In the meantime, it has become easier for unmarried couples to see each other again. But for families living across national borders, the situation is more difficult. “I don’t think that’s right,” says one of our escort girls. “Partners who have been together for only six months are allowed to enter, and my mother is not allowed to visit her daughter and grandson.” She was born in Brazil and has been living in Germany for eleven years with her husband and child.
So now it happened, despite all caution and the so-called booster vaccination, I got infected with Corona. Unlike many of my friends and acquaintances, I was at least lucky enough to get sick after Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and holidays and thus enjoy a brief moment of absolute light-heartedness – free from quarantine, isolation, and an absurd number of symptoms.
I’m glad to be vaccinated, I think these days, because the cough, the fever, and my own four walls remind me how hard it could have been.
Unfortunately, in my golden cage filled with food (thanks go out to my mum and my best friends), it’s not always snuggly, warm and safe, but sometimes frustratingly lonely. Currently included with me are my two children and our cat, which gives me a certain bonus, but which doesn’t feel like it for me as a single parent.
Because as I do the housework and bend over to cough into my robe sleeve, I curse this pandemic. I curse the fears and worries, my weak body, and my tendency to think too much. I had to take a break from my job at the Escort Agency.
Sick and no consolation insight
In the first four days, I managed to put my relationship to the test. He – doesn’t like to write messages – and I – who really don’t like to talk on the phone – can’t meet at the moment. That’s why they love vacations we just put behind us feels long since faded. And the fact that after that we were like teenager crushes doesn’t matter anymore.
Instead, I mentally accuse him of letting me die here in this wasteland and sob into the phone that I’m much harder hit by this virus than promised. The fact that I, as a chronic kidney patient, have a weakened immune system anyway and some of us are just a bit more unlucky than others, doesn’t matter.
I stare at the negative aspects of this time and react defiantly to the sun that shines through our windows. In the end, here in our microcosm, consisting of me, the children, the cat, and the millions of viruses, there is still a gap between his reality and mine. He manages his everyday life out there and I in here.
His fear remains a diffuse pressure, for the time being, mine is that I will not come out completely healthy.
He worries about continuing to put himself and his loved ones at risk and I am already among those affected. His fear remains a diffuse pressure, for the time being, mine is that I will not come out completely healthy. When we then write to each other online in the in-between moments, I have slowly managed three hours of my day and he has managed three racing seconds between shopping, school stress, workload.
Then, when we text each other online, I’ve managed a slinky, slow three hours of my day and he’s gotten three racing seconds between shopping, school stress, workload.
So I react unfairly, he mirrors my behavior, we go in circles and there is always a finger in the wound because of existing crises in the back of our minds. A few weeks ago I was still afraid of getting Corona, having to be in quarantine, and getting along without my beloved favorite person.
With the first symptoms, the fear became real and even though I know that two weeks without each other are bearable, I just don’t like this state of dependency. No distractions, no company, no comforting hug. Feelings of shame develop because I don’t want to give him some of the freedom out there, and of powerlessness, because I feel real panic inside me coughing at night, but I can’t do anything about it.
(In)pandemics (we) function differently
In an ideal world, I would wish (apart from the absence of a pandemic) that he would now drown me in a sea of flowers, sneak into my apartment despite the prohibitions and protect me from my own demons. But that’s what it’s all about. The problem is not the illness or how I deal with it, but my needs and expectations. What I wish for are often castles in the air and he is not there to fulfill them for me.
My fears, irrational or not, need a strong shoulder right now, but this pandemic calls for other measures.
My fears, irrational or not, need a strong shoulder right now, but this pandemic calls for other measures. I’m not the only one affected, won’t be the last person to agonize a little more and therefore whine a little more, but when this is all over I want us to be able to look into each other’s eyes. I don’t want to be punished for being whiny or blaming him for something that wouldn’t have happened under other circumstances. We function beautifully out there. Not here, now, separately, and in a state of emergency.
Does that mean we fail because of my claims? Maybe. Does that mean we have to worry about that? Hardly likely. Because if this has anything to teach me, it’s to consider the possibility that nothing is perfect, especially a relationship in the pandemic.
You and her – and me: While our relationship ended, your new one had long since begun
My therapist asked me a few months ago if it wasn’t time to talk about you. I said no. Somehow I didn’t feel like it and there was so much else worth telling about. But yesterday it was time. I felt it in my gut, crawling up my throat as a sour taste on my tongue.
