Category Archives: The world

Finally, people are respecting my personal space!

I’m not sure how many people this is going to be relevant to but this social distancing is suiting me! You may have read my blog regarding introversion and picked up I’m at the extreme end of the spectrum! This is not a blog about introversion, but another oddity altogether, my ginormous personal space and my general desire to avoid people!

I’ve found it mildly amusing that people seem to be experiencing the world as I always have, trying to avoid contact with people at all costs!

As we practice social distancing we peer down the supermarket aisle – are there too many people in it?! If I start down the aisle will someone box me in?! Maybe I can do without loo roll this week? I have running water at home… or maybe I could come back when the aisle is less busy! This was my normal pre-social distancing!

Now, I like being told were to stand and I like that other people are being told not to stand too close to me! Not only are there markings on the floor, they have announcements over the tannoy!

I’ve always been aware, my personal space is gigantic! (Unless you know your personal space is particularly large, I’d be willing to place money on mine being roughly twice the size of yours.) There are very few who can casually encroach on my personal space without asking. Some, I invite willing, others through social obligation. A lot of people invade my personal space uninvited, I feel uncomfortable, even anxious at times and this is my normal. I know others want to be close, to hug hello etc and I’m fine with this, I’ll conform with social norms, I just fit in with what the other person wants so as not to make a fuss!

As concerns about rapid spread of Covid-19 started, some churches started sharing the peace without touching, using eye-contact instead(!) and the reactions were mixed. Some hated it while others thought it brought depth to the exchange. We’re all different!

Pre-social distancing, out on a run I’ve been forced off the pavement, onto roads, onto verges, into bushes, at times I wonder if I’ve been seen at all as couples or family groups walk towards me and make zero effort to enable me to remain running safely on the pavement. Now we’ve got this wonderful 2m rule, people are being courteous and walking single file past each other – why did this not happen before?! Why is it, you have to be concerned you might catch a deadly virus from me to see me?!

Even just walking passed people in the corridor at work, if someone accidentally get too close, people are apologising and moving away. It’s as though the world has finally listened to the discomfort I feel every time someone gets too close to me and they’ve put a rule in and everyone has to conform, you seriously wouldn’t believe how much of a relief it feels!

Are we doomed to divorce?!

These are strange times! I’m aware I have readers from all over the world and each country is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic differently, restricting movement of people to varying degrees.

Lockdown, quarantine, self-isolation, restricted movement, stay at home, social distancing, flatten the curve, work from home, slow down the spread, protect the NHS – these words are all now common parlance!

Since the epicenter was in China, we may be able to gauge where we’re heading by what’s happening there…China are seeing a significant spike in divorce applications from couples coming out of isolation.

Steve, my husband and I, obviously, love each other but like any couple, have our ups and downs! We prefer not to have blazing rows but we’re capable of a few harsh words. We’re struggling with this situation for different reasons but we know we’re going to get through it together because we work at our relationship.

I’m writing this blog because it would be sad to follow China’s lead, relationships don’t need to be doomed. Some of these suggestions may seem common sense but I think it’s fair to say in these uncertain times people are acting out of character and we can all do with a bit of reminding that sometimes the simple things are the best things:

Hold onto the things that are the same

Some people are working from home, try to home school children and/or manage an unusual living situation, these things will feel destabilising but there will be some things that are the same. Can you eat meals together? Is your morning or bedtime routine the same? Is there a TV programme you both like to watch together? Anything that anchors your relationship will help you feel stable.

Date times

You may think “but we’re spending too much time together, that’s the problem”. But date time is special time. If you have other people in the house it might be difficult but it’s important to set time aside, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes for a coffee together (but the longer the better!) to set technology aside and focus on each other. If you’re fortunate to have more time alone, you could play a board game or give each other a massage.

Self care

If you’re giving to other people all the time, you’re strung out and exhausted, you can’t pour from an empty cup! Your relationship’s going to suffer because we always take our frustrations out on those closest to us. Living on top of each other can be difficult. Don’t underestimate how beneficial going outside for fresh air is, whether it’s onto a balcony, the back garden or for a walk if permitted. You take this opportunity to learn a new hobby, crafting or reading may not have previously been your thing but maybe give it a go!

