Róisín Ingle: Have you snapped yet? I did the other day. Five times
Coronavirus: Some days you want to put the duvet over your head and forget the world
We have to dig into what we are really feeling. And then of course we have to be brave enough to face what we find
My partner is painting everything. Or at least that is what it feels like. In reality he is only painting a small section of wall by the stairs. A bit of the banister. But every time I walk through the space I leave fingerprints on the wet paint, footprints on the lip of wood joining one room to another. Afterwards, my white footprints decorate the floors of other rooms.
Twice in the space of 10 minutes I put my hand onto a sticky surface and then stained another surface with pandemic paint.
I feel like an ad for how the coronavirus spreads if hands are unwashed. Mostly, I feel full of rage. I feel like running away, leaving white footprints all over the deserted streets of Dublin.
Have you snapped yet? Or perhaps a better question is, how many times have you snapped? I counted five times in one day. The shame afterwards is even worse than the angry outbursts.
Researcher and vulnerability expert Prof Brené Brown says anger is a catalyst. “It’s an emotion that we need to transform into something life-giving: courage, love, change, compassion, justice. Or sometimes anger can mask a far more difficult emotion like grief, regret or shame, and we need to use it to dig into what we’re really feeling. Either way, anger is a powerful catalyst but a life-sucking companion.”
We have to dig into what we are really feeling. And then of course we have to be brave enough to face what we find. I haven’t cried yet this pandemic, have you? There is an awful lot to cry about.
I go to sleep with headphones on and in my ear the gentle voices of BBC World Service reporters telling me what it’s like for people in South Africa and India and Zimbabwe. We are all connected. We always were, but now there is no escaping the fact.
I spoke to an older woman in Cork recently, Evelyn, who is in a wheelchair and cocooning with her husband who is also in a wheelchair. She told me her approach is “one day at a time” because that’s all she can cope with – otherwise she’d lose the plot. She watches Mass every day on YouTube from Canada. It’s her special time. Her solace.
I wear the cheap glasses from Tiger pretty much all day and not just to look at the instructions on a stock cube
Evelyn is worried because the carer who comes from the outside world to look after her husband – he cannot walk or speak since having a stroke – can’t find a mask to wear. Evelyn watches as the medication is administered, watches every breath the carer takes. Terrified.
Evelyn is worried about her little kitten Leo because she needs help changing the litter tray. Evelyn is worried because what if something happens to her friend who comes every day to bring the shopping and help with little Leo? I try to think of Evelyn as much as possible. Of all the Evelyns. It stems the snapping.
Some days are like this. The nerves are bad. My eyes (I’ve needed reading glasses for a couple of years now) seem to have got worse. I wear the cheap glasses from Tiger pretty much all day and not just to look at the instructions on a stock cube or count the tins in our pandemic pantry.
The ants in our house don’t seem to realise there is a pandemic on. They crawl from kitchen floor to dining table and back to their nest, like it’s business as usual. Bloody ants. Bloody nerves. Bloody virus.
Other days are like this: Isn’t it great we are getting to spend all this time together as a family? And we found a place with an outdoor table tennis table, within our 2km radius. On our cycles, with hardly any cars on the road, my partner is teaching the children how to go safely around roundabouts.
Once a day I have a date with a half-Irish, half-Italian woman in Rome on Instagram. Romana offers “Watermelon Fitness” classes from the roof of her apartment building where she’s on lockdown with her family. With my daughter I am learning about dead bolts and tricep curls for the first time. I laugh more than I keep fit.
“Come on, Róisín, you can do it. Just one more,” Romana shouts at me from Italy where the death toll is now more than 10,000.
I read about billionaires escaping to yachts in the middle of the ocean and buying hotels to isolate in. The arseholes
I haven’t cried about it yet. Who am I to cry? Me, with my well-stocked pandemic pantry, children who are busy all day with cooking and projects and long division. A partner who is painting everything. Good nails. Seriously.
I never usually have good nails. Just unsightly stubs that look comical when painted, like a child’s. Why do I suddenly have good nails now? Strong, well-shaped nails and a white streak of paint on the palm of my left hand, a reminder of how I lost it. A reminder not to lose it.
I read about billionaires escaping to yachts in the middle of the ocean and buying entire hotels to isolate in. The arseholes. As usual, society’s weakest and most vulnerable will suffer the most.
Some days are like this: you want to put the duvet over your head and just forget the world. Fat lot of use that will do. Better to dig in to what we are feeling. Turn it into something else. Like Evelyn says, one day at a time.