They were at an organisational meeting to discuss further protests and what needed to happen after. Someone essentially screamed at her that no matter what she did, it would never be enough. They demanded to know why she wasn't on the streets screaming about the injustice of our systems from sunup to sundown, seven days a week, because that was the least of what she owed.
This couple is white. He is a former uni classmate who is the scion of a prominent agricultural family. He's also spent a lot of money trying to help keep social justice efforts going in his home state. He's spent a few nights in jail. He and his family have been threatened for this.
"I'm so tired," he said. "I know that no matter how tired I am, I can walk away from the indignities and outrages and all that. So can T____." He paused. "Do I even have a right to feel tired?"
Okay, I'm going to go there and write what I said to him. I'm pretty sure this is going to cause some anger and I hate that, but it needs to be said.
Yes, you probably are tired and it is okay to feel worn out by all this. It should be observed that you have not stopped caring.
You're just tired.
You recognise that the people you're standing up for are tired. They're heartbroken. They're scared and they're angry. You have not stopped caring about them or what is happening to them.
You're just tired.
You're used to being comfortable. You're used to feeling safe. Now you have a taste of what it's like for the rest of America, and by the rest of America, I mean the people who are persons of color, people who do not fit the Christian, cis-het, nuclear family mold that we're told is the shape and form of nice folks around these parts.
What you are experiencing is what we in the helping professions call "Compassion Fatigue."
At some point, you see a need you might be able to answer and as much as you think you should, there is a part of you that says, "I just can't. Not today. Not right now."
You may or may not actually be able to meet that need. However, you are stuck and at this point, you will either take this on in half-measures or not at all. This might be a good time to revisit what you miss and who misses you. This is where a good night's sleep, a meal with someone you love, and unmitigated silliness in private can heal you. You need to allow for healing. You're not going to be any good to yourself or for anyone else if you don't do this.
Finally, I'll say this as someone who has worked in the trenches as a psych unit worker, a social worker, a counselor, a public health and legal outreach person, and whatever this clown-nosey experiment my clinical director is demanding of some of us right now. One thing I learned from the first week I went on the floor in 1995 was that some people will see you as an ally. Some people will at the very least get that you're on their side, and some people will treat you like trash for no other reason than they're angry and they can. That last group of people? They're jerks.
It would be nice if the people you were trying to help kept in mind that you didn't hurt them. You're trying to fix things. It doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes they're caught in a loop of pain and anger and they can't/don't want to respond to you any other way. Help them anyway. Love them in the general Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Humanist/Anything-elseist way that you can. They're jerks, but they're jerks in pain. Offer a hand up, and if they don't take it, walk away. You've done what you can.