On Collective Retraumatization

Things that make it hard to write about current events include:

1) feelings of shouting feebly into a shitriver of voices, many of them more eloquent and better-researched than mine, but most a bunch of shouty creeps; and

2) feelings of utter futility of everything. The same knot is holed up in my gut as when Ivanka’s Dad started showing strong poll numbers in the Republican primaries in 2016. I didn’t want it to be true, but I knew that it probably would happen.

Now, as then, I am shot-through anxious. I can’t sleep, I’m yelling at my loved ones. I’ve become a stereotype. America I love you but you’re bringing me down. 

I didn’t want to watch the coverage this week. The feeds were oversaturated with images of an angry man tantruming, and a tired woman swearing she’s telling the truth. As if the juxtaposition to Anita Hill’s photo doing the same thing was supposed to make us feel stronger and not dismayed that the last 30 years have seemingly been so pointless.

Seeing that photo of Dr. Ford with her hand raised before testimony was another friendly reminder from the patriarchy that regardless of how much we accomplish, we will always be shaped by and held accountable for our humiliations. This was story I already knew. So did thousands of people, who spent portions of their days looking up their assailants on social media, publishing their traumatic memories, and generally sending up the mourning cry for our national decency as a less-than-hopeful cry for help. I hope it helped everyone who shared feel a little less of the weight of their trauma. Because as of this moment, I feel buried.

Hearing a grown woman recount an assault that will likely be disregarded, hearing about another unarmed teenager gunned down, hearing about masses of our own countrymen hell-bent on reducing our civil liberties. I want to break things this week more than usual.

I wanted to be optimistic. I don’t have it in me, right now. Is it ok not to feel strong? I guess it doesn’t matter. That’s all I got.


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