Struggling with COVID-19 loneliness | Opinion

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The days are endless. I welcome the night to sleep and escape the loneliness of the day.

In part, COVID-19 is to blame. Now that the Delta variant has come back with a vengeance, I’ve returned to my cocoon. Hours on end. Boredom has become my middle name. The refrigerator has become my comfort zone. I ignore my bathroom scale; the darn thing never lies. Nor do my tight-fitting jeans.

I only see friends who’ve been vaccinated — and only a few at a time. I stay away from the haunts that were once my happy places — the makeup sections at Macy’s, Duffy’s bar at cocktail hour and the jewelry store where I love to look but don’t dare to buy.

One friend tells me how she avoids her afternoon loneliness. She’s become addicted to televised soap operas.

“I escape into a glamourous world where hate and jealousy and infidelity are daily fare,” she said.

Personally, I am not that bored yet. But it won’t be much longer. I’m curious whether Marylou will go back to her husband, or if she will stay with the man 20 years her junior. It will be months before the writers make that decision. The increase of the epidemic has slowed down their plotlines as well.

Dinnertime for many can also be lonely. But not for me. I make plans to dine with a friend or two. Now that the weather is cooler, eating outside is a safer — and very pleasurable — option.

Life alone during the pandemic gives me time to think of how others cope with loneliness, even other species. They say it’s lonely at the top; well, I say it’s lonely when you are alone.

So I wonder about the egret, the bird with the elongated neck and its long, toothpick-like legs that I see saunter slowly across the lawn that stretches behind my house.

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He, or she, is always alone. No other egret by its side. But in his aloneness, I wonder if he is lonely.

So I began to think about myself and what has made me feel lonely over the years. I remember when as a little girl how lonely I felt when my mother died; no one to answer my questions, to tell when it was time to wear a bra, or what to do when I had a crush on a boy in my class.

I scroll back to my middle years of marriage when even with a houseful of kids and family, I would feel lonely if my husband was immersed in his work and couldn’t take time to tend to my needs. And I‘ve thought about the many parties I attended, =where I felt lonely in a crowded room when no one was interested in anything I had to say.

Obviously, the egret — alone all the time — doesn’t struggle with the lonesome feelings that most of us have had at one time or another.

And maybe that is why it might be fun to think like an egret. To find a way to be alone but not to feel lonely.

Bea Lewis is a journalist, author and public speaker who lives in Boynton Beach.

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