Is anyone else as exhausted as I am right now? I mean, I’m always kinda feeling that around the holidays, especially if I have to travel and see family. It’s very stressful, no matter what, every year. But, there’s something about this year that feels worse.
It reminds me of the first really profoundly unhealthy romantic relationship I ever had. It was with a man who, when we first got together, was extremely complimentary, attentive, and intensely, passionately expressive of his undying love for me. Then, after about six months, all of that just came to a grinding halt for no particular reason, and I spent the next six months desperately trying to get it back until, finally, he dumped me. A couple weeks later, he hooked up with a girl who was still in high school. Yes. High school. He was 24.
But, after that relationship ended, I felt like I had been on some very intense drug, like speed or coke or something, for the entire previous year. And now I had finally come down, hard and suddenly – crash!
That’s kind of how I feel right now. It’s the whole “you never know how tired you are until you’re allowed to slow down for a second” thing.
People like to talk about “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” Others talk about “Outrage fatigue.” But, how about “Patriarchy fatigue?” “Capitalism fatigue?” Or, “Life fatigue,” how about that one? And I don’t mean that in a suicidal way at all. Here’s what I mean:
Here it is, it’s Xmas. Winter Solstice. The time of the longest nights of the year. From here on out, the days get longer and the Sun returns to the northern hemisphere. And there’s a New Moon on Xmas, no less, which energetically is the low point in the Moon’s cycle. This is also the time in the Moon cycle when many women start bleeding, myself included. So, grrrlfriends, in case you were wondering why you’re so tired right now, this might be part it. I know I always have to remind myself. It’s not an “excuse,” but it is a reason.
But, Xmas day is also the day when we all get a little bit of a break from another cycle – the news cycle.
So, that ex-boyfriend I was talking about? Well, one of the lessons I left that relationship with was that there are some people who are addicted to drama. This trait often goes along with narcissism. Everything was either the greatest or the worst, there was never any normal, it-is-what-it-is, non-dramatic, in-between. Everything was profound. Everything was a big deal. Everything was something that one had to have very intense feelings about. And, by the end of the relationship, I was also addicted to that drama. That’s why, once it ended, and the drug had been ripped abruptly away from me, I felt so empty, drained, depleted. It was not healthy at all.
Once I had some distance from that relationship and some perspective in life, I began to see all the ways in which our entire culture is addicted to drama, though. And our media feeds this addiction and feeds on this addiction. Our culture, in many ways, is designed to get us addicted to drama. Why? Because money, that’s why. Think about it. Movies, TV shows, even music that is not dramatic in some way does not hold our interest. It gets “boring.” It doesn’t get the ratings. It doesn’t “sell.” And in Capitalism, everything must “sell.”
I maintain, as I always have, that the election of the orange nightmare was the logical conclusion of many different cultural propensities in our society. How so few people saw it coming, I still don’t understand. How else would we end up with a president who is, himself, addicted to drama and crisis, and thus goes out of his way to instigate drama and crisis as much as he can? Because our society, our culture, our economy even, loves drama and crisis. That’s why the media feels a need to cover his every fucking tweet. That’s why, in 2016, he got more media coverage than any other candidate. And that’s what gives him such a strangle hold on his supporters. In some ways, they’re like I was in the last six months of that toxic relationship. Desperately hoping he will do what he said he would do when we first got together, desperately hoping he will live up to his own hype.
I’ve got some news for his supporters though. He won’t live up to his own hype. He won’t do anything that will actually benefit you directly. He’s just using you. And in fact, he’ll toss you out the window like so much used Kleenex at the first opportunity.
For the rest of us, I think it’s more that we’re caught up in the media hype. Whether you’re watching TV, reading a newspaper, or on social media, there is always something to be outraged about. There is always someone who is posting in all caps about some crisis, real or perceived, that they are utterly outraged about, and that they think we should be outraged about, too.
Here’s the thing, though: this is not healthy. Sure, outrage has it’s place, but when we’re outraged all the time about everything, this is what burns us out. I also contend that getting caught up in the drama, the outrage, the crisis mentality, doesn’t do anything to avert the crisis. All it does is stress us out to the point where we can’t recognize a true crisis and are rendered incapable of taking any action that might avert it. Too much stress makes you less able to do something about the situation. It depletes you, exhausts you, makes you unable to function.
After the aforementioned toxic relationship ended, the main thing that got me back to feeling like myself again was connecting to the natural world. The mountains did not care about one crazy relationship I had with one crazy dude. Likewise, trees have no idea about Resident Dump’s latest tweet. Squirrels don’t know it’s an election year. The Sun and the Moon didn’t see the latest outraged Facebook post. The natural world goes on doing its thing with no knowledge of the petty affairs of human beings.
So, maybe we should take a clue from the more-than-human world, and from our own bodies. While you have a chance, while you still have “The Holidays” as an excuse, while the Moon is still dark and the Sun is still low in the sky, slow the fuck down. Turn off the TV. Turn off your phone. Go outside and ground yourself. Feel the Earth beneath you, breathe deep and feel the air expand your lungs, let the Sun shine on your face for a moment, take a sip of life-giving water. Right now, there is no crisis. Right now, there is no drama. Right now, where you stand, this moment, there is only calm and peace. Only calm and peace. Only calm and peace. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.