Slights, mistakes, embarrassments, accidents, catastrophes. Are these things flooding your mind? Is your self-esteem in the toilet? Have you stopped to ask yourself why?
Here’s the reason — COVID-19 is doing a number on our brain.
Pre-COVID, we had a million distractions. It was safe to roam the earth. You could go to a store for a little shopping without fearing for your life. You could venture out to a restaurant and have a meal cooked for you. Heck, you could even take your kid to a drama class, which is now being taught via ZOOM meetings.
Since March of 2020, there are just fewer things to do to take out mind off our misery. Our former foibles bubble up like sewage. We sit in our living rooms and ruminate about the past.
Like the time the large cocktail meatball dropped off the toothpick and onto my silk blouse at my husband’s recognition dinner for his 25 years of service on the job.
All those country club parties I was never invited to. The attendees posted the pictures on Facebook. Everyone there looked so happy and sane. No one was wearing a mask.
The night my psychiatrist of 20 years retired, and I went to the retirement dinner. One of the organizers of the party approached me and asked me if I “was the patient?” She didn’t use my name; she just said “Are you the patient?”
Not liking to be identified as “the patient,” I said “No.”
“Well, who are you?” she asked.
“I’m a friend.”
It didn’t stop there. The organizer brought my psychiatrist’s children over to question me more.
“How long have you known my father?” the daughter asked.
“20 years,” I said. Then, knowing I couldn’t keep up the charade, I said, “I’m the patient.” Talk about embarrassing.
Once I was selling tee-shirts at the Joyce Theater in NY, and I tripped going up the theater stairs during the performance, falling flat on my face.
The time an overweight teenager double-bounced me on a trampoline and I flew up into the air, landing on my ankle. Crack. It was broken. Cast for months. That was the end of my dance career.
That time I was fired from a good job as an email administrator because I was typing a resume on the company computer. Can you say stupid?
Another time I was fired — I was encouraging a student to create a gay character (his idea) in a story, but the school where I was teaching forbade homosexuality.
Peace Research in Oslo, Norway. I went all the way over to Scandinavia to take a class on Conflict resolution. I didn’t pay attention to the facts of the course that were presented and didn’t know there was a comprehensive test at the end of the class. Guess what? I failed Peace.
Then, there was the time my college French teacher told me to “just speak English.” This hurt my feelings and I burst out crying. I had to run out of the classroom. I went to the bathroom and splashed water on my face. Then, I knew I had to go back into the room. I went in quietly and said, “That was not the only thing I was crying about.”
He said, “Well, of course not.”
These things might seem minor to you, but to me they are humiliating, painful and unforgettable, especially during COVID-19.
I bet you’re assembling your list of mishaps and catastrophes at this very moment.
What are we becoming? Neurotic, vulnerable, guilt-ridden creatures.
But is this an accurate version of reality? No.
You are a worthy person who happens to be living in a world pandemic. Don’t forget this. COVID-19 is eating our brain.
The remedy? Seek out fun. Have a barbecue. Rent a canoe. Take a sewing class. Plant a marigold. Eat a pomegranate.
Get out of your head. Phone a shut-in relative. Read a Classic. Learn bird calls. Have a small party, but wear masks and maintain social distance. Post the photos on Facebook, saying “Everyone had a lovely time.”
After all, we’ve all made mistakes, put our foot in our mouth, acted childishly, fallen down.
Maybe what COVID-19 can ultimately show us is that we’re all human.