When the going gets tough…

Since Jorge and I began our voluntary isolation, I have done my best to be cheerful, keep busy, stay organised, and not to think too much about all the ramifications of the COVID 19 pandemic. But yesterday I felt like a bird with no branch to land on, and let myself feel the worry, fear and helplessness. Completely overwhelmed by all the unknown challenges that are surely waiting for us, I went into my room, closed the door and had a long cry.

Each tear drop was huge, and they absolutely poured from my eyes. Using the sleeve of my shirt, I tried to wipe them off my cheeks, but my nose was running too, and the saliva that had collected under my tongue also mixed into the mess on my face. I felt like all my vital fluids would soon be gone and I would just dry up.

But I didn’t care. I kept sobbing. Moans and laments came from a deep, sodden place and they made me gasp. I didn’t know I could produce such an awful, sorry sound.

And then the unhappy memories came flooding to my mind and got all bunched up with my current state of utter collapse. Sad events, slights, disappointments, betrayals, broken promises, unfulfilled expectations… losses of every kind… filed their way through my consciousness. Like a grim slideshow.

You are a mess, I said to the person in the mirror.

I have a right to be, she answered.

And as I sat there, all hunched over on the edge of my bed, I heard a pair of sensible shoes tip-toeing onto the scene. Those are nurse’s shoes, thought I. And a soft, strong voice asked me, Do you think maybe you should wash your face?

And of course I did that.

My mother was always at her best when everyone else was falling apart, and as I dabbed warm water over my swollen eyes, I remembered, Now I am the mother and I need to do what she did; I need to be at my best right now.

I decided the square of terry towel was not doing its job, and I turned on the shower full blast. Afterwards, I curled my hair, applied light makeup; I put on a dress and shoes, not flip-flops. I was about to leave my sanctuary but turned back for my pearls and two dabs of Channel’s “Chance”. There, I felt a lot better.

I found Jorge … sitting on the front porch of the house where we’ve lived since1976. Our chairs are old; as we rock them back and forth, they groan or they chirp, depending on the humidity. Mine has a cane back, and like the chair from “Goldilocks and the three Bears”, it is just right. Jorge’s has a back with curved slats, and he says it never fails to soothe the worry out of his back.

“We’ve spent many a Saturday night just like this,” said Jorge, in the most contented voice imaginable. I nodded and I felt so grateful to be beside this man. Despite the chaos around us, he always finds a simple pleasure to use as a cornerstone. Oh he can obsess and fall to pieces too… make no mistake about that… but NEVER when he can see my fragility.

The arrival of the COVID 19 virus into our world has forced us into tough times. I believe it is OK to let the tears flow, to curse at the moon or whatever object (not person) is nearest.

And when the fear has been purged by the tears (for a while anyways) we need to remember…
When the going is tough, the tough get going.

Published by Changes in our Lives

I am originally from Canada but have lived in Mexico since 1976. My husband is from Merida, Yucatan and we raised our family here. We both worked for many years at Tecnologia Turistica Total (TTT), the tourism, language and multimedia college we founded for local and international students. Now retired, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, My other interests include spending time with freinds, reading, painting, cooking and travel.

28 thoughts on “When the going gets tough…

  1. Thanks sooo much, Joanna. 😍 I had a similar day on Friday as Walter and I had had to come to terms with our situation — he is at home in Merida, and I am in Florida. He’s about as high risk as you can get, and I periodically fume about the two Yucatecans who live there with him, long-time help, and fine men, but oh, I cannot imagine that there is a “social distancing” bone in their bodies, sure that they sneak out and roll around with their huge families in COVID-19 every chance they get. But the risk of Walter flying now is also great, plus he already has his March allergy which makes him cough and choke. Letting go of control of his care after almost forty years is sooo hard. But yes, we pull up our big girl panties and carry on — and periodically text a threat of bodily harm to the Yucatecans, who, of course, reply,
    “ No sepreocupe no ay problema.” 🙄


    1. That’s so hard… I almost found myself separated from Jorge during this awful time; I was booked to travel to Vancouver on March 17. But I cancelled my booking in time, and am here with him. I can imagine how hard this is for you, but we all have to deal with what we have in front of us. Hang in there!


  2. Thank you for sharing such intimate thoughts, and that private moment. For me, I’m convinced I’m just watching a bad Lifetime movie, and this isn’t really happening. When does the next commercial break happen?


    1. Yes, I know what you mean… I shared the story of me crying with everyone on facebook… imagine that? I did so because when anyone else feels their own moment of deep pain, and feels like crying, they will know they aren’t alone… This will happen to everyone sooner or later.


    1. I hesitated to write this post but once I decided to do so, I just let ‘er rip. It is heartening to see how many friends understand because their emotions are also riding the COVID 19 roller coaster… it will eventually be over, and I hope we’ve all learned something…


  3. Thanks Joany – it does a world of good for people to realize that being tough and strong doesn’t mean one cannot cry and howl at the moon! a good session like you had can rejuvenate! Hang in there my dear friend. I am just grateful that Gary is able to stay down with Moe and to be there for Mom. I have my books, my tea (which I may have to try without milk soon – OMG – lol on that) enough food – and if it comes to it, plenty of little booze bottles from previous cruises 🙂 Face time, IM videos, phone calls and knowing the rest of my family is pretty safe is a blessing. Love to all of you.


