For the past couple of weeks I’ve been struggling with my thoughts, my actions, and my words. As someone who typically makes sense of the clusterfuck of thoughts scrambling in her head through writing — or at least attempts to — I’ve felt more than a little bit lost.
The horrific event that happened so close to our backyard on Monday, May 25 (we live only 25 minutes from Minneapolis) left me shocked and speechless. Literally, I had no words for the anguish, anger, helplessness and hopelessness I felt.
And then all hell broke loose and parts of our vibrant city were destroyed: historic buildings set ablaze and reduced to blackened skeletons; entire streets of family-run businesses — already suffering from COVID — ravaged and ruined; families in the devastated neighborhoods left without ways to get food or other much needed supplies; armed individuals and virtual armies — on both sides of the law — in a terrifying battle for their own justice.
And still, I didn’t have words.
Sure, I had feelings, but they were so complicated and confusing that there just simply weren’t words that could make sense out of them. Nothing I could say or write could give the feelings enough merit or importance, and I knew if I tried, I’d just say the wrong thing.
I knew what was happening was bigger than my words.
At home, with my husband and two grown daughters, we talked about it. A lot. And I tried to put words to what I was feeling … what was happening … what had been happening … the fear and the heartache … how I was culpable … how we all were. But honestly, none of us knew if anything we were feeling was even okay. It was as if we suddenly started questioning our very emotions and reactions.
And then, after a while, I realized that perhaps that was the entire point.
Maybe words aren’t what’s the most important here. Sure, there are countless graphics on social media that say it perfectly (and yes, I’ve shared many that resonated with me), and I’ve seen the one that tells us that “saying nothing says far more than saying something,” but for many of us, the struggle with knowing what to say and how to say it is real. Trying to find words that define our emotions and convey their complexity in a way that respects the gravity of these events is almost impossible to do without concern for marring them and compromising their integrity.
Basically, we don’t want to inadvertently put our foot in our mouth in response to something so vitally important. And by we I mean me.
So I’m still struggling.
And even though I don’t feel like I have the right words to articulate all I’m feeling, I’m not staying silent. I’m listening and learning, I’m watching shows, I’m reading books and articles. I’m making a point to spend time each day staying abreast of what is happening. In our family, we are keeping the conversation going daily. We are pledging to stay informed and do better.
And although I know it will never be enough, I’m hopeful that my actions and my response can somehow say what I can’t, and that those things will speak louder than my words ever could.