The Collective Trauma
We are all going through a collective trauma right now, every single person in the world. In my lifetime, I have never known such a structural change in the way that we live our daily lives. The closest thing that I can remember is 9/11. Though I was not directly impacted, I do remember things changing after that September day.
I learned what terrorism was as I ate a bagel and watched the plane hit the second tower. I was 10-years-old, and I couldn’t help but wonder why the pilot would accidentally do that. My parents, along with many others, had to sit me down and explain why this was monumental.
Our safety and security were shattered, both literally and figuratively. I remember being able to walk loved ones directly to their gates at the airport. After 9/11, the entire energy of being in the airport changed. It was nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing. I could feel this, even as a young child.
Then, the shoe bombings happened. I truthfully cannot remember if it happened once or multiple times. All I know is that airport security changed again. Now, shoes had to come off, so did jackets. My hair, always long and down to the lowest part of my back, searched. For what, I do not know. I was just a kid.
Now, we are all experiencing something very similar. It’s worse, though.
This pandemic has directly impacted us in the United States for over a year. The first person that I knew who almost didn’t make it from the virus was someone incredibly close to me. At that time in March 2020, nobody else that I knew had it. The lockdowns began, and people started to complain that they were getting bored. Meanwhile, I was caring for the person that I love the most and just waiting for the virus to “get me” next.
We went through so many different phases as a collective, yet apart. I’ve lost so many, mostly due to poor communication. I am fortunate that I have not lost them to the virus itself, but this has been a very traumatic time. Nobody really knew what was coming; it was impossible to know. Now, we are left with the ongoing aftermath that we must navigate.
Either together or alone, we must go through it. Unfortunately, I have been sensing a lot of separation in the way that humans interact. We have forgotten how to talk to one another because we are not supposed to get close. We have turned so far inward that we have more time than ever to reach out to those we love, yet we still sit paralyzed with the reality of what life is like now.
Then, there are those moments that feel like fever dreams (for lack of a better term).
The moments when you get to go out with your family to a safe and socially-distanced function bring back the joy. It allows you to feel like maybe life will not always be this way. Maybe one day, the next generation will get to grow up with the same freedom that we did. For now, we are in a state of perpetual lockdown. We are talking to our therapists online, expressing our worries and concerns.
We are learning who is really here for us and who cannot be present. It has taken a huge toll on us as a society, but I urge you to remember the goodness that is still all around us—to appreciate the wonderful moments of bliss that make you forget about what is going on, if only for a moment. We can get back to this life, but we must live selflessly.
Until then, please, stay safe. Be kind to each other. Check-in with your loved ones because they need you now more than ever.
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