It’s been a TOUGH few weeks here. I went from standing at the top of the hill, looking down at a series of massive personal accomplishments, to feeling nothing but hopelessness and despair. Normally my mood is a lot more stable than this but a series of events of in my life made me feel a bit emotionally battered. I was falling, the world around me started to shake with a contentious political atmosphere, and I saw so many others dropping like flies from the stress of it all.
I know a lot of people who suffer chronic illness are empaths, people who feel the emotions of others far stronger than most. After a while it can cause burnout or just kill our immune systems. And the world we’re living in today is not made for empaths! The American News Cycle is THE WORST. They should just call it, How to Slowly Slaughter the Soul of an Empath, and it’s constant and everywhere. I stopped watching news on the TV after 9/11. Witnessing that much devastation and loss of life was too much for me. And for a number of years my mental health improved! I was happier for not watching the news! But today you don’t have to stare at the TV to know what’s going on. It’s everywhere – FaceBook, Twitter, all other forms of social media, around the water cooler. You can’t escape it unless you are lucky enough to live under a rock…. on Mars…
It all started a couple weeks ago when the #MeToo movement kicked up again in the face of the Kavenaugh nomination. The #MeToo movement was a wave of women, some may say just about all of us, who started to share their stories of sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination. It brought a lot of very important conversations to the table. Suddenly we were all talking about various male dominated fields and how women were often forced into sexual situations just to keep a job or advance in the field. We were talking about the sexualization of teenagers and even children and lamenting how old we all were when we received our first cat calls or creepy sexual comments (hint hint: most of us were between 8-12.) And we were talking about how women everywhere are constantly looking over their shoulder and altering their behavior to avoid being assaulted. We really came together and some progress was made. As hard as it was it seemed picking at this wound was somehow healing.
But then, seemingly in response to the threat of women actually advancing in society, we were all given the gift that keeps on giving – a supreme court justice that basically is just a drunk handsy asshole at best! Don’t worry though, it’s only a lifetime appointment in the highest court in the land that defines our laws… no biggie. This was a flagrant and disgraceful display of Look-What-I-Can-Do-and-There’s-Nothing-You-Can-Say-About-It! It came out that this walking dickbag was less than a gentlemen in high school and soon we saw ourselves watching like rabid dogs as this train wreck transpired. We watched as a woman who he went to high school with gave brilliant touching testimony about how she was held down by this piece of shit, her mouth covered so she wouldn’t scream, and forcefully undressed. Shock and horror, and a churning sick feeling in the gut of any sexual abuse survivors, made us all believe this would be the end of it, but then Kavenaugh himself had to have a hearing, basically a job interview, before he could be sworn in. He got up there, gave his own testimony while fake crying, victim-blaming, gas-lighting the audience, making up shit, not taking any responsibility for anything, claiming not to know anything, letting everyone know how very much he looooves his beer, and then when he felt cornered enough he just full out raged. If this display were given by a woman she’d be called hysterical and unfit for any government position. Not this guy! Rich and white he actually was accepted, all while his own political party decried how innocent he was, how boys will be boys, how we shouldn’t be judged by shit we did as a teenager or perhaps drunk, before tearing his accuser apart as a liar or for having an unconvincing testimony. She literally went into protected hiding as she was given so many death threats.
WHOOSH. I fell HARD. I am not a survivor of sexual assault but I am a survivor of mental and emotional abuse and this guy in one fucking hearing showed ALL his cards about what a manipulative prick he really was, and now in such a position of power! Women responded with #WhyIDidntReport telling thousands of stories of vicious rapes and sexual crimes. Shocking statistics rocked even my view of the world – like only 6 in 1000 rape reported to authorities end in a trial and a conviction. Let that sink in. Women also came out in droves and started to tell stories about every day mundane experiences that turned into terrifying nightmares. They fought back to this gas lighting and victim blaming by owning their own histories… and there was SO MUCH. I couldn’t tear myself away from all the trauma they’d endured, story after story… more and more issues coming up… It was like being pulled over shards of glass until my skin was torn from my flesh. I was left numb.
