I’m sitting in front of the television and my whole heart is breaking. I’m watching my beloved beaches of southwest Florida get swallowed by Hurricane Ian. I grew up in Bradenton (about an hour south of Tampa) and most of my family is still there. (Update: Everyone is fine. No one has power, but they are fine.)
I’ve dedicated this month to blogging every day with a focus on my mental health. How’s my mental health right now? Not great. Thanks for asking.
I’ve been texting and calling with so many of my Florida friends and family that I was shocked when I walked outside my house in North Carolina and saw the sun shining. I have been in hurricane prep mode for 24 hours and forgot we, in fact, were not in the middle of a hurricane ourselves. I even felt a little guilt as I put on my fleece for the perfect sunny Fall day.
Out Of My Control
Penn claims I’m an extreme empath. He’s not wrong. Like tofu takes on the taste of the flavors around it, I feel like that with people’s pain. I’m human tofu. If I sense you’re struggling, I will try to absorb it all. To be clear: This is helpful to no one. Not you, who may be struggling, and certainly not me.
Doing this work over the last month has helped me realize that my “empathy” is actually me trying to have some sort of control over a situation. If I can feel it enough, then I can fix it for you. My logical brain knows this is bogus, but the wonkiness of my subconscious doesn’t know the difference.
There is absolutely zero I could control while the storm hits my family and friends so I had to put into practice some of the skills I worked so hard to develop this month. I walked, I worked, I tried to meditate, all with varying success. It sucked, but I just had to sit there.
How To Help
Because my family quickly lost power but still had spotty cell service, I had the job of reporting the storm’s path as it cut through the state. Having that one little job made me feel like I was helping in a small way. I was awake, checking updates most of the night. My family and friends are safe, but so many others are unaccounted for. Seeing the devastation on television makes me queasy.
We will be learning more in the days ahead about ways to help the people of Florida. If you feel moved, here are some resources:
- The American Red Cross has people on the ground in Florida right now.
- Volunteer Florida has ways to volunteer in communities.
- Global Giving has started a Hurricane Ian relief fund.
I’m sure more organizations will be stepping up soon. At the time I’m writing, the storm is heading this way. Thanks for sitting here with me in the suckiness of all of this.
Florida, we’re praying for you.