When emotions have become too damned much in a short time: an empath searches for sanity.

I admit, I don’t really go for the Woo anymore. I used to get rocks and cool crystals and stuff when I was a kid, and like many an X-Files fan (the Mulder years, anyway), I considered or subscribed to conspiracy theories or the supernatural or paranormal and what was possible or impossible.

However, I tend to confuse people with my moniker, the Chatty Introvert. Perhaps the confusion is because of my empathetic tendencies. The more I browse what’s been going on with me, the more I might just consider myself an empath (at least, that’s what the smattering of internet quizzes want me to think–high-possible or full-blown seem to be the areas I hit).

All I know is the past month has been a damned roller coaster, and my mental and physical health have taken a hit. And it’s not because of what I’ve done exactly (except for one or two small things at work this week). No, it’s the world at large, the world that’s popped up on my TV and in the newspaper.

It’s COVID-19.

It’s trying to juggle working for others and keeping my own health intact as best I can.

It’s knowing that I’m anemic and having a hard time taking care of myself if I don’t watch out.

It’s militant protests at the statehouses, and the shock and upset at people screaming in others’ faces while carrying guns.

It’s Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd.

It’s the stirring sight of Black Lives Matter protests not going away, but growing and gaining support in the face of murders by police officers, a swelling in my heart.

It’s the anger at those still screaming “All Lives Matter!” in the faces of the protesters or on social media, trying to shut up the folks that need support.

It’s the attempt to try and understand others that say the phrase, quietly and politely, for other reasons.

It’s Trump (a.k.a., Dump, a.k.a., Great Pumpkin, a.k.a. Thin-skinned Creamsicle–cold white mush all the way through), and the arrogant stupidity that follows him like a green fart cloud he can’t swat away. I can just feel the pressure rising with every ridiculous attempt to make himself look better and downplay his more hateful sides.

It’s knowing there are folks that will back that guy no matter what happens, which makes the numbness come fast and drain me.

It’s white privilege, and knowing that I’m a beneficiary of it even if I didn’t ask for it. I guess it’s fitting to add a bit of guilt to that because of the years I wasted trying to be colorblind and not acknowledging that that’s not how the world works. Took about a year to get that fog from my eyes, and I’m still embarrassed by it.

It’s learning that it’s not enough to “not be racist,” but be “anti-racist” instead, which felt like a vast improvement and I’m glad I started trying to learn more. That lifted me up.

It’s helpless exasperation, knowing that over 150 years later, the Civil War is still being fought in the mind by some folks clinging to an overly-romanticized past, and the aggravation that brings out in me toward the folks waving that angry stars and bars flag around.

It’s the happiness in knowing that regardless of the hemming and hawing that’s gone on in years past, some local areas are just taking the Confederate statues down, saying enough is enough.

It’s apoplectic fury when another entitled white person is caught on camera harassing a black person for doing absolutely normal things. And then comes the facepalm imprints to the forehead when another one does it, and another, and another, all on video as if they never saw what happened to the other idiots who did the same thing.

It’s pride and happy tears when people of all ages and skin tones have come together to protest the overreach of law enforcement.

It’s the shock and agony of knowing these same protesters, even when peaceful, are shot at by “less lethal” rounds. It’s spitting anger when some of them were shot at just so the Great Pumpkin could pose with a Bible for a photo op at a church.

It’s the self-loathing when I know I’d rather be out there protesting with people (as far as I am from anything that’s newsworthy as it is), but my duty to work and desire to abide by social distancing guidelines as much as I can that prevents me, in addition to my fear. I fear for the protesters and am so tired I can’t bring up anything to feel for the police right now.

It’s being moved to tears by John Oliver’s show about the police and the three minutes at the end he reserved for Kimberly Jones and her palpable pain and fury… and having to watch it over and over because it was so moving. And feeling for John and Samantha Bee and other comedic commentators who we could tell were having a damned tough time holding their emotions in check as well.

It’s apprehension that COVID-19 is coming back in a big way, and I have to field phone calls at work asking if we’re still going to be open next week because of it, and I not being terribly sure of everything but trying to reassure at the same time.

It’s the desire to listen to other folks’ stories, especially black folks who have had to deal with all this crap that the rest of us are beginning to see, and be helpful as best I can, but not intrude at the same time and respect privacy.

It’s numbness when another man, Rayshard Brooks, was suddenly killed after an initially good encounter with police in Atlanta.

It’s the resting bitch face when Dump lets his need for the spotlight overrule all medical advice and statistics and he decides to do a rally.

… by the time we got to the Juneteenth gaff by Dump, I couldn’t feel anything anymore. Rolled my eyes and eventually got some snippets of disgust built up for him.

And then today… I was just worn out. Hell, my headache’s come back just letting myself recite that list of things and how they affected me.

And when I’m at work and have to put those things aside and do my job, there’s a piece of me that wants to scream, because I want to talk and get what others think and feel and understand them. Because the feelings are churning around inside me while I’m trying to keep semi-professional, and end up cracking more jokes and such as an outlet.

But after feeling and thinking and having to suppress it, I’m too tired. When I waited far too late to eat my first meal yesterday, it was clear that I was letting all this get in my way of taking care of myself.

I’ve heard that’s a common trait among empaths–that self-care is a secondary concept. I didn’t skip watching the news or ignoring blog posts (kinda couldn’t), but I didn’t make it urgent, either.

I was drained, out of it, and it’s no wonder I’ve been obsessively putting together my newest jigsaw puzzles on the dining room table. I was trying to let myself feel, just get it out in the quiet of my home last weekend and I ended up finishing one 1000 piece puzzle and did two more in rapid succession (they’re the kind I hang on my wall).

I have a few more, but hopefully I’ll be able to resist the impulse to just sit and do nothing but puzzles just so I can let the mind drift between emotions and feel. It doesn’t help much right now, and I’m neglecting other things that–while admittedly small considering the state of the world–still need to get done.

And who knows what tomorrow will bring, or the next day, or the next? I’m going to have to learn some empathy defense or something, because if this roller coaster keeps going, I’m gonna be a prime candidate for hospital visits in the near future.

So, I guess it’s time to start with a good night’s sleep (or try) and let things flow out. Maybe I’ll give meditation an honest shot again in the morning.

Be well and take care of yourselves, dear readers, and all those you care for. Don’t burn out.

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