Saturday, June 06, 2020

Long Silences are normal and indicative and symptomatic

It remains true and bears retelling that not-writing is destructive to my mental health, and also what I tend to do when my mental health is tenuous.

But the difficulty of self-expression has been amplified by the myriad of ways I've been humbled and forced to re-learn my lenses over the last year.  Oliver/Sir O was diagnosed with Autism, anxiety, ADHD, a written expression learning disability, an executive functioning deficit, and classified as 2E last fall.  It was not an unexpected diagnosis, but it knocked the wind out of me and forced me into wildly unfamiliar territory in aggressive and unexpected ways.  I've been having to reimagine everything I've known about how minds work to make room for the neurodivergent ways my children interact with the world.  I've had to become aware of and name the herculean effort I put in daily to co-regulate with each of my children and their lagging skills with self-regulation.  It's been massive.

Then, just as I was beginning to be able to tell which direction wa
s up, the pandemic and all of it's attendant drama, discord, and carpet yanking happened.  I have had so many aspects of my view of and relationship with my own reality shaken and stolen away that the sheer volume of paradigm reconfiguring I've had to do is staggering.  My brain cannot keep up, and I keep emotionally forgetting what I cognitively already know and have processed.  On a much less traumatic scale it's like that moment when you wake up in the morning and have to re-remember that someone has died, only for scores of less earth-shattering adjustments.  I never quite have all of my feet under me.

I've been struggling to sleep.  My brain starts racing around 10 pm, and usually my heart starts to race too.  Lately it's been vivid sensory memories from my time in London in 2002.  Mostly really good memories, but they feel so immediate, like I'm actively living them, and the melancholy of how far gone and away they are (and how impossible they'd be to recreate in a pandemic) makes them really acutely emotional, melancholy, even tragic. I weep from midnight on until I finally collapse.

It's hard for me (and everyone else) to navigate next steps forward.  Goal setting and relationship maintaining and healthy recreating are so impossible to navigate in a world of infinite high-stakes unknowns.  Not knowing what the next school year will look like, not knowing what the economy might even remotely look like, not knowing whose careers will be affected in what ways, not knowing what social activities will be safely available or when...... nobody can plan their life the way humans need in order to stay sane.  And all this on top of the most dramatic civil unrest of my lifetime, when the stakes of so many things seem insanely high, dramatic, unstable, and tragic.

I remember, in the aftermath of the 2016 election, when I was really struggling, finding helpful metaphors in the language of deep festering wounds being opened up to heal properly.  Lots of things (power imbalances) that we (the privileged) pretended were overcome in the 80s have been forced into the bright light to be reckoned with and hopefully dealt with more thoroughly and honestly this time.  I don't know that we will altogether succeed this time either, but hopefully progress will be made. Hopefully the arc of history will lean toward justice and will treat us with some mercy.

I haven't had much luck finding my place or my voice in the current BLM moment.  Most white influencers I follow are tripping over themselves trying to find appropriate and sensitive content to post, mostly finding and sharing black influencer accounts and resharing their content.  I haven't got a business or professional identity to keep afloat right now, so it feels more safe and authentic to just literally mute myself, rather than to post about how I'm muting myself and then still posting others' content.  But it also feels odd/off to be silent in a moment when "silence is complicit" is au courant.  But I'm listening and watching and doing my best to start conversations with kids for whom all conversations are hard to have.  I'm sitting in deep deep discomfort with every facet of every previous self. I hope it is constructive, it's certainly painful.

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