Alabama weather is strange. It was unseasonably warm yesterday and this morning I’m writing this on my screened-in porch wearing a winter coat and covered in a blanket. I’m not sure why I’m sitting out here. I think the rain is bringing in the cold weather and is leaving a strange energy in the air in it’s wake; and I wanted to bask in it while I wrote.
2016 has been a strange year. I finally got the help I needed and found a therapist that guided me in sorting out the pain I was in. This has been an overall improvement and had wide-reaching positive effects from my parenting to my marriage. But, I feel like that by clearing out the clouds from my personal scope, I have cleared my vision to see the world around me more clearly…and I’m not entirely sure the view is that great.
I have set down on the road to understand systemic racism and the ways our society has continued to hold down people of color. This started rooting in me a strange feeling of hopelessness as I realized how little I knew and that I am just one of millions of unaware white people sitting in a ruling majority in our country. I’m seeing the boundless efforts by certain parts of the country to limit the control a woman has over her body. I’m becoming more and more aware of the delusion that we all have the same opportunities to success, that our country (and especially my state) does not actually allow all people the same potential to succeed and that the trauma of poverty is not being addressed in families across the country.
The election did not help that feeling, the campaign trail and this age of “live” social media showed that on top of the systemic racism I’m just learning about, blatant racism still exists as well and I’m now feeling overwhelmed on top of hopeless.
And don’t even get me started on the sorrow that eats at my soul when I see the world at war outside of the United States.
There’s also this strange thing happening – where our society is now documenting charitable actions on a daily basis. And while a small part of me celebrates the power of good, a much larger part of me is feeling like a lot of this stuff would not be happening if there was not hope of a “viral” response to the action. I used to not be that jaded. I used to celebrate good deeds simply for good, but now it all seems to be tainted with a feeling of desperation as people are trying to win the award for Most Commendations From The Internet.
So while I’ve worked to heal my own depression, I find I’ve also learned a new sensation of hopelessness and distrust of humanity.
I bought a coffee mug from DFTBA records a few weeks ago. It’s designed by Hannah Hart, a wonderful YouTube voice of positivity and charity. It was just kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing as they were on sale and I liked the idea of it. I drink out of it at work every day and I find it’s become very useful in shaking this new pervasive hopelessness from my spirit. I want to buy a second one to drink out of at home.
I don’t like the feeling of hopelessness. I don’t like the realization that our society is filled with people who have no desire to open their minds to systemic racism or white privilege. I’m discouraged by the widespread notion that children living in poverty have the same chance for success as those in middle class America. I feel overwhelmed that so many people could so easily overlook Trump’s terrible rhetoric and attitude. I’m heartbroken that so many people hated Hillary Clinton so much, considering the decades of amazing work she’s done in this country. I’m just saddened by the state of things and I don’t like this weird change that I feel seeping into my soul. The year I finally start to work through my depressions seems like it should be the year I see the world in a brighter light.
Instead, it’s like I was so overwhelmed by personal sadness, that I couldn’t even see the world around me. Now I’m seeing so many things every day that eat at my soul. And this is just me focusing on US politics and government. If I allow myself to watch news from places like Aleppo, I struggle to shake the weight of the darkening despair.
So I sit out here as the cold weather rolls in. My fingers find it hard to type as they’re the only skin showing through my blankets and jackets. I feel the freezing rain and the gray outside and I feel it reflects the strange new pervasive mood that I’ve developed on the inside as well. Hopefully the despair in my heart will be as temporary as the winter and the Spring will come and lighten up the cold gray skies.
Until then I will practice relentless optimism as a way to combat the despair.
Or at least I’ll continue to drink out of the mug that tells me to do just that.