On 7th March this year, my life completely changed. I have not been the same person since this day, both for better and worse. On this very day, I was made aware that I was a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case. I knew immediately, upon hearing their results, that there was no way that I wasn’t positive.
I remember walking to the testing clinic, in a daze, wondering how would I cope if I had it? Who would I call on for support? I told myself to settle, hopefully everything would be okay.
Within less than 24 hours later, I was proven right. I had tested positive for Covid-19.
For some people, this wouldn’t have been a death sentence. They would’ve thought of me, “hey, you’re young, no big deal, you’ll get through it fine.” or, “it’s just a cold, you’ll be good after the first few days blow over.”
This was not my experience.
I am 33 years old and I was on the verge of being hospitalised due to Covid-19.
The first few days were horrendous. I was bed ridden, sleeping for almost 3 days straight. Absolutely exhausted. Constantly coughing. My nose was runny. My throat sore. Every time I coughed, my chest ached with excruciating pain.
But the worst part of it all?
I felt absolutely alone in that room. And I basically was.
You see, for some people, isolation is a time when their families and friends can bring food to their door, remind them how loved they are… For me, it was a really difficult time in my life where I remembered what HE did to me, why I don’t have them bringing food to my door. For me, it was a reminder of how my innocence was ripped away from me.
I don’t have that beautiful, supportive network of family because of what happened to me many years ago.
As I ached all over, coughed to the point where I almost had to call my own ambulance, I cried because I felt so alone.
But it didn’t take too long for a more rational version of reality to actually set in.
I may not have had THEM. But I had my children. My children who helped me pick up my medication from the pharmacy. Who helped me get oranges from the local supermarket so I could boost my immunity so I could get better not just for me but for them. I had my two work besties offering to get their families to drop off items for me. I had someone very special who I rarely see in person cook for me and drop off a goodies box of food, drinks and fruit and wave at me as I opened my bedroom blinds. I had a friend go through the shops desperately searching for the items on my list and drop off items.
So, as I experienced over two weeks of Covid symptoms and a total isolation period of 3 weeks, I started to realise that being confined to my bedroom was the perfect time for me to stop my ‘go go go’ life and to just take it easy, to chill, watch Netflix, be lazy, and just take time out for me.
During that time, I felt so terrified that my children would contract the virus off me. But due to my determination to constantly disinfect everything, my video calling from the bedroom to help them with homework and talk them through their feelings, my determination to still cook healthy meals but with gloves on! – they never contracted anything and we still managed to smile and laugh in the midst of it all.
I, on the other hand, contracted secondary infections after extreme Covid symptoms, then had a course of antibiotics, and am now using a ventolin puffer because my breathing is no longer the same.
Physical illness aside though, this period in time has lead to greater clarity about my life. Clarity that I believe I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t had the chance to just focus on me.
How did Covid isolation help me to find myself?
It’s given me time to think, to really think deeply about the mistakes I’ve made in my life, about the relationships that have ended, about who I am and who I am destined to be. In short, I have learnt:
1. Forgiveness is the key.
It is so easy to hold onto the pain that someone has caused us, for us to repeat it over and over in our heads. But holding onto anger does not give us closure. It reinforces the pain of the past, it hurts them, it hurts us. It doesn’t give us a real chance to move forward. We need to give others the chance to explain, to empathise with them. Because sometimes they are hurting just as much as we are. Recognising that both of you could have done better, that both of you are already on the path of self improvement – is the key to putting the past behind you. It’s also about forgiving yourself and showing yourself compassion and kindness.
2. Reconnection is always a possibility.
I have many people in my life who were once very dear and important to me, yet, somehow, we drifted apart. I have realised that life can be so unpredictable, so fluid – we do not need to follow set rules. Even if things did not work out back then, does not mean we cannot reconnect many years later. A friend I hadn’t seen in 17 years reminded me recently that I need to stop being so hard on myself, that I need to stop doubting myself because sometimes it’s actually the other person who also has room to grow. That friend was able to see that pain in me, even years after we had stopped talking.
3. I need to trust my own judgement.
I have gone over and over my life’s mistakes in isolation – sobbed to the point where I could no longer recognise myself. I felt that I even deserved contracting Covid – that this was my karma for the mistakes that I had made.
But then I had both personal and professional support remind me – how many people make mistakes? How many people have reasons for why they do what they do, in order to feel safe? As much as we may hurt others in the process, we have to remember not to hurt ourselves as we push our needs and happiness aside. I am human and I know that I have done plenty of good in my life.
We need to believe that we made the decisions we felt were right in that very moment. And learn from those decisions – so that one day, we don’t have to be in that position again. So that we can make the right decisions without hurting others in the process.
4. Christ never left my side.
I was baptised Catholic, went to a Catholic primary school and high school. I would pray every night up until the end of high school but one day, I just suddenly stopped. Subconsciously, I was really hurting. I did not believe anymore. I felt like I had been abandoned when I was sexually abused, when the the first love of my life broke my heart.
However, during isolation, when that special person dropped off food for me, sent me comforting words that I was loved and will always be loved, I realised that my Grandma has continued to look after me just like she always had on Earth. And that this person had been sent to me to remind me that even in my dark moments, God is still watching over me.
This week I went to church and I prayed. I spoke to the priest and I cried uncontrollably about how I felt I had been left behind. The priest told me that Christ loves me so much and that I’m right, I am who I am today because Christ never left my side. I promised the priest I would attend Mass and I kept my promise – I even attended Mass tonight. I am the positive and strong person I am today because Christ never left my side. I don’t think I ever stopped believing – Christ has been in me all along.
5. My journey has just begun.
I have been making more of an active attempt to write on my blog, to write my book – because in the midst of my busy day-to-day life, I’d pushed my dreams to the wayside. I treated my book like it was an afterthought – when it’s been my dream for the past 4 years. My story of healing, of recovery, of pain – needs telling. And as scared as I feel about this new chapter of my life, I know I am strong enough to continue moving forward.
If it weren’t for my two weeks of isolation and a further week of rest (and ongoing rest as we speak), I wouldn’t have had the time to really think about where I am in life and if I’m truly happy with the path that I am on.
I feel scared, absolutely terrified about the future, but I also feeling excited and proud of myself. Because it is so easy to live life within our comfort zone, to be content but not truly happy, to live a life that makes others happy but not us.
I have been through enough pain and suffering in my life. I deserve happiness. We all deserve happiness.
I am grateful that I am still alive. That I survived Covid. That I learnt many lessons during the process.
Even during any negative moment, any negative experience, any negative pain – there is hope, there is love, there is possibility for growth.