Jordan and I started quarantining during the third week of March. The weekend before everyone started staying in their homes, we went out to dinner.
“Right, we’re not supposed to do that,” the waiter said, winking, as he held out his hand to shake, and Jordan took it and I didn’t.
Two days after that, it was like an entirely different world. My friends had decided to stay home. I knew my family in the States was in lockdown. Vancouver wasn’t officially on lockdown, but people were mostly in their homes.
I found my natural outlets being threatened. Coffee shops, where I like to go to write, closed their tables.
The gym was still open, so I went to the gym. I washed my hands about ten times, I sanitized the barbell before I used it, and I picked up all the weights with napkins between my hands and the plates.
Jordan wasn’t thrilled that I went. He thought it was irresponsible. I thought he was overreacting.
“We use a car share to get to the grocery store,” I said. “We just went. How is that safer than the gym?”
And then Jordan got sick.
And the gym closed. And everything closed.
We already both worked from home. Everybody who hears that says, “Oh, so nothing’s really changed for you,” and that makes me want to laugh until I cry.
We both worked from home, yes, but we had space. I would regularly go to the gym, to see my friends, to hang out in coffee shops. Even though I’m quite sensitive, I’m also extroverted, and I get my energy from being in areas where other people are. I would sometimes go shopping, not even to buy anything, but just to uplift my mood while looking at pretty things and being with others.
Jordan would get his alone time by going to the movies or the spa. He’d go to the gym or spend the day with his friends. He had men’s group somewhere else one, sometimes two nights a week. A big need of mine is to have time alone in our apartment, and I would often ask for that.
“I feel like I need space today,” I’d say, and Jordan would vacate our home for 10 hours.
We didn’t know if Jordan had the virus. He has exercise-induced asthma, and when he started having symptoms, I thought he was just being anxious because he was worried about his lungs. He had chills and said he felt terrible.
Already stressed, all I could hear in my head were the words of my mom to me when I was little, which was, “You’re fine. There’s nothing wrong with you.”
We had more fights than usual the first few weeks. It was a new situation; and I felt proud of the way we were navigating it (I still do).
We already had our systems in place for dealing with conflict – once a week, we have our relationship ritual night, which usually includes a “clearing.” We sit across from one another and finish the sentence, “Something I want you to know is…” over and over, until we feel complete. We talk about conflict as it arises, but that weekly ritual is really important for us, because it allows us to clear out the week and be fully present with one another.
Some of those were very difficult. I remember during one, Jordan saying, “Something I want you to know is that I feel like you’ve been invalidating my pain, and that makes me not want to share it with you.”
And it was true.
And I had to sit with that, to really stay present and dig deep for what was coming up in me that made me not want to see his experience. I realized that there were many childhood pieces, but one in particular was that I had spent so much time in hospitals with dying family members, and my brain did not even want to consider the possibility that that could happen to Jordan – so I denied that it was there, instead.
Jordan started to feel better after a few days, except that then he had a wheezing in his lungs and intense fatigue. We still weren’t sure if he had the virus, and this meant that we had other people dropping off our groceries for us.
Grocery shopping used to be a fun experience for us – we would go together, and Jordan would sit in the cafe and work while I shopped, and then he would help me carry the bags home. It was cute.
But then the cafe closed, and we were instead having various kind people dropping off our things. They got cucumbers instead of zucchini, chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs. I will not pretend like I had the perfect reaction; I was grateful, sure, but also annoyed at everything.
His fatigue lasted (it’s gotten a bit better, but he still feels it today, more than two months later). The doctor on the phone decided he probably had bronchitis, not corona, and that he is now experiencing post-viral fatigue.
This has meant that Jordan has barely been able to leave our little apartment. I adore our apartment, and I adore Jordan, but it has been difficult for me to have Jordan in our apartment pretty much 24/7.
We’ve been having less sex than usual (what, two sex coaches having less sex?!) – of course we have.
The goal of being connected to your sexual energy isn’t that you have more sex, it’s that you get really good at listening to what your body wants and needs. This results in better sex and your body trusting you deeply (and for some people, that does result in more sex).
I don’t ever have sex with Jordan when I’m coming from a place of deprivation, of my needs already not being met. I also don’t have sex when he wants to and I don’t. I fill up my own cup first and foremost. I want to be full of sexual energy, connected to my sensuality, and feeling alive FIRST – and then I want to connect with Jordan. He gets my overflow.
