On facing ourselves

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Some days ago the government in my country announced a proposal for how we are to go about when we return to “normal” life. Notice that I say “proposal”, I don’t even think it has been approved yet, and since then thousands of people have decided they should go out to the streets. Oh yeah, but they’re wearing their fabric face masks.

There have been horrific reports of the increase of domestic abuse since the quarantine started. Many people are trapped in their houses with people who systematically hurt them and demean them and they have nowhere else to go, no one to talk to or ask for help. They are trapped next to individuals who are growing increasingly violent the longer the lockdown continues.

I read an article in The Guardian about the shortage of beer in Mexico. The national government decided that breweries are not essential businesses and decided to close them for the duration of the quarantine. This in turn caused people to panic buy cartons and cartons of beer and it is getting increasingly difficult to get hold of Mexican beer (you can still find some imported beer, apparently).

The article quoted members of different business associations who criticised these governmental decisions on economical grounds. Of course, this part I can agree with because I can only imagine the impact this prohibition has had, no only on breweries themselves, but all kinds of businesses, big and small, which thrive on the sales of beer. This lockdown has affected people in so many different ways.

What I really found shocking and even painful in said article, was the other main argument these representatives of the commercial associations gave for the urgent need to reopen breweries in the country, namely that with no beer and no possibility to go out, many people were increasingly aggressive with their families.

I’m sure beer will solve everyone’s problems. Because we all know that alcohol calms people down and they stop being violent and volatile the more they drink.

The worst part of all this, and the saddest, is that many people feel like this. About the beer, but also about other things. If they had beer, or if they could go shopping, or go to party after party they would be happy. But would they?

I cannot help but wonder if these things would really make people happy, if they would be satisfied with their lives, fulfilled. If these people had their beer, would they really be happy and peaceful and not beat the crap out of their wives and children? Really?

Does nobody else see the problem here? If I need the beer to be happy, or the shopping, or the television set, am I really happy when I have all those things?

I remember once, when I was in high school and my classmates started to drink. Once they went to a party and the following day they were complaining that the party had been so bad. I asked why. “There was no alcohol!” I said: “Well, no, but you were so excited about this party, and all of you were going, right?” “But there was nothing to drink!” So I said to them: “So, what matters to you is alcohol, not your friends? If there is alcohol you have fun even if you are alone?” I was not popular.

I find it sad that people have to resort to crutches to be able to survive emotionally. Life is hard sometimes, yes. It is painful, too. It’s also confusing and complicated. And we have been taught a very wrong message about positivity. We smile at pain, we say we are ok, and then we go to the privacy of our homes (sometimes) and do all sort of stupid things to cope with the pain, with the shame, with the disappointment, with our own perceived inadequacies.

If only we all dared to speak out loud and say that we feel the same. We all feel alone at times, powerless, hopeless, hurt as hell. If only we could share our pains and sorrows with the world, we would be able to hear the cries of despair in the house of our neighbour. We could go there and offer solace. We’d tell them, you’re not alone. And we wouldn’t be alone, either.

And of course, the situation right now is nothing short of terrifying. Many people have lost their jobs, or at least their income. Many others are trapped in impossible situations where no one can hear them or protect them.

But many others find themselves, right now, trapped inside a room with themselves. They have found themselves face to face with their past failures, with the frustration of the lives they have constructed on the instructions of others, with the frustration of all that could have been, or could be, and is not.

If you are feeling like this, fear not. It is time. This is a precious opportunity to look yourself in the face, declare your love for you, imperfect, frustrated, blemished and all. You are much more than what you think you are. You can do much more than you imagine you can do.

You don’t need anything to protecto you from that pain. You are strong, and you are enough. If you remove your crutch for a little while, you will notice, I promise, that you won’t fall down. It will be unsettling, maybe. A little bit scary, perhaps. You will walk gingerly for a little while. But then you will walk just fine.

Face those aspects of yourself you are afraid or uncomfortable of, and they will become your friends, and teach you lessons, and you will come out of it more beautiful, stronger and wiser, and you will be able to guide others along the way.

I wish you peace.

Love and blessings!

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