There you are. You and her.
Over a year ago we were something of a couple. The word “something” refers to the fact that nine months ago you broke up with me for about the second time, but never left my, our, life. Instead, you actually got closer and closer, attending my brother’s 18th birthday as well as Christmas Eve with my whole family. I was often asked what it was about us now and I whispered back “we just don’t define it anymore”. Because it puts pressure on you and I don’t care.
Of course, it wasn’t, because I loved you very much and had once imagined a future together. This was also the reason why you left me and my two children once again in the end.
Your love for us is great, but your need for freedom and less responsibility is greater.
Your love for us is great, but your need for freedom and less responsibility is greater. I could have accepted all of that and had understood if one little thing hadn’t gone unnoticed: my health. About half a week after we went on summer vacation together, your behavior changed. The hugs stopped and you became quieter. When you wanted to look after the children, as you so often do, I expressed my suspicion that something was odd here. Hesitantly you gave me to understand, standing between the door and Angel, that you had met a new woman.
I was devastated, but mostly unsettled. When did this all start and how serious were you about her? You said none of this was any longer my concern and I was confused. Less than three nights ago we were arm in arm. Your face froze, you were unrecognizable. I felt like someone who couldn’t push through anymore and gave up.
It wasn’t until I got home that I had the idea to look around for her on Instagram and ask myself. And here’s why I didn’t want to process you in therapy. I was deeply ashamed. I didn’t want to be that person. I’ve been proud of my loyalty and the trust I had in us over the years.
When we first met, I didn’t want to be in a relationship with you. You seemed oddly erratic and I was ready for something else. I ended our little romance very relaxed and happy, but you were so upset that you suggested I have one last conversation. You then pulled out all the stops: marriage, children, a future. I was surprised and also kind of flattered. I guess I was very naive too.
When I saw her picture on your site, I knew right away.
When I saw her picture on your site, I knew right away. I wrote to her, introduced myself, and asked uncertainly whether the two had known each other for a long time. To my surprise, she offered me a phone call and was quick to admit that she had been your new girlfriend for a month. She knew everything about me. She thought we had this arrangement where we kept in touch because of the kids.
She’s ok with that, adding that she trusts you but doesn’t take it too seriously since you’re in a polyamorous relationship now. To be honest I was a bit more than surprised. In our relationship, the topic wasn’t even up for debate—which is okay, because every relationship has its own dynamic.
My shock lay elsewhere
In a flash of inspiration, I asked myself whether I had ever used contraception.
In a flash of inspiration, I asked myself whether I had ever used contraception. She very openly said no. My luck. My bad luck. I know how everything was spinning, I got sick and I thought about my children. I also thought about how two years earlier I had all the necessary tests done so that we could both have sex without a condom. I angrily asked her how a polyamorous relationship was supposed to work when she and he wanted to be unprotected and dishonest with each other and with each other. She apologized ruefully and was audibly confused. Naive like me – a small consolation.
Fear and responsibility
Ultimately, this realization led to many fears in me. I had myself tested for all illnesses, felt panicky, and, in addition to the heartbreak, I was afraid of surviving. I sent you the bills. You paid for them without comment. In a fit of questions and concerns, I picked up the phone again and texted the woman I knew was my predecessor. Again, something I was ashamed of for years afterward. She also replied immediately. At least that.
Turns out you cheated on her too – with me. Who are you?
Turns out you cheated on her too – with me. Who are you? It ran parallel with us for a month. Your ends are always beginnings. None of us had a choice. Today – right now – I don’t want to feel ashamed and guilty anymore. I have a feeling it could have been worse for me. I’m healthy, I’m fine. The mental wound just doesn’t heal. She sits lower than expected.
It’s hard for me to talk about it with my new partner. My children ask where you are. The two years with you are like a hole in the schedule…
It’s hard for me to talk about it with my new partner. My children ask where you are. The two years with you are like a hole in the schedule and sometimes when someone writes about open relationships I tremble. I’m shaking because I’m traumatized. Because I wasn’t asked if I wanted to be a part of this lie, this triangle, this experience. I’m disgusted because I’m a caring person who takes responsibility for myself and those around me. I’m angry because I’ve felt guilty for years while you never spoke to me again with a syllable. Probably a lot of stuff for my last four sessions. Let’s do it!