Wearing a Mask Saved My Life

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.

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