“My father picked me up from school one day and we played and hookey and went to the beach. It was too cold to go in the water so we sat on a blanket and ate pizza. When I got home my sneakers were full of sand and I dumped it on my bedroom floor. I didn’t know the difference, I was six. My mother screamed at me for the mess, but he wasn’t mad. He said that billions of years ago the world’s shifting and ocean moving brought that sand to that spot on the beach and then I took it away. Every day, he said, we change the world. Which is a nice thought until I think about how many days and lifetimes I would need to bring a shoe full of sand home until there is no beach. Until it made a difference to anyone. Every day we change the world. But to change the world in a way that means anything, that takes more time than most people have. It never happens all at once. Its slow. Its methodical. Its exhausting. We don’t all have the stomach for it.”
-Elliot Alderson, Mr. Robot
It’s been a week, hasn’t it?
I’m emotionally exhausted. I’m drained. I’m overwhelmed. I feel like I’m one more heartbreak away from losing faith in humanity. I have always tried to be the person who stayed positive and shared encouraging thoughts and pressed on. But my soul hurts. It grieves for the world that is hurting and in pain. I am constantly struck by the thought that haunts me; the one that tells me I am not doing enough. But I barely have time to keep my head above my own waters. I’m torn between the demands of school and my workplace and my family and friends and the demands of my physical health and my mental health. Yet around me the world goes on; and the world aches. I feel helpless. Even when I try to tell myself “this is why you’re going to grad school!” I feel like a fraud. I like like my pursuits aren’t good enough. I’m terrified I am fighting a losing battle; one that means nothing in the grand scheme of things. I’m afraid that my attention is all off; maybe I’m not looking at the bigger picture. Despite my belief that in order to save the world, each individual must do what they can in their part of the world, I try and bare the weight of the world’s pain on my fragile shoulders. And I am tired.
Aren’t we all?
We scream but we aren’t being heard. There seems to be no justice for the oppressed. Abuse rages ever so strongly. Yet our voices are hoarse. We can’t scream any longer. We want water. We want rest. We want to see a shift in our institutions that will learn to accommodate and accept those who have been brushed aside into the margins of the world. We want what Jesus would have wanted. Justice and mercy. For love to win. Freedom, in its truest form. We want the pain, not to let up, but to lessen. Oh, how I want their pain to lessen.
I’m done pretending I’m not talking about specific things. I’m angry that Brett Kavanaugh has been voted into the Supreme Court despite sexual assault allegations, yet I’m even more horrified that the President has shown so much support for him amidst all of this. Worse even still, those that claim Christ’s name have been on the forefront of those supporters. I’m upset that the title “Christian” has been bastardized and made synonymous with “Conservative” and “racist” and “homophobic.” I hate how many Christians are such things.
There are not words to express how much my heart breaks for Christine Blasey Ford, who bore her trauma before the entire world only to be called a liar and publicly mocked by the President of the country who is supposed to be for justice for all. Yet even worse, I hurt for those survivors that have watched this all unfold and who have been shown how little their government values women’s voices and experiences. They have been shown which places are safe and which are not. Regardless of whether or not the man is innocent, the way Dr. Ford has been mocked has only showed survivors that they are not safe here. Regardless of whether or not she was telling the truth, the message that was portrayed was that unless you have witnesses or recordings of the event, you are not believed. Those who have voiced their support of Kavanaugh have willingly or unwillingly showed survivors that they do not care and will not listen to their stories. To all those who have suffered in silence, I’m exhausted for you. We are exhausted for you. When you read the Facebook status’ of your fathers and brothers and best friends, I can’t fathom your pain when you read those posts that mean to only speak of politics but are also simultaneously shoving your secrets further inside of you. I know when you read Dr. Ford’s story, you are reminded of your own. You are afraid of their backlash. You remain silent. You are so tired of the silence.
