Recently, I have been anxious, fearful and angry. How about you? While Covid-19 brought these feelings to the forefront, I realized the cause was something else, old traumas being re-triggered, the trauma of the pandemic—HIV/AIDS—that killed virtually every person affected in its early years. The deaths and illnesses affecting family members and beloved friends. The trauma of the last three years as we watch our democracy being threatened. And now with shelter-in-place, I face the unknown once more.
Trauma is the unfinished story of pain that reaches deep into every part of our physical being. Since the current health guidelines do not address trauma, I would like to talk about what I am doing in hope it will help you.
1. I need to acknowledge the deep root of my feelings by recognizing where my own grief and fear originate. Doing so, allows me let go of Covid-19, the concerns about being trapped in my home and feel the emotions in my body as they present themselves.
2. I set aside part of my day to experience the beauty and peacefulness of this year’s early spring. I weed the garden and take the permitted walks in my neighborhood. I watch the sunrise, follow the mid-day clouds and dream.
3. I am reading novels and short stories allowing me to enter into other worlds where characters are confronting the unconfrontable in horrific situations. “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead, or “Her Body and Other Parties” by Carmen Maria Machado are just two examples of storytellers that took over my body and feelings ultimately giving me perspective on the world I am dealing with.
4. As early AIDS activists did, I am finding ways to channel my anger into political change. As was then, our very lives depend on our actions.
5. I am confronting stupidity with solidarity by drinking Mexican beer and ordering out from my favorite Asian restaurants.
6. And, perhaps the most important, I am face-timing, messaging, air kissing, or elbow bumping those I love and care for. I smile and thank the workers I come in contact with at the supermarket and pharmacy. Human connection is what we need most of all.
This Perspective was broadcast by KQED on 23 March 2020 and can be heard here.