There’s something going on in my head and even in my body, and I don’t think I’m alone in it. I feel a kind of dread about where we are, where we’ve been and where we might be going. It’s like I’ve crawled out of a hole and am seeing our new world for the first time. And it’s been decimated. I’m having a hard time articulating it, but it’s definitely front and center in my thoughts. I’m wondering if you’re feeling it, too?
I think perhaps I have some survivor’s guilt over COVID and how effortlessly we moved through it, despite the fact that Dr Marry and I both had it. We met with friends for dinner last week, and as we sat down, I thought: How many pairs of couples are now missing at least one member? One of four who should have been at the table and instead died of COVID? And I was consumed with guilt and sadness over that.
I know I’m feeling trauma around having lived through the previous administration and what that unleashed. There’s a reckoning that people in my life, people I have relationships with, actually agree with some or much of what was brought forth, and I don’t know how to manage that. The peaceful transition of power, which was hardly peaceful, doesn’t erase the unmitigated horror we all lived through, and it certainly didn’t put all the citizens who supported that man back into the dank caves and hiding places where they once lurked.
In my day job, I recently had a donor call me in response to a statement we had issued about gathering and say, “Dayna, I’m not vaccinated. I’ll never be fu^^^ng vaccinated. Now now. Not ever.” I suppose it’s too bad I lost her as a donor, but I care far more that that was how she chose to address the topic and me. She felt empowered to talk to me like that, but more importantly, she felt empowered to talk like that period. Over a life saving vaccine that 600,000+ Americans would give anything to have had access to.
In many ways, I regret the surge of frantic energy around work, as if we have to make up for the past 15 months right now. RIGHT NOW! There is no making up for it. It was both a lost and a blessed period of time. I want to hold on to the gentle, quiet pace. My safe little bubble, where I joyfully lived for these past many months, is being forced open. I’m watching my hopes and dreams, routines and patterns dissipate out the open doors and windows, and try as I might, I’m afraid I’ll never catch them and bring them back close to me again.
I know things can’t stay the way they were: our economy would collapse, more people would move into absolutely desperate situations, children’s education would go completely off the rails. But I also know that I don’t want to go back to the pace and frenzy of life pre-COVID when there was little time to be intentional about much of anything because I was running from thing to thing to thing. I have no desire to go back to that. Ever.
As my day job picks up a full head of steam, I’m developing a kind of sad apathy around Daily Dose of Dr Marry & DD and Personal Systems Disruption. I don’t really know how to articulate this either, but I spend time wondering if any of it is worth the effort—the 5 days a week livestream, the blogs and videos, the social media posts, two weekly newsletters, the retreats and courses. Does any of it matter to anyone? I know much of it does because people tell me it does, but I want so much more for it, and the pace is SO SLOW. I recognize the contradiction because I want to keep the pace of my life slow, but I want these two projects to move forward at lightening speed, when the exact opposite is what’s happening. So I’m considering taking some breaks from some or all the aspects of these “side gigs.” I hate how that feels—like I’m giving up, quitting, like I failed.
I guess maybe what I’m ultimately feeling is a loss of safety. I feel distrustful of everyday people now, casting a wary eye on those not wearing masks despite the mandate having been dropped. I find I want some kind of visible marker for those of us who have been double vaccinated. Better yet, I want those who have elected not to get vaccinated to be forced to wear something letting the rest of us know; I’m lying if I don’t say I feel like it’s actually not just the rest of us, it’s “the best” of us. That brings with it a terrible recognition that things like the Star of David badge were a forced visible marker to identify a specific type of citizen for others who saw themselves as the best as well. In other words, I’ve come face to face with the reality that my disdainful judgment of many people, my fellow citizens and human beings, makes me no better than a generation of people whom I have always been very comfortable condemning for their lack of humanity. I could say there are dramatic differences between these two experiences, but that sounds like hollow excuses to justify how I feel today.
Are you feeling these same uneasy, discombobulated feelings, too? I know I’m not the only one with this low grade sense of dread about how we reconcile our recent past, deal with our current reality and face a very uncertain future. What are you doing to navigate these choppy waters? How do we voice these feelings much less work through them? We have to face them, talk about them unapologetically. We have to acknowledge the privileged place we come from if we kept our jobs, our health and our lives and see that even with all that, there was, and continues to be, tremendous loss: of optimism, of belief in our democracy, of faith in our fellow citizens, of a basic understanding of who we were, what we valued, who we have become in this time and where we’re going.
I don’t believe I’m alone in all this complexity and confusion. Please, tell me what you are doing to manage these thoughts or others for yourself. How in the world do we come back from this?
I’m clearly not the only one thinking and writing about this phenomenon.