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Harriet Berkal


Sophie Berkal Sarbit

 
HARRIET BERKAL: IDENTITY CRISIS 101

by Harriet Berkal, November 11, 2020

i·den·ti·ty cri·sis

/i'den(t)?de ?krisis/

noun PSYCHIATRY

1. a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.

No matter what level of education you have, I’m fairly certain that NOTHING could have prepared any of us for this Covid pandemic we find ourselves locked within. 

 

Are you feeling anxious about your future ? Do you question the meaning of life when hundreds of thousands of people are dying from an invisible enemy ? Did you ever dream that refrigeration trucks would be required to house the dead, as the morgue couldn’t keep up in the year 2020? 

 

Perhaps you are a front line worker and even with decades of experience in an ICU unit, you have never been put under such emotional strain in your entire career. Have you experienced such massive burnout, that leaves you questioning whether to continue a career in this field ?

 

What if you are in retail? Yes there may have been tough times before economically, but lockdowns tend to close your dreams of surviving this storm with no end in sight. What then ? Your store may have been an anchor within the community. 

 

Typically we tend to think of a life crisis, relating to a personal drama such as a divorce ( you either anticipated or didn’t), or you are a lost soul after a traumatic event occurs and you don’t have the capacity to deal with it, you wake up one morning and something is missing. Or there has been a disclosure of information that leaves you startled and unsure of who you are and where you stand now in life’s journey. What just occurred ?  The rug just got pulled out from under your feet. Is there secure ground holding you up? 

 

A life crisis isn’t isolated to youth with undefined goals in life, nor to middle age, when the reality of mortality kicks in. 

 

We are all experiencing a GLOBAL LIFE CRISIS right now! 

 

The world as we knew it,  is no longer the same. It’s not normal to drop off a loved one at a hospital, where you can’t go in with them, only to hear days later than they are deceased and no you can’t see them ever again. There is no proper grieving closure. Things have been turned upside down and we feel helpless in regaining our equilibrium. 

 

The recent election in the US has only added to the turbulence we find ourselves in. The notions of fake news, mailed in voting ballots being scrutinized as a conspiracy, an incumbent President incapable for accepting defeat and scrambling to undermine the essence of democracy. 

 

Is this real ? How can this be happening ? It makes the vast majority of us feel quite unbalanced and praying for some restoration of sanity.  

 

If you have had  the experience of walking through a mall in this new normal ( before the numbers got higher), the familiar regularity takes on an apocalyptic feeling. We are all wearing masks which are finally mandatory, there are arrows on the floors of which way to walk, one way to enter, another way to leave, but sanitizing of hands is ever present. 

 

Many stores have disappeared into the horizon of oblivion. They will never be seen again. Yet they served as your “go to”for so long. 

 

Now we are ordering  groceries online and curb side pick up is an excuse to get out of the house. Schools have reopened and numerous cases have been documented.  So we then  self isolate as one’s child has a cold and can’t go to school or the whole family may surrender to a nose swab test at a Covid testing drive through, before you head to the star bucks window to pick up a calming warm tea handed to you on a tray. TAP ONLY. 

 

I haven’t used cash since last March. 

 

What happened to human contact? Did we ever dream of such social distancing and rules galore - all necessary in an attempt to try and flatten the curve, so we can try to overcome this beast? Have any of you had to visit a mother or father who is senior in a home,  through a window since March? Did you ever imagine this is as close to an aging parent as you could get ? Shall we talk about zoom funerals and weddings ?

 

Our existence has become mutable. You need nerves of steel to continue on like this. 

 

Human beings are usually quite resilient and adaptive. But we all have our breaking points don’t we ? How much more of this can we take ? 

 

It is a time for kindness. It is a time to realize we can’t control everything. We have lost much to this “new normal” and it has taken its toll. 

 

I worry most about our youth - the little ones growing up in this. Masks have hidden the warm smile of a stranger. Human contact is so important in formative years. The pandemic will eventually end. But the trauma of it may very well linger as a PTSD in many, for decades to come. 

 

( The theme song of Valley of the Dolls, which I had my daughter Sophie record for me, has brought me great comfort in such uncertain times. I hope it serves to blanket your fears too. ) We all need to get off this merry go round. Stay safe. Dream of a Covid free tomorrow. 

Click here to download an MP3.

 
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