And I did…
This past year has been one long ride on the struggle bus. Yet, I’ve somehow managed not to end up medicated or in a padded room. With mask mandates handed down with swift execution, I was effectively remanded to my home. Not by choice.
I have a mask handicap. What the hell is that you ask? Well to sum it up in one sentence, I have childhood sexual trauma post traumatic stress. In plain speak, having my breathing restricted freaks me the heck out to a level of panic attacks.
I managed a mask a few times with the help of my wonderful husband, but I had such horrible internal anxiety attacks that I had migraines for days that followed. I could feel my heart running the marathon of its life. My mind threatened to spiral out of control. If he hadn’t been with me, I very likely would have landed in someone’s hospital.
My state lifted its mandate on masks this week. My heart did a small rejoice. But I remained cautious. People were so comfy in their cloth face coverings. I knew they weren’t likely to immediately let them go. My county lifted theirs and I got a little happier. Finally, I could rejoin the human race. Pick up a few things at the grocery store for that random meal idea. Drop that package off at UPS. Stop depending on my husband to do everything outside because my brain takes a trip down the highway to hell at the thought of a mask.
I had the nerve to go to my local grocery store sans mask today. Hubby and I needed to pick up a few things to finish off today’s taco bar. Nothing major right? We were almost done shopping when the manager approached us insisting we put on masks. I nicely replied I couldn’t medically. He insisted.
I shut down. I know myself well enough to know that one of two things would have happened. I would have either started shouting at the insanity that has become our society and their ridiculously tight grasp on the mask that doesn’t help. Or, I would have reverted to my pre-Jesus days and let him know what I really thought in not-so-nice terms.
Instead, I stopped talking. But, my husband, my wonderful, well-versed, incredible husband stood up for me. I wanted to chime in, to stand up for my right to choose, but I couldn’t. The sting of tears told me it I kept quiet. I wasn’t upset…I was angry.
For a year, I’ve had to defend my stance on masks, stay at home, only see people at church or if they came to my house. I followed the rules almost to the detriment of my own mental health. I did what was asked because of the mandate they felt needed to be put in place. And now that those were lifted, I still can’t.
Imagine how you’d feel, Mister Manager, if someone offered you a mask you had shoved in your back pocket so they could comply to a store policy even after they told you they couldn’t wear your mask? Would you take that back pocket mask and put it on with a smile? Would you not feel like a criminal in your local grocery store? Degraded? Made to feel ashamed because you thought you were finally free to feel like a member of society once again?
I could have cut him down to size with words, but I didn’t. I could have continued past him and finished my shopping as if he were no more but an annoying fly, but I didn’t. I could have screamed discrimination against the medically handicapped at the top of my lungs, but I didn’t.
Instead, I bit my tongue, let the tears burn my eyes, and cried silently as I walked out of the store, head held high, because I’m the bad guy who won’t wear a mask.
I only cry when I’m angry…