I have been in a rage for at least a solid month.
It started at General Synod. If you’ve been following the #WeAretheRCA posts, you know why. And then, about the time that wildfire of anger started to die down toward the slow burn of my normal existence, then Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot, and then the five police officers in Dallas. Then there were the protests that turned into violence and violations of First Amendment rights. Here in Schenectady, we are just beginning a long road of figuring out how to address racial tension and police brutality, and the first stages are frustrating, as first stages so often are.
I am an Enneagram 8 and anger is where I go anyway (away with you, “anger is a secondary emotion” people). As I mentioned above, the constant burn is normal. Flaring just above that is what I call “extra productive.” But this sustained rage is not a normal or healthy state. I become ultra-sensitive to injustice in all its forms, which stokes the fire, because injustice is ridiculously common. Once you’re exposed to feminist thought, it kind of ruins everything (in the best way), so I can’t escape All The Sexism, which means I can’t escape the drive to smash the patriarchy. Poverty suddenly provokes fury instead of sadness or compassion. All the stupid little realities that are symptoms and reflections of injustice fill me with fury.
For an example of what is inducing my rage today, this is what Pokemon Go looks like downtown (stop judging me):
Look at all the Pokestops! Behold, all the confetti or whatever that stuff is! It’s a Pokemon party! What a wonderful place!
This is a half mile away, on a heavily traveled main road in the less affluent part of town:
Poor, lonely, Pokestop-less hunter.
But this just reminded me that this neighborhood can’t get a grocery store, either. And now, God forbid this game should accidentally bring anyone into the ‘hood. We can’t even dignify the thousands of people who live in this area with a single, measly Pokemon.
As this is how little it takes to make me nearly hurl my phone across the street, you might imagine how explosive I felt last night when hearing city leaders blatantly ignore questions about addressing implicit racial bias in the police force. But after over a month of non-stop raging against the machine, you know what? I am exhausted.
It doesn’t feel fair to be exhausted. For some people, daily injustice is their reality, and it doesn’t take any breaks. And I suspect this is how people begin to live as though they are unaware of the injustice perpetrated against them, because it just systematically beats them down with no reprieve. And I’m not even tired of being oppressed. I’m tired of my own entirely appropriate anger response to other people’s oppression.
I feel some guilt about stepping away from my rage, but I have to. I need to breathe for a moment and think of something that isn’t centered around the need to fight some oppressive force. I need to think of some things that give me joy, and relax, and work on my book, which is about something that doesn’t make me angry. Granted, because I’m an 8, the break I need is probably about 24 hours, but I need a break. Sometimes we all need a break to care for our souls.
PS – I just Googled “poems about care for the soul.” They were all about death.