As a person who has been on this earth for over a half-century, every new “methodology” or “way of thinking”, I have usually met with skepticism. Now maybe it’s because I am a born and bred New Yorker, but that’s me. Excuses for bad behavior never went over well with my family and there was a plethora of behavior that fell under the “bad” category.
That being said, everyone these days talks about “self-care”. As the COVID-19 pandemic began, we were told to stay home, “flatten the curve”, they said. I sewed our first masks together in March of 2020 and we wore them when suggested. Vaccines came out – how fast could we get an appointment? Vaccinated twice, boosted, wearing masks when in large settings, staying away from those who we know are unvaccinated.
Here’s where the self-care comes in. On the growing list of identified “pre-existing conditions” that made one more susceptible to infection with COVID-19, I seemed to be checking off more of them as we went through 2020:
Older? (Really? I didn’t think I was that old…) – Check
Obesity? (I like to think of it as “fluffiness”) – Check
Pre-diabetic? (Jury still out on this one – endocrinologist says “no”) – Possible check
As the yes went on and more and more issues made me nervous, High Blood Pressure? – Check
Blood Type A? – Check
Besides the fact that I have been a somewhat closeted Germaphobe since the age of 8 (thanks to my dad and an inundation of poinsettias at Christmas), this pandemic and the thought of catching some “could-be-deadly” virus had me beside myself. My wife’s business was completely impacted as the shutdown of the restaurant industry led to her (thankfully) being home for long periods of time but put a tremendous strain on an already strained business.
Oh yes, you might think that washing hands, using hand sanitizer, wiping everything that came in the house down with Lysol sprays and cleaners and staying home might have been the best steps in self-care one could have taken. Staying away from large gatherings of people, meeting friends and neighbors outside, cooking every meal at home, shopping with home delivery – all privileges we took as the various surges hit our area.
With older parents, being an only child, running my own business and commuting an hour both ways every day to that business, I didn’t have a lot of time, nor did I have the inclination to invest any time in “self-care”. Maybe an errant massage once or twice a year but no regular doctor’s visits, no meditation, no retreats, no journaling – just a lot of running around and appointments and expectations to be met. I am not telling you this to have you feel sorry for me – only to give context to what I will say next.
With this pandemic, I finally chose to worry about ME; to take care of ME; to keep ME (and my wife) somewhat safe; for ME to be a responsible member of the human race and keep others safe as well – this was my way of saying, “Enough! I want to make sure I’m still here to see another day”. But with events scheduled at the very beginnings of the Delta surge (which we didn’t attend – 150 people, mostly unvaccinated – one having to be postponed due to COVID infections; another “indoor-outdoor” with about 70), we became highly aware of the vigilance necessary around rising infection rates. Other events were outdoors; we even celebrated my wife’s 60th birthday in August when almost all numbers in New York were down – we did a small family gathering – 30 people and outdoors.
And yet, it has caused nothing but trouble with family and in a community that are (for the most part) diametrically opposed to science, the world community and the “Golden Rule”; dressing-downs referring to what we should do and how we should behave have been vocalized loud and clear; I have encountered push back from friends and family alike – those that I always considered close but now realize (or maybe just solidified the thinking that…) if I don’t play the game by their rules and compromise myself, I’m not going to be considered or respected or remembered.
Definite on the respected. And with every passing day, remembered less and less.
I know I missed things and if you knew me well, you know, I live with the regret of missing things, so I try my best to NOT miss things. No one has asked why I am doing the things I am as far as COVID is concerned – no one has asked me if I am concerned about others I consider “family”. No one has asked if I’ve been able to see my family during this time – no one has inquired about loss. Keeping myself safe, keeping my wife safe and also, not wanting to be responsible for bringing a germ that I might be carrying to someone else and making them ill was how I chose to choose ME first this time.
That time I chose self-care? I’d do it again – regardless of the opposition. There’s a bigger picture here and when self-care broadens itself to community-care or worldwide-care, I’m always going to come down on the side of responsible and safe.