Skip to main content

Yeet Me Into the Sun

I don't know exactly what "yeet me into the sun" means, but my daughter and her friends think it sounds hilarious, so they say it just to hear each other giggle. They also laugh at buzzwords that are familiar to me from my work in social justice and my own personal healing--like "anxiety" and "triggered"--not in a mean way but in a cleverly playful way, which I think is healthy and gives me hope for the kids these days. So yeet me into the sun that my triggers and anxiety may be pwned.

I am looking forward to taking a break from both my day job and my creative work-in-progress to spend some quality time with my daughter and other family. We are going someplace sunny during this brutally cold time in the Midwest. And it's not just the weather I'm talking about.

Social justice is the Lord's work if there is any, but damn if it isn't hard. Hateful, ignorant people are the easy part. They can be ignored, dismissed, deleted, blocked, or asked to leave the premises. Sad, wounded people take more care, but it feels good to comfort and support folks in their times of need. The hardest part of my job is dealing with people who are mean, who exhibit behaviors pop psychology calls "toxic" or traits of "emotional vampires," not because they are regular entitled jerks but because they are traumatized or clinically psychotic or cognitively impaired and, for whatever reason, they are among those who have learned to manipulate or viciously bully others as a way of coping.

Working with such people can be emotionally draining. Over time, it can cause issues like compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress. Actually, those are risks posed by simply needy people (or other living beings) who don't lash out at those trying to serve them. Add in nasty, aggressive, bullying, and dishonest behavior, and it's a monumental effort just to respond appropriately to each plea, demand, and attack as they come. It can also be scary at times. Exactly when do we dial 911? Does this behavior count as a threat of violence or suicide that we must report? Or is this a bid for attention that calling in authorities would escalate unnecessarily? These are questions my coworkers and I, who are not professional mental health experts or emergency responders, must ask ourselves on a fairly regular basis. And no matter which decision we make or how satisfactory the outcome, someone may be furious with us and retaliate with harassment.

It takes a great deal of what pop social justice jargon calls "emotional labor," by many of its ever-expanding popular definitions, to retain compassion and composure and resist getting sucked into the downward spirals of pain addiction and self-defeating behavior. Sometimes I feel like Psyche traveling through the underworld while the lost souls grab at my ankles and cry out for me to turn away from my mission and fulfill their cloying demands. I feel not only shamed for continuing on (How dare you not give up your privileges of being alive and empowered when there are dead, hungry ghosts who might be comforted by seeing you become one of them!) but deeply saddened from within that I cannot just reach down and yoink them up out of the gutter and fling them into heaven, one by one. Every fiber of my being wants to give them whatever they're begging, even when I know it's only a trap set to trick me into enabling another cycle of dysfunction and personal failure. A cycle that will not only put my own safety and security at risk but won't ultimately help those who are pleading with me, even if my downfall gives them a momentary thrill of schadenfreude. I will not be a martyr for misery.

This is not to say that there isn't hope for such people. The hell they are in is an illusion. They aren't really dead or doomed, and it is possible to recover completely from toxic behavior patterns. But effective recovery has to be led by the sufferer--who can be empowered but not saved. My role requires me to practice a great deal of restraint, patience, and refusal to enable. And all that does is give the sufferer time and space to make their own decisions on healing. I cannot save anyone from their own self or force anyone to make meaningful changes.

But sometimes! Sometimes, when my coworkers and I and enough other people in the community do succeed at holding that detached, compassionate, patient space over a long enough time, sometimes we get to witness damn near miraculous personal transformations. We've seen it happen more than once.

The work I do makes a large, positive difference in my community, not only to the emotional vampires but also to a great number of lovely, warm, beautiful souls who are simply down on their luck or need a simple accommodation to succeed and contribute to the community. The organization I work for empowers not just the lowly and sick but the average, and the privileged and blessed, to collaborate on joyous, life-saving, and uplifting projects. Most of my work is creatively satisfying and spiritually fulfilling, and sometimes--much of the time--it is a pleasure. I have healthy working relationships with my bosses and coworkers. Most of the people I serve are abundantly appreciative and sweet to us. And my job offers valuable flexibility and fringe benefits that allow me to support my own well-being and my family's. One of those benefits, which I dare not waste, is the gift of long vacations that let me recharge my batteries and come back to my work stronger and softer and more flexible and creative.

So yeet me into the sun! I hope to bring some warmth and shine back with me when I return, which, like a flame, multiplies when it is shared.


Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be:
You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")  35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't waste time o…

The Tiny Tweens

Girls really do grow up faster than they used to! My baby has just started third grade. Here she is looking like a tiny tween. Some of the girls in her class are bigger, taller, and older looking than she is. This is the new reality of girls in elementary school.

My daughter has given away nearly all of her toys and set up a neat and tidy homework desk stocked with notebooks and pens. She's more interested in Minecraft than My Little Pony now, but she still prefers to run around and play with other kids outside than to sit with a device.

Sometimes people ask me if I'm sad that my child is growing up so quickly. So far, not really. She was a very cute baby, but every year older is easier and more fun for me! We haven't yet hit peak enjoy-it-while-it-lasts.

She gets herself ready for the day. She can help with more chores. She sleeps in until about 7:00 a.m. (It used to be 5:00.) She still wants me to read to her at bedtime, but now it's horror chapter books rather than…

My Alpha

It turns out my husband is a fantastic alpha reader. Who knew? We've been married for 13 years and have known each other for 21. And last weekend was the first time I ever had him alpha read for me. Turns out he's the best creative partner I could ever hope for and that he still has the ability to surprise me with hidden talents and acts of love.

My husband is not really a fiction reader. He probably hasn't read a novel since high school AP lit class. It's not that he doesn't love a good story, it's that he doesn't like sitting still long enough to read a book or watch a movie. He's a very active and extroverted man, and he'd rather have a conversation or a real-life adventure than read a book. He's kind of like Gaston if Gaston weren't an asshole.

So until now, I haven't wanted to bother him with requests to read my writing, because reading novels isn't his jam, and also because I've always harbored guilt at how much time I spen…

The Golden Moments

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. -George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) 

The only time this is not generally true for me is in the fall. This is the golden moment when I feel most alive, aware, and present with everyone and everything around me. This is when my daughter and I begin most days with a walk in the golden hour of the morning, in this most golden season of the year.

It's also that magical time when my little golden child is still excited about school, from our morning walks to seeing her friends at recess to the Scholastic Book Fair to riding the bus home with more friends. She has already earned another "Golden Warrior of the Week" award (for exceptionally helpful behavior) and received an excellent, glowing report at the first parent-teacher conference of the year.

I've extended my "fallow period" from working on my novel, and I'…

"Steh auf" for the Friday the 13th Harvest Moon!

Tonight, the lunar fall begins! Behold the Harvest Moon on the night of Friday the 13th, which hasn't happened since the year 2000 and won't happen again for another 30 years! I'm so excited because fall is my favorite season. Summer is generally when my anxiety peaks, and I question my whole life and my existence and whether I am an idiot for spending so much time writing books that might turn out to be incredibly silly and ridiculous.

And now the Harvest Moon finally comes, and with it a marvelous reminder that some of my favorite kinds of art and media are silly and ridiculous. Lindemann has released their latest video, for "Steh auf," which feels like a direct message to me from the universe to quit mainlining the Weltschmerz, stand up, recommit to my 2019 resolution to Be Bestial, and get my own silly and ridiculous work completed.

Like, I have no idea what's going on with this small stage / looney bin / Mongol invasion, but I like it. This resonates wit…