Sunday, July 18, 2021

It Was Supposed to Be Over

 I've had two COVID vaccinations.

So has my whole family, in fact. I've been terrified of losing my Dad to this disease, because he's in his fifties and has diabetes and the COVID risk prediction tool gave him a 30% chance of death if he contracted COVID. But he never did, and now he's almost entirely immune.

A couple days ago, I forgot to grab my mask when I accompanied Dad to the store. And for the first time in over a year, instead of staying outside or wearing one of the dirty masks my Dad had left in the car, I went into a store unmasked.

I'd just barely made it through the door when I remembered the nightmares. I'd started having them shortly after mandatory masking started. Nightmares of somehow finding myself in a public place without a mask. They reminded me of the nightmares I used to have about finding myself nude in public, except those nightmares tend to have a happy ending as I discover that nudism is OK. These maskless nightmares, on the other hand, have no ending, and nothing but the dread of sickness.

By the time we were at the till, I was shaking.

Last night, we ordered pizza, and I was so preoccupied with the fear and uncertainty I felt over the delivery guy's suggestion that I didn't need a mask, and my decision to take that suggestion, that I was confused when my brother complained that he hadn't brought the pizza sticks in.

I thought being double-vaccinated would mean it was over, at least for me. I've been looking forward to the time when I can go into a store without sensory discomfort on my face and the inability to see through my glasses.

It hadn't occurred to me that after almost two years of training myself that going without a mask was dangerous, I might not be able to unlearn that so easily.

I hadn't thought of this as a traumatic experience, not for me. Aside from a couple online friends, and a right wing asshole anti-masker who was part of the reason I stopped going to karate, I don't even know anyone who got COVID. I certainly don't know anyone who has died from it. My Dad does, because he's more active in the church, where the majority of parishioners are over 60, but I could never keep the old ladies straight in my head, and didn't form any bonds with them.

So it feels like "trauma" should apply to people who have had it worse than me. But this is a trauma response. These are trauma feelings.

And if I'm traumatized, and I have barely been affected by COVID, what does that say for everyone else?