Last night we got a text message.
One of my daughter’s friends at school tested positive for Covid. We’re keeping her home and watching for symptoms. We decided to spend yet more money on mitigation efforts, this time on a personal portable air purifier we can keep next to us at home in case one of us gets sick. If even one of us gets Long Covid, it would upend everything. It would probably bankrupt us, not to mention making our lives even more of a living hell than it already feels like sometimes.
So we have to weigh the cost against that.
Many of us have gotten so used to this way of life, we’ve forgotten how different it all was just a few years ago.
The Covid downplayers get angry at us for talking about our lives and our needs. They equate basic protections with lockdowns, and it’s especially insulting because we’re the ones who’ve spent three years in lockdown.
They seem to think we enjoy going through these tedious routines, as if we’re just a bunch of masochistic virtue signallers.
The short answer is no.
We don’t enjoy it.
We don’t enjoy having to keep our kids home all the time to protect them from a virus that causes organ and brain damage, on top of wrecking our immune systems. We don’t enjoy spending thousands of dollars on air filters, masks, and nasal sprays. It would nice to save that money for college, or maybe retirement. It would be nice to travel without the imminent threat of death and disability hanging over us like the sword of Damocles. We’d like to visit friends and family.
We don’t like feeling constantly betrayed and abandoned by the people we care about. It doesn’t make us feel good, or righteous.
It makes us feel terrible.
It depresses us.
We don’t like watching half the world we know get sicker all the time, wondering why it takes them weeks to fight off a little cold now. We don’t like it when we gently suggest they make an effort to avoid sickness, and they roll their eyes and brush us off. It doesn’t make us feel superior.
It makes us feel small.
It makes us feel good to see other people quietly putting on N95 masks and doing simple things to protect their health.
We’re angry at the jerks who pretend to be our leaders. We’ve undergone a total reversal since early 2021. Back then, we were hopeful. We were optimistic. The rich and powerful made us big promises. They promised us cutting edge vaccines that could be tweaked and rolled out on the double. They promised us clean air and adequate sick leave, even childcare.
We’re angry now because none of that happened.
Now anytime we bring it up, we’re scolded.
We’re called names.
The rich and powerful now expect us to work no matter how sick we get. We have to send our children to school to get infected and infect others with any number of dangerous diseases, over and over. In some districts, schools even have the audacity to send our children home with waivers, alleviating them of liability if the activities they forced minors to engage in kills them.
We don’t like any of that.
True, we see diverting money and energy from other important areas of our lives as an acceptable alternative. We’d rather take on the burden of educating our own kids than sending them to a dystopia where nobody cares about them, and if anything seem intent on doing them intense physical harm.
We’re not wild about any of the options presented to us, but we’ll take the ones that don’t result in more pain and suffering.
And they call us entitled?
Some of us are glad we have the money to spare ourselves the agony of constant sickness leading to death. We’re trying our best to provide those protections to everyone else in our communities. We don’t like that essential workers are forced to work in floating pools of virus. We also know that their bosses and corporate owners could easily put protections in place for them.
They simply don’t.
It’s wild that people who claim to be liberal or leftist would shame us, instead of joining us to advocate for clean air.
Many of these downplayers have made it very clear what they want to do. They want live in sickness, when even billionaires now say openly that our miracle vaccines are getting less effective by the day. The downplayers want to stick with their highly misplaced faith in their “superior” immune systems. Even liberals and radical leftists believe this ableist, supremacist propaganda now.
The downplayers and minimizers want the vulnerable to stay home. They are, but even that’s not good enough. They have to stay off Twitter and Facebook, too. They can’t post anything to TikTok.
They have to be silent.
These downplayers are engaged in a form of cleansing. They’ve successfully ousted vulnerable people from physical public space. Now they’re ferociously complaining about their presence on social media, the only public domain they have left and their final plea to be heard.
Honestly, it’s sickening to watch able-bodied people lecture the disabled and immunocompromised on their privilege. It makes me angry to hear them banish their friends and neighbors to their homes, and then ridicule them for “living in fear.” There doesn’t seem to be any appropriate way for a Covid cautious person to exist. We can’t wear our masks in public because it irritates people. We can’t have clean air, even if we’re offering to pay for it.
Imagine being forced to stay home to defend your health against tens of millions of people who think you’re expendable. Imagine being ridiculed for that and told you’re just being hysterical after you’ve watched friends and loved ones die, or endured chronic illness yourself. Imagine begging your school for permission to pay for your child to have an air purifier, and being denied. Imagine being told that your needs are as ridiculous as a conspiracy theorist who believes in lizard people who drink the blood of children. Wait a minute…
Many of us don’t have to imagine that.
We live it every day.
We’ve had invitations to conferences, reunions, and weddings canceled or rescinded because nobody wants to bother setting up a zoom for us. We’ve been told it’s too much trouble, and we don’t matter enough.
We’re told it’s our fault.
The ones who do this call themselves friends and allies. In order to shield themselves from their own conscience, they lie to us and themselves by insisting they’re just looking out for our mental health.
