For Those Affected by the Orlando Tragedy
The news coming out of Orlando this week is heartrending. I imagine I’m with many of you when I say that I feel profoundly sad, as well as fearful of and incensed by the repeated mass gun violence across the United States.
I have wanted to post something in response, but I’m realizing I don’t have the psychic energy to do so. When this unfolded, I was in the midst of writing an emotionally heavy post about the Stanford rape survivor, so I have to admit, I’m burned out.
I realized, though, that it’s okay to bracket off some of that emotional response for now. There is only so much that the human psyche can handle. Sometimes you have too much going on with yourself to take on the world’s grief as well. It doesn’t make you callous, and it doesn’t mean that you are paying no heed to the community around you. It just means that you are a human with limits, and certain self-protective measures are needed to keep you from tumbling off the psychological edge.
So, in lieu of a long post dealing with what has happened in Orlando, I want to extend my deepest sympathies to all who were touched in some way by this massacre — not only those who were in Pulse, who loved someone who was there, or who live in and around Orlando, but also everyone who has suffered gun violence and who may be continually re-traumatized by hearing about these events over and over again.
Thinking about those of you feeling overwhelmed by these events reminded me of a poem by Galway Kinnell. I first heard this poem while in residential treatment. A friend shared it as she spoke about the emotional, psychological, and spiritual fatigue she felt after years and years of battling her illness.
I hope it provides a small comfort for some of you out there.
By Galway Kinnell
Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.
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