We often say, “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but…” Let me preface this by saying, “I know who needs to hear this and it’s all of us.”
Take care of yourself. Please. Get off the internet for long periods of time. Turn off C-Span or MSNBC. Don’t read every tweet. Don’t scroll absent-mindedly, feeding your rage as you go. We know things are terrible. It doesn’t make you irresponsible if you stop the emotional cutting for a day or a couple. It makes you smart and probably sane.
Things are only going to get worse as we approach 11/3. And after…Chissa? as they say in Italy. Who knows?
True story: After all the hopelessness and rage and despair and fear of the last 7 months, on top of that of the last 4 years, the week of October 12, 2020 said the proverbial, “Hold my beer.” Few images encompass all of our gravest fears and outrages of this sham administration like that of Amy Coney Barrett being rammed through a SCOTUS confirmation hearing run by unmasked men with COVID, less than 3 weeks before an election. She will be confirmed. We will lose Roe, and probably Marriage Equality. Voting rights are already gone. People have died for these rights.
Like you, I feel so much anger I don’t know what to do with it. And it’s not just this. It’s everything. I won’t say we shouldn’t feel it, because there is so much to be angry about. But by Friday, fingers poised to write a tweet or post expressing this anger, I realized I just couldn’t do it. I realized I didn’t have to express anger about everything, or anything, in this moment. I could be confident that I’m doing what I can to speak out, what I can to change things, but feeling that all the time wasn’t going to change it and certainly wasn’t good for me. Letting go of the need to express it, even for a few moments, was both welcome and necessary. I could walk away and phone bank. I could walk away and nap. I could walk away and do anything else. That small shift in thinking really helped my outlook.
Here’s another true story: This experience publishing Under the Tuscan Gun has been hard. I’ve been overwhelmed with a lot of feelings that I wasn’t prepared for; even when I’m filled with gratitude it’s a shockingly emotional combo of gratitude and impostor syndrome. As a writer I don’t know that I have ever felt this exposed. So much of our work either never sees the light of day or is said by someone else. But this is out there to be judged by more than just a studio’s development team and there is no talent to hide behind. It’s incredibly disconcerting and I was utterly unprepared for it. Conversely, there’s the fear that no one is going to see it, beyond my friends. Plus, I’m uncomfortable asking people for things; the incessant self-promotion is difficult, no matter how much I tell myself that closed mouths don’t get fed.
We are all dealing with the normal, or even abnormal, stressors of our regular lives on top of what the current events and pandemic are throwing at us. The combo of all of it is depleting.
So this past weekend I decided that I was going to try to fill myself up again. I got off the internet, off of all social media save the random food pic on IG. I told myself that what’s done is done with my book and that has to be OK. I decided to do some things that bring me joy and not judge myself if that was binge-watching a lot of procedurals. I tried to pretend that I was vacationing in a foreign country with crappy wifi. I made up a shrimp puff recipe. Why am I sharing my “To Don’t List” with you? Because you need to hear it. Yes, you. Step away. Find joy. Fill yourself up. It’s going to get worse before it gets better and it’s not healthy for any of us if we don’t.
(And if you haven’t already, please buy Under The Tuscan Gun. Available now in paperback & e-book!)