Counseling Center

May 13, 2020

There’s No Place Like Home

Posted by David Slagle, M.S., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, UWCC

Covid-19 turned our routines on its head. Now over two months into the quarantine, I am comforted by my new developing routines. Now in the morning, first thing after I feed our cat, I chop kindling and start building a fire in the wood burn stove. Another big change is my partner and I have more opportunity to spend time together checking in with each other throughout the day and even having lunch together. Feeling more connected with each other has been an unexpected benefit of the stay at home mandate. Our kitty likes the time together as well, she will hang out with us while she catnaps in the same room. Or she will be wanting to eat constantly. I imagine she is like us, bored at times, so it is nice to have the kitchen not too far away.

I miss my colleagues despite the fact that we too are finding new routines like having some time together to connect informally on Friday through Zoom or having Zoom lunches together. We are all adapting. For me, it has been the little things like remembering to take things slow. When I am facing a difficult task that is made more difficult by working remotely, I try to remember to step back and come to the problem later. I remember it is okay and even good to reach out for help. Generally the people in our lives want to help, we can stay connected this way.

I am fortunate to be living with my partner, we are well practiced at figuring out how to be together supportively. A colleague reminded me that many of you are now living in a very challenging and stressful circumstance with family. I remember when I was at home and going to community college my dad was constantly asking me to help him with his humongous garden. When I could not find an excuse, I was tasked with endless weeding and pulling out rocks. My go to excuse was I had homework; having this excuse may be one of the biggest silver linings of going to college now that I think about it. The fact is it can be difficult to set boundaries with our families. They may have very different demands and expectations than we do that can be challenging to negotiate. So in this time of quarantine if you are confined to your family home, it can be rough. Many of us know that, like us, our parents or our siblings have their own personal issues that they are managing too. Going away to school may have been a kind of reprieve for many of you. I realize now all my old friends’ parents had serious issues –  alcoholism, depression and anxiety, OCD, infidelity, and even domestic violence. Of course at that time I didn’t know any of this, I thought my parents were the only outliers. If the way you are navigating boundaries with your family is not working for you, think about what you can do differently. We can get into our own ruts, see ourselves as a victim. Typically, we have two default reactions, one is to withdraw and the other is to react. Generally, we have more influence over our lives than we give ourselves credit. Remember, even with the people we love the fact is we need to have our own space. If you are not letting others in your life know what you need, this is a disservice to them as well as yourself. Take care of yourselves out there!