They expect us to believe it.
History books will write entire chapters on the moral cowardice and cruelty of this decade. They’ll describe how liberals and progressives virtue signaled about masks until mediocre vaccines became available, then they completely abandoned every single one of their principles. They refused to accommodate new information, even when mortality rates jumped 15 percent above normal and never went back down. They devoted all of their time and energy to pursuing political rivals, only putting their differences aside in order to wage a tireless assault on the sanity of a minority trying desperately to stay healthy.
Every two years, they paused their attacks in order to ask us for votes and donations. When we hesitated, they complained.
They blamed us for killing democracy.
Even if Covid disappeared tomorrow, we would never be okay again. Not completely. We can’t unsee or unfeel what we’ve been through.
We’ll remember it forever.
If you don’t know my full story, a virus killed my mom.
She spent most of my teen years in and out of mental hospitals. One time, she thought I was an alien clone and tried to kill me. By her late 40s, she could barely walk. She couldn’t even have a 5-minute conversation. For ten years, she waisted away on a couch. Finally, she died in a care facility, alone, leaving us with tens of thousands in medical/hospice bills and absolutely no answers. Doctors spent a lifetime trying to diagnose her. Did she have paranoid schizophrenia? Did she have multiple sclerosis? Finally, they just gave up. Maybe she was just a crazy hysterical woman who didn’t want to be healthy or have a relationship with her children. They continued to charge us thousands of dollars per visit for labs and scans.
Sometimes, they never even sent the results.
I remember my mom talking about the time she had mono. For some reason, it always stayed with me. Then research started coming out that Epstein-Barr virus dramatically increases your risk for multiple sclerosis, and that an abnormal immune response to EBV is also linked to schizophrenia.
So yeah, a virus ruined my mom’s life. It took about 30 years, but it eventually killed her, and not one doctor could help, or even wanted to. It changed my life forever. I have no intention of repeating that with my family. If my mom could have an abnormal immune response to a virus, then I could have an abnormal immune response to a virus. So could my daughter.
So could anyone.
The people who call us doomers and fearmongers have never lived through anything like that. If they had, maybe they’d be less cruel.
Maybe they’d get it.
Even before the pandemic, we spent much of our time just trying to be seen. When we make enough noise that we finally get some attention, half of it’s just tone-policing from those who use “civility” as a code for silence. The only solutions they accept come in the form of hollow promises and false hope, all predicated on the continuation of someone’s suffering.
We see right through it.
We have a right to be angry. Our anger lives underneath our attempts to live happy, meaningful lives. It lives under our continued efforts to be calm, caring people in a world increasingly devoid of empathy. We feel it even when we’re playing with our children and caring for our partners.
We don’t enjoy being angry.
Many of us were planning entirely different lives from what we’re living now. We wanted to serve our communities. We wanted to participate in public life. Depending on where we live, some of us can’t even buy groceries without risking our lives. Strangers try to walk into us.
They cough in our faces.
We’re angry because there’s nothing civil or decent about what we’re seeing now, a large body of “centrist moderates” who seem proud about teaming up with conservatives to punch down on the vulnerable and justify killing them in mass with their breath while telling them to smile, and trying to say it’s not the most barbaric thing someone could possibly do.
We’re angry because the uninformed from every angle of the political spectrum constantly troll us with comments like, “Where’s your evidence?” They can look at 200 articles and accuse us of cherry-picking data. We’re angry because our lives have morphed into a high school debate, where idiots openly compare us to a mimosa and ask which one is worth more. They say things like, “I’m sorry your daughter has a chronic illness, but I need to have hot wings and beer served to me by a cute but underpaid 20-something in a crowded bar every weekend in order to feel right about the state of the world. There can’t be a mask in sight, or I’ll remember that other people exist and feel bad for a few minutes.”
They get offended when we call them eugenicists.
We’re slightly angry all the time. It’s in our blood now, and it’s not going away. It just retreats into a cave for a while. We didn’t ask for this anger. It was forced on us, and we now enjoy the extra work of managing and coping with that anger while meeting all of our other responsibilities. It’s hard.
Of course, we also recognize the value of our anger. Contrary to what we’re told, it’s the driving force behind every major social movement in history. Nothing changes unless people get angry and demand it.
This is your permission.
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Thank you for writing this post. It makes me feel seen and that I am not alone.
Thank you. I’m in tears now and will give in to it for a moment. But thank you so much. I feel seen. And I’m not even immunecompromised or so. Just a 62 yo woman, living alone, working independently who’s life would be destroyed by LongCovid which made me becoming kind of an eremite. At least I’m currently at a beautiful place, could avoid infection so far and was able to take my work with me. I’m terribly suffering with a text which in my old life would have written in 1-2 weeks instead of 1-2 months now. My creativity, my focus, my writing habe been so much affected by the sorrow, the fear, the gaslighting, and yes: the anger. Thank you again. I send you all best wishes I’m still capable of. 💔