I was not sure I wanted to do it myself. I was operating on the principle best summed up with the words: better you than me. I had to make a change to embrace a living amends because of my debt to society. Really, the debt is more to myself because society has quite gotten over expecting anything from people situated like me.
Other people could get the vaccine, and I could see what happens, I thought. That would be fine. After all, you just never know. Right…you never know. And since I do not know if it is safe and the only way for us as a society to find out if it is safe is for people to get vaccinated. Someone has to do it. Many someone’s. And I was ok with other people taking the risks for me, and I would swoop in and reap the benefits once I got the results.
Was I really that selfish? I was. This selfishness was news to me. I thought of myself as a person on the forefront of advocating for people’s well being within my personal circle and extended circle. And yet… My first instinct was to preserve myself at the expense of other people. I was really disappointed in myself, as much as I was surprised. This is the elementary lesson that maybe others have learned much earlier but I am just getting around to mastering: If I want to be a good person as I define “good” I have to make an effort to think differently and do what I ordinarily would not do. I have to do the things that, to put it colloquially, suck. I am not talking about other people’s opinion of me, because no one really knows and if it came down to it, a person can say whatever she wants to in the unlikely event that someone asks something so personal as did you or did you not have that medical procedure. No one had asked me, and there was always the fall back position of lying once I found out which way they were leaning. I had no worries about other people’s opinions. After all, people are pretty much caught up in judging me for my past anyway and generally consider me ineligible for the label “good.” Yes, I have to say I have just about gotten over looking for approval from others because I have faced the fact that it is pretty much not going to happen, the “it” being approval from other people who know me. Unless…unless I meet special, nonjudgmental people who like me anyway and the only person who did not judge me and liked me anyway and not just for my body is dead and has been since 2017. That kind of lightening has never struck twice for me. I am not trying to win friends and influence people. I want to live with myself. And I cannot be at peace with who I am if I am happy to let other people do for me what I could and should do for myself and others.
I want to be proud of myself but I could not be proud of myself if I let other people take the risk for me. I wanted a life that made a difference and I do not know yet if my life will matter the way I wanted it to matter. And what did I want? My goal is to have a life that makes the people that come in contact with the results of my work or my presence better off because I existed. That is a broad standard that allows for much apparent failure but does so in such a way that failure does not mean I did not matter. People could even look at me as a lesson in what not to do. I will take that. However, I cannot hide from the fact that my mentality has not been focused on giving to others over the years. I will even go so far as to admit that I enjoyed much of my time doing what people do not respect, and what in actuality, renders me so unimportant that I am practically invisible to most people. Being the kind of selfish that is the hallmark of addiction generally means you do not make a difference and the world might be better off without you. Harsh but true.
And now– I have the chance to do something for the community and I was not rushing to seize the moment? That was shameful. And that shame motivated me in a way that makes shame kind of a good thing. I went ahead and got both shots. Pfizer. Sore arm for a few days. Some fatigue. Will there be long term effects? I guess we will find out. And it might as well be me who does the discovering. Wouldn’t you agree?
There is an appropriate and productive way to apply shame for a good outcome. Yet another statement that I recognize is harsh, but true. Hey, truth is harsh, sometimes. That’s why it is best for me to say the harsh things about myself because it might be alienating to shine the light of truth on others. You know that I speak only for myself and even then, I am not guaranteeing that the events I speak of are literal. There could be creative license in anything I write. You do know that yes? Just an aside.