Chaos, Now and Always

I have been in some deep thoughts about what is happening, and a lot has been happening. There is a virus we all know about, and while that is still here, everyone has themselves pitted on one side or another about the death of a black man at the hands, or knee, of a police officer and his co-workers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We’re living in chaos. We always have been, but it’s been stirred up enough right now that everyone has noticed.

I feel like I haven’t had a “normal” day since March 17th. That’s the day I left work for the last time in a place I knew for 10 years, and I haven’t been right since. The chaos kicked in, and I spend every day just not knowing what to expect. In the new job I had at Costco, I had a lot of opportunity to see people I know come in and we could usually chat for minute or two. They felt the same way for the most part. A lot of people shrugging their shoulders and just saying that they’re trying to go with the flow. Take it as it comes. Today is my last day at Costco. I was starting to feel a little settled in there, cue the Chaos, because that’s done too.

This week has been surreal. In addition to leaving the current gig, I looked for and found a new gig. Through the kindness and concern of people I know, I found a new job, and I will start that tomorrow. It’s in a call center for a local roofing company, and it is so different from what I know, but I am willing to learn and try something new. But I feel unsettled because it’s just one big change after another. Then the whole thing starts in the Twin Cities. The well known death of George Floyd. I have family in the Twin Cities, and with the protests quickly turning to riots, burning and looting, it has amped up my feeling of chaos quite a bit. Everyone is safe in my circle, but there is anxiety.

I was thinking about all of it, and what I kind of got in touch with was the old feeling of chaos I had as a kid. Growing up, my mom was mentally ill. I have written about it previously, and it still has a profound effect on me all these years later. When mom was sick, having an episode that would eventually lead to a hospital stay, we lived in chaos. We never knew what the mood would be, how things would go from day to day. It’s an unsettling feeling, and it is familiar to me today as we don’t know what the news cycle will bring us. It’s a feeling of helplessness and just sitting still, not wanting to add to the chaos. I want to make things better, I just don’t know how, and there is nobody to ask, as the “adults” don’t exactly know what to do either. It’s not a good feeling, but it’s familiar. So I just get through it. It’s what I had to do as a kid, it’s how I do it now as an adult.

It’s how I am feeling these past few days, I want so much to have the words for my friends of color, to say something profound yet comforting. But the chaos I am feeling internally is making that hard. Starting the conversation is tough. Being a middle aged white woman hardly makes me an authority on how it feels to be oppressed or scared. I don’t lead a charmed life, but the color of my skin makes it easier for me to navigate life. Not easy, but easier. I read the posts from my black friends, particularly the males, and I cannot imagine how they feel. To be fearful that today is the day that getting pulled over by that one bad cop and you may not make it home, how do you live like that? It has to feel like chaos in your mind. The how to behave versus what you will do just in case? It makes me want to cry, it makes me want to protect them, but how? I don’t know. I can just pray for them, and I do pray, that the chaos doesn’t get to them. If you can start the conversation, I can listen. Maybe that is what I want to say, I can listen, and if you tell me how I can help, I might be able to get there with you.

It’s starting to feel like the chaos is here and settled in for a while. But it is calm in the eye of the hurricane. So try, if you can, to find that little piece of calm. Find a slice of normal for yourself, and if your normal is chaos, as it sometimes is, revel in that for a little bit. But I want us as a whole to find some peace. It’s tough, and getting tougher. But act in kindness, humility and have faith that the chaos will calm down.

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