Your empathy and strength make you a pillar for others, but how can you carry on living without absorbing the traumas of those around you? Read on for insight on how to keep from absorbing the trauma of the world.
I woke up this morning at 2:09 for a potty break and found it nigh onto impossible to tumble back to sleep. My mind was awhirl with tornado-like fear. I looked around my safe, comfortable house. My life (as unpredictable as it can be at times) is stable. I have dear family and friends whom I love and who love me. I’m also in good health and have the energy to do most of what I want to do. I’ve got right-livelihood work that supports me well. In addition, I have a connection with the Muse who keeps feeding me writing ideas. And I have creative resources and connections for speaking engagements. I am part of a growing counseling practice and am honored that my clients trust me to open themselves up to our work together.
This empath has been like a sponge that absorbs what it is immersed in.
Empathy in Difficult Times
I have not been able to disengage from the traumas that are happening in the concentration camps (and yes, they are that) in which our government has imprisoned children. What must it be like for these families who come here for a better life only to find that what they face, in what was touted as a “land of opportunity” that my immigrant grandparents came to from Russia to escape persecution in their native land, was perhaps even worse than what they left behind?
I read the stories, listened to the tape of children wailing and begging for their parents and the evil voice of a guard taunting them. I have applauded the politicians who visited the camps, and even more, the protestors who risked arrest to say, “Never again.”
The social worker/mandated reporter here knows that if children in private homes were treated as horrifically as these young ones are, Child Protective Services would be called and the children removed. Why not here? I think about the camps that were liberated in WWII. Why not here? What will it take?
Some have turned a blind eye, focusing only on what impacts them day-to-day. Others have callously expressed that these aren’t “our children” and that their parents are to blame for bringing them here illegally. Every child is “our child,” and these are human beings, not “illegals.” To anyone whose heart is so darkened by fear and hatred, I ask that they shine a light in those shadowed corners and put yourself in the place of those desperate families.
I consider myself a comforter, a safe place for people to share their feelings and unpack their fears.
Most people in my personal life (as far as I know), are on the same page with regard to social justice issues. We talk about this a lot. They, too, are affected by the state of the world. They, too, lose sleep. And they, too, ask the same questions and engage in activism by writing letters, making calls, signing petitions, organizing and attending rallies, marches, and vigils. They, too, seek solace in each other.
When it’s Overwhelming
Sometimes it feels overwhelming. It tests my spiritual faith. I don’t know what to believe, and I have long questioned the nature of Divine intervention. Yes, I have seen miracles. And I have had prayers answered and left seemingly unanswered. Did God have anything to do with either of those experiences? Some might say no; it was just the random nature of the Universe. Others might affirm that God was all over it; the joys and challenges. All I know is that in the middle of the night, I need to continue having what I call God-versations and ask that I be able to remain steadfast as a peacemaker and love bringer. I ask for my tribe to stand with me and each other, so together we can be a greater force for good in the world.
Some of my open-hearted, dedicated-to-peace friends had this to add:
We stand together, Edie. The situation is appalling and horrifying. It is hard to believe there is a Hitleresque dictator in a position of dominance in this USA which was once a “safe haven.” However, we need only look at the history of this country to understand the racism that is now in the open. And we need to keep singing, “We Shall Overcome” because we will. We certainly need one another’s support and we need to stand strong for what’s right and keep speaking the truth. And more than ever we need to teach the children and open their eyes to the truth. Lest We Forget. And then, of course, we need to get people to vote.
“First of all, love the babies. I think it’s a combination of things that balance us on the side of hope. Having mentors who hold a perspective that is hopeful, leaning into connections when we feel the tide of tragedy is high, cultivating gratitude and miracle mindedness. It is also important to let your heart break and have safe places to cry, scream, moan. What I love about growing up working class, my dad would say, have a nap, drink some water and take your ass back out there!”
Thank you for expressing what many of us are feeling, Edie.
“I am also deeply troubled by how we are treating persons desperately seeking a better and safer life for themselves. Our government is treating families horribly in a deliberate attempt to reduce such asylum applications from non-white countries.”
I stand with you, Edie, with all the same questions, concerns, but with faith that if I have done my best to help others and address suffering in every way I possibly can, then the outcome will be what is in Divine Order. I am not to judge as to whether it is the right or wrong order. We are all leaning in together to lift humanity. The best we can do.
“When I weary of being strong, I’ve come to appreciate the humbling view of also needing rest and love. I have some tea, take some rest and line up again with my patient persistence and go at it all again. Sometimes the middle of a quiet night is the only chance for needs to surface and hope to be seen.”
I keep on thinking that it’s my job to shine my light and love into the dark places, and I do what I can to help heal. I also am mindful that self-care and shining my love and light inward is important, it gives me more energy to help heal others and this craziness in our world.
“We have just had a conversation on this, Edie. My experiences were different from those in this country. It wasn’t our own who were doing these ghastly things – it was the enemy from abroad. That’s different. I do what I can do something about and put my energy to that. I don’t even consider what I can’t do as they attack my energy. Am I angry? You betcha. And unlike a lot of people who want me to stop being angry, it is powerful. I don’t hold on to it, but it has given me energy to do my best to make a difference somewhere.”
I’ve just had an encounter on Facebook with some obvious Republicans saying Obama put kids in cages, too, as if that clears their conscience. Besides the fact that it doesn’t make it right, which is a huge point, they can’t debate without immediately saying, Obama this or Hillary that. They have a huge amount of guilt they’re desperate to hide, especially from themselves. None of this is ever OK and that is what we’re trying to fix.