It is hard not to notice that the choice of wearing a mask in the current COVID-19 pandemic has become both political and a tool for shame. It seems that if you lean to the right, a mask is an infringement upon your rights. If you lean to the left, anyone not wearing a mask should be fined or jailed. Like most other things in our current world, there seems to be no middle ground, only noise from the two poles.
I can tell you that my willingness to wear a mask has saved my life- and it has nothing to do with protecting others or myself from COVID-19. It has everything to do with me protecting me from myself.
Most of my life, until entering recovery, I was only worried about myself. I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed and if I helped others in the process, well, that was good. But here is the kicker – I was miserable. I was critical of myself, critical of others. I hated myself and really didn’t care for others at all. I found myself drinking and drugging to be able to tolerate myself and how I felt about the world I was living in.
When I got help with my addiction, I realized freedom comes with getting outside of myself and helping others. That changed everything. I am the husband and father I never thought I could be. I am a good friend. I honestly care about other human beings and have dedicated my life to working for what is right. I serve more than myself, and I have never felt better. Not only do I love others well, I love myself more. Here’s what took me by surprise – I am way more fulfilled now than I was when I was living my self-centered life. My self-centeredness was killing me. When I gave up myself, I got to live…and live fully!
My willingness to wear a mask is based in my getting outside myself. To be honest, I hate wearing it. I can’t breathe well. I can feel my heartbeat and my glasses fog up. But I have a friend who has a wife he loves who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She started chemo in January of 2020 and was completing it as the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down. When I don’t want to wear my mask, I think of her, her husband, and their kids. If wearing a mask gives them a better shot at more Christmas days, birthdays, weddings, and grandchildren then well, guess what- I am putting my mask on. I can just wipe my glasses off! The paradox is this – doing something for others gives me the life I was searching for when my life was all about me.
Wearing a mask saves my life. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to help others and, in the process, save myself.