I’ve gotta get something off my chest. Someone I know said that she isn’t following a lot of politics because it’s her version of self-care, and she wants to avoid getting pissed off on a regular basis. What? What? You gotta be kidding me.
But really, this is not the first time I’ve seen this approach.
Now, let me say up front that if you’re battling major mental illness and testing the news waters is going to spin your anxiety out of control or plunge you into a depressive relapse–by all means you go do you, and avoid that hot mess that is our national politics like the plague that it is.
But if you are a relatively functional adult with a reasonable amount of spare physical and emotional energy, then I have this to say: you don’t get to check out.
Checking out is different from taking a pause and controlling your intake. Pauses and intake control are necessary tools to keep oneself sane. One cannot consume that poison uncontrolled.
But let me take a radical stand here and say…
Checking out is desertion.
Yeah, I know that seems harsh. Maybe I’m just cranky myself about all that’s in the news lately.
See, I’ve got some friends who have TPS (Temporary Protected Status). They’re from Honduras and have been living here in the USA some 15-20 years, and each year that status has gotten extended because their old homes still weren’t safe to go back to. In the meantime, they made new lives here in the USA. Kids. Jobs. Church. Homes. The whole thing. The state of their country hasn’t changed, there still aren’t opportunities–or even basic safety–in Honduras. Except that this year the U.S. government said that they didn’t care. They’re gonna get sent back. 20 years of building lives that are getting ripped apart with the swipe of a pen. I’m pissed.
I’m watching transgender prisoners probably get their lives endangered because they no longer get have their preferred gender considered in the determinations of which prison they get sent to. I’m furious.
Last week read an article about a young man who died because he aged off his parents’ health care and he couldn’t afford his insulin shots. I’m not just mad, I’m absolutely ripshit.
There’s 1500 immigrant kids in government custody that simply went missing or possibly were handed over to traffickers, even more that were abused, and they’re planning to put even more in incompetent custody.
Meanwhile this week I learn that the kids of close family friends are being told to “Go back to Mexico” on their way to school–they’re US citizens, asshat, and from Guatemalan/Brazilian descent, but nevermind. That’s not the point anyhow.
Yeah, these days I’m not just angry. I’m a motherfucking vengeful Valkyrie.
This is me giving you a gentle shove between your shoulders and saying, get back in there, sister.
So what if the news makes you angry?
In every one of these cases, these people aren’t getting a choice to opt out. They are casualties in a war that’s happening.
Isn’t it nice that you can say, “Oh, I’m not going to read the news today, I want to stay calm.”
I say, you go read that news and you get angry. You get absolutely outraged and you channel that fury, because people are getting hurt out here. You don’t get to go hide.
I say, if your anger overflows and stirs up some things in your life, maybe that’s not all bad.
Running from your anger is not self-care.
It is not self-care to say, “oh this thing makes me angry, so LA-LA-LA-LA I’m going to pretend it doesn’t exist in my world.” That’s not self-care, that’s deliberate delusion.
Booking extra time with your therapist so you can find your own personal outlets for anger is self-care.
Going and running extra hard at the gym to get the anger out is self-care.
Painting fast and furious and with wild mess to get out the anger is self-care.
Fucking throwing soft objects at a wall until you feel better is self-care.
Cranking up your favorite playlist is self-care.
Dancing until you’re exhausted and fall into an anxiety-free slumber is self-care.
Planning extra potlucks with friends or nature walks so that you can remember all that is bright and beautiful and good in this world is self-care.
You cannot check out and pretend not to notice as they slowly turn up the heat and cook us alive.
Because have you noticed that it’s started to get hotter in here? You need to be awake and alert, or it’s going to be too late and too hard to wake you when we really need you.
If you’ve got your hands over your eyes (or ears) you’re not going to be able to use them for other things.
This is me saying: release your anger and release yourself.
Go be free.
Stomp your feet and shout to the heavens.
Show them that we will not be silenced.
Speak more truths than ever, not less.
Make more friends, not less.
Read those articles, get informed, get angry at that news, and you go do something about it.
Live life to the fullest.
Blaze in your fullest glory against the darkness.
Fight back with pizzazz.
Don’t you DARE check out and hide.
You fight back against all that is making you angry. But you do it on your terms. They don’t get to steal your soul or your joy. Don’t you dare let them. It’s not theirs to take.
Dig deep into your joy and let it carry you. I know it’s hard to find these days. The pain in the news makes us forget. That’s why it’s even more important than ever to find ways to remember.
Reach down into yourself and find what makes you chortle and feel vibrant. Hold a protest and choose a theme where you all get to dress in some extreme costume, and you go laugh in their faces.
I say be ridiculous about it. Go kill that legislation and then hold a celebration to dance on its grave. Have a barbecue with 200 of your closest friends. Hold a voter registration event that doubles as a neighborhood concert. Or dance with the mariachi band in front of your neighborhood racist’s house. Be loud. Be alive.
Do not do their work for them by stepping back from the conflict. Don’t you dare hide.