“I am so tired of waiting,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?
Let us take a knife
And cut the world in two-
And see what worms are eating
At the rind.” – Langston Hughes
Last Monday, I was scheduled to post my regular contribution to the Smart Women Write blog but then I woke up to the news of Las Vegas, and I just…couldn’t. I couldn’t post on the post-ac themed post I had planned to publish because it seemed so jarring, and I couldn’t publish anything else.
For a solid day, I tried to come up with something, but every time I even considered addressing the topic I went numb. At one point last week, my collaborators and I collectively talked about gathering useful links, but by that point I couldn’t stomach looking at anything else about the topic.
I honestly don’t know how anyone even dives into these topics anymore.
Last year after the Pulse shooting, on another blog, I spent time exploring the pain the of that event and that experience wore me out for more than a month. I had to take a news break for much of July before being able to ready myself for teaching that fall. Then, of course, there was the cycle of election politics and then the election itself.
And it’s not just this year, or last year either. Yesterday on social media, Facebook’s “On this Day” feature reminded me:
- That three years ago, my old hometown of St. Louis was in thick of protests over the Michael Brown shooting
- That two years ago to the day of the Las Vegas shooting, ten people were killed in a mass shooting on a community college campus in Roseburg, Oregon
- That a year ago, a video surfaced that showed Trump bragging about sexual assault.
Had the app gone back earlier it would have reminded me of my days living in DC, when 9/11, anthrax, and the sniper shooter fueled my autumns with anxiety.
Had the app looped in this past month it would have mentioned the latest police shooting verdict and related protests in St. Louis, the newest mass shooting, the latest sexual assault.
And let’s not forget hurricane, after hurricane, after hurricane, and the earthquake in Mexico City, and the fires here in Oregon and along the Pacific coast.
No wonder I am tired.
I’m far from the only person with tragedy fatigue. More and more often my conversations with friends turn to topics of coping strategies and self-care. I recognize in retrospect that the act of not writing last week was in itself a form of self care. It’s okay to remove yourself from the news. It’s more than okay (even healthy) to avoid social media.
For me, it also helps to feel useful, and so I’ve turned my energies more towards my local community and family where I can feel like I can help. I have leaned into my role as a parent in ways that I never thought I would before this year, channeling my energies towards preparing my son for whatever may come in the future. I’ve been paying more attention to my school and my neighborhood. I’ve been trying (imperfectly, I admit) to practice kindness as much as I can. And I’ve been giving myself more rest.
What about you? How do you cope with the weight of news like the Las Vegas shooting? What do you do for self-care?