To Survive Again: A COVID-19 Story
| This is the 564th story of Our Life Logs® |
I was born and raised in Las Vegas in the 1960s as an only child. I had a wonderful childhood, but after getting pregnant young, I had to grow up fast. I soon found myself with a son, two daughters, and a man who I thought loved me to the ends of the earth.
He controlled everything from where I went, who I was friends with, how I dressed, how often I saw my family, what I said, and even how our kids were raised. I never wanted to believe he was a threat, just passionate about us. Plus, I was scared to leave because we had three little kids all under the age of five and I was financially dependent on him for everything, and he knew this. He knew that he could strike me or curse me and get away with it. He used all my fears against me.
There were a few times I considered leaving. I had many days when I would pack my bags and then unpack after his apologies. But one day, when my tooth went through my lip, I was a new believer. I finally understood that I needed to get out.
I felt both free and trapped in my new life. Because I had three little kids with no father, I felt trapped in poverty, but I felt free to live my life without fear. When I left, I made a promise to myself that I would never again walk on eggshells in my own house. And I kept my promise to myself. Every time I would feel weak and think I wanted to rekindle things, I would look in the eyes of my babies and it would give me strength. Those little humans got me through so much.
Doctor’s appointments, school assemblies, little league games—my days were filled and overfilled with so many things to do and places to be that I never had time to feel sad. To help us stay afloat, I ended up getting a job at the neighborhood daycare that my babies went to. I stayed there even after they were grown up and had kids of their own. I did not make much, but it was enough.
When my kids grew up and carved their own paths, I was so proud of how hard I’d worked to help get them there. Becoming a grandmother was one of the biggest joys of my life. My children and grandchildren kept me busy, which I adored. Finally, I had a life where I could be who I wanted, go where I needed, and share my time with the ones I loved.
Years after leaving my ex-husband, I was still left with the consequences of his abuse. I became crippled with Rheumatoid Arthritis and chronic pain. My disability check only covers my rent. I can’t drive and I get around with a walker that has a seat attached in case I need to sit down. It takes me a long time to walk anywhere, but I get there at my own pace. For longer trips, I have had neighbors and other kind souls give me rides. The chronic pain medication I was prescribed is considered a narcotic, and I do not want to become addicted, so I choose not to take it and live with the pain instead.
For years, these underlying health risks were inconvenient (at best), but when the COVID-19 pandemic, my health put me in a whole new state of alert. I lived alone, but my kids had always visited. With talk of lockdowns and social distancing, I was realizing I would be completely alone. And that scared me. In 2020, the word of a pandemic threatened everything I loved about my life.
None of my old friends with cars felt safe giving me rides to the store anymore. With my walker, it was hard for me to take the bus, so I often ended up limping down the street with my chair walker by my side. With severe muscle and joint pain at 57, walking anywhere is a painful challenge. Some days, I just sat at home wishing I could go to the store up the road. Depression had found my new address and came knocking on my door.
I wish my kids could have helped me, but my son was scared to come close to me because he is a frontline worker and didn’t want to expose me. My daughter had two small babies, so she remained inside for their sake.
Just like my husband used to control everything I used to do, everything I used to say, and even the way I dressed; I felt like the pandemic was doing the same thing. I cannot go where I want. I cannot have visitors. I cannot go places. I must wear a mask. I am in constant danger. I began to feel triggers from my past, feeling trapped like in my abusive relationship.
But most of all, it was the loneliness that got me.
After the days ticked to months, I told myself that I could not lose to this pandemic. I’d left one abusive relationship, and by God, I’d leave this one too! I was not going to continue hanging my head in shame or fear. If we always look at the glass half empty, we will always be thirsty, wanting the glass to be full. But if we take that same glass and look at it half full, we will feel satisfaction. And what was the antidote for me?
I knew I needed a connection to something to keep me from falling into a deeper depression. So, I decided to foster a kitten. Isn’t that something? I searched for months for the right cat that did not seem too feisty. I searched until I found the perfect little furry kitty who needed a home and somebody to love. I needed somebody to love too. Finally, I brought one home and named her Quarantine. Her quiet presence did bring me some peace.
Another thing that surprisingly brought me peace was technology. I come from the era where you pick up the phone and call somebody, not text or Zoom. But I am grateful for the advancement in technology because I can now video chat with my family when I feel lonely. I think that we are in a global transition to a more tech-savvy way of life. Zoom calls and self-checkouts are now taking over lunch dates with friends and your friendly neighborhood cashier. And maybe that’s okay for now.
Still, if I had one wish, it would be that people stop and see each other again. Behind the mask is a human, and we are all going through this together. I try to remain optimistic and prayerful during these difficult times. I remember that I got through and escaped my abusive relationship and I know that God is real. If he could get me through those days when I felt beat up, all by myself and broken, I know he will get me through this too.
This is the story of Kim Johnson
After surviving a severely abusive relationship, Kim left and raised her three kids alone. She found happiness in human connection. When COVID-19 hit and took those connections away, she faced depression and loneliness. She overcame her depressive thoughts by remembering what she already overcame. Kim spends her days with her cat Quarantine, and she enjoys watching television with her. She also likes to Zoom call her children in her spare time. She is grateful for her peace and is an advocate for women in abusive relationships. She has stayed single ever since she left her husband and has zero regrets. She would rather be happy and alone than unhappy and with somebody.
This story first touched our hearts on December 17, 2020
Writer: Melodie Harris | Editor: Kristen Petronio; Colleen Walker
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