We are here. Screaming for justice on your behalf. Some of us identify as feminists. We call ourselves this because that is the only language we know for someone who is willing to stand up for women and against sexual violence against others. Of course, we are labeled “man haters.” I’m tired of defending myself against people who only want to argue about technicalities and have no interest in compassion or understanding. Our motives are critiqued and criticised. We are well aware of our faults. We are aware of those who have gone around and harassed men by spilling bleach on the crotches of those manspreading. Their actions are wrong. They claim feminism but act out misandry. Most people claim they cannot tell the difference. To those people I hold my white flag. I am done explaining myself to you. My breath could be better used elsewhere. You cannot have my time anymore. I cannot fight merely for the fact that I am too tired to protest. It has taken my whole life for me to realize I don’t owe you anything. I will never be right in your eyes. Yet still, sometimes it keeps me up at night. It keeps me up knowing how much pain you’ve caused and will continue to cause. I want to change your mind but right now…right now I need to rest. We need to rest. Our souls are so very tired.
On the days we rest though, how much rest is there? All around us the world spins on and the problems don’t stop. Tell me, how many more of my loved ones will admit to me that they have been raped before it’s enough? How many more times will a young girl cry on my shoulder because they feel like a slut in church for choosing to have sex before marriage? Please, tell me how many more closeted LGBTQ+ individuals will come into my life asking for refuge before I can finally tell them with confidence that I know a place for them? When will we stop questioning the motive of the homeless before we finally give them some money? When will mental health become available for minorities and those of the lower class?
When will we, activists and survivors, get to rest?
Or better yet, when will the government share my burden and decide to care? Or when will people? When will the church?
We are tired of screaming into the void. Our vocal chords are shredded. Our lungs are on the verge of collapse. We want action. Hell, we would be happy with acknowledgement. We need some sliver of hope to remind us that this will get better if we keep fighting. So far, nothing seems to be budging.
My friend tells me they are gay. They cannot come out because of the backlash. Because they will be ruined. They say they are unsafe and I want to tell them “scream it. Tell the world you are gay.” But I know they’re right. Its fucked up, but its the truth. And I have nothing for them. My church’s love could only go so far. The comments of homophobic, ignorant family members would destroy them. They would be alienated and alone. But they’re tired of hiding. I’m tired for them. There are gay Christians I know that have nowhere in their life for support. I want to stand up for them but my soul is weary. I’m weary from trying to find a biblical angle that justifies homosexuality that will satisfy everyone. I’m weary from denying, to myself and to others, the feelings I refuse to name that I’ve had towards girls in my life. I’m tired of needing to have a 5 point essay in MLA format to simply explain that I think gay people should be allowed to participate in society. I’m tired of having to have this argument, because while we fight over why we can or cannot love someone with the same genitalia as us, homeless veterans die on our city streets. Other countries suffer from war that we support. Black lives are lost due to pure racism. There are bigger battles to be fought. There are so many battles to be fought. But I feel like I oftentimes talk myself into circles; constantly fighting but never winning.
I’m not the only one. I know. We are exhausted. We are wounded. We are fighting out of a place of personal experience and every argument we have only opens the wound further. We bleed and are accused of being too political. Fuck politics. Fuck being civil. Our soft voices have not earned us credence. Please, forgive us for not being able to speak kindly when we are in pain. Forgive us of our personal experiences that oftentimes cloud our arguments. Forgive the dark circles under our eyes that we can no longer hide. Forgive us that we are angry that our experiences are called lies.
When will we be able to breathe?
My friends, It’s okay.
I wish I had more to offer than to tell you to rest. I wish I had more soundproof advice than that. All I can say is that sometimes you need to close your laptop, turn off your phone, stop responding to those text messages. Turn on a TV show that you enjoy or take a bath. Allow yourself to rest. Step away from your triggers. Put down your fists. Rest your voice. Do all those cliche self care ideas. Changing the world does not happen overnight. There will days that we will get tired and burned out. But all the greatest heroes got tired. But you are never alone in your fatigue. Find someone who can carry your burden with you until you have rested. Take care of each other.
The world will not change overnight. It is the accumulation of efforts spread out throughout generations. It’s so very slow and so very emotionally taxing. Frankly, it’s discouraging. But there is rest and there is fruit. Maybe you don’t see the world change in a dramatic way, but maybe you can encourage the next generation. Maybe you touch your school or church or maybe just your friend circle. My boyfriend tells me that we need to pick our battles, so we should pick ones we can win. Do what you are able. Maybe it’s not much, but it’s something. Because maybe you start a ripple effect that changes everything. You might never know. But our job isn’t to know. Our job is to persevere for as long as we are able, rest, and then start again in the morning.
Give yourself a break.
The world will have plenty of battles to fight again tomorrow.