When I woke up this morning and started reading through the headlines and articles beginning to outline the unbelievable news unfolding in Las Vegas overnight, I had an unfortunate realization. I realized that I was not reacting at all. I was emotionless.
It's finally happened: I've become completely numb.
Before today, the deadliest mass shooting in our nation's modern history took place on June 12, 2016. This was the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. For me, that following day was maybe the most traumatic day of my entire life. I was distraught. Heartbroken. Speechless. I nearly called in to work sick because I was so shaken by what I was reading, seeing, and hearing. Following that morning, my life felt like a fuzzy, surreal dream, and I recall literally floating through my waking hours with that feeling for days.
Whether it's a good thing or not, I had previously done a relatively effective job at separating myself from the atrocities happening around the world. I'd try to pay attention to what was happening, but also I tried to not become too emotionally involved to protect myself from a breakdown. Instead, I thought I could best use my awareness of what's going on to inform my opinions on the upcoming election – and then hope that my contribution to the election would result in a positive influence on all of the negativity.
But I was not prepared for how the events at the Pulse nightclub would affect me. It was an attack that, at the time, seemed to be targeting LGBT+ people specifically. It hit home. I could not control the distressed helplessness that overwhelmed my brain-space for quite some time.
In truth, it took months before I started feeling something like "normal" again. All that time, though, we were still enduring the longest, most exhausting, and divisive election campaigns in our lifetime. So it would be entirely unfair to suggest that I had emotionally recovered.
On the night of Election Day, I was again unprepared for what was about to unfold. The election having been won (both in the executive and legislative branches) by a party owning all negative rhetoric against the LGBT+ population, my hysterical emotions brewed back on that fateful June day came rushing back. Again, I was distraught, heartbroken, and speechless. And again, I nearly called in sick because of it.
I have endured over a year of a variably-constant level of panic, anxiety, and depression.
Then the Trump Administration moved in to the White House, and it's been an almost-daily barrage of one insane, surreal news story after another. We thought we'd seen it all and knew what to expect after the campaign, but amazingly we still had the emotional energy to be shocked and outraged by the day's latest scandal from the WH. However, deep down I always knew that this was not a sustainable course; eventually, we were going to burn out and become numb to the surreal.
I guess for me, that day has finally come.
As today has progressed, the reality of what's happened is slowly starting to sink in. I still just don't have the energy to be angry about what's happened... I don't have the energy to be particularly passionate at all about it... But I am heartbroken. My thoughts and love go out to everyone affected by today's evil.
For all of you that still have the emotional fuel to be politically passionate about this issue: Just remember that we don't always need to be at odds with each other. Don't give up the good fight; unfortunately, you have to pick up the slack for those of us that have burned out... But we can't forget to take the rare opportunities to agree when we can.
photo credit: David Baker, Getty Images