In this stripped-down, unedited episode of Sacred Tension, I’m joined by my friend Priest Penemue for a long conversation about leftist politics, how we are practicing self care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and his insider perspective on digital privacy and big data.
I’ve been quiet on my blog and podcast for the past few weeks, and that’s because I’ve been coping with being an essential worker during the COVID-19 pandemic. I co-manage a small family-owned grocery store in Appalachia, and the past few weeks have simply been harrowing.
When the panic first hit, it felt like the worst hurricane in history was coming for North Carolina. Our sales more than doubled, and I felt destroyed just trying to keep up, while also keeping staff and customers safe from invisible death dots that could strike anyone without notice. Eventually, as the craziness at the store settled down into a manageable level, my fatigue turned to crippling anxiety. I was crying myself to sleep, and having horrible panic as I drove to work.
It felt like all my structures and support systems were just swept away by the flood. I’ve spent the past few weeks picking up the pieces, and now here I am, well enough to get back to creating.
I was traumatized by my time in church. The years of sitting in pews, Bible studies, and coffee shops with Christian leaders, listening to variation upon variation of how wrong homosexuality is, slowly eroded me. Words might not seem that powerful, but if they are a steady trickle, coursing over your young mind which is porous as fresh soil, they carve out whole canyons of self loathing.
Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling sick to my stomach. I instantly knew what it was: I had ingested so much news, so much anxiety about the world, that I was making myself sick.
I felt trapped in my illness: I felt obligated to stay engaged with the news, to stay glued to the screen of my computer, to witness each horrifying executive order, each breakdown of democracy. Yesterday, I realized that I was killing myself, quite literally: my cortisol levels were in overdrive, flooding my blood stream. If I allowed that to continue, it would cripple every system in my body. I was allowing myself to get lost in anxiety, losing the anchor of my soul.