you were not made for this but you were made for this
BREAKING: Several people were shot at a Brooklyn train station during the rush hour commute on Tuesday.
This is the headline I saw when I got home from dropping my kids off at school.
Imagine the chaos and trauma at that train station, like you’ve hopefully been imagining what it’s like to be in the Ukraine, or what it’s like to be black with your hood up, jogging.
The other day my kids described the new protocol for how to deal with a shooter at school. It sounded made up. Go outside and get between two cars was part of it. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I just know that I almost had to run to the bathroom because of how my stomach revolted at the thought.
I spin around, looking for something to make me feel better. I’m out of coffee, but I want to make more, even though a stimulant is a bad idea. I want. I want. I want.
Yesterday I listened to the We Can Do Hard Things podcast with Susan Cain as the guest and it was about being an introverted sensitive and sad person. So it was about me, though I am both introverted and extroverted but mostly introverted. I used to be mostly extroverted. Then I quit numbing the pain and fears and the world with alcohol and realized I had been overstimulated and hyper-aware and craved quiet. I can take you people in small doses and it fills me up and then I need a nap.
In the podcast, Glennon Doyle, the host, spoke about being this way. Getting sad. Needing quiet. Bleeding hearts. And how if we were not this way, we could not move toward the pain and help where we can. And the whole crew on the podcast talked about our “longing” for another world. I mean, obviously we all want a better one than this but most of us are turning off our feelings and ignoring so much of the chaotic pain, while willing ourselves to just survive it and protect our own. (This was not said exactly, I’m just saying it how I felt it.)
We “bittersweet” folks aren’t really capable of that. We are often joining in on the numbing but we cannot do it for long. We can’t ignore such big feelings and those are guiding us. Being this way is a “superpower” because we can’t sit back and do nothing. Our insides won’t allow it.
We were not made for living comfortably in this place. We are longing for something better, more true, full of light and freedom and wholeness.
When I was in college a friend of mine we’ll call Kevin, because that’s his name, told me I would be how I am in this life because I don’t belong here. This was a deep conversation, a spiritual and philosophical one. And though I don’t know exactly what a “next life” looks like and cannot claim to have the answers, I cried hard at that. I cry from my center when things are true. I had always known what he meant, even as a little girl, about this longing. (And perhaps I was crying while facing the fact that I would never find the comfort in this life I’d been striving for.)
Maybe these ideas of heaven and hell we have are the here and the now, no matter what we think about the afterlife. No matter what belief system you come from, every person knows they are experiencing both, all the time, in this very life. This world is struggle, peppered with holy moments and sparks of joy. We are longing, so some of us are striving to create a better place, for it to bend before it breaks. And some of us are just waiting it out, like there’s a prize at the end and nothing we do here matters, but I’m simply not that person. My deep sensitivity and sadness catapult me into action. They are like a zipline to the hurting. I can’t help myself.
I am not a saint, I’m just wearing all my nerves on the outside of my skin whether I always like it or not. I’m exposed. Walking toward the people and places of struggle and trauma in the world is a way of applying a balm to the wounds that being so exposed have caused me. And if I am making someone feel even a bit of relief after being led to them by the chain of my feelings, I am just as I was meant to be.