Longing and Loss: Life After Mandates

I watched a movie the other night called “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” starring the brilliant Tilda Swinton. When it ended I found myself weeping quietly in despair. Being on the dating site has made me feel sadder and more alone than ever. Most guys over 60 went along with the government mandates and still believe anyone who refused vaccination is a crusading Trumpster. I’ve been yelled at, lectured, and ghosted. At best, I am “tolerated.”

I feel it most keenly. The lack of acceptance for my choices. The lack of acceptance of me.

The movie pretty much summed up my life so far, although I don’t have a “Career” with a capitol C like the main character did. She was not unhappy with her life. There was purpose, friendship, all the time in the world for her studies and her writing. She was content.

I am content.

But am I happy? Going back to my carefree self as I was “before” the mandates is just not happening. Try as I might, my former light-heartedness is gone. I struggle to leave my house to do anything except necessary chores.

Ghosts of Pandemic Past

The lockdowns were especially long and difficult for a former social butterfly like me. The enforced lockdown meant that I had to get comfortable being alone all the time. The health authorities were right about one thing: being alone is the safest thing you can do.

There is also a darker reason I haven’t tried very hard to re-establish a life outside of my sanctuary. Becoming a social pariah when I had always been such a happy, friendly person, shocked me to the core of my being. Maybe I truly am a social outcast and I don’t belong in the company of others. Maybe my views are just too different.

Trust No One

During the mandate madness, I was forced to stick up for myself. I tried to protest to those closest to me over the unfairness of forcing a health intervention on me but they wouldn’t hear me out. Society and the gleeful mob mocked and ostracized anyone who made choices that the authorities deemed “harmful.” I was left alone in punishment; bewildered and wary.

I thought behaviour like this could not exist in the “enlightened” world. How can I trust anyone now? Will they turn on me again if I don’t comply with the next government dictates? Damn rights they will.

My fantasies that most people were basically kind and decent died during the pandemic. Most people will look the other way if you are carted off by the authorities. Some will throw rocks or spit on you, for good measure.

During the pandemic, I worried about neighbours who could be potential snitches to government if they saw too many cars in my driveway. That is until I realized that I usually had only one car in my driveway: mine. (In early spring of 2023, our city still had a button on its website to hit if you suspected people were gathering together in groups larger than 10 people.) Strangers were not friends you hadn’t met yet but mask wearing frowners who disapproved of you taking the fresh air sans mask outside. At my most paranoid, I worried that the government might mandate masks outside as well as inside and I’d be turned in. Partners were not supportive but combative or avoidant. You’re either with us or against us.

Pretty Baby

There was a controversial movie in the late 70s based on a true story. A child grows up in a brothel, is eventually abandoned by her mother and finally escapes by marrying an older man. The movie is called Pretty Baby and stars an 11 year old Brooke Shields. It’s still controversial, 40 years later.

Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby – 1978

The child’s mother, played masterfully by Susan Sarandon, has married a rich, respectable man. Eventually, she returns for the daughter she left at the whorehouse. In the final scene a photo is taken with the daughter and her new family. She is now dressed as the 12 year old girl she is. Her stare at the camera is with the eyes of a haunted woman, however. We witness her loss of innocence and are left wondering: what happens to her. Was she able to reconcile the trauma of her past with her “normal” present and find happiness?

How do people move on from this kind of adversity? They say that one of the keys is forgiveness.

What Would Gandhi Do?

I’m not comparing my experience to the unfortunate young girl in that movie – hers is a terrible story. I do relate to the loss of innocence – the loss of a “normal” life and the feeling of unreality the new “normal” contains. There are too many stories like this but it heartens me to know that others have survived far, far worse than a few years of social isolation and shaming. My favourite stories are of the people who have managed to find forgiveness in their hearts.

I have a list of people and institutions that I need to forgive if I want to move forward from the trauma of the past few years. It is crucial that I do so. After talking to people who remain angry and bitter as hell, I know I need to get past this. Maybe anger is a natural part of healing. Still, it looks to me as if they are “taking a poison in hopes their enemy will die.”

