I read news from both sides, I carefully research every candidate (including judges), and never tire of the endless discussions about candidates, policies, and strategies.
In the past I did not understand those people who said things like, "I'm annoyed by all these political ads," and "I can't wait for this election to be over." I would pull myself away from yet another political article I was reading just long enough to comment on how they need to "get informed" and "do their part as a citizen" and probably give at least one passing grumble about irresponsibility.
But this week? This week I realized I am now one of those people. I'm tired, in fact, I'm politically exhausted.
If I read one more article, watch one more news story, have one more discussion, I feel like I might explode.
Can I blame Todd Akin? Partly. (If you don't know who Todd Akin is, or what he said about rape, please tell me what rock you are living under, because I would like to come stay with you.) I was angry for days after his remarks about "legitimate rape," and I'm still angry. I couldn't put together coherent words to write about it, even though I tried several times.
I felt that anger seep inside, and act like acid eating away at me. Each person who defended him, or tried to take away some of the sting of his remarks (impossible, by the way - there is no defense or explanation for what he said, just as there is no such thing as "legitimate rape") increased my anger, and each piece written against what he said fed my anger. But still I would click on every article, every news story, every blog post that discussed it. I couldn't stop. I also couldn't stop crying.
The Todd Akin situation hits me at a personal level, because I am a sexual abuse survivor. But the political aspect is present as well.
This weekend it all came together for me. On Saturday I had a discussion with my friend Debra about who we would be voting for in November, and why. It was a very long discussion. She told me, if her candidate loses, she will no longer love me for voting the way I plan on voting. Especially since I live in a swing state. She was kidding. Sort of. Probably 60% kidding, and 40% plotting ways to invent a mind control machine to make me vote the way she wants.
On Sunday I felt so very depressed. Sad. Exhausted. And I looked at my browser, and realized that I had no less than fifteen tabs open with blog posts and articles about political things. Things I ultimately can't control right now, today. Things that aren't new information to me, but just a regurgitation of facts I already know. Even the storm coverage was political, because of the Republican National Convention being in Tampa.
And in that moment, I had an epiphany. I realized I needed a break, because I was starting to lose it. I was close to making myself physically ill over politics.
So I'm stepping back, and I don't feel guilty.
I'm still going to vote in November, and my candidates are all picked out. I might even allow myself to watch the debates (I do love debates), but I will not be watching political news or clicking on political links - at least for a couple of weeks, and maybe longer.
I realized that I can be a responsible, informed, voting citizen without letting politics tear me apart. And it feels good.
Do you find yourself feeling exhausted by politics?