I could feel every woman around me, victims of molestation, rape, and abuse, as they were re-traumatized over and over, as the resistance to sanity pushed back and blamed them. By now I wasn’t sleeping. I was having panic attacks. My chest was hurting sooo bad but that would soon be replaced by anger, pure rage, when it came to other women, notably mostly other white women, who picked up the conservative line. Boys will be boys! Girls should just be more careful! Rage festered in me because even though I am not a parent I know that by saying these things these women are telling their own daughters and grand-daughters that their experiences don’t matter so long as the man involved has something to gain from secrecy. It was just so fucking wrong. I saw so many of us wandering the streets like zombies, vacant expressions in our eyes only coming to life while shaking and screaming about wanting to stab people with forks.
Then this week happened! In ONE WEEK this has been the news:
- A mob of white fascists (The Proud Boys) went rogue through the streets of NYC beating the shit out of minorities and the police watched and DID NOTHING
- A transgendered child was left in the hallway of their school when a school shooting drill forced all the other kids into their perspective bathrooms, both of which denied sanctuary for this poor little soul whom I only want to hug in response (oh and stab all those teachers in the eye with a fork. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! You left this kid out TO BE SHOT. It does not matter this was a drill – your message was pretty damn clear.)
- The hundreds of kids separated from their parents and shoved into child prisons at our border were taken in secrecy to giant tent cities in Texas were some were given away in adoptions to strangers without their parents ever knowing what happened to them. (And in this one sentence I’ve described I don’t know how many violations of basic human rights but what the fuck are we doing?!!? These are refugees, and children!!)
- Climate change became another enormous issue as scientists decried our eventual suicide from it if we don’t change things now. And on that note it was nice knowing you, I’m sorry my country probably doomed the rest of the world with our greed and ignorance. Really. Truly. Sorry.
- Trump announced it is now once again legal for private health insurance companies to deny applicants for any “pre-existing condition” meaning that anyone who happens to have had a slight cough at some point in their life, or who may find themselves in ownership of a womb, can be legally denied coverage and left to die or plunge into terrible medical debt.
- Voter registration purges were allowed in several states mysteriously effecting minorities the most by trashing their registrations and denying their votes for a series of tiny made-up technicalities.
- Hundreds of polling stations were closed in minority communities to make it harder for the remaining to vote.
- Identification laws started targeting even more minorities – this time disqualifying up to 50% of Native Americans living on reservations (who do not have typical postal addresses)
And it goes ON AND ON AND ON. Somehow in the United States we’re being run by a government utterly infested with narcissists, psychopaths, the empathetically retarded, the sadistic and cruel. As all this happens murmurs about our increasingly divided country belies fears of an upcoming civil war.
And here I am. Home. Powerless. All I can do is cast a single vote and hope for the best or offer a hug to those who need it. I’m EXHAUSTED, I’m dizzy, I’m burned out. I have nothing left to give. I daydream of a future where the old don’t allow self interest to fuck over younger generations, were people of all persuasions are treated with dignity and respect, where this dog-eat-dog world makes way for a kinder gentler place where we all take care of each other. I realize that only miserable people seek to shit on those they think are inferior to them – it makes them feel better to know they’re better than someone else. We need to put these dysfunctional people back in their place and reclaim a civilized society! But how? Everything’s such a mess… and so many of us are so tired…
So now I am trying to turn off the social media. Trying to get back in touch with the good things in life. I’m reading books, taking baths, learning French, indulging in my art and hobbies, and telling everyone I come across how much I love them. It’s been difficult but I’ve weathered this storm pretty well. My advice to other empaths? Take care of yourself! Make time to enjoy silence, make time to connect with others, take time to recognize the beauty in life, take time to just breathe and be you, and if you have a partner hug them tighter and love them harder.
**All photos taken by myself, Theophanes Avery**