And there has been some. Interestingly, even though we’ve been having less sex, we’ve been having really good sex. It’s just shifted in its tone.
Before this, we had a lot of dom/sub, really polarized sex. That lasted through the first few weeks of quarantine, but the more time we’ve spent together, the more that’s seemed to shift – and what’s been more common lately is for us to have really tender, loving, two-hour sex. Where it’s slow and we feel connected and cry.
We both had the best sex of our entire lives this way, a few weeks ago.
Something else we’ve really cultivated in our relationship that isn’t as typical for other couples is that our sexual interactions don’t always include penetrative sex. Sometimes Jordan will go down on me in the middle of the living room, and he doesn’t expect anything in return (and vice versa). Sometimes we’ll touch a lot and kiss each other and cuddle and compliment each other’s bodies and that’s all. It’s really fluid.
I’ve still found many ways to fill up my “aliveness” cup. I’ve been writing a lot about the importance of finding pleasure during this time, and it’s true. I go for long walks and I look at flowers. I go to the beach and stare at the beauty of Vancouver. I cook food I like, I try new recipes, I eat a lot of chocolate. I drink tea. I buy new books to read. I self-pleasure and tell Jordan about it. I process emotions through my body.
I made friends with the crows that live here, and I feed them peanuts, and I imagine their world.
I got off social media months ago, maybe a month before all of this started. I’ve been meaning to write a long post about that, and I will soon, because it’s given me SO much. I’ve been going on lately to post new things, but I don’t check notifications or dms or see anything. I talk to the people in my life, and I occasionally google the news, but I’m not constantly inundated with other people’s thoughts and fears. I suspect that’s brought me peace and sanity.
Workouts have been difficult. I run, even though I used to hate running. I bought a pull-up bar, but I hate doing workouts in the same place I live.
I miss going to the gym. Lifting really heavy weights has been such a constant for me, such a place of regeneration for me for at least the last 6 years of my life. It is HARD not to have it. There is no substitute. All the bodyweight butt workouts in the world don’t do what a 200 lb squat does. I can feel my muscle disappearing, and I can’t do anything about it. That does not feel good.
So I grieve these things. I grieve the ways my life has changed. I grieve my lack of space. I grieve for the world around me – many people are experiencing conditions that are much worse, and I’m aware of that.
Ultimately, I trust my body to lead me through this first and foremost, and she does.
Many friends have said to me, “We’re having less sex. Is something wrong?”
And the answer is that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and everybody is more stressed than usual. Some people will respond to that stress by wanting to have sex more. Some people will respond by wanting to have sex less. Some couples are finally getting to spend more time together, and for some, that’s resulting in more sex. Some aren’t getting to see each other much at all. For some, it’s bringing up issues they haven’t taken the time to face before, and relationships are ending. Some couples already were spending a lot of time together, and this level of closeness has dampened the desire between them. All of that is normal.
For everyone, though, there is an opportunity for growth.
The benefit of the pandemic is that it’s holding a magnifying glass up to everybody. If you’ve been paying attention – if you haven’t been so busy that you’ve been able and willing to pause for a moment – you can see it in your own life.
It’s raised so many questions for people, like, “What am I doing with my life? Do I want to be doing this? What is really important to me? Do I want to be in this relationship?”
The best way to respond is not by pushing these things away, and it’s not by reacting helplessly, as if the world just throws you around.
It’s like when you’re standing in the ocean and a wave comes, and it’s going to crash on top of you unless you dive through it first.
Dive through each wave. Meet each one. Swim.
Parts of this have been immensely challenging. I’ve had emotions come up from the depths of me, that I haven’t thought about in ages. It can feel like we’re constantly processing new things in our relationship. It’s required energy to adapt to new conditions, and sometimes I feel tired.
And I’ve also had some of the most beautiful moments of my life.
I’ve never felt as resilient and as sure of myself as I do today. Both Jordan and I have been getting so good at asking for what we need from one another. We’re finding ways to create space, we’re reaching out for support when we need it, and we’re leaning in over and over again.
Something I’ve said to Jordan a lot lately is “This is hard, but I’m so grateful to be going through it with you, and to be growing in this way with you.”
It’s strengthening our relationship. It’s giving us space to be more creative and innovative, to learn even more about one another, to be even more present.
Much of the world is hitting “pause,” and we are hitting “play.”