Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I can’t believe I’m writing this letter to you, but that’s where I stand now, with my feet in cement shoes and slowly sinking in the quicksand that my life has become. I, who counsel others on how to cope with their problems, find myself at a total loss with how to deal with my own. Seeing as how I can’t go to any of my colleagues for advice at the risk of losing my credibility, I hope you will be able to help me find a solution to my problems.
This pandemic has eaten away at my family in a very destructive way. My marriage is crumbling, my children have become zombies, glued to Zoom screens as they sit unblinking, eyes glazed over for many hour of the day, and I am trying to keep some clientele so that my practice does not evaporate entirely. My husband locks himself away in what used to be my laundry room and works from there. We have become like ships passing in the night, barely having any kind of meaningful contact with each other during the weekdays, even though the kids have just recently begun to go back to their respective school on a sporadic basis.
It was very different before Covid-19 changed our lives. My husband and I had a wonderful relationship, always able to come to agreement on things without argument. My children were all loving and well adjusted kids with lots of friends and interests. And our family, along with a large collection of relatives and grandparents who live nearby, often visiting with each other on Shabbos and yom tov, rounded out a functional, happy life well lived.
It all suddenly came to an abrupt end over a year ago, starting with the closing of businesses and everyone having to isolate themselves, the mask wearing and the social distancing and the terrible fear on a daily basis. Add to this the loss of my mother and my husband’s mother from the virus, along with two other relatives and some of our closest friends, we lived under a veil of fear and anxiety. And it’s taken a huge toll on all of us, the laughter is gone, the girls have stopped singing and playing with each other and the boys pick on one another and verbally attack each other. The worst is that my husband and I have stopped communicating with each other as we did before. Our discourse is dry and without feeling and we rarely are intimate.
The constant fear and tension, being constantly bombarded with media reports about casualties and the need to rush and get vaccinated, without knowing what these vaccines will do in the future, is further exacerbating the tension over what we should do. One Rav says vaccinate and yet another says don’t. Some doctors advocate the benefits of the vaccines yet others are skeptical of future outcome. Politicians are pushing to open up the city while others say it will bring on a new wave of deviant virus strains. What should we do as parents and who should we believe?
Just today, the President said we are seeing the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel we have been living in for over a year, but how do we get back to the way we were? I know I sound like one of my clients when I should know the answers that I give them.
I’m turning to you for some hope that you can enlighten me and offer me the enlightenment I have misplaced or totally lost, because I am flying blind in this vapor of fear and inability to cope.
I will try to guide you to where the light is and where sanity lives, but I cannot and will not tell you what to do. That is for you alone to decide. If it gives you any comfort to know, both my husband and I have taken both shots of the vaccine, as have most of my adult children and some of my grandchildren. The question I asked myself was, “is it better to isolate myself from my family and friends with no guarantee that this will keep me from not getting the virus or, do I take the vaccines and be able to hug my grandchildren and walk out without fear of dying from the virus.” The vaccine won out and I am happy to say I feel human again. To take it a step further, my logic is if Hashem would not have allowed the vaccine to be created then it would not exist. Perhaps, then, it stands to good reason that I put my faith in HaKadosh Boruch Hu and the refuah He sent to the world.
Fear is a terrible thing. It obliterates logic and blinds the human brain from making thought out and educated decisions. If, as you say you are a social worker with the skills and education you amassed during your training, zero in on the skill you posses and apply it to your life and the well-being of your family. Don’t allow it to paralyze you as you stand by and watch your family erode. It’s time to take action and get your family and your relationship with your husband back on track.
Whether you choose to take the vaccine or not should be your choice and every eligible member of your household should be extended the same privilege. The terrible losses of life you suffered should be a consideration you should not overlook. Now that the world is, indeed, awakening and life is ever so slowly returning to our neighborhoods, there is less reason to be anxious and fearful.
There is a human malady I call the “what if” disease and it is a silent killer. It will automatically challenge any hope, logic or chance to betterment and kill it. Live in the moment, in the here and now, and see what positive thoughts and actions are available to you to help you make proper choices that will work for you and your family to return to a functional, productive and healthy life as before. If you don’t, you stand to bypass life and end up only existing and not living.
I don’t know if this will answer all the questions you hoped I could provide, however, I have a strong feeling I may have, at the very least, provided you with the will to heal yourself as you do others, and that you will make the right choices.