Give and take

With so many routines changing it might be difficult to stay on top of the household chores or you might find yourselves bit more messy than usual. As the situation changes people might need change the responsibilities they have. I don’t envy the parents suddenly home schooling and those who’ve never worked from home suddenly have to adapt. Sometimes, stepping back from the situation and writing a list or a timetable for who does what when might stop the situation from getting out of hand.

Communication – I’ve left the most important ‘til last!

Understanding what each other need is so important and this is only going to come if you talk to each other! This next part is so important – no one can mind read! If you’re feeling grumpy, fed-up, overwhelmed, sad or pissed off just say so. If you’re not sure how you feel and you’re not sure why, just say so! If you want to be left alone, say so. If you want to have a cry, say so.

Talk to each other about what you need! Are you an introvert or an extrovert? I’m an introvert, so managing the isolation fairly well. My husband is an extrovert so the aspect that’s hit him hardest is not being able to see his friends. My husband uses technology every day whereas getting to grips with multiple platforms (to stay connected with various people) quickly has been overwhelming for me. As genuinely fantastic as technology is, I’ve found large WhatsApp groups intrusive and long video conference calls exhausting!

I don’t need to remind you the most important part of communication is the listening part! Most people listen to reply – don’t be most people, listen so that you understand your partner.

Please don’t judge how I eat my bread

How often are we reminded “not all disabilities are visible”? Yet I’ve heard too many stories of people who need to use the accessible toilet being tutted at as they exit. You can’t see a stoma, you can’t see urinary urgency, you can’t see menorrhagia – it’s none of your business why someone needs to use the accessible toilet.

Have you ever given the person stepping out of their car in the “blue badge” car parking space a sideways glance? You can’t see COPD, you can’t see autism, you can’t see chronic fatigue. There are plenty of people who need to use the disabled spaces who don’t use a wheelchair, it’s not your place to police of the blue badge scheme.

I felt mortified as I nibbled the inner soft section of my bread roll when in a posh restaurant. I repositioned the crusty portions back together because I felt embarrassed I couldn’t finish the beautiful handmade roll. I don’t know what the chef thought when the waitress took my plate back to the kitchen. They probably thought I was just another fussy customer, I doubt they guessed I had a fractured jaw! Sucking the soft inner portion of the bread caused excruciating pain, there was no way I could chew the crust! (I didn’t know I had a fractured jaw at the time – I wouldn’t have gone to a posh restaurant if I’d known!)

Do you feel frustrated with your grumpy colleague?

Did you think the lady in front of you at the checkout overreacted when the cashier made a mistake?

Do you wonder why that person never joins in at your hobby group?

Perhaps you think your neighbour is a bit odd? You maybe fed up of them not cutting their hedge/parking their car in an awkward position/being loud late at night etc…

Maybe you think there’s no excuse for rudeness but my point is that we can never truly know what’s going on for someone else. All sorts of things can make someone act in a particular way but who are we to judge someone else?

You know what I really hate?! People who tailgate! But you know what? I’ve stopped judging them. I don’t know what’s happened to make them try to push me along the road faster than the speed limit. Maybe they’re trying to get a labouring woman to hospital? Maybe their dog threw-up before they left for work and made them late and their boss will unreasonably fire them for being late once? I could curse and get angry but why waste my energy?

I’m often asked why I’m so quiet. It’s because I’m listening. Everyone has a unique story to tell. I’m fed up of being judged. Listening to each other leads to understand, understanding leads to compassion. How much nicer is to have compassion for one another rather than judgment? All we need to do is listen!

Perhaps you could ask your colleague if there’s anything you could do to lighten their load? They might open up about why they’re feeling grumpy, they might just tell you to ***off but the fact that you tried but be the best thing that happened to them that day!

Instead of tightening you clique at your hobby group, invite the shy attendee in, they might not say much so what’s the harm? Inclusion rather than exclusion is so much kinder.

That awkward neighbour?! I think it’s safe to say, most people have at least one tricky neighbour! Sometimes you need to think outside the box! Perhaps take round a bottle of wine or invite them for a BBQ? At some point, try to talk about the tricky issue but remember, until you hear their story, try not to make assumptions, you don’t know why they’re behaving the way they do!