Quarantine has closed borders – and not just between countries. Family boundaries were also closed. And those who are outside sometimes suffer from it.
Alina, 36 years old: “I never wanted to take Igor away from a family where he has two children. For several years in a row we met regularly, we felt good together, sometimes we went somewhere for a few days together. And now he is at home with his family, and although he calls me when he goes to the store, I feel lonely. I cannot call him – there is almost always someone next to him … “
Karina, 25 years old: “I am seven months pregnant. I had no doubts that Plato and I would get married, in March he was already going to divorce his wife. But now I’m not so sure. He began to call and write less often. Sometimes I wait for his answer for several hours after I write a message. “
Anna, 29 years old: “I’m going crazy with jealousy. Forced or not, but Ilya spends whole days on the other, they are not married, but live together. Ilya writes to me that it’s just because of the quarantine, but I can imagine how they have breakfast together every morning and have dinner every evening … I think he is moving away from me, and I don’t know how to keep him. “
How to cope with this situation and what to do? Gestalt therapist Vyacheslav Ilyin and sexologist Irina Panyukova answer this question.
“Admit your desires to yourself, talk about them out loud”
Vyacheslav Ilyin, gestalt therapist
A world that seemed secure has let us down, and now we are all trying to find a way to cope with it, and women left alone get a double dose of anxiety: anxiety about the future of their relationship is added to the background. Men, on the other hand, in a situation of anxiety, would rather choose safety, rather than the risk that is always associated with leaving the family.
But every situation is unique, and so is every man. Someone solves economic problems and waits for a more favorable environment in order to leave for a new relationship, while someone does not want to change anything and uses self-isolation as an excuse, as a way to break or weaken ties, referring to external circumstances and thereby relinquishing responsibility …
I really sympathize with every woman who finds herself in such a situation, it is really not easy. But the childish belief that it is enough to wait until the end of April for everything to be fine, as well as the idea that if a man were there, he would magically resolve any difficulties, are forms of denial, escape from reality, which aggravates problems. but does not help to cope with them.
Sometimes our loved ones try to tell us what to do or criticize us in the hope of helping.
Try to avoid the following hazards:
- don’t try to control everything. This is impossible and only drains one’s strength;
- don’t bully yourself. Don’t let your imagination draw scary pictures uncontrollably;
- don’t blame yourself. Stop listing everything you did “wrong” and feel ashamed and disappointed in your abilities.
Instead of this:
- Encourage yourself, for example, by saying: “I will not leave myself” or “Be patient, my dear, of course, now you are lonely, but I will take care of you!”
- treat yourself warmly and responsibly – this means not just expecting that help will come from outside by itself, but looking for it (where you can really find it) and negotiating with the outside world so that help comes;
- admit your desires to yourself, talk about them out loud, be persistent;
- do not ignore your fear, anxiety, sadness. If fear is ignored, there is a danger of unnecessary risk. If anxiety is repressed, it can manifest itself in obsessive forms of behavior (excessive hand washing, overeating, hanging on the Internet). If you suppress sadness, it turns into chronic despondency and loss of energy. Allow yourself to be aware of your feelings and find ways to express them that will bring you relief.
Until the end of the quarantine, it is unlikely that it will be possible to clarify the future of the relationship, it may not be possible after. This is a situation of uncertainty – and it’s good to have someone with you to help you through it, not necessarily physically present, but emotionally involved.
“He left the family for the sake of his mistress, but she is still unhappy”
Sometimes our loved ones try to tell us what to do or criticize us in the hope of helping. To avoid this and explain what we expect from them, you can turn to them with a request-instruction: “Please, take time for me, listen to me without judgment and advice, just stay with me.”
Do your best to increase your emotional resilience.
“The way we think about others is reflected in our state of mind.”
Irina Panyukova, sexologist and psychotherapist
Anxiety paralyzes and disorganizes us, while certainty calms us down. Even unpleasant certainty after the first violent reaction makes it possible to take constructive action.
If you can get clarity, try it. But this is not always realistic, and for your beloved too: perhaps he himself does not even know what his future will be, what decisions he will make.
You can try to achieve greater certainty not globally, but situationally: for example, agree on the time of calls, on their regularity. To increase certainty, you can consider all possible scenarios for yourself (we will be together; we will not be together; something will happen that I can’t imagine now …). Make sure to write these options down.
Trying to analyze everything without writing it down can be compared to trying to multiply four-digit numbers in your head: it’s hard, but easy on a piece of paper. In addition, while recording, we begin to look at everything that happens a little from the outside, weaken the emotional intensity and begin to think. Work out the next steps for each option separately: “what will I do first, what next.”
In separation from a loved one, we experience two types of suffering: emotional and physical. We just discussed what to do with emotional suffering and what to do with bodily suffering? It is clear that it is impossible to fully compensate for the lack of physical intimacy. However, it is in our power to offer our body other pleasant sensations.
Surely at home spa treatments, self-massage, gymnastics, yoga and Pilates exercises are possible. Balance exercises are helpful to maintain peace of mind. Meditation will also be useful.
If parents come to the aid of an offended child, then as an adult he learns to help himself
The way we think about other people, especially our loved ones and loved ones, is reflected in our state of mind. Blaming them or resenting them makes us feel worse than before.
In an alarming situation, your man stays at home with his family. You can look at it like this: you are meeting with a decent person, he does not abandon those to whom he has obligations. He does not discount or neglect the relationship with you – he does what he considers his duty.
If he left his wife, children, it would not be a decent act. And true love is impossible without admiration for the moral qualities of a loved one. You are now sad without him, but this sadness speaks of your warm feelings for him and that he deserves your respect.
In the future, if you are together again, he will say: “My woman kept calm and dignity, she trusted me and did not demand constant proof of love, did not try to increase my concern for her.”
And if you break up, then he will not be able to say: “This is because she was constantly tugging at me and increasing my stress.” Either way, peace of mind will benefit you.
Resentment is a non-constructive feeling, a child-like reaction. But if parents come to the aid of an offended child, then as an adult he learns to help himself. Another step to reduce stress is to remember and write down what resources you have, what kind of help you can get on your own, who can help you financially and emotionally: relatives, friends, psychologists.
And a young woman who is pregnant now faces the most serious task – to bear, give birth and raise a healthy child who will have a healthy mother. The most correct thing to do now is to focus on this particular task, seeking help from doctors when necessary.
Vyacheslav Ilyin – Gestalt therapist, group leader, supervisor, teacher of theory and practice of psychotherapy.
Irina Panyukova – psychiatrist, psychotherapist, psychologist, sexologist, candidate of medical sciences. Associate Professor of the Department of Psychotherapy and Sexology of the Russian Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education.