Quarantine. Can we talk about the weirdness that quarantine has created?

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The slow unraveling of my life began a few years ago. It really started coming undone in 2018 when my ex lost his job at the church we attended. It tossed us out of our community and what we had built our life around for the previous five years. What losing that job did to us was bring all the dysfunction to the top level and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I didn’t have a role to play, a group to hide in, a place to slap a smile on my face, and pretend life was great.

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We walked away from that church and no one really noticed. I can count on one hand the people who knew we left and stayed in contact. No one else called. No one else texted. It really felt like no one gave a damn. It hurt. We had invested a lot and leaving meant nothing. I really hated church after that. Because if I could fake it that hard maybe everyone else was and maybe that was why no one cared I wasn’t there anymore.

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I’ve felt more like an island since leaving that place. We started going to a new church after visiting several. If I’m honest, it never felt like home. There is only one church building I walk into that feels like home and I’ve never felt called back there full time. I’ve popped in and out of that building a lot over the last 7 years but going back there each week hasn’t felt like an option. Perhaps, because a lot of the people I loved, the people who made it home, aren’t there anymore either. The building will always feel like home, though.

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When it all unraveled and my new pastor and elders stepped in, it felt disjointed. I knew they cared. I knew they wanted to help. But they just didn’t know enough. They didn’t know all the backstory. It felt hard and complicated to give it all. Eventually, I did tell enough, perhaps, to one elder. He and his wife did help me, a lot. None of them could get through to my ex though. He couldn’t hear anything anyone was saying.

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During the separation, I felt less connected. Because of how we rotated with the boys I could only go to church part-time. Then in February I had surgery and didn’t go to church anywhere. About time March and quarantine happened I felt isolated from church completely.

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I seek. I seek every day. I read. I listen. I engage. None of it looks like it used to. None of it will look the same going forward. I haven’t been inside a church building in six months and I don’t think I will enter one again in a long time. COVID is seeing to that.

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I think I’ve decided I won’t return to the church I wanted to feel a part of but never really did. It is of no fault of anyone there. Honestly, they were fantastic. I’m not sure I want to return because my entire life has changed since I was there last. They hardly knew me then and now I’m someone completely new. It feels easier to go to a new place. And not, all at the same time.

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Quarantine is weird. Life feels on hold but it isn’t. People aren’t allowed to witness each other’s lives anymore. We only see what people choose to post on social media or send in a text. Life is more complicated than that. We’ve fought against the perfectionism of social media for years, asking for authenticity, but that isn’t what shows on Facebook or Instagram. We post the nice pictures and the stories that we tie up with bows and ribbons. It is just in our nature. My life got really messy. It got really fucked up. I’m on the other side now but most of you didn’t see the middle. I don’t know that I have the energy to retell the middle when we are on the other side of this. I’m not sure any of us do.

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I want to tell you about the middle. The messy middle that changed me and my boys’ lives. I’m not sure you’ll understand it though.