A couple of days ago a twitter thread by historians debated which historical moment was more similar to the current one. Historians were evenly split between the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and the 1918 flu pandemic.
What about all those other massively deadly times, though? World War I. World War II. Vietnam. South East Asia and the Middle East since 9/11. All the border deaths. All the genocides.
I worry that this time feels new and dreadful because we didn’t think it could happen to us, the capitalist West, the developed West, our (predominantly) White countries full of structure and infrastructure, full of law abiding (White) people with good jobs and good livings and a ton of technology and comfortable homes.
My homeless-on-and-off friend (most unhoused people are on and off; they still count as homeless) is not giving the pandemic a thought. Maybe she has bigger problems on her hands. Maybe she has less to lose. Maybe she doesn’t care about dying (she doesn’t).
I have therapy on skype and:
1. I ask myself if my trauma shit is still relevant.
2. I ask myself if my therapist thinks my trauma shit is still relevant.
3. My shit doesn’t go away because there is a pandemic.
4. My shit gets worse because there is a pandemic.
5, The pandemic brings up childhood horrors.
6. The paranoid infant.
7. The abandoned child.
8. The child left to fend for herself.
9. The child with no tools to fend for herself who nonetheless built herself a little fire each night and curled up by it to ward off the horror.
To my therapist:
10. You keep your shit together for me.
11. You appear on the screen with a smile, freshly washed hair, a nice shirt, say, “How are you” and mean it.
12. You hesitate to go fully online because some of your patients don’t have the technology, the privacy, or the stability to do therapy online.
13. You say, I’ve got you.
To all therapists/helpers:
14. This is not just a job though it is also a job.
15. You are in the business of healing which is the business of love and
16. There is no higher calling; there isn’t a nobler pursuit.
Painting by Perle Fine via a casualistic tendency