I woke up around 3am this morning in a state of panic. “Something bad must be happening,” my brain was saying. I had been dreaming of solvable problems – my babysitter had canceled when I had dinner plans, I was out of milk… I watched myself walk comfortably about my dreamworld, knowing I could ask my cousin to watch my son and that the other Whole foods would most certainly have the organic whole milk I like to buy. These were problems I could solve with ease.
But when I awoke at 3am, there were seemingly unsolvable problems cluttering my mind. A flood of random thoughts flitted along my neurotransmitters and in the spaces between the various lobes in my brain… Will that text I sent to ACT really help secure stricter gun laws? The mom of the veteran who died in Vegas lost her only child. What if my son gets hurt? I’m not going to the Chicago Marathon because I’m not really into crowds right now.
As a therapist, I make my living by helping people manage their fears, anxiety, grief, and sadness. I know the skills and I practice them. So, I practiced them at 3am- I took deep breaths and recited some mantras and eventually managed to fall back into a sweaty, fitful sleep with one of my feet pressed firmly against one of partner’s, as if the mere presence of his toes next to mine would further strengthen my mantras and calm my thoughts.
I feel scared, helpless and somewhat hopeless. But I will keep calling my representatives. I will keep texting the random words to the random places that supposedly will help the random people I want to protect. I will keep having difficult conversations with people to raise awareness. I will vote in every single election. And I will look at the faces of the victims of this most recent act of senseless violence, pray for their families, and pray for change.