In transit, while in quarantine

Journalist: Anonymous

Edition: Transition
Topic: Women

The Covid-19 quarantine was the biggest change I have ever experienced. It brought me great pain, but from this pain I was re-born.

Ever since I was a child, I have longed for someone to love me, to care for me. My childhood was full of fear and domestic violence. Even at school, I was bullied.

I remember the first day of first grade. Unlike the other little girls, I didn’t have a nice dress. My family could not afford one and so I went in an old winter dress. The other children noticed; they looked at me strangely and laughed. Things went on like that for a long time.

Even after I started studying at the university, I was always in pain. I could not manage to find happiness. I did not have many friends; everyone in my classes was Georgian and I hesitated to speak with them. In fact, I saw myself as worth less than them. Perhaps it was due to what happened to me at school, a reflection of how I saw myself when I was younger and how I assumed others would treat me.

It was as if I was suffocating even in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, after suffocating for years at home.

But in November, everything changed. I met a boy who cared about me, more than anyone since I was a child. He accepted me for who I was—a feeling I never had, not from my parents or even my closest friends. Those weeks were the best period of my life, I felt at peace. It was as if there was a special connection between us, something deeper than love.

Until the quarantine.

During the lockdown and self-isolation, our relationship deteriorated. Maybe it started to get worse before the quarantine, but the quarantine quickened its end.

Thanks to my place at university, I had been living freely in Tbilisi since 2016. But once the quarantine was announced, I moved back home. Being stuck at home with my family during the lockdown brought back childhood fears and traumas.

There were domestic conflicts all day, disputes every day. After a while, it felt like I hit rock bottom.

But eventually, I learned to stand up for myself and found a way to begin to love myself.

The transformation was slow. It started, like many things in my family, with a fight. It was around one in the morning. We all slept in the same room. Suddenly I heard my father yelling, insulting my mother’s parents, as usual.

He never wants my mother to visit her family—we usually can only manage to convince him to let her go once or twice a year. That night when he yelled at my mom, she cried. Something snapped and I couldn't stand it anymore—the quarantine made me impatient and maybe a bit courageous, so I started yelling at my father; telling him to stop.

I left the bedroom and started to yell and cry.

That was almost two months ago. I have not spoken to my father since. 

In the days that followed, I tried to close myself off from my family, from everyone. I was in a lot of pain. It felt like my entire body was filled with pain, I was frying in this pain. I wanted to die, and couldn’t think of anything but death.

The pain came from the realization that no one really cared about me. It was as if I was dead. Before I felt lonely but in those days, I realized I was truly alone.

My boyfriend was far away and did not know how to help me. My family did not understand me and I could not communicate with them. The torrent of hate speech against people from Marneuli and ethnic Azerbaijani—posts like “let all Tatars burn and die”—added to the pain.

It felt like everything was collapsing down on me.

Even my studies, my life in Tbilisi, my dreams for the future, felt false and untrue. I found that I didn’t care for my chosen profession. I couldn’t engage with the online lectures and I stopped attending my classes.

I didn’t want the life I had created for myself and I couldn’t imagine my future.

I felt cocooned in my hurt and pain, and I spent my days away from everyone, crying. My mother and sister accused me of being selfish. But at some point, I realized I was not being selfish; I was finally learning to accept myself.

As the days passed, and I spent more time alone, I slowly began to realize that even I had not been treating myself with love. I had spent a lifetime forgiving those who treated me badly, trying to convince others to love me. I had deceived myself—I did not love myself and yet I expected love from others.

I eventually began to understand I had to cut myself off from the things that hurt me, to remove myself from the situations that caused me pain. To free myself.

Education, the university, my studies—they had all just been an escape from my family and home life.

I wanted to get away from my village, my old classmates. I thought that new people would love me when I got to Tbilisi. But I was wrong, I had low self-esteem and I was too shy and ashamed to talk to anyone. Everywhere I went, I thought people were laughing at me. But now I know that all those years of suffering were due to the trauma of my past.

I finally stopped paying too much attention to other people.

I am still living at home but I do not allow my family’s endless arguments to eat away at my heart. It is as if I accepted everything, now that I have accepted myself. Even religion. I realized I can hear God in my heart, not in a doctrine.

It is as if my life changes as my thoughts change. I will return to the university in September and only take the classes I need to graduate. I will not try to be an excellent student. I will spend my energy on things that make me happy.

I am done trying to please anyone else.  Now I live my life for me and I live it with my full self.

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