    1. Thank you for writing Marilou. Sometimes it’s hard to hang in there but I think if we acknowledge our pain and give into the release of tears, it helps. But the trick is not doing so so often that it becomes a prollonged pity party. We’ll talk later…


  4. We need to have one of those new quarantini parties… Let’s get together for a virtual glass of wine! I downloaded zoom, I’m going to figure it out and I’ll invite you…


  5. That is exactly how I felt today. We flew back to Toronto 10 days ago to help with our grand children for March Break. Then everything came apart. Stores closed, flights reduced and every show on TV is about C19. Yesterday flew back to our N. Ontario condo to be with Bob. This morning the nursing home called and said my dad had a bad turn and was in Pallative care …. but I can’t go because I need to self isolate for 14 more days.


  6. Your mother was one strong woman. Our family has many strong women. This is why, perhaps, we tend to find wimpy ones difficult to cope with. My mother really didn’t have much of a chance. She was the product of her time, education level, and social class, but if someone had just taught her how to boil potatoes, she would have found life so much easier.


    1. Yes, itwould have been better had she been more practical. My mom taught me how to cook when I was pretty young and by 13, I could handle getting dinner ready, and serving our family of 10… You are a lot like Mom in many ways, and you can boil potatoes… did Mom teach you? Love you Aunti Alice…


  7. When I booked our return flight from Loreto, Baja to Victoria, British Columbia, I only was only concerned with working around North American March Break dates. Completely oblivious to other potential disasters. Fortunately, I chose the right Saturday to fly back. No problems with flights at all. A week later would have been chaos. after we were back in Canada, Mark asked what what I would have done. Prompt reply, book the next available seats to Mérida


  8. Hello Joanna – It’s a tough time and you did the right thing. A good cry relieves so much tension. And you are very brave in sharing this with us. I feel so sorry for people who can’t or won’t show emotion. They are just stuffing it all down into the devil’s playroom. — Thank you for this very courageous blog. I admire you a lot! xoxo


    1. I joke with people that my life is “an open book” and literally, it is. I have wanted to call you and invite you for a meal… but so much was going on this winter; there just never seemed to be enough time. But we could talk on the phone… call me any time… I willcall you too.


  9. I so love this. Thank you for sharing. I had my cry the first day of sheltering in place. Each morning for four or five days when this first broke I read the Civil List and the headlines under World News on my start page. Dear God. Talk alarmist nonsense, most. Sheesh. So I stopped all that. As you know I don’t watch TV, so none of that news drivel taints my home. And now neither do headlines or CL posts that go on and on and on about this. There’s currently nothing more I need to know. There’s a virus, it’s a threat, I’m in the age-bracket, etc., of greatest threat, so I’ll hunker down. I stopped socializing in person, gave hired help time off, I disinfect, and stay home.

    I adore being in my casa and can endlessly entertain myself, so that’s not a problem. As long as I’ve lived here I’ve spent time on the roof deck nightly. There’s such a feeling of expansion up there – and my casa is so light and airy – that I don’t feel cooped up at all.

    My bottom line is: It is what it is until it isn’t, and I’ll be prudent as long as necessary. Twice I’ve been toe-to-toe with dragons that were a much bigger threat to me, so this kind of thing doesn’t scare me. I take it seriously but am not going to worry about contracting it (and thus draw that energy to me), nor will I daily run all the crap through my system that’s being touted in the news. That’s as unhealthy as the virus.

    Too, I remember: A diagnosis does not change your destiny.

    You and yours stay safe, stay well.


    1. Thank you for your comment Barbara. You are so right… it is what it is until it isn’t. But still it has come as a shock to me that a virus can spread so easily. Let’s hope the hot Yucatan summer sends the damn thing away. Take good care and I look forward to seeing you again… whenever that is!


  10. Thank you for this post, Joanna. You expressed so well what I also am feeling. Matt and I spent today unpacking our six suitcases. Except for all the face masks our travel experience was unaffected. No one screened us for illness of any kind. We are quarantined for two weeks. Our daughter ordered groceries that were delivered today. Matt and I will continue praying for you and Jorge and all our precious friends and neighbors in Mérida. Linda

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. A few weeks ago, I never would have believed that our daughters would show their love by ordering groceries… I am so sorry I didn’t get the chance to hear you read any more of your story. I hope that when we get together next time, you will continue to share it. What a crazy year we had but… we will look forward to next… thank you for your comment. Be well Linda!


  11. Yeah, those are tough times and a good cry may relieve some tension. We are in a two week quarantine as we came back from Zihuatanejo. However, I am going to pick up some food from a restaurant nearby, as they are closed but one can pick up.
    Watching TV is depressing and guess which stock has gone up the most? Netflix!


    1. I bet Netflix has gone up… it is one of our huge passtimes now. But I am lucky to have my writing and painting. A few weeks ago, I presented my CIRCLES book to some students, and one of them asked about you… I told the story of our friendship and the wonderful trip to the Netherlands that we had together… it was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I hope I will be able to travel to Vancouver soon… I will come to see you and Burke. You are such a treasured friend.


  12. No sense pretending nothing bad is happening. It is and it will be for a while. Your keeping-busy plan in the previous blog inspired me to attack a few piles of old papers we had squirreled away in one closet of another. Two large trash cans full and a lot of proper filing have reduced them to “nada”. I found a few bank statements and other documents from 2011! Got more joy out of that than most things we are able to do from our confinement. And, yes, we all feel like crying from time to time and not just during this current mess.


    1. Yes, you are right, Chloe. The roller coaster that seems to be my life path does bring tears from time to time. And it also provides so many opportunities. I am now at 3 weeks of volunteer isolation… and in the quiet, I have learned a lot.


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