I am aware of the awful things happening in this country. I think about it all the time. I often choose to immerse myself in it, to be present. But sometimes I have to ignore it, for my own well being. I compartmentalize it. I keep it in my thoughts, but separate from other shit. I can watch TV or play video games — and enjoy myself doing it — while still being able to process it. I can still feel sad and angry at the one thing while being amused or happy at another. I sometimes feel guilty for my ability to build that wall between two realities that are happening concurrently. It seems unfair that I can tune out the negative and focus on the good — or rather, the less burdensome — when others do not have the luxury. But I realize that it is a coping mechanism. It is how I remain sane.
I learned to self-regulate my emotions when I was fairly young because, I suffered from depression and I hated how it felt to be medicated. So I learned to put things in mental boxes, and keep them away from one another. They’re all very real, and I am aware they are happening, but one does not spill over into the other. I do not have a job or any real prospects, which makes me feel worthless. But I put that away when I am enjoying a day a Disneyland. I feel angry and hurt by what is going on in Ferguson. But I can put that away while I am watching my favorite summer shows on Sunday night. I am aware of everything at once, but I am only choosing to tune into one thing at a time.
It hurts too much to be plugged in all the time. It is too exhausting to be aware all the time. It’s too stressful to take part in everything. It’s not wrong for me to tune out when it gets too much. I shouldn’t feel guilty that I can still smile and laugh at things. I shouldn’t force myself to stay present when doing so compromises me. It’s a balance. I refuse to become so overwhelmed with negativity that I can’t enjoy things. I refuse to feel guilty or ashamed that I’m not doing more. I am doing what I can handle right now, and that is enough.