Can we meme our way out of this?

Platitudes are like dick pics. Searching for which cliche fits best in response to someone’s expression of anguish is like searching the garbage for a used condom. Undignified, pointless, and disgusting.

It’ll get better.

Keep your chin up.

Enjoy your time together…

This too shall pass.

They grow up so fast…

We’re all in this together.

We’ve all used these words. We’ve all felt that hopeless moment of trying to cheer up someone and grasping at giving reassurance but just coming up with feeble banalities.

I’m not quoting a study or going to make a reference to a famous pious oracle or analyze the success rate of platitudes for you. I feel fairly confident in asserting that they’re as wanted as unsolicited dick pics. There’s the danger of being redundant when saying “unsolicited dick pics” but I thought I would at least specify for those of you that might feel judged by requesting them yourselves. No judgment. I am guilty of oversharing about my kids and posting pics of random foliage and food so whom am I to judge, mea culpa.

So when you, like myself, find yourself barely hanging onto your sanity while trying to survive this pandemic and being at home nonstop with your offspring you might bristle to the point of looking for a pointy object or hitting the “unfriend” option when someone says, “You’re not alone,” or, “Hang in there.” Only to be less cringe-worthy than, “It could be worse,” or, “Have you ever tried a gratitude journal?”

No, “Janice”, I haven’t. You know why?! Because it’s pretty difficult to find the bright side when you’re back to potty training your six-year-old who is regressing or getting woken every three hours by the other child who is having night terrors and screaming in her sleep. And NO I don’t let them watch the news and YES I do explain the bare facts without the grisly drama of the reality of our situation.

This same person sent me articles about accepting my children’s autism because clearly I had not done so if I was getting frustrated with my circumstances…don’t mind me while I go scream into a pillow that’s not embroidered with mottos or, frankly, clean.

Guess what, “Janice”?! I am ALONE unless you’re coming here at 3 am to help me put the kids back to bed and come up with “plans” for the day that will then be rebelled against because “we don’t wanna” is the refrain. I don’t need a self-help article I need some actual %&#@ing HELP. Like most in my situation, we don’t need the judgement of someone who has no possible way of relating to our life or experiences because receiving your opinion is about as wanted as a dick pic.

(By the way, “Karen” is the popular name to use when being derisive nowadays but I know at least two Karen’s that I love and admire, including my mother, so I go with “Janice” thanks to John Oliver so – blame him!)

Receiving a platitude in response to an attempt to reach out for connection in an act of vulnerability is like allowing someone to hold your newborn baby and that person sneezing in the baby’s face. All of us are seeking support and love from those we care about in a stressful era yet we’re all reacting and processing current events in our own way. Some, like myself, are siloed in my existence of self-quarantine out of caution, not preference. It’s painful for my kids when we see people gathering in playgrounds or parks and we’re not able to join them because we’re immunocompromised. 

Currently, it’s not safe, it’s not allowed by the local government, yet people are still doing it and it’s extending how long we have to eventually stay on lockdown because that’s where the spread of the virus is originating, “community spread”. Not only is it mentally painful for anyone to be cooped up this long (going on four months now) it is horrifically unfair of people to not grasp that their individual decision to not follow health cautions is directly impacting others’ mental and physical health. That their need for convenience and comfort by not wearing a mask or staying home is threatening the health of countless people and prolonging the suffering of others.

Much of my daily life before quarantine looks not all that unlike my life now except the difference is the effect it’s had on my kids’ mental health and the sudden lack of support from anyone. Every single support worker or therapist disappeared from our children’s lives until just recently. Video chats are the nemesis of people on the spectrum. It’s a hateful cocktail of direct eye contact, forced small talk, and being trapped in a conversation. I might as well douse them in honey and pour ants on them. It would be kinder.

Then there’s the fun of attempting to interact with the outside world. Oh joy! We wear masks and keep our distance. Our neighborhood? Not so much! We honestly played a game of “mask bingo” and I gave them a sticker every time we spotted someone wearing a mask when they passed our house. It took them three hours to fill the card. We see at least twenty people go by in an hour. Do the math, I’ll wait…

Our state is supposed to be just coming out of a lockdown despite the numbers doubling and tripling every day. Are the numbers reliable? Who knows. Google CDC, WHO, or your state health authority. There is no reliable testing, no reliable tracking in Oregon, and testing is not readily available for most people especially those that lack transportation or have obstacles to obtaining medical care. Like, say for instance, being autistic.

“Maybe if you found some “me” time…”

I appreciate a crass or snarky meme as much as the next girl but if I get one more flippant “hang in there” from a neighborly stranger passing by without a mask on or keeping their distance I might just start creating chalk art of penises with big droopy balls to enforce the six feet of distance and draw masks on them for good measure.

Many of us are struggling. Social media and memes don’t amount to a hug or a trained professional being supportive of our family’s medical or mental health needs but it is amazing what a physically distanced chat or an unexpected phone call from an old friend can make. I’m trying to remind myself to do that for others every day and remind myself that I’m giving my kids a healthy childhood and that is immeasurable given they’re living through a pandemic. There is no graceful or perfect way to survive a plague other than that, to survive. Every day that you’re healthy and you’ve kept your kids COVID free is a good day. Celebrate when you can if even just to have something to look forward to. I know I do. I woke up today because I planned cake for breakfast. Suck on that “Janice”.

“Keep it up, you’re doing great…”

“It won’t last forever…”

I really hope I’m wrong and the seriousness of this virus is being exaggerated but I’m not willing to gamble my kids’ lives over a conspiracy theory or my need for social interaction by going to a party or a bar. Just in case you need to hear this cliche:

“Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay home if you can.”

Support our health care workers and donate. Show first-line workers of every type dealing with the general public the decency and respect they deserve. Be cautious and tip well for &#@! sake.

A huge thank you to everyone that risked their lives protesting police injustice and systemic racism. Those of us that can’t physically be there support you and hear you.

I really hope we’re not alone in our struggles because I hope all of you are safe and survive this pandemic with your lives and sanity intact.

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