December 13, 2020
By Zachary Matson
Colleen Garbarini has to make a plan before entering a grocery store: the mask can’t stay on too long. She knows the mask is there to protect her and others, but the feeling of it covering her face stirs deep emotions four decades in the making. At one point, she had to abandon her cart in a store as the oppressive feeling overtook her.
“The longer I had it on the more anxiety I had, which turned into a panic attack,” Garbarni said as she described the feeling. The mask takes her back to when she was a little girl and her abuser tried to quiet her when other people were nearby.
“There were times I was with him, and we could hear voices outside the room, and he would cover my mouth and tell me to be quiet,” she recalled.
Just as other daily minutia throughout her life has, the mask, now a central part of everyone’s day-to-day life, reminds her of still-healing emotional wounds.
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