square bulletTHIS Is the Connection!

From Dana Hafter-Manza (she/her), former MSW intern at Trauma Informed Oregon

As I was preparing for an in-person holiday get together with my coworkers this week, I kept thinking to myself: this is it. THIS is re-engaging in my community. This is a sign that things have shifted over the last year and a half. This is something significant. Having the opportunity to gather with a group of people I care deeply about, share a meal and joy together, for the first time in so long… THIS is the reconnection!

And it is – and there’s so much more.

Over the past two years, since the first inklings of the pandemic, there has been so much to navigate, deal with, acclimate to, and grieve. Everyone is going through something during this time – each experiencing something different, and also something collective and shared at the same time. And through all of it, every step, there have been moments of reconnection, rebuilding, and engaging with community. And while I want to celebrate the moment of a holiday get together as something special and unique during this time – I also am realizing that it is one moment in a larger collection of moments of reconnection and rebuilding community that have been happening since the beginning. These moments have been the threads of hope and endurance that kept me going through the darkness of the last two years.

I remember the swells of excitement, hope and strength I pulled from early moments of connection during the pandemic. Finding new and creative ways to connect with families I worked with, students and fellow interns I learned alongside, neighbors I hadn’t met before. Having weekly Zoom calls with my family that grew over time, bringing connection with relatives I have never met in person. Joining demonstrations in summer of 2020 and feeling connected to the speakers, the crowd, and the purpose, even as I physically kept my distance. Connecting with community, even through this surreal time.

The moments of connections have been blossoming, and I recognize how much they have kept me going, and kept me doing work that feels difficult and challenging while I’m taxed and exhausted. They help me remember what’s at the core of my values – loving care and relationships, and showing up for others and appreciating when they show up for me. The thread of hope is carried through these moments of connection, of reconnection, of community-building. They keep me strong, they keep me wanting to take care of myself and the people around me. I don’t know what the pandemic will bring in the coming months, the coming years – and it’s so hard to envision the end of it from where I sit. But I can envision the in-between, the now, because I have these moments to hold onto.

A mentor, coworker and beloved friend texted me this week – “You never know when others are thinking about you.” She is someone who shows up for others, and has been there for me since we first met – and she manages to keep ahold of moments of connection and light and remind us of them even as we continue the hard work we do. Seeing her at our holiday gathering this week meant the world to me, and I thought, as I saw her in person – THIS is the reconnection. And it’s been budding and building all along.