I can feel the insides of me recoil and try to pull away. But I don’t know where my insides think they can go since my body is still holding them. And my body stays where I am because I don’t know where I could retreat to anyway. The ugliness feels all around.
It has been a week of re-confronting really ugly things – about myself, about loved ones, about society, about my country. And I’m not just talking about politics. It’s also really intimate things like who you love and trust and where you put your hope and how you can look away from destructive words and actions and hope they don’t harm you if you don’t see them. As if the snake in the grass won’t bite you if you just give it its space.
It has been too many instances of seeing things that make me say “Yuck!” and “Really?!” and “That’s terrible!”. Things that make me want to both yell and raise a ruckus and also just silently slink away so I don’t have to do the hard stuff like confrontation or self-evaluation.
It has been too many nights of staying up late with my mind moving too fast and my stomach all tangled up in knots. Googling articles and think-pieces trying to make sense of it all until I fall into the restless sleep of exhaustion. Why do politics inspire fear and anger? Why is misogyny still so strong in 2016? Why do cheaters cheat? How do you know if someone is trustworthy? How do people justify racism? I wake up in the morning already tired because I know I will still be searching today. Trying to find reason that will put me at ease.
I have all kinds of questions about the bad things that good people can put up with. Are they actually bad things? Maybe my definitions are wrong. Are they really good people? Maybe I misunderstand their motivations. The questions swirl round and round like different flavors of ice cream in a bowl until everything looks brownish-gray and I have no more clarity but I have definitely lost my appetite.
I hear other people asking these questions but for some reason they feel far away. I love the way beauty brings people closer together. The way that recognizing beauty together can make us feel like longtime friends recently reunited. Ugliness brings us together too but more like sick people in the same hospital ward. We are all in this together. Until we can get out and go back to our own homes.
We compare symptoms and wounds and all shake our heads in concern and each secretly hopes that her illness is not as bad as that other person’s because that sounds truly unbearable. Of course we would never say that aloud. We just think it as we limp away nursing a gangrened leg.
Ugliness makes me feel alone and confused. I will try not to dwell on it much longer. I want to return to a hopeful, optimistic view of myself, my loved ones, society, and our country. I want to go back to finding beauty and redemption in the mundane and hidden places. Instead of mostly seeing ugliness that makes me skittish and nervous about exploring any further.
I also think it is good from time to time to acknowledge the things that make your stomach turn and your skin feel hot and itchy. To acknowledge that in this grand world somehow beauty and ugliness stand side by side. And somehow we live it all.