COVID-19 has overtaken more than just the news. The government-mandated procedures that followed COVID-19 have affected my education, job, housing and, ultimately, my relationship.
If it were December 2019, I could not tell you how I expected the first few months of 2020 to go. I saw myself enjoy being 21, working to complete my resolutions and creating new memories with my boyfriend of almost two years.
The prospect of the stay-at-home order issued March 30 by Gov. Doug Ducey seemed, at first, overwhelming. Issues were arising that pre-quarantine, I did not think I would have to resolve so soon.
Before my own eyes, a global pandemic was prompting everything I have ever known to change. At first, I expected the usual assumptions: restaurants would close, non-essential businesses would slow and perhaps some events would be canceled. I never expected two weeks later to be moving all my stuff home to finish the semester remotely and have to work my job from home.
Professors were just as thrown off as students were, and our government was scrambling to implement safety procedures as well as announcements for the general public. A plethora of stress and panic from all areas of my life was poisoning my thoughts throughout the day and even my dreams at night. College is the bullet that conclusively ended my relationship of nearly two years.
My ex-boyfriend and I had overcome obstacles throughout the entirety of our relationship. From day one, we were long distance. I am in the process of completing my bachelor’s degree in Flagstaff, while he works in Tucson. That is 267 miles between us.
When it comes to obstacles, there are ones long-distance couples face and then obstacles every couple faces. Financial issues, family quarrels and the occasional fight if one of us watched an episode ahead on the Netflix show we watch together.
Being a long-distance couple, quarantine added the stress of having to fast-track our relationship at a pace I was not quite prepared to handle.
The most recent time I saw my ex in person was back in mid-March. We attended the Arizona Renaissance Festival with a group of friends and spent the day enjoying it and the sunny weather.
That day was March 15, and COVID-19 cases were beginning to rapidly increase. By the end of the festival, Ducey had officially passed a proclamation to shut down any public events hosting more than 50 people.
Even at a festival, all anyone was talking about was the virus. That was the last day I saw my boyfriend of the time and the last time I remember feeling any sense of normalcy. That night, we watched the news together and came to the conclusion that a mandatory two-week quarantine may be instilled over the course of the next few weeks.
Quarantine now imposed a crucial question to consider: Can I see myself spending two weeks to possibly four months with this person? What if quarantine was extended into the next semester? Does his home provide the resources I need to receive an adequate education? Do I feel safe and secure in this situation, and would I be happy?
The distance was never the sole problem of our relationship, but in the weeks leading up to our break-up, disaster was present. School had completely overtaken my life, a day did not go by where I was not rushing to complete an assignment or working on a large-scale project for my major. While I was slowly settling into a mundane routine and going stir-crazy, my boyfriend was working a schedule that had him working 45 hours a week until 11 p.m. every night.
Pre-pandemic, I was hell-bent on the idea that I would be working to mend the holes in our relationship. As time crept on, we were losing more hope by the day.
My grades were slipping due to lack of sleep and one-too-many mental breakdowns. I came to the unfortunate conclusion that I would have to sacrifice my relationship in order to save myself.
To succeed in my studies, I needed to be at home with my family. I knew as much as my boyfriend and I loved us, my life was just not in a place where I could be present not only for him but also for myself. His home did not have the resources I needed to complete this semester, and I wanted to improve my mental health before we ever got together again. The stay-at-home order also meant I would not be able to see him in person for months or even use public transit to get there.
The pressures quarantine presented were too much for me to handle, therefore our relationship. It was always the plan we would live together after I graduated, but as a junior who still has a long way to grow, I was not ready to move in with him.
A few weeks ago, after a very long and emotional phone call, we decided to go our separate ways.
I suppose, in a way, during this time we are mending the holes of our relationship, we are just doing it apart. We still talk every day, and he will forever be my best friend. I never foresaw anything tearing us apart, but in a global pandemic, nobody wins. COVID-19 has taken something from everyone, whether it be a graduation, a vacation, a relationship or even a life.
After this pandemic is over, I think everyone will have grown from this in one way or another.
As hard as it is now to do basic tasks and routines, remember your physical and mental health. I strongly urge you to be present for yourself so you can support friends and family at this time. As lonely as it may feel in quarantine, you are never alone.