Standing in my COVID Truth: My Case Against Shame and Blame

Recently, my dad texted me this article by Cory Zue. He thought I would find it compelling. 

Boy, did I ever. Not only did it resonate with me, but it inspired me. I do not have Cory’s unique perspective or 100% agree with everything he says, but he invites his readers to be more inclusive and open-minded regarding the COVID conversation. There has been so much shaming on both sides, and he would like it to stop. I would also like it to stop. Shaming and blaming do not help anyone or anything. Trust me, I’m 33 years old and have two failed marriages. If anyone knows the harm of shaming and blaming, it’s me.

So what I am about to say is hard to admit, but it’s my truth and I’m going to stand by it for now. 

I am not vaccinated for COVID-19. 

Phew, okay. A month ago, there was no way I would’ve admitted this publicly. I was so hesitant to even bring it up in one-on-one conversation, even with friends. I am surprised (and sort of psyched) that I can be so vulnerable now. 

I live in New England and come from a world where Western medicine rules. I graduated in 2007 from a prestigious college prep school and in 2011 from Johns Hopkins. Many of my high school and college friends are incredible MDs, PhDs, immunologists, neuroscientists, etc. living in the most liberal cities in the US. From what I can tell or what they’ve told me, they are all vaccinated. Almost everyone in my immediate family is as well. But not me. This might give you an idea of why I’ve held so much shame and shadow around my vaccination status.

In the summer and fall, I had many long conversations with friends and family who presented me with good evidence for why I should get vaccinated. Some begged me, a few berated me. I did my best to present my stance, but most were disappointed with my response. Luckily, my very best friends and family were accepting, even if they did not agree, and I am so, so grateful for that. Frankly, acceptance is what I most desire. I assume this is true for many people. 

As someone who has experienced the gamut of being personally attacked and rejected to being totally accepted, I want to share something. It’s when I feel accepted, safe and loved that I’m best able to open my ears and truly consider others’ viewpoints. 

And there is a scientific reason for this! When you experience emotions like fear, shame, and anger, it triggers your body’s sympathetic nervous system, aka “fight or flight.” You experience a cortisol spike, and blood is shunted away from your core, digestive tract, immune system, and logic centers. It becomes difficult to think, empathize, and respond.

In an age of internet trolling and “cancel culture,” it’s no wonder we’re having such a hard time in our health, and this includes our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. If we want to make progress in the world and attempt to open the hearts and minds of others, to come up with a winning solution to this COVID-19 problem, then we have to put our judgment aside and operate out of a place of love, respect, and acceptance. This goes for the vaxxed and unvaxxed.

My best friend in the world is pro-vaccination. Like, super pro-vaccination. She is also the most loving, accepting person I know. I feel very safe around her. She challenges me and asks questions that cause me to seriously reevaluate my choice. While my reasons for vaccination are very individualistic, she is more concerned with the collective. How can we ignore the fact that some hospitals are overrun with dying COVID patients who are mostly unvaccinated? The safety of the tribe, not just ourselves, is on the line.

This resonates. I’m sitting deeply with it. I haven’t changed my mind yet, but I’m open to changing my mind later. For right now, my gut says hold off.

If you’re waiting for me to explain why I am unvaccinated, then you’re not going to be satisfied (although you can get some idea from Cory’s article–we share a lot in common). My intent is to call for greater, more respectful discussion with those you care about but are feeling triggered by at this moment. 

I kindly request that you put aside your anger and remind yourself that we are all unique, once-in-a-lifetime cosmic beings with very different vantage points. We are in a position where our personal beliefs are becoming more important than our love for each other. This scares me more than the coronavirus ever will. 

We all have interesting, unique reasons for believing what we believe. We all have great points to make. And here’s one great point I want to make (well, I think it’s great)—why are we spending so much time arguing about the COVID virus and vaccine when the majority of our population is dying of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimers, and other forms of chronic illness? We pour so much energy into chasing symptoms and synthetic treatment that we aren’t putting enough effort on prevention and creating a healthy foundation. This is what I’m trying to fix in the world. My purpose is to empower people with true holistic health and healing. I want us all to operate out of a place of love and growth, not fear.

I hope you believe me when I say I have made a conscientious decision to remain unvaccinated. In fact, I don’t even think the vaccine is a bad thing. I think the vaccine has done amazing things. People are not getting as sick. They are less afraid. They are more willing to rekindle relationships, to travel, to get life back to normal. I am so grateful that we have a vaccination for those who want it. I am even inclined to think that people above the age of 50, or who are overweight, or who have multiple chronic illnesses (especially autoimmune) would greatly benefit from the vaccine. But for me personally, I’m not so sure. I want more time.

If I am wrong, and the vaccine is truly the answer to ending this pandemic, then I will feel so guilty, so sorry. But right now, I want to follow my intuition and be true to myself. At this point, that is more important to me than others’ opinions.

Shaming and seeking revenge are not the answers. They will never be the right answers. Whatever you believe, I hope you will be more cognizant of others’ differences. I hope you can open yourself to stories and perspectives that aren’t yours. You don’t have to change your mind, maybe just broaden it.

If you feel called to judge and shame, then a better option is to check yourself. Politely put up some boundaries and back out. If you read this article and decide you want nothing to do with me or have a desire to shame me, then I ask you to quietly unfriend or unfollow me on social media instead. Alternatively, if you like this article and believe that you and others would benefit from more open-mindedness and inclusivity, then I encourage you to share this article or engage in a discussion about health and healing with those around you.

 

1 thought on “Standing in my COVID Truth: My Case Against Shame and Blame”

  1. I, unfortunately, cannot get vaccinated due to reaction that put me in 4 different hospitals over 5 weeks. I am very upset and distraught that I cannot become fully vaccinated. I worry for my children. I appreciate that you made your choice. I wish I had that option of being able to make a choice. We all need to respect each other’s choices. I don’t like being yelled at by anti-vaxxers because I kept my mask on when I was driving just a couple of blocks from grocery store to Starbucks. I agree with you. Leave me alone. Unfriend me. Just let me be. I want Covid to go away. I hope we all do.

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