My heart is overflowing with the world's suffering.
This week, it has felt like the pain of living here, now, is just too much. I cannot hear one more thing, or I will crack open and crumble into a million pieces. Part of me feels like I already have.
I don't even really have words for this because it feels so big and all-encompassing. In spite of the fact that I know I am wrong, I feel alone in this. I feel like there is something big and wrong with my heart that makes me feel this sort of tired. If we are all feeling it, then how is the world going on? If we all feel this bone-aching, broken, crumbling tired, then how is it that the world keeps turning?
This week, I have followed the defunding of Planned Parenthood in the place I used to live. I have watched my friends fight, and advocate, and struggle. It feels like taking giant steps backwards in history. It feels like being told that bodies like mine don't matter. It feels like the wrongs that are done to female bodies are not important. It feels like silencing, and powerlessness.
The past few weeks I have heard stories at work that have broken my heart. I saw a child who is dying of a degenerative disease. I met with a family with two children with complex, severe medical issues and developmental disabilities, and I held their mother's fear as she cried about how utterly terrifying it is to have two children who are so incredibly vulnerable. I saw another family with two beautiful, severely disabled children, both of whom were abused in their public school. I saw another family with many children, where the 8 year old served as the primary reporter because the mother's own intellectual disability prevents her from being able to understand and answer my questions. I spent all day on Monday calling providers to attempt to help two families in crisis, and I ran into dead ends at every turn. I met with children who are being bullied. I had to explain rape to a child. I could go on.
People are dying from gun violence. A few weeks ago, I supported my trainee when she was terrified that she was unable to get in touch with her sister -- who goes to the community college in Oregon where 9 people were murdered. The news is full of pictures of Syrian refugees with trauma in their eyes that I can feel in my body. Black and brown people everywhere are being murdered. It feels like everything is wrong and there is no justice.
The racial disparities I see in front of me in my session room are stark and unrelenting. There are children with disabilities being handcuffed in our schools, children with disabilities being physically abused in our schools, children with disabilities not receiving the education they need or deserve in our schools, children with disabilities being bullied in our schools.
So this week, I came home and I yelled at the dog because he had to go out, and I couldn't handle one more being needing something from me. I was frustrated with myself when I had to get up to get a glass of water, because even I didn't want to need something from me. I want to let myself crumble into those thousands of pieces to just relieve the aching, so I can rebuild myself into something that feels human again. I am tired. I am so tired.
These are the times that no one talks about.
I feel such a sense of embarrassment and shame, even, about being in this place. We who are helpers and healers and open-hearts in this world are supposed to know better, and do better, and care better. We are supposed to care for ourselves all along so we don't get to this point. We are supposed to do the hard things, and see the beautiful in the hard things, and focus on the ways in which life is lovely in spite of the suck. We're supposed to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others.
But here is what I would tell my fellow helpers and healers. Here is the thing no one ever told me. Here is the thing I am longing to hear -- the thing my bones are aching to be told before they disintegrate into dust:
There will be times when the weight of this world lays on you like a wet, wool blanket. There will be times you feel broken and alone. There will be times when you feel as though the enormity of sorrow, anger, grief, and pain in this world will engulf you, and you will be pulled into the undertow. Your body will ache, and you will long for quiet, for peace, for a break from the need and the hurt and the wanting.
This is not wrong, Love. This pain is not your shame, is not your broken, is not sign of your failure or lack. This is simply the way of it: our hearts are meant to crack open under this enormity of grief. We were never meant to carry this alone.
Self-care sometimes looks like crying alone in the bathroom. It can mean naming the beast: exhaustion. Compassion fatigue. Burn-out. It can mean reaching out, in spite of everything that tells you to fold in. It can feel like allowing yourself to crumble.
So crumble, Beautiful. We do not need to fear the how of putting-back-together. We will come back together because something in our cells was built for this: for the falling apart and putting together of broken lives, including our own.
You were made for loving, Friend. It is the beautiful reason you come apart so easily. It is the reason you will always fit back together. This world has not stopped loving you. It does not know how.
You are held, now and always, and you are always loved.