I've been thinking a lot about life since the mass shooting at Pulse, the LGBT night club in Orlando, FL.
It has deeply affected me.
At first, my world stopped. Everywhere I looked was gray. It was hard to do the things I had done before. I got behind on the things I do regularly. Laundry piled up. Dishes piled up. I didn't want to speak to friends. I felt like crying all of the time. I felt oppressive silence from some colleagues who had no idea that the shooting had affected me so strongly and so intensely. I was heartbroken. I kept thinking, "It could have been me that day. it could have been me." I felt guilty, "Why wasn't it me?" I felt like I was sitting minutes away on the East Coast instead of clear across the country.
And, yet, I found the energy to encourage our San Diego Psych Association to publish a letter denouncing the shooting and supporting love and peace in its wake.
I sobbed at night and, during the weekend, held space for colleagues, who were both worn out from their grieving clients and still deeply grieving themselves.
And, slowly, quietly, I began to realize that my LGBTQIQA white colleagues and chosen family were not the only ones saddened by the violence. People of color were also deeply grieving but their voices were not being heard in the same way that mine was.
I wanted so badly for all voices to be heard. I wanted us to be able to mourn together, loudly and quietly, with equal force and equal space. And this wasn't happening and I was angry about it. I wanted to do something to change the structural racism I saw play out in the media when they published information on the shooting at Pulse. Latin@ and Latinx voices were missing even though it was a Latino Pride event at the Pulse that night. I couldn't do anything to change how this mass shooting and its resulting pain was portrayed. I felt hopeless and alone and sad.
I tried to speak up and share these dreams of being heard, equally. Only then, I felt like I was being told that I needed to step away to make space for others' grief when it came tumbling out. While this wasn't what I wanted, it was what was needed.
I needed to step back, away, into silence, and be present for others' suffering.
This month has been a month of sorrow. It has been a month of remembering the people who died in the shooting at the Pulse. It has been a month of remembering that I still hold unearned privilege as a white person.
This month has been a month of thinking about race. I have spent hours with friends and loved ones talking about the ways I am participating in a world that silences people of color and their stories and their voices.
It has been a month of wondering how I can better fight for justice and for the voices of people of color to be heard.
It has been a month of stepping back and listening from afar and feeling gut-wrenchingly guilty for perpetuating a system in which voices, even in grief, have been stacked in a hierarchy of pain and silencing.
Whose pain is noticed first? Who gets space to grieve?
Whose voices are heard?
Are they the loudest voices? The softest ones?
Why those voices? Who is being silenced? How am I complacent in this silencing?
And what can I do differently to make this a better and more just world?
THIS BLOG POST DOES NOT REPRESENT A THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH DR. ABI WEISSMAN. PLEASE TALK WITH A LICENSED CLINICIAN IN YOUR AREA FOR INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGICAL CARE..