Some days it really is hard.
The past eighteen months have been like this.
Almost as if breathing has been impossible, through a stack of bricks on the chest, wondering about the next move and if it will cost life, livelihood, living.
Covid has been much.
Adjusting to what it means in the middle of it and on the other side of it has been like swirling through a hurricane without preparation, a tornado, and being without any protection.
Some days are really hard.
Just naming that.
Going back to normal, whatever that is, wondering if the comradarie felt during parts of the pandemic has warned when folks feel their power and control no longer needs to be under wraps on this side of emerging from what never should have been.
How do we breathe?
I have been counting breaths, trying to inhale deeply, feeling this big ball of holding it all in, my stomach filled with what has not been uttered.
I'm not alone in this.
Do we name our concern?
If we do, does it even matter? Does it empower or not?
It has been something I've wondered since I went to a training at the end of June that prompted us to take a needed action, professionally, in early July, that feels like it has been like a Category 5 hurricane with so much debris flying around.
Was the foundation not strong enough to really look for structural damage that needed to have the cracks repaired? Could it not hold up under the pressure of constant motion and the fear of missing it if it wasn't always in go-go-go?
When one is working in social justice, in the non-profit sector impacting people's lives, nothing is cut-and-dry like creating a new product to put on a shelf. Everything is personal. Everything is personal. Everything is personal.
And that poses some concerns.
Once-upon-a-time, long before social media, one was able to keep work and church and home and school separate. There was a chance to evaluate and decompress from one to the other, to give some space to think about the encounters.
The world began to shrink.
In the presence of no space, it can become suffocating, engulfing, consuming, that there is no place of just being able to think, exist, be to oneself.
I found myself in that.
Observing what needed to change, following through on the training assignment, and then being on the outside of a strong foundation with life-threatening debris flying around. It felt like bricks-upon-bricks stacked on my chest.
Why did I even bother? Or even care? Does the professional have to be personal? Do we not have spaces that belong to just us and not have to have every single moment of our lives connected? Do we have to accept "friend" or "follow" requests from people we work with? Are we taking risks by saying no? Do we have parts of our lives that belong to just us?
These are questions I've pondered and through lots of reading through the pandemic, know I am not the only one considering how much of our lives have been on display for the keyboard courageous or the voyeristic.
I wanted to breathe.
Part of it is that I am different. Well, we are all different.
I am really different. My personality is in that rare air of the not-many-like-us, no one really understands how we tick. On the Myers-Briggs, I'm an INFJ. In the 16 Personalities, they describe it as the Advocate, I go hard to better circumstances for others, sometimes to my own detriment. I'm a True Blue in the Colors Test or a Golden Retriever in the L I O N test. all of it sums up the same thing, I'm different.
As an empath, I an aware of when people are in situations of pain and wonder how to help through that. When that pain is from lack of vision or structure, I think of ways to mitigate it. Not everyone likes INFJ-Advocate-Empath types.
Maybe because we want to make a difference
We are not chasing power, control, and influence.
We see the big picture, often with the end in mind, and think of ways to achieve what we see as possible and give space for the people around us to work their magic, to be brilliant. We stand back and smile at them being all wonderful, smile, and move on, satisfied that our work here has meant something.
But when it is twisted around, when it is like a vice grip threatening, intimidating, and tangling one in a spiders' web, empaths feel it in deep ways, personally feel it even if it is not personally directed. We want better for others and feel a deep sense of ethics, right and wrong, and not playing games with peoples' lives.
This year has felt like a lot of jockeying for position, of using people like pawns, or taking them for granted, that they will always just be in the space to give more of themselves.
Teachers have been in this position.
Advocates for others to live and breathe free, activists, even ministers.
It is that hard, sometimes.
To deeply care about someone, something.
It means we care.
And that is ok.
We don't have to be on all the time.
We can step back and observe the world. Be in it. Notice. Without the noise of the world consuming us, so we can breathe.
It has been a hard year, a hard eighteen months. None of us have all the right answers, we aren't even sure of the person next to us in the grocery story line.
So it is ok to wonder, to contemplate, shift, change course.
Sometimes, it is that hard, and that is ok. There will be a new day.