The Only Way Out is Through

I hope this finds your eyes dry, and your heart well.

As an empath, I have always felt very affected by the suffering of others, of this world. I know, intimately, the cavernous ache that is the pain of another’s story or experience, as if it were my own. As an act of self-preservation over the years, I have worked to have a bit more control over this tendency, rather than the reverse. It is a gift, to feel so deeply, and yet it can also be a curse. I have found myself suffering another’s pain long after they themselves had made peace and turned the page.

That said, I am only just now coming to you with dry eyes. This past week has been intensely triggering, challenging, and unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. The unknown – whose presence is, as a law of nature, is unfailingly relentless – feels drastically more tangible. I feel tremendously more involved in its undulations.

Despite my empathic nature, I have never in my 28 years been so swept from the shore of my own personal suffering and into the waves of national, even global distress.

Save for the profound tragedies that have occurred in my cognizant experience like 9/11, mass shootings, and earth-shattering natural disasters.

If that paints a picture of privilege, I’ll be the last to argue. I just can’t say I have ever been so distraught over an external circumstance. Normally, as a coping mechanism, we retreat inward and count our blessings. My loved ones are healthy and safe, I am healthy and safe, my life is untouched by the suffering that has overcome me, may I remember this so my energy can be extended towards comforting those in need rather than mistaking this crisis as my own.

Some might say that to feel the world’s pain as our own is part of the human condition, and in some ways profoundly beautiful. Others might see it as a waste of useful, active comfort and productivity, to be so lost in the suffering that we cannot fully be of aide. Either way, we all feel and process differently. And this past Tuesday night changed the way I look at the world, and the people who walk alongside me.

I sobbed Tuesday night, as I watched the downward spiral that was this election. I haven’t had an appetite since that evening (which is really saying something). I spent Wednesday spontaneously bursting into tears. I felt weighed down with grief. Grief that I am still processing a whole week later. It was such a strange experience. I was visiting my mom and stayed the night. When we awoke in the morning to the final news (which had not been made final by the time we took our frantic selves to bed), I was crushed. I never could have imagined ever being crushed by politics. But I was. Utterly. Irrevocably.

My heart was shattered. For Hillary Clinton, whom I found to be an exquisitely competent, experienced, and deserving candidate, lifelong public servicewoman (despite her flaws, which none of us are without), and “most qualified person to ever run for the presidency ever“, in the words of great President Obama himself…for Hillary, I wept.

I wept for women, and for all of the rights and dignity we have soldiered to acquire. I wept for immigrants, for minorities, for the colorful fabric that makes up our nation, for our youth. I wept and wept and wept.

My  mom stayed home sick, and I was off of work. We spent the morning together. We hiked out into nature and spent several hours in the greatest medicine Mother Earth has to offer. We talked. We cried. We cursed. We were in awe. We were in pain. We were awakened. We forgot for a moment, and then we remembered, and we started all over again.

It was the most unreal experience of what had become, shockingly, reality. Nothing this disastrous has ever happened in our system  of politics ever before. Despite the party one subscribes to, or the sentiment one might feel towards past or present Commanders in Chief, there has never been such an outright dangerous, ill-equipped, inexperienced, FOOL of a man to even run for office, much less be elected. I, for one, refuse to allow this country to be made into a mockery and theatre of cruelty. I know I am not alone.

In some bizarre way I felt more united with my fellow Americans than I ever had, and yet more wrecked by what had happened than I have memory of ever being. I really can’t compare it to anything but 9/11, and I actually owe that comparison to my mom. We were both just so ill at ease and cradled by disbelief.

A week has now passed, and I am crying far less. I am slow to process, I crawl into my Cancerian crab shell and sob quietly, but in this solitude I have charged up for action. Coiling so as to spring forth. I am fortified by the powerful women of this country who have stood up, boldly. I am strengthened by the men who have turned their backs on the misogyny that built this nation and proclaimed that “the future is female.” The ones who have vowed to maintain high visibility and equality for all women. The ones who wept with me. I am built up by the unity that has risen from the ashes of this earth-splitting division. I have faith, in our power, in our process, and in the revolution that is churning.

I will admit, in weaker (or perhaps just inquisitive) moments, I am looking from face to face. Did you vote for him? Did you vote at all? I recognize a feeling of resignation in these wonderings, rather than accusatory denial or anger. I also acknowledge a heavy undertone of disappointment and confusion. Because the statistics give me enough information to know that many of those faces did indeed vote for him, and did indeed not vote at all. Both of which break my heart all over again.

Differences are what make us beautiful, but not when those differences highlight half the American population as those for whom sexism, racism, narcissism, sociopathology, misogyny, prejudice, violence, sexual assault, zero experience, and downright unstable mental capacity is not a deal breaker.

My prayer is that, somehow, in the utter American collapse of what most of us find to be general decency, humanity, and universal love, we can come to better understand one another. The outcome of this election has exposed a great wound in our nation. One that requires immediate, emergency attention.

I do trust that everything happens as it should, in this life. But I don’t accept the decision of the electoral college with understanding. I accept it because it is reality, and I don’t believe in arguing with what is (thank you, Byron Katie). I accept it with the terms that this means we are going to battle. A war cry for love is echoing across our lands. We will not stand for hate. We will not stand for oppression. We will not tolerate the dismantling of human dignity by the highest office of our country. We will not tolerate a dangerous, caricature of a man attempting to fill the shoes of, arguably, the greatest human being to ever be President, with his lies, abuse, and disgusting beliefs. We will not allow darkness to dampen our light.

I don’t have a way to neatly tie up the ends of this essay because, well, we’re knees deep in this right now. Every day is a little less shocking and yet all the more alarming. The evolution of this decision is shifting away from sadness and disbelief, into an echoing call for engagement affirmative action.

This is not a time to stay quiet, to filter or censor. This is a time to find the divine balance between accepting reality, and acting upon the injustice. Accepting, and then creating change. Accepting as a means to strengthen our collective resolve, but not allowing the madness to ensue. Doing everything in our human power to pull from power any entity who does not uphold the standard of dignity, decency, empathy, and love.

We are sent here with a holy mission. We have taken a creed to honor one another, as sacred beings of God, and to protect and uphold a standard of LOVE. Pure love. The kind of love we are all born knowing, but which this world sometimes begs us to forget. We are here as warriors of the luminous light we were brought here to remember.

We must come together. We must commit to the self-care, selfless service, and promotion of tight-knit community  that is required to heal this wound, and redefine “what this country is built on.” No room for “was.” We are finished with tyranny.

The flames are flickering high, the earth is smoldering. We have been called to action, called to rise. There is no way around it. The only way out is through.