Today on the East Coast of the U.S.A. the weather is stormy. Grey and stuffy, hot, humid, irritating. I am not a fan of complaining in public, but I think I need to be real today. No lies, no sugarcoating, no bullshit, no hypocrisy. No “everything is wonderful in sobriety land, namaste to you all”. This afternoon I am feeling depressed, irritable and at a loss as to what to do given the current situation in the world. While my Parisian friends celebrate the “end” of quarantine and the reopening of bars and restaurants, showing off pictures of friends smiling and up holding pints—maskless!!!!— in the sunshine, here, moods and cities are on fire, people are angry, and going through some serious trauma and purging.
I am on the fence about going to the protest tomorrow in the stifling heat, and feeling crushed under the burden of white guilt at the thought of staying home. Most of all, I am feeling guilty for feeling the self-pitying privilege of white guilt in the first place. Sigh. I am stuck in a dark gloomy circle.
As a white person in a city which is 70% black and heavily affected by racial and social inequality, I feel helpless and complicit with the injustice that has oppressed and oppresses people of color, on a daily basis. On the other hand, as a foreigner, I feel overwhelmed by the intensity of these issues, which I don’t always grasp entirely. On top of that, I feel EXTREMELY guilty for not being more involved, especially with all the calling-out of white people for being misinformed and silently complicit happening this week. Indeed, the more I think about it, the more the “foreigner” thing sounds like a shitty excuse. After all, this is a country of foreigners, who supposedly welcome all people from all nations, and who (sorry fellow American friends) also happens to have murdered the native inhabitants of this land, before enslaving the people of Africa who were brought here on ships, and still murdering African-American citizens in 2020, while everyone watches the insane tweets of an orange faced maniac who somehow ended up in charge.
I also happen to be leaving this country in 3 months, and am feeling very uncertain and anxious about my own future. Not only do I feel guilty for thinking about myself during these times, I can only imagine how in Europe there will be more shit, more injustice, more helplessness and disillusionment (and more covid) when I return in the fall. The government of my home country, France, is closely following in America’s steps with a neoliberal capitalist policy that can barely call itself socialist anymore. Also, none of this shit is new. Humanity has always been skilled at greed, envy, hatred, oppression, etc. etc. etc.
It is from such joyful rumination that my cravings to drink emerged this afternoon. As the thunder and lightning roars outside (and hopefully will cool everything down a bit), after lunch I started to feel restless and ate a big bowl of ice-cream, then a bowl of cereal, and since then I have opened and closed the fridge fifty times, leaving empty handed because nothing seemed “worth eating”… and then it hit me. “Man, the only thing that would hit the spot right now is a nice cold IPA”. Bam.
Clearly, what hit me hit was the desire to numb all the unpleasant feelings that have been weighing down on me for the last few days. Letting tears roll down my face during my morning meditations is visibly not enough to get rid of the pent up emotion.
In reaction to these cravings, a part of me (the harsh part) sarcastically sneers: “boo hoo poor little white girl with her first world problems, bored and guilty, sitting in her privileged and safe home, doing nothing to help”. Another one (the pessimist) thinks “what’s the point of anything anyway” and just wants to go to bed, to forget about everything. The disciplined part tried to get me to read a book for my PhD but I simply couldn’t concentrate. Another (the rationalist) started looking for explanations: “Well you DID start halving your antidepressants two days ago…… correlationnnnnn ? And in any case, the country is on fire and Instagram is full of anger and suffering, no wonder you feel like shit if you spend hours scrolling through it everyday”). I just can’t seem to get in touch with the gentle, compassionate part right now. So I came here. I guess that it was the resourceful, wise part, that brought me here.
Cause there’s no way I’m drinking that beer. NO. FUCKING. WAY. By now I’ve grown aware and strong enough to not let myself get tricked by my own thoughts, and to know and trust that these feelings will pass, that I can sit with them, especially when others have to sit with much, much worse.
So I guess in a way, this IS a victorious post. For the first time in many moths, I feel like I’ve made a small win on the sobriety front: there was a challenging moment, and I did the right thing. I did not drink.
To celebrate, I’ll post an “entry” which I hastily scribbled in my journal yesterday (that I hadn’t touched in months). It shows the before-after between when I moved here, at age 28–and had my first and only ever mental breakdown–, and what it will be like when I leave the country in a few months, at age 33.
Writing it down showed me how far I have come. Although I still often feel like the same person, when I read this list, it makes me seem like a completely different human.
I am still working towards completing the second list (for example, I am still on a low lose of antidepressants), but in a 3 months if all goes well, I can check everything off.
Of course, there is no way to know if all will go well, but the more I step back, the more I can see the “victory” at the heart of this afternoon’s storm.
In conclusion, blogging works! Lol
Sending big hugs to everyone ❤