I bring this up, not to distract from the topic at hand, but to acknowledge the force that has kept, and sometimes still keeps, me from writing. I bring it up because it is necessary to speak about, to confront, and to heal, something I do not yet know how to do. And I bring it up because mercy begs me to do it, as words have power far beyond our own.
I had a pretty bad week this week, between the anxiety and crushing sadness that felt like a ten-ton weight upon my chest. Yes, I accomplished much in spite of that, but it all felt hollow, and nothing against what is coming. And so I spoke with my therapist about my pain on Thursday night, trying to understand how to cope and yet move on. This is the story of that discussion, and so much more.
I don't remember all the details of what we spoke of, of exactly how I felt that night. I do feel the echoes of hollowness even now, though, and I feel a need to stand in my defense. (Editors note: Not against you, but against the depression and sadness that would crush me to death.)
One of the topics we talked about was my poetry, and levels of discomfort. Zoe suggested that a 6 on a scale of 10 was about right for maximum discomfort while being kicked into action, and that too much more would reduce that effectiveness too much. (I figure I'm sitting around a 7 as I write this.) Her going in position was that too much emotional intensity, too much pain, would just cause complete collapse, and I have to admit she's right. The line between being informed and being able to function is a difficult one to walk, and I'm usually on the wrong side of that line. Empathy is *so* *important*, but it's destroying me, and I have to find a way to push it down so I can help.
Why is it destroying me? Because this current world has pain on every side, and I've known all of them. I know what it means to feel alone and abandoned, to feel as though the world is being torn asunder. I know what it means to believe, as Mike Pence does, to an absolute and uncompromising level. I know what it feels like to propagate that discrimination, something I am deeply ashamed of. And I know what it feels like to hurt, or be hurt, by those you love.
I know the pain on every side, and it is killing me.
How am I fighting this?
The only way I know how. I'm fighing this with words, with happiness, and butterfly wings. I learned Thursday that writing, while leaving me exhausted, actually helps me gain spoons back, and is the honest-to-goodness source of the fire that I bring into everyday life. I need to write... to live.
So let's talk about levels of discomfort, and let me ask you a question, if I may. It's the same one I asked Zoe.
On a scale of 1-10, what is the maximum emotional intensity level my writing has induced in you? And what level do you think I was at when I wrote it?
By way of explanation, I ask because I want to know where about I am. Zoe and I disagreed initially on what level is sometimes required, but I responded by referring to the actual target of my words. I seek to strike the cages around our hearts, those things that would prevent us from healing, or helping others. I seek to break them, to strike so surgically that the wound is utterly mortal. And I seek them with all the violence at my command. I seek a 10, to change the worlds of those within its resonance.
And yet, I must remember mercy.