This past weekend, I was excited to be home after work travel the weekend prior. I wanted to set aside luxurious blocks of time to write, take care of some pesky errands that were etched onto my to-do list at the beginning of time, play on the beach, run on trails.
Instead, this weekend was spent realizing how much I can internalize from the world around me and what a toll that takes.
Since before the 2016 election, when the campaigns were so terrible and the division so stark, I’ve carried around a constant chronic feeling of dread. I’m sure many of us have. Sometimes it feels like anger, sometimes sadness, but that feeling in the pit of my stomach feels like dread.
I can shrink that feeling when I protest, when I sign petitions, when I donate to candidates, when I text bank, when I vote. I’ve done a fair share of this list the past week (not the voting, not yet).
But ways to grow that feeling are everywhere. On the news, late night comedian talk shows, Facebook and Twitter, overheard phone conversations at the DMV. All poking holes in my stoic facade, seeping into my core, wearing me down from the inside out.
I didn’t think I was internalizing as much as I do until Sunday. I’d been sending texts to swing districts and going on donating binges and feeling pretty empowered to be “doing something” in light of the Kavanaugh nomination. But I still couldn’t shake the undeniable feeling that I was tired and a bit mopey, despite the summer weather, a good run, and a sunset beach beer stroll with J.
I’d gotten out of the shower and started to wander towards the kitchen in search of leftovers for dinner. J had a news clip on, so I walked out to Susan Collins’s face and voice on our (his) giant tv screen. I turned on my heel, said “Tell me when it’s over,” and came back to my desk in the back room.
Then, much to my surprise, I found myself crying. And I mean ugly crying, not just sniffing a bit while I did something else. Head on my arms, snot down my face, chest heaving, wailing loud enough over the music I’d put on to pull J in to ask what the matter was.
After assuring J I wasn’t dying, and after calling my mom (because what else can you do after you’ve ugly cried about the patriarchy?), I felt better than I had all weekend. Tired, the way a healthy cry will leave you, but uncluttered.
For as much as I can look for ways to feel productive in a time of crisis, to feel like I’m moving the dial or at least not feeling like I’m sitting around hopeless (I’m not good at sitting around, hopeless or not), I’d forgotten to just feel.
Feel the anger, the sadness, the utter exhaustion. Recognize that the input had overloaded the output. Scream and feel hot tears down my face. Realize I can’t cover up the emotions by being productive—that I need both.
Take care of yourselves, dear friends, and each other. Just don’t forget one for the sake of the other.
Resources if you have energy to displace (after you’ve cried it out):