Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Monsters We Can Not See

It isn’t the monsters we can see that we fear the most, it is the ones we can’t see.

Cancer. Disease. And now, COVID-19.

We do our best to prepare to fight them and to work hard to avoid them but we can’t see them, we can’t feel them until it is too late and they have already attacked, and they tend to be the most deadly.
I’m not going to lie to you, this current monster has me petrified. We don’t know much about it. We don’t have the tests needed for it. People aren’t doing what they can to flatten the curve. People feel invincible.

We do know it spreads quickly. We also know that it is deadly. We know that not a single one of us have ever lived through or faced something of this magnitude of unknown.

Yet, the “advice” I keep hearing from people is: “Don’t let fear control you.” “Choose to live.” “Promise your kids they will be ok.” and, of course, “I promise you will be ok.”

Can we stop with that shit?

Here is the reality, none of us have ever experienced this. 

You don’t want me to be afraid, yet you want me to wash my hands every 10 minutes, not touch my face, sanitize every single thing that comes into my home, every surface, immediately wash my clothes after being around other people, and you want every 5th commercial on TV to remind me who is at the highest risk.

Do you know who is at the highest risk? My 17-year-old daughter. My father. My grandmother. And, due to his inability to effectively communicate, my son with a disability. My ex-husband. Myself. So basically, 4 generations of my family, my children and both of their parents.

But, don’t be afraid. Live without fear.

“Choose to live” but stay away from people, keep a 6-foot distance, ideally never leave your home. Take a walk but avoid anyone who may be on the sidewalk. Go to the store but don’t let anyone stand close to you.

My biggest issue is with the word “Promise”.

You can’t promise me anything and if you’ve read any of my previous blogs you know I will NOT use the word promise with my kids unless I know I can follow through.

Here is the reality, you can’t promise me that any of us will be ok. You can’t promise me that even with all of our protection and efforts that we won’t get this. You can’t promise me that if we get it, we will have a mild case and be ok. You can’t promise me that we, or someone we know, won’t die. So do not ask me to make that promise to my children, because I won’t.

I can promise them that I will follow every guideline, as will their dad and his family. I can promise them that we will do all we can but we cannot promise that any of us are completely safe from this. I won’t. It is irresponsible.

Do you want to know why this bothers me so much? Because a promise is a false sense of hope. If someone you look up to, a parent, or a person of authority makes you this grand promise that you will be ok, you believe them. You let your guard down. You think others are overreacting. You think you have nothing to worry about when in reality you should worry and you should keep your guard up.

They can try but not guarantee they can protect you or your family.

It bothers me that in a time of fear, no one is validating that fear. No one is saying that it is ok to have that feeling. Instead of teaching ways to cope with that fear in healthy ways, we are just told: “Don’t be afraid.” That’s not helpful. This is a valid feeling.

Anxiety is high. Panic attacks are more prevalent. Depression is at an all-time high. People are watching what is happening in other countries and in ours. They know people are dying by the hundreds. They know that we do not have the medical capability to get through this at the current pace. They know our medical personnel and first responders do not have the protective gear they need. They know that the numbers in the US are a fraction of what reality is because, at least where we are, nearly impossible to get a test. Instead, we are told to assume we have it, but that doesn’t count in the overall numbers.

I’m scared. I’m not going to hide that from my children or lie to them. I won’t make them false promises. I won’t fill them with fear but I will approach them with honesty. I will help them understand the ways they can protect themselves. I will teach them the importance of communication and telling people in your life that you love them. I will teach them that while we cannot go out and make deliveries or pick up prescriptions for others, we can donate to the coffee fund for medical personnel at our local clinic. We can send cards and messages to people who are alone. We can do things from inside our home that keeps us safe and make a difference. And that by not leaving the house, we ARE making a difference. We are doing our part to flatten the curve. We are preventing the numbers from growing.

We don’t know that we haven’t been exposed and that we won’t be hit with this tomorrow from exposure before we tightened up our quarantine efforts. We do know we can appreciate every single day. We can take time each day to talk about memories that are important and plans for what we want to do after this has passed and we are in a better place again.

I DO believe that there is an end to this. I do believe that the majority of people will not need medical attention and be able to self-treat at home. I do believe we will come together on the other side of this. I do believe this will forever change us. I pray it is for the better.

I also see the reality and I won’t ignore that or tell anyone who is feeling more anxious or scared that they are wrong for feeling the way they do. And I won’t promise them they will be ok. I hope they will. I really hope they will but I cannot make a false promise. So, if you could lay off that shit, those of us who live with and love people who are at risk for life-threatening complications from this would appreciate it. Because this monster that we cannot see is the scariest one yet.

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