The mask became a 

Safety blanket I can’t take

It off, I need it. 

I’m anxious about unmasking. If you’re anxious about it too, that’s ok.

If you are weary of masking, that’s ok. 

No one really knows how to navigate a time where a lot of people are vaccinated, some can’t get it yet; some are too traumatized to think about masking any longer, and some are too traumatized to think about life without them. 

That’s ok.

We can make it through this time, we can respect each other, and support each other as things open up, layers of emotional PPE are peeled off little by little, and “normal” gets tossed around in conversations and dreams for the future.

As we move forward, recognize that people will move at their own pace. It can be difficult, and we might find ourselves feeling like J.K. Simmon’s character in the movie Whiplash; frustrated that it’s “not quite my tempo.” It’s ok. Trauma responses exist on a very long continuum. Remember to have compassion for yourself, which will in turn translate to compassion for others.

I’m not ready to unmask yet, because hearing about how diabetes can complicate COVID-19 in many scary ways was really scary and I’m still recovering from that level of fear and worry. And that’s ok.

As we take little steps out into a modified “normal,” remember:

Fully vaccinated people are CDC- cleared to unmask if they wish, provided any establishment they are visiting doesn’t have a mask requirement. It’s still important to follow each establishment’s masking policies.

Fully vaccinated people who are not unmasking are not undermining the vaccine. There may be any number of reasons from serious acute or chronic illness of themselves or a loved one, to psychological reasons related to the collective trauma of the pandemic. 

People in other parts of the world don’t have the access to the vaccine that we do here in the US; and they are suffering greatly as a result.

People of color are dealing with the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing white supremacy pandemic. Listen to their stories, read their works, support their art.

Everyone reacts differently to stress, and in times of prolonged, continual stress, you may find your self reacting in all kinds of ways that may be new to you. Pay attention to your body and mind, listen to what they need and offer those things in self-love.

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