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'I'm in lockdown with my husband and two kids. I've never felt so lonely.'

I always thought loneliness meant being alone, or lacking a strong family network or social support system. But this latest Melbourne lockdown has shown me something. 

I am not alone, I am never alone, but I am just so incredibly lonely. 

For context, I am married with two primary school-aged children. 

My marriage is one which could be described as a ‘parenting marriage’. We are in it for the kids. 

Not unhappy because of them per se, our reasons are much more selfish. 

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Neither their dad nor I are ready for sharing custody, or missing out on kissing them goodnight every bedtime. 

I am not ready for the conversation of whose house they will stay at tonight, or why don’t Mummy and Daddy love us enough to love each other. 

My kids are still very young, their brains think differently to adults. So for now, we choose to stay together. To the outside world, we are a happy, typical, nuclear family.

What we don’t have, however, is the affection: the hand holding, the back rubs, the hugs. Of course there is no sex either, but it is the other stuff I miss. 

More than that though, I miss the everyday kindness. The thing that makes us humans, social connectedness, and kindness.  

Our arrangement means that I don’t qualify for a singles bubble, certainly no intimate partner arrangements either. In a lockdown, it is a very lonely existence, even though I am never alone.

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I'm home-schooling, working from home, keeping the house tidy, feeding people (all the time!). I am never bored, but I am lonely. 

I have a great family and a few wonderful friends. We talk to each other on the phone frequently. I am listened to; I am heard; I am loved. I know this. But I miss people, and I miss kindness. 

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I only realised to what extent when recently I posted a short question on the ABC COVID blog under the alias, ‘Done Mum’. 

The question asked, ‘how do I keep going when I am just so done?’

The kind ABC journalist posted my question, as well as a lengthy reply with some beautifully kind advice. Later, there were even more replies from other faceless, nameless mums out there battling alongside me. 

It was then I realised the impact this lockdown was having on me. 

I can manage to live in a loveless affectionless marriage when life is semi-normal. In a hard lockdown, it’s just so incredibly lonesome.

I miss people, and I miss their kindness.

I miss someone keeping that door open for a second longer just so I too can walk through it. I miss the understanding nods and smiles from other mums as my kids wrestle over a hot chip at the park. 

I miss a waiter telling me they would speak to the chef and make the gnocchi vegetarian for me, and of course it was no problem! I miss the gym trainer telling me my form has improved, or they like my new workout tights. 

I miss being let through in traffic. I miss the greetings from other parents at the school gates. We don’t know each other by name, but our kids go to the same school, so that is enough for a kind smile. 

This lockdown has been long and hard. The mental distress from it all will linger for a long time. But we will get through it, and when we do, please go out into the world and be kind, and smile… lots. We all need it!

Feature Image: Getty.

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