Inspired by: “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh
If the current pandemic has taught me anything, it is the importance of vulnerability. As life has slowed down, we’ve been forced to truly look at ourselves in the mirror. The voices in our minds that are normally silenced by busyness are screaming louder than ever before. We have found that what is important has become urgent, and what is typically urgent is left… importance questioned. Who are we when no one else is around? Who are we in the midst of uncertainty? Who are we in the midst of fear? Do you feel you show your vulnerability?
My hope is that as you read the following piece, you find points of connection, moments of reflection, and the freedom to feel however you feel during this time. Vulnerability provides a space for this to occur. As you read this list, I hope you check in with yourself and create your own list understanding how your privilege and oppression influence what you draft.
The following are a series of statements I’ve heard recently (from a variety of conversations with strangers, family, friends, and colleagues) that showcase what vulnerability looks like in the midst of a national crisis:
- I feel guilty that I have a fridge full of food, a job with benefits, and a home to stay in.
- No, I will not operate at the same levels of productivity as before.
- No, I do not want to be reminded of how many people are dying or who has the virus.
- Yes, I spent two hours watching Tik Tok videos this morning.
- I do not want to turn on my camera for every single Zoom call. I just got done crying and am overwhelmed with fear.
- Please stop asking me how I am doing. You never seemed to care before! Your ‘check-in’ feels more like the check of a box.
- I’m scared because both my parents have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- I do not care about, nor do I have the motivation to complete, this assignment.
- I don’t want to hear one more thing about ‘CORONAVIRUS’.
- Stop encouraging me to cultivate a ‘new normal’.
- Why did she/he/they pass away and not me? My life is no more valuable.
- How can God exist in the midst of all of this?
- God exists in the middle of all of this.
- I am afraid that I am no longer relevant at my job, working remotely.
- Am I really doing enough?
- Who am I?
- I’m thinking about getting a divorce…
- I haven’t been staying at home; I hate being alone.
- I do not feel like I’m a good parent.
- I don’t feel like I’m doing all I can.
- I’m not good enough.
- I don’t know.
- I have no answers to give you.
- I just want to cuddle.
- I’m feeling depressed.
- I’m so anxious!
- I hate conference calls.
- I’ve been drinking a bit more than usual.
- I’m afraid of what’s next.
- I don’t know how to process this loss.
- I keep having dreams about death.
- It makes me sad that my child hasn’t checked in on me.
- I’m lonely…
- I’m not getting enough sleep lately.
- I broke down yesterday. I can’t do it anymore.
- I feel disconnected from my partner.
- I don’t know how to support the ones I love.
- I turned off my phone the other day just to avoid having to pretend everything is okay for a little while.
- Your negativity is so draining.
- I wish this would all be over already.
- Is this the end of the world?
- I just want to be alone.
- Stop pretending this is normal. This could never be normal!
- I just want to quit my job. I wish I weren’t ‘essential’.
- I know we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but this is the happiest I’ve felt in awhile.
- I can’t make ends meet. I’ve applied for unemployment.
- I’m not even sure if I qualify for a stimulus check because I didn’t file my taxes.
- I want to join the protests, but I’m also scared for my life.
- I need to educate myself. I thought racism was a thing of the past. I don’t know where to start.
- I’m afraid to lose my father, brother, cousins, and friends at the hands of police brutality. I do not feel safe.
- I’m losing faith.
- I still have hope.
In further reflection, always remember that there is danger in a single story. When we rush to solutions or conclusions rooted in a singular narrative, often based in privilege, we miss the mark for so many who are marginalized in our society. Storytelling is a form of valid research and tends to fill in the gaps of much quantitative data. I pray this time reminds us that everything that can be counted does not necessarily count, and everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted (Albert Einstein). What stories have we silenced during this time due to our fear of vulnerability?
What’s your story?
Let us hold on to these lessons as we come out on the other side of this.
Let no one be silenced. Connect with Perspectives Therapy Services to discuss your story.
Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland, Fenton and New Hudson, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.