You cannot control the behavior of others, but you can always choose how you respond to it.Roy T. Bennett
I live in Queensland – a state of Australia that has had few COVID cases, and which has maintained strict border closures since the pandemic began. We’ve had a relative amount of freedom and ‘normal living’ for most of the past two years. Other states of Australia have endured huge lockdowns, but now the push is on to get everyone vaccinated, for the country to open back up, and for life to get back to normal.
Sounds great, doesn’t it!
In my fantasies, my life post lockdowns and restrictions would look like the picture below. I’m double vaxxed, and good to go.
But let’s get real.
Yes, I’m vaccinated. Great. I also have a compromised immune system, major long-term health issues, and I’m still recovering from heart inflammation, chronic fatigue and an auto-immune flair up since my last vaccination. (And yes, I am still so grateful to have been vaccinated – my health hiccup was a price I was willing to pay!)
So, as life gets ‘back to normal’ for most people, my life will continue to look the way it has looked since the pandemic began.
I’ll be at home. Or mixing with my ‘safe bubble’ of a few family members and friends who are also living a very low key life. I’ll be avoiding most shops unless I can go at a time where there are few people and my contact with others is limited, and I’ll be staying away from restaurants unless I can get take-out or be seated outside, well away from crowds. Beach picnics, walks in nature – there is so much that already works for me, and that I’m happy to do.
I’ll be watching and waiting, to see what happens out in the wider world. I’ll be keeping my risk profile low.
It’s not personal. I respect your right to be vaccinated or not. Go out into the world and enjoy your freedom. I’m celebrating your life opening up again. It’s wonderful! But for me, freedom will be something I can’t yet risk. I have chronic illness, and that’s something I can’t change. Within my circle of loved ones I have several other people who are immuno-compromised or living with major medical conditions. I can’t put them at risk. I won’t put myself at risk. As we open up, the risk of contacting COVID will increase. So, to minimise my risk I’ll keep doing what I have already been doing.
This isn’t something new for me. Every time flu season kicks in I stay home. I have worn masks on planes for years, and in public places when illness risk is high. It’s my choice. And quite frankly, my life won’t look a lot different when the world begins to open up again, except that for now overseas travel will be off the table, and I’ll keep avoiding crowds.
My life is full. I have a wonderful partner, great neighbours, and family close by. We have beaches and parks at our doorstep, and so many things we can do in our little part of the world that keep exposure to infection low. I am happy in my own company, and I have a business and numerous creative projects that keep me busy.
My choices have consequences, and I am okay with that.
I am also okay with the fact that I won’t be running retreats or hanging out with you in person right now. It’s sad, but it’s necessary. I am okay with the fact that I will keep wearing my mask, practicing social distancing, and hand washing. That I will listen to my medical team (and these include traditional and alternate therapies), and to my own inner knowing. That if I need to visit a health practitioner I will choose a place where staff are vaccinated and mask wearing is still the norm. Recent studies (here and here) have shown that vaccinated people who contract COVID are between 40% to 60% less likely to pass their infection to others. My choices. Ones that help me stay safer, and that protect other vulnerable people in my orbit.
I won’t be alone in these choices. Many people with chronic illnesses and disabilities (or who have vulnerable loved ones) will be thinking like me, and making similar decisions.
I hope that, regardless of your personal choices, you will respect mine, and the many people who will need to continue to be careful with their wellbeing. If I continue to wear a mask, that’s my business and it won’t impact you. If I choose to miss out on social gatherings for now, or to practice social distancing, or to change my life to support my own needs, that you will allow me that freedom. Because that’s what freedom is for me. The right to choose to look after myself and my loved ones. Not from fear, but from a place of experience in managing my own wellbeing.
Eventually, things will change, but for now I remain cautious.
Love, virtual hugs (cos social distancing) and my respect, Nicole xx