The precariousness of our survival right now as this virus refuses to die off, unlike the others we have seen in the past few decades, seems to depend on our being so very careful all the time. Careful that we don’t get too physically close to others in public places, and in the few stores and businesses that are allowed to be open. Careful that we wash our hands, and cover our mouths and noses with masks to protect ourselves and others in public. And an ever-changing set of social measures that keep being put into place to try to ensure for the majority of us, our continued lack of infection, and that of those we live with. The negative impacts of this virus have been widely mediatized, mainly: the global death toll, the hundreds of thousands of people who have recovered from infection after one heck of a battle to do so. And of course, its impact on our economies, and the ability of global citizens to sustain themselves financially over the short and long-term, which varies by country.
I believe that one positive aspect of this global pandemic has been the time it has allowed us to spend with our families, partners, and whoever we chose to isolate with. Along with the ability to easily be more present with them than ever. Since many of the social and capitalistic distractions we are accustomed to, are shut down due to the coronavirus. Things that may have distracted us from interacting more intimately with each other previously, such as restaurant outings, events, concerts, bars, festivals, etc., do not currently exist where I live due to the pandemic. And its void has been filled with conversations by the boatload, virtual board games, video chats, too much streaming, and bike rides as the weather warms up.
Currently, we have no other option when it comes to in-person entertainment, than to create it for ourselves with those we are isolated with. Or, for those like me who have isolated alone, by visiting friends and/or family that we haven’t seen in far too long, in: parks, backyards, decks, balconies, etc., with a 2-metre distance between us as social distancing measures are loosened voluntarily in North America, and worldwide. Or, to spend a lot of time on Zoom, Skype and other video platforms to try to see friends and/or family that are too far, too at-risk, or too much of a risk for you, to see in person.
One result of this much less entertainment-oriented society we now exist in, has been friendships and relationships I thought I had, dissolving in the face of both: the life-or-death situation that Covid-19 has placed us in, and the lack of distractions available from what ties really exist between you. I especially like the purity of the relationships that have survived so far, and the honesty of my interactions with my social circle during this pandemic. What is discussed and what matters are factors that are real, and less capitalistic than ever. It reminds me of the unsulliedness of the friendships I had in my youth. Before cell phones, social media, bills, professional success, and other superficial social elements became part of how we viewed others, their worth, and how they deserve to be treated by us. Back when you spent time with each other, shared everything that mattered to you, and placed value on individuals based on how they treated you and others. I have watched my best friend’s family ties deepen, despite their living internationally in a very hard-hit area of the pandemic, and his living in Canada. But I realize that prior to this crisis they were already close-knit, and had a great relationship. This time alone, undistracted has made dysfunctional or empty relationships in my life harder to ignore, and justify their continued existence. Letting go of friendships that were not based on anything real, has been easy to do on both sides. Due to living through what for many of us is our first intense brush with our mortality, and our first war as millennials.
Doing the same with family ties has been harder but just as necessary. I come from a dysfunctional family where someone has to be stepped on for any functional relationships to occur between its other members. And I have been chosen for that position from an early age, at first due to looks, then to chronic health issues, which made them feel certain that my life experience would be below theirs. And as such, that they would have nothing to regret, because there would never be anything in my life that I would accomplish, which a lifetime of obliterating my sense of self, might preclude them from benefiting from. So I have always been treated as three-fifths of a person, that it was okay to do anything to, and whose feelings did not matter like theirs did. As a child you naively love your family unconditionally, in part because society tells you that no one will love you like they will. So if you have a family that does not love you, you automatically think that something is wrong with you, not with them. That you must be unlovable and that no one in the world will love you if you can’t make your family love you first. Once I got past that psychological dogma as an adult, and finally made romantic and emotional bonds with others despite my family’s best efforts, it was still hard to let go of them.
Because once again, society tells you that they will be the ones to support you when times are tough. Times have been tough for me within my dysfunctional clan since I was a child, because I have always been very self-aware. As a teen with academic prowess, I learned to trust my sense of awareness, to hone my critical thinking, and understand how much my familial ties were detrimental to me. But by then, I was already living through tough times health-wise, and I believed I needed my family’s support to get through. That support never materialized, and I fought for the health I have today all by myself, through ups and downs, since I was diagnosed as a minor. But I still thought if outside circumstances occurred that threatened my physical safety, my kin would see me through that. I was also proved wrong there. Then I thought, if I ever had a mortality scare my family would surely rally around me. I was wrong once again. Finally, with this pandemic, and my living in the hardest-hit province of my country, and the city where eighty percent of its infections are. I thought after all these years, all the support I have lent them in their everyday lives, and that of their children and friends, my kin would care. When I was proved wrong for what seems like the umpteenth time, and with a lifetime of my keeping this tie alive by myself, I finally realized this cannot go on.
In my solo isolation, I am unable to distract myself from the painful reality of their loveless and empty relationship towards me. My mortality as well as that of so many others is on the line, daily. And, unlike all of the other times I convinced myself to hold on, I have both an extreme circumstance I never expected to live through (a pandemic), and the stillness I apparently required to face the reality that has always been. I am grateful that Covid-19 has allowed me to find the courage to rely on the strength I have always shown in times of uncertainty, fear, and potential demise.
To finally trust myself to be my own family, and to trust my friends to continue to be my chosen family. So that I can be ready and unburdened enough emotionally, and psychologically to create a new clan of my own. Without the dysfunction that mine placed on me up until now. It’s near impossible to view yourself in a healthy way while allowing those whom you have cared for your whole life, to treat you as if you are worthless. The duality needed for that made me feel crazy, and also prevented me from ever fully believing that I had any worth without needing that positive reflection of self to come from others. May they be co-workers, employers, friends, or lovers. How they viewed me, is how I have always truly seen myself, because of my inability to break away emotionally from the source that a lot of my personal demons originated from.
I hope that for many others along with fear, and uncertainty, this pandemic can bring about: clarity of self, purity of relationships, and a realization of how strong you really and likely have always been. As well as an even more hopeful future for us all.