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A Letter to COVID-19: I’m Angry and Grateful

written by Liz Matheis, Ph.D July 17, 2020
A Letter to COVID-19: I’m Angry and Grateful

Liz Matheis, Ph.D., shares a letter to COVID-19 about her feelings of anger and gratitude during this difficult time.

Dear COVID-19,

I can’t believe how you, a virus, have taken our world and turned it upside down. You have shut down our world, isolated us, taken away our ability to hug and to lay a warm hand on another’s shoulder who is not in our immediate home. You have taken away our ability to work outside of our homes, physically sit in a restaurant and enjoy a meal, or go to the movies.

You have taken away our children’s milestones, planning for a vacation, and the ability to go into stores without being panicked.

You have taken away our ability to be human interacting with humans.

I’m so mad at you! I feel isolated, sad, anxious, and tired because I can’t sleep without waking up every few hours with panic. I’m now my son’s teacher. I am not a teacher, I’m a psychologist. I value my children’s teachers and how patient they can be. It’s a battle each day as I sit him down and attempt to complete his assignments with him. I dread this.

I am so mad at you for not allowing me to hug my friend on her birthday. I’m angry and scared that I don’t know when we can resume life as we knew it. I don’t know what it will look like. Will this change us for the better? For the worse?

Will we learn to savor all the little parts of life that we have taken for granted?

Will we remember to slow down and not overschedule ourselves? We have all been rushing, but where are we going? Have we been able to accomplish greater things because we pack so much into a day? By overscheduling our children, are we really enriching them, or are we traumatizing them? Are we teaching them how to self-regulate? Decompress? Enjoy the wonderful parts of life, like nature, thinking, and being creative?

The name of each day of the week is somewhat useless right now. It’s just a day. The only difference between Monday through Friday and Saturday/Sunday is the schoolwork. That’s it. And as much as I dread the schoolwork, it helps us to define the day so we aren’t lost in the abyss of time. Time that is dragging.

It feels like the 75th of April and that we have been in quarantine for 2,576.5479 days. I was looking back at my calendar the other day, and I missed being able to go into my office and open the door without panicking about touching the doorknob. I miss people walking in and out freely.

I’ve heard things like, when regular life resumes, we may hesitate to greet each other with a handshake because that’s another form of virus transmission. Seriously? The most basic way of human connection will be potentially frowned upon? I can’t – I just can’t.

And amidst my anger, I am also grateful.

Without this sudden pause that caused me to jolt and have to withdraw from human contact, I also wouldn’t have had the time to truly reflect on my life, my emotional battles. I wouldn’t have learned what I kind of knew but hadn’t acknowledged. I wouldn’t have had the chance to reflect on human nature, our inherent needs, our lack of appreciation of what we have and still wanting more. Never feeling like we have enough. Rarely feeling good enough, feeling justified in our emotions, speaking our thoughts, honestly. Worried about being rejected or abandoned.

Amidst my sadness, I am grateful for my three amazing children, the food in my refrigerator, and our health. I am grateful for being able to connect with my patients each day, even if only through video for now. I am grateful for the time this quarantine has given us to work through our “family issues.” It’s not pretty; in fact, it’s quite ugly at times.

So, COVID-19, I am both angry with you and grateful for you.

Sincerely,
Me

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