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Letters From Home: 'I’ve Had The Physical And Emotional Room To Realize My Worth'

Charlotte Stack
Charlotte Stack, usually with friends on Fridays, sits alone in her living room during Week 1 of quarantine wondering what the future holds.

WOSU's Letters from Home collects stories about day-to-day lives during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we're collecting responses to a new prompt: What has been the most surprising challenge you've faced from physical distancing?

See what a few contributors sent along below.

Charlotte Stack from Columbus

I’m an event manager and ever since the initial mandate to keep groups to a minimum, quickly followed by the elimination of gatherings altogether, my job has essentially been rendered obsolete. I’m incredibly lucky to work for an organization that has ensured my job is secure. Yet, almost immediately, I found myself floundering and insecure.

How could I prove my self-worth if I wasn’t doing what I was hired to do?

I have been forced to not only rethink my entire job role during this quarantine, but also face the fact that my pride and self-worth are unequivocally linked to my profession. I’ve spent the majority of my 20s feeling like I need to prove myself through validation from others, and it hasn’t been until now that I’ve had the physical and emotional room to realize my worth for myself.

Being confronted with my own habits, negative self-talk, and insecurities has been one of the more painful and yet wonderful outcomes of physical distancing and while I wish I could have gotten to this place without a pandemic occurring, I’m glad to have gotten here nonetheless.

It continues to be a process, but I hope that when quarantine is lifted, I am able to re-enter normal life as a much more self-possessed person.

Eden Dembinski from Columbus

This has had a bigger impact on my friends and family. I have chronic pain, which puts me in isolation a lot. So I’ve spent my time helping friends and family with things they can do to pass the time. I’m an expert at being stuck at home.

Whether it’s self-help, books, games, hobbies, there is so much to fill your day with. Much love to everyone here who is struggling with this change. We are all here for one another, just a click away.

Credit Amy Van Sickel Beard
Amy Van Sickel Beard sees this as a time for self-reflection; thinking about how she's cared for others from childhood (left - second grade photo), teenage years (center - high school senior year), to now (right).

Amy Van Sickel Beard from Columbus

I am a caregiver and in my third phase of my life (over 60). All of my life caregiving has been my main source of income, from in-home day care, to residential cleaning. I care. I care about children, adults, elderly, and self. Now with social distancing the focus is more on “self,” which is well needed. I have found that in every day of this pandemic the word "grace" is the most important lesson for all of us.

There are so many definitions of this small word, and I seem to be reminded everyday "grace." Grace of God, favor or goodwill, mercy or pardon. Grace of time to pay bills, short prayer, adorn, and moral strength. Grace of harmony, favor or honor, or just the true fact of getting what you don't deserve. "Grace."

Marilyn Verber from Clintonville

I have a broken femur healing from surgery and was in a rehab facility when this started. Now that I am home, but largely immobile I am going crazy for movement and missing my children and mother.

I miss working out, walking through the bike trails along the Olentangy… and I can't clean my house or use the time "wisely.” 

Jacki from Columbus

As an in-home childcare provider, I am almost always home. People think, “Oh you're used to this!” but I'm not. I'm not used to my husband being home all the time. I'm not used to my 1st grade daughter being home all the time. Managing her home learning and keeping her from playing with other children. Not having most of my childcare children.

I am without most of my income, which is necessary for paying our bills and buying groceries. I'm trying to support my childcare families with video chats, children's activity ideas, and general resources. I miss going to the library every Saturday with my daughter and look forward to doing that again when it's safe.  

Credit Elizabeth Hopkin
Crosby and Arlo, Elizabeth Hopkin's grandkids are just two of the family members she misses.

Elizabeth Hopkin from Columbus, Ohio

My daughter and her husband have two little boys, ages 4 and 3. They live in Dayton, but since the first one was born, we have gone out to visit and help, once or twice a month. Feeling them grow, helping them learn, seeing them develop their personalities was a vital, joyous part of our lives.

We Facetime now, and watching them grow, watching them learn, watching their personalities, “booping” each other on the cold, tiny screen is delightful, but the snuggling warmth of them in my arms is a tremendous loss. Months, maybe a year, that we’ll miss every growth spurt, every discovery, every moment of spontaneous silliness.

It’s a habit of mine to finish phone calls with my kids with “I love you,” because it might be the last thing I say to them, if one of us were in an accident tomorrow (I expect this started around the time they started driving). Those words are now an insistent refrain and they vibrate with meaning. “I can’t touch you, but I love you, I love you, you know that, right?”

Bev Cordova from Seaside, Oregon

I miss my family. At a time when the greater need is more urgent than my own, family members are in my thoughts daily. Concern for their health and safety is real but more importantly I miss their voice, their face, their nearness. Seems elemental and even simplistic but there it is.

After retiring from teaching in Portland, I moved to Seaside, Oregon. Only a two-hour drive meant I could see my family often. Now the distance feels so much more. At times I find myself staring ahead as I imagine driving Highway 26 to be with them. Every curve in the road is clear in my memory. A phrase that I never understood comes to mind: "You can't get there from here." Every day I learn more of what that means.

To fill the time and stay focused I make pottery. The creative mind is powerful, from my longing for family has come new ways to work in clay. The images emerging in my work are often trees, no surprise there. I'm grateful for the comfort it brings to me and it's enough for now.

Credit Bev Cordova
Bev Cordova has found comfort in creative endeavors like pottery. She misses her family terribly, and the pottery wheel has helped her process the longing.

There's still time to join the conversation. What has been the most surprising challenge you've faced from physical distancing?

Answer this question using the form below.

WOSU brings you Letters from Home in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art.
WOSU brings you Letters from Home in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art.