Wow, you really feel things, don’t you?

Yes, I do.

Are you, like, an empath?

I used to feel pride when I was in conversations like this. Yes! Yes! I am a deeply feeling person. Isn’t that great?

But now, not so much. These days I say to myself something to the effect of, “Yes, I am. Aren’t you?”

I was talking with a friend this week about being an empath (she’s one, too) and she expressed anger at the term.

“I’m so sick of that label,” she said.

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it gave me pause. Intellectually, I understand that not everyone can be an empath. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a thing.

But truly, if I’m fighting not to gorge myself on a pizza when a grocery store is shot up in Buffalo or I’m hearing stories of parents giving DNA so they can identify little shattered bodies in Texas, isn’t that somewhere in the realm of healthy reaction? Because for those of us who stress eat or stress drink or stress freak out in any way, what is more stressful than living in the United States of America right now? Especially if you’re an empath.

Jesus, have mercy.

Let’s review the last handful of years. The cult of Trump has done irreparable harm to my family, immediate and extended, and many, many other families. The COVID pandemic has taken over a million of our citizens, including my father and my uncle, and it’s still rampant; that doesn’t even include those living with long COVID. Race relations are teetering at best. Republicans, fueled by conservative Christians who seem fond of the Constitution unless we talk about separation of church and state, are aggressively coming for women’s reproductive rights.

And … and … mass shootings are the norm. That’s right. Churches, supermarkets, theaters, concerts, and, heck, why not, schools where children are gathered to learn.

At this point, we may as well just put boxes of firearms on every street corner and have a free-for-all. Pissed off at the kids who bullied you on the playground? Take your pick. Hey, there’s a shiny new one right there. Watching a teacher stare that down might be fun. Feeling miffed at your drug-using mother? There’s one for you, too. Let those people who have nothing to do with you know who’s boss. What’s that? You’re angry that black people exist and are allowed to walk freely in the land? This model will take out more of them in 30 seconds than any other. Have at it.

This is America. We have freedom here. The mentally ill want guns? Hand ‘em over. Blah, blah, blah.

In my utopia, we’d be prying every last one of those weapons out of your cold dead hands. Don’t come at me with how unrealistic that is. I know. Look up utopia. I’m allowed to dream.

I’m so done with both-sides-ing this. I don’t give a shit about your rights. I spent years learning the difference between those who grew up in gun culture and my own gun-free upbringing, trying to understand. Research. Respectful dialogue on social media. Names and purposes of weapons. The nuances in our laws.

I’m so done. Done.

I don’t care anymore about you and your Daddy hunting deer as a rite of passage. I don’t care if you think you’re protecting your family by arming yourself and them to the teeth. If you’re wearing a weapon slung over your arm in a department store, is that supposed to scare me? It does, but not in the way you think. I see you as weak and sad and I’m certain I speak for millions of others. None of those rights should supersede those of people going about their lives, buying ingredients for strawberry shortcake.

I have never understood how some of our citizens live with the fear that the government is going to come knocking down their door and they’re going to need that tank and cache of ammunition they’ve been stowing away. What in serious hell.

The irony in all this is that it’s Republicans coming for our freedoms and we’re out there peaceful marching. No body armor needed. Just magic markers and cardboard. Dopey empaths.

It’s the people doing the threatening – civil war, from the former jackass President, for example – who on the whole have the guns. The former guy knows that, by the way. He likes to say it out loud because he has no fear of reprisal. MAGA, the NRA, and the people who represent them in Congress and in state government know they can afford to be cocky. Their supporters will keep voting for them, donating to them, buying their wares, fighting. Especially the fighting. Their chosen media has been grooming them for that for decades.

Yes, bitches, I’m an empath.

Thanks be to God.