in love- Do this for yourself first and then your partner, it works.

These bits of sage wisdom surfaced as I was struggling with some things my partner said to me last month. It was a dark time.

I was furious with him for being mean and for putting me in a place where I had to decide about our future.

Being alone during the pandemic scared the shit out of me.

When faced with this sticky situation, I did two things: shut him out for a while and wrote about what happened.

***

Drama at the Hair Salon

I look at myself while listening to his voicemail: “Sooooo, this probably isn’t a good time to say this but…”

I watch my fears ignite. There is no puff of smoke or cry, they are simply aflame inside me. I sit at my hair stylist’s chair while the dye sets, thankful to be alone with the jarring news.

I stare into the mirror as my white face becomes red at the edges and wonder if anyone can tell.

My heart begins to beat wildly, as though the trauma is trying to escape its bone cage. But there is nowhere for it to go and after a while it softens.

I listen to the message again for hints of love but hear none. Betrayal isn’t any easier to swallow when you know it’s coming; it still suffocates your dignity.

While my stylist works her magic, I build my own mystery.

I combine just the right amount of laughter, obedience (“chin down”, “a little to the left”) and storied exchange to complete my appointment seamlessly.

Like always, I go to the bathroom to take fresh pics for my Instagram story, but none of them work. It makes me cry to see myself trying to smile, so I stop trying.

On the way home I am entranced by the generic din of the driver’s talk radio program and hesitate as we pull up to my house. I must get out now and go inside.

Then what?

Communication Goes Cold

I check my phone endlessly for a reply and to re-read what I wrote. I leave a voice message, then delete it because it is basically me crying. Then I send another one to tell him why I deleted the first message.

Three hours later he replies with a voicemail that seems caring, followed by a text from me suggesting a time to talk.

Four hours later he sends two messages that are delivered with what sounds like a smile. He is actually laughing. I hold the phone away from my ear and shake my head from side to side as chaotic fury streams into every cell.

Our phone call the next day lasts a minute or two, until I hang up on him. “You want to spend more time with me than I want to spend with you” he says, casually.

Processing that level of carelessness brings me up against a darkness that has been inside all the while, lying dormant when things go his way and erupting when they don’t.

Sitting in the Feels

Many women are trained to explain problems to better understand or prevent them. But this doesn’t help because we have no control over one another and can only ever be the scribes of our own story.

He is a ghost writer who wants to live between the lines while I wait in the margins.

Thus begins a seven-day dance of silence and surveillance.

I encode my heartbreak in media posts about strong women, wise universes, and the love that other people have for me. SEE ME.

Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t, the ultimate lighting of the gas. This fresh pain joins the sorrow that has been pooling under the surface for months and I am adrift in a sea of feelings that are mournful and nourishing.

Some words push their way through:

All I wanted was to share the apple with you

Knowledge, my life, the beauty of love

You seemed a worthy candidate after a long list

Of men who were too dark, who hurt me

Now you have hurt me too and everything is wrong

I walk from room to room, crying

I hate myself for falling into another trap

For not always knowing how to love myself enough

To say no and make myself heard

When will kindness flow into my veins, golden and safe?

Typing this in the dark, messy bedroom

I wonder if you will ever love me like I love you

Recharting the plan

Like my love, I want my grief to be open and so I press send. He thanks me for the poem, which feels good and confusing.

We exchange perfunctory messages about meeting, the administration of a connection gone cold. Or, is it just on hold?

He’s coming over tomorrow afternoon. Today is International Women’s Day and I wonder, not to him but to myself, where I am on the spectrum of flower-lion-queen.

I clean my way through the uncertainty that permeates every waking minute until 1.30pm.

In between wiping, rinsing, and vacuuming I decide to take control of the agenda and hopefully its outcome. Instead of allowing anguish to guide the conversation, I commit to kindness and turn it into a secret competition.

How well can I handle these bags of emotional fire? How much will I love me?

My monkey mind wanders a little during meditation, but I am grounded and envision things going ok. I feel sick, excited, scared, and determined as I close the laptop and head downstairs.

I ritualize the event with a candle, a glass of water, a stuffed animal, and the renewed energies of my home.

I am proud of myself already.

Showing up

When I see the bouquet in his hand, my heart shrivels. They are white, the colour of peace. A chocolate bar rests on the counter and I watch him move through the kitchen and through me.

I steady myself as we head into the living room and lay out the parameters for what comes next. Safety, kindness, focus on the now, let’s see where we land.

For the next seventy-five minutes we engage in a respectful exchange that feels like a gentle tennis game. The ball between us is made of love and time: us, me, him, now, the future. We lob it from one side of the room to the other while tears flow, apologies are made, and options are discussed.

I marvel at how things are going, and we agree to tend to our union more instead of skirting around the hard stuff.

After he leaves, I trudge upstairs for a desperately needed nap. Friends get updates as I make my way to bed and my cats join me seconds after I’m under the covers. With their joy and attention, these two sentient gifts are my true emotional compass.

He and I are going to do our best. We have no clue what the future holds, which feels scary and natural like the energies of love itself.

***

Love is the fire that keeps our spirits afloat and makes this wild, hard, fascinating ride through life mean something. In these uncertain pandemic times, the stakes have been raised in ways most of us are unprepared for. Returning to ourselves through bodily practices, mindful planning, and reaching out for support is vital.

Most important: trust love, it is our truest compass.

--

--

--

Love changes us. Love makes us human.

Recommended from Medium

Our Unapologetically Cliche Relationship

How To Make Friends — Adult Version

Sex, where my rejection trauma, emotionally manipulative shadow, fear and self-loathing come out…

You’re Dating All Wrong

Why relationships do and don’t last.

Emptiness in a world with so much love

What could have been (A Diary post)

Are You a Victim of Phubbing? Do You Even Know What It is?

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Treena Orchard

Treena Orchard

A prairie girl who became an Anthropologist. Inspired by chocolate, life’s rhythm & blues, and Joan Didion.

More from Medium

How Bodily Pain Is An Indicator of Fear

Understanding Anger

The Price Tag of Avoiding Conflict with the People You Care Most About

A Gentle Reminder That It’s Okay For Your Friends’ Lives To Grow Apart From Yours