I’m emotionally exhausted. Tired of having conversations about how I feel. Tired of watching the news. Tired of seeing the same story repeated over and over. I tried, for my sanity’s sake, to disconnect today. I thought, I’ll go early vote and then spend the rest of the day relaxing. Three hours later after waiting in line (including through a thunderstorm), I’d earned my I voted sticker. But the whole process only added to my frustration by reminding me of the very problems i’m tired of talking about. (Many of us were voting in person because we’d either never received absentee ballots or didn’t bother returning our absentee ballot requests because we lacked faith in a system that continues to let us down). Now my back hurts, I have a headache, and I’m tired.
And yet, I don’t know where we go from here. I mean, practically speaking, I have some ideas. But they all require me to do something, like collectively organizing and mobilizing, in order to enact some policy changes. Right now I don’t feel up to doing much of anything. I just want to be. Exist. But that might be too much to ask. I feel as if I’ve gone through the stages of grief over the past week and like so many of my fellow black brothers and sisters, I spent most of my time in the anger/rage category. Now, after grieving what I believe to be the loss of my children’s innocence, I worry that I’m nearing acceptance. What if we all remain too tired to do anything about what we’re seeing? What if I’m losing hope that the status quo can really ever be changed?
Last night while watching the news with the girls, we heard about some protests planned in the coming days from a good friend. Olivia asked if we should join, and pretty soon she had her sisters excited about the prospect as well. I was so proud of my social justice warriors, but the truth is, I just didn’t have it in me to say yes. At least not yet. Everything about this moment is still too raw, and right now I feel a need to both protect them and myself.
This afternoon my wife and I grabbed some blankets, snacks, and cuddled up in the playroom with the girls and watched a movie. It was our way of escaping from it all, even if only for a few hours. I know I can’t protect them from everything (nor should I try). This past week was a clear reminder of that. The world will come for them one day, and it’s my job to make sure they’re ready. We think about it and talk about it everyday. Still, sometimes you just need a break from it all.
The mental and emotional toll that this moment is taking on my black brothers and sisters is real. Let’s take care of ourselves in the process of rising to the occasion to save the world. Throughout the past few days I’ve kept reminding myself this too shall pass. This moment of personal fatigue and grief will shift to one of resolve. I can sense it in the change in tone and conviction in the conversations I’ve had with friends and colleagues. I may be tired, but I’m still hopeful. I have no choice but to be hopeful, because as a father I owe it to Riley, Olivia, London, and Sloane to do everything I can to change the world for them. One day I know they’ll be prepared to return the favor. Today, I just want them to know that they are loved.