Turning of the Worm

As articles from independent journals like this one from the MacDonald Laurier Institute begin to appear, I feel a sense of relief. It discusses how damaging the mandates were, “Covid Vaccine Mandates in Canada Were a Mistake”: https://macdonaldlaurier.ca/covid-vaccine-mandates-in-canada-were-a-mistake-are-we-ready-to-learn-the-right-lessons/

“I doubt that millions of Canadians will ever forget what it was like to become pariahs in their own country, and how quickly it happened.”

“Covid Vaccine Mandates in Canada Were a Mistake” – Kevin BardosH

And there is this one from the American Council on Science and Health detailing the unintended consequences of vaccine policies (see the chart below): “Trouble With Vaccine Mandates: They Can Backfire Studies Show

Credit: American Council on Science & Health

There seem to be intelligent people who are ready to see – and put forward – the truths as I have lived them. It is such a relief to be allowed out of the “misogynistic, fringe minority” box Trudeau put me in. (In a weak moment, I might have been Putting the Worst Swear Word in the World to Good Use.)

Of course, Trudeau is now distancing himself from his former hardline: Rupa Subramanya: Trudeau tries to gaslight Canadians about his pandemic record (msn.com)

That’s a politician for you. Find out which way the wind is blowing and ride it as long as you can.

Because the media has taken its “foot off the gas” of demonizing the unvaccinated, it’s allowed me to be more tolerant, too. It has also been easier to forgive my former co-workers. Heck, I’ve even taken a position with the company that fired me for sticking up for myself!

Health = Wealth

Working at the health food store for 14 months after I’d been fired from my job for refusing to be vaccinated was a real eye opening experience. Almost daily I listened to the horror stories of people who had been vaccine injured (and gaslighted by their doctors). How could I not forgive people who had paid such a high price for going along to get along? Some of these people’s lives will never be the same. Many were angry with themselves because they’d gone and done it just to travel to a warm destination or go to their favourite restaurants. They feel manipulated and duped.

Most suffer in silence as they feel shamed by friends and family if they mention anything negative about the vaccines. Such has been the rhetoric around refusal. I would listen with horror as they detailed their struggles. They were relieved just to be able to talk about it. My heart goes out to them.

I am incredibly grateful for my stubborn streak. Yet, unlike the majority of Canadians, I don’t expect everyone to make the health choices that I have and I’ll never punish anyone for eating bacon every day. As we age, our choices punish us enough. 83% of Canadians take at least one medication for a lifestyle disease like diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol once they hit 60. It should be noted that no one forces them to give up bacon or to take these medications. And they are certainly not denied health care because of their choices.

When most older people consume media sponsored by Pfizer, it’s no wonder they don’t know that there might be a better way.

Lest We Forget

It’s much easier to forgive than to forget. And maybe that’s helpful. If I can take the information I’ve learned and tuck it away for future reference, it’s unlikely I’ll make the same mistake again. The whole experience serves as a kind of wake up call. Never trust any authority to have your best interests at heart. They have too many competing interests – and need money too much to be impartial. It’s up to you to look out for yourself – do your own research and make up your own mind by using all the resources at your disposal, not just cherry-picking sites that cater to your political views or passively watching mainstream media.

I think this is why so many unvaccinated people have become “preppers.” For us, the world will never be the same. We were caught off guard, like the Americans in Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, shocked when they were attacked without warning. This time, we’ll be ready to hole up for a long, long time.

The Future’s Uncertain

What has society lost by mandating vaccination by shame and coercion?

It is doubtful I will ever want to be a full participant in society. What about my volunteering or even attending a fundraiser? No. I’ll leave that to the safely vaccinated to take on. My heart would barely survive another embarrassing dismissal when the wind changes and I am no longer welcome.

At this point, it is only just over a year since I have been allowed to go into a pub or into a city building. Bravely, I have begun going to the odd restaurant or meeting friends for coffee. I’ll probably never be a frequent patron, though. I still get anxious as I open a door to go inside and I can’t help but cringe a bit if an employee approaches me too quickly. I no longer care to have a loyalty card at any of these establishments.

At work, being back at my former office, I find I have a healthy detachment from both my coworkers and what the future of the place might be. It truly is just a job. I learned that the hard way.

As for love, I don’t know. It is hard to imagine someone my age who is open-hearted enough, confident enough, and optimistic enough to take on a relationship like the one I envision. I guess I include myself in that statement.

The good news is that I have only 2,943 more years of longing left….


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