We Can’t Keep Going Like This Or We Will All Be Hospitalized by Spring
Outside my office window there is a common city sight—a black plastic bag caught in a tree. While not in my direct view, each time the breeze blows part of it waves into the corner of my eye. Every single time I think it’s an animal tangled or trapped and my stress level plucks yet a higher string as I plan to go rescue it. Then I remember—AGAIN—that’s it’s just a bag. But it still takes ten minutes for my heart to stop racing, and five minutes after that the bag flaps back into view and it starts all over.
This is ON anti-anxiety medication.
The twelve days of Trump’s presidency have been the most politically terrifying of my lifetime, and I’m old enough to remember Vietnam on the news, the cold war, living under Reagan, and how we were all going to die in a nuclear war at any minute (looks like that’s back on the table, though).
Each new day is like that scene in Office Space where the guy realizes he’s living the worst day of his life while also knowing that the next day will be even worse. I’ve already started to try to save my sanity, but if I plug into the web for even a minute I’m right there in the motherfucking thick of it again and I’m forced to remember how everything sucks now.
I can’t go on like this. I have a ten year old daughter who needs me to keep her calm about the world — while also enjoying her lengthy and mostly incomprehensible discussions of a new horse she got in the video game that I’m pretty sure introduced malware to my computer. I have a husband who is struggling just as hard as I am who also needs my support.
And then there are the folks who are REALLY suffering right now, like the five year old child locked in handcuffs away from his family at the airport while our blunt stick of a Press Secretary told us, “Well, he COULD be a terrorist, we don’t know! Maybe he’s not even really five, did you ever consider that? RUN FOR YOUR LIVES IF YOU SEE A BROWN FIVE YEAR OLD!”
No wonder we’re all so fucking stressed.
Here’s what I know for sure I need to do in these dark times.
It’s time for me to be of service. That means getting active in local organizations and showing up to do the hard stuff while being there for my family and my job — and also explaining white privilege to white people who think being poor means their white skin afforded them no benefits in life so my black friends don’t have to do it.
I know I need to stay aware, and that the best way to do that is not my Facebook stream but my trusted news sources. This means limiting my social media time even though it can be professionally challenging for me.
It’s also becoming more and more clear that I also need to practice extreme self care. This means not listening to news first thing in the morning, or while I’m working. This means not feeling guilty when I want to share a funny story on Facebook that’s trivial, or read a novel about vampires who solve crimes. And it especially means never, ever checking social media in bed.
I’ve got to step back, calm the fuck down, and practice some patience. And so do you — yes, YOU — the moderate democrat who knitted herself a pink beanie and went to her first protest. I’m super proud of you! Even though I chose to sit out the Women’s March for a few of the reasons outlined here, it’s awesome that you went.
The Women’s March and airport rallies have been heartening, but you need to know not all protests go that well. After all, no one brought firehouses or flash grenades or that horrible sound thing the police usually use when Black Lives Matters protests.
I do not want your current upswell of interest in activism to be so overwhelming for you that you end up ghosting, much like new gym members disappear mid-February. This fight is going to be long, dirty, and hard and I would hate to see everyone disappear out of sheer outrage fatigue. We need you to stick around.
So let’s slow our roll just a bit and settle into the marathon instead of this sprint. We’ve got SO much to do, and a constitution to defend, after all.