danielle coates-connor response to "thoughts on wrong- and right-relationship during a pandemic"04 Apr 2020
danielle coates-connor of infinite growth: My family, especially the women, taught me to do the work of communicating for one another at different times of need. When I get sick I know the updates I give my mom will make their way to anyone in the family asking about me. It is a tremendous relief that when I do interact with family, I don’t need to recap start to finish health updates every time and can instead connect about other things - which right now for us looks like funny COVID-19 toilet paper scarcity memes and other jokes.
In a formalized family or other relationship structure, it is easy to spread the information but the society doesn’t provide much structure or encouragement beyond that. Our social norms are designed around the wrongful assumptions that the “norm” in a family is a mom, dad, and kids living together with a wider extended family. Societal structures are influenced by this - from work, school, and childcare norms to rules about who has access to medical information in our most dire moments. This “normal” displaces LQBTQI+ people, found-families, singles, folks in transition, elders, widowed, divorced, recovering, those geographically dispersed from loved ones and many more who don’t fit and who have been creating their own structures with varying degrees of conversation about roles. When trouble hits, are the roles clear? Some people getting inundated with inquiry while others (even those who are loved!) receive no checkups and either side of that spectrum can be challenging.
Once the information gets flowing there is so many additional benefits to this. For example, in some of our pods we exchanged information about plant medicine, symptoms, warning signs to seek emergency care, and other useful bits.
This makes me crave practices, ceremonies, and conversations that acknowledge our love, caring, and willingness to show up is not defined by our family of origin, blood, or marriage. It can feel vulnerable to ask people to care for us in this way, whereas if it were commonly expected that we are all part of important non-biological family and support structures these conversations could be easier. Imagine if it were as easy to ask a friend to play a role in your communication system as it is to request they water your garden? We can create structures that support this connection and belonging.
This requires work because people are complicated. Even when boundaries are created, some people still assume they have access. It can actually become quite personal when somebody receives a request to hang back while a loved one rests and heals. Even when roles are established there will be gaps. This is something we could be practicing in times of health, talking about, and working through any difficult feelings. Like a fire drill.
We should be looking too at who in our pods is doing this work? Who is the person taking in all of this information, and then passing it along, good news or bad, to the others. Some people are good at this, and they do it so well it seems like nothing at all. I want to remember that during times of crisis these information carriers may have extra emotional burdens requiring extra love and inquiry about how they are doing.
We could also be practicing, like Andrea said, filtering what energy we share with those who are sick. (NOTE ANDREA: love that recollection of your learning, loved all your messages, and especially loved seeing the kids) PSA from my facebook when I was sick: