It's Okay to Not Feel Like Everything Will Be Okay

[Content Note: Emotional policing; gaslighting.]

Soon after the 2016 election, I published a piece with the same title as this one, in which I wrote:
Something has been upended that cannot be easily righted, and I'm not going to feel okay about the fact that every breath in my chest just got a little tighter.

And they were already pretty tight, even before this.

I know how to live in a space of survival. And I will persevere, for as long as the fates allow. That does not require me to concede that everything will be okay.

And, at least in this space, it's okay if you don't feel like everything will be okay, too.
In February of 2018, I published a follow-up, in which I wrote:
How can I possibly believe everything is going to be okay?

The fact is I don't.

And I'm not saying that, publicly and straightforwardly, as a resignation. To the absolute contrary, I don't believe that things can be okay if we aren't all fighting as hard as our grim circumstances demand; as hard as though we all know that things won't be okay without a leviathanian effort from each and every one of us.

We have to acknowledge the precipice on which we find ourselves, if we're ever to back away.

I don't feel like it's going to be okay.

That motivates me to fight with perseverance and resilience. And yet there are vanishingly few places where I can express that without reflexive and hostile pushback.
And last summer, I published another follow-up, in which I wrote:
I am angry about a lot of things right now. Among those things is the relentless stream of cheery bromides that assure me everything will be okay.

Because everything isn't okay right now.

The Trump Regime is tearing families apart and detaining children in cages. The Republican Party has abandoned all pretense of loyalty to the working people of this nation, and actively seeks to harm us by denying us healthcare, rescinding our rights, busting the unions that advocate for a liveable wage, and in every other conceivable way making it more difficult for us to survive. Climate change has stopped knocking at the door and is now aggressively pushing its way across the threshold. And I've barely gotten started.

...I understand that bluntly expressing that grim reality makes a lot of people uncomfortable. For Christ's sake, it should. We should all be uncomfortable as fuck right now. Not a single person who cares about the fate of this nation should be finding ways to make themselves or the people around them more comfortable in this moment.

Of course we must engage in self-care and community-building around subjects beyond politics, and we must be kind to ourselves to allow time to process and recharge. We must also stay uncomfortable with what's happening.

I am agitated, and I don't want that agitation to be assuaged.
As our Constitutional crisis deepens, and even the most stubbornly American Exceptionalist gaslighters have been shaken by the overwhelming evidence that, in fact, it not only can happen here, but is, my feelings of contempt toward bids to cheer me out of my concern and my anger have only deepened.

So have my feelings of disgust and despair that the people empowered to at least try to do something to halt the destruction of everything I value in this imperfect country I love refuse to urgently make that attempt.

Where is the line?! I seethe every day. Where is the threshold past which things will officially be bad enough that we can all collectively drop every last vestige of the pretense that this is temporary, a blip, an anomaly, just a minor setback that's thrown the arc of the moral universe off its gently sloping bend toward justice?

I suspect, with greater certainly every day, that no such fixed line exists. The closer we come to one boundary defined as "too far," the more normalized the abnormalities become; the more people become inured to the injustice and malice that once qualified as "too far."

This is the objective of the authoritarian and his cheerleaders. And it is the relief of his appointed opponents, brave enough to accept the job in theory and too craven to execute the job now that circumstances demand it.

Humans are adaptable. Everything becomes "normal" eventually.

I hear the way the authoritarian's language, his signature vocabulary and singular syntax, have become a part of the language, and I am angry. I see the way his opponents try to borrow his strategies, and I am angry. I watch as people who once swore they would never bend the knee begin to make excuses for their capitulation, and I am angry. Those of us who resist, really resist, visibly and with steadfast principles, become the targets of campaigns to discredit, intimidate, silence us, and I am angry.

I am relentlessly rageful, and there are moments when I feel that rage threaten to consume me.

And that, that feeling that I risk succumbing to a fear and a fury the causes of which have no imminent end, is why I need to commune with people who share my feelings.

Who will not try to talk me out of them, but instead will validate them. Who will reassure me that I'm not alone. Who will carry it with me.

It's not enough just to know it's okay to not feel like everything will be okay, on our own. It's important to have community with whom you can feel that, can express that, can sit in that discomfort together.

I appreciate and value this community — the commenters, my fellow contributors and mods, the lurkers — profoundly and resonatingly. It means something to me to see you showing up every day. I am going to keep providing the space for us to be here for each other, to validate each other and carry this burden together, for as long as I can.

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