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Temper Tantrums, Empaths and Protests

On Thursday, in the midst of the Minneapolis/St. Paul protests over the death of George Floyd, I made the following facebook post.

Memoriam for George Floyd

"To all my friends outside Minnesota. We are safe. We fell asleep to nonstop sirens and awoke to birds singing. We plan to stay home until further notice. We hear that many of our neighborhood retailers have been damaged, but what we see on news reports that is happening in mpls seems far worse. Our Mpls friends report not sleeping through explosions and fireworks nonstop.

Our city is in the midst of a massive temper tantrum* (please see my comment below regarding this) and all parties and peoples need to have the space held until it passes.

I hold that space and faith and prayer and hope and love for all. I refuse to make any opinions or judgments beyond my deep spiritual belief that all things that are destroyed eventually regrow and rebuild new and different. This is a radical change in progress."

After receiving several negative comments disagreeing with my use of the term "temper tantrum" (which I deleted) I edited the post and added this comment.

"Friends, please read my whole message and take the whole context to heart. All of you who focus on the term “temper tantrum” as a bad thing and comment here. Your comments will be deleted. Temper tantrums are not childish. They are not immature. They are human! And they are not just for children! I am a grown adult who suffered temper tantrums immensely throughout my youth and have had several episodes in my adult life. Temper tantrums are human. They are physiological. They are the body’s way of expelling excess energy from holding and containing too much stress for too long. When they happen to children, the skilled parents (leadership) are the ones who know they have too much fire to be extinguished. They need to run out of fuel. And while the happen, the person needs to be kept safe, kept from harming others, and allowed to express and feel. Their hormones are way off whack and they cannot just “calm down” and be in control. This is happening on a massive level here in MN and across the country and the world. The stress is too much to hold. I don’t blame anyone. I don’t judge anyone.

Focus please on my greater message here. Those of us who are not consumed by rage or feeling the contagious anger taking us over, we need to hold space. Pray. Have faith. Hold Hope. Remember Love. And BELIEVE that after the sirens and the fires, the birds will sing again, the rainbows will come and we will rebuild into something different."

After I edited my post and added the comment, I still had to delete several negative comments from the thread, including one bold FB friend who commented about my "temper tantrum" word choice on an entirely separate post (also deleted). All of the posts that I deleted implied in some way that my perspective, my language, my opinion, my FEELINGS were somehow wrong.

I almost had a mini-grown-up temper tantrum right there!

Empaths are constantly told that our feelings are wrong, so we learn to stuff, and hide, and go invisible, and pretend, and fake our feels so we don't get attacked. Because for us empaths, verbal attacks hurt as much or more than physical ones. Yet the more we hide, and pretend, and stuff, the more pressures of stress and trauma build inside us until BOOM, we cannot contain it anymore.

A Mpls Bus Stop destroyed during protests over the death of George Floyd
photo credit Sean Melom

So when I saw some of the protesting of George Floyd's death in my hometown, my backyard, my empath and cellular memory was triggered. I know what it feels like to feel uncontrollable rage inside me and have a resulting temper tantrum where "just calming down" isn't an option. I've had epic grown-up temper tantrums, so bad that I will never allow myself to own a gun because it would be the best toy ever for my temper monster. Except the stress that caused mine was nothing like the ancestral and generational trauma of those I watched in pain on my FB feed. As I read the posts of my friends condemning those for the destruction, the whole of my empath self cried and grieved for the misunderstood.

A couple days later, when the riots continued and our governor implied that much of the damage was done by outside agitators, all of a sudden the tone of FB changed, and the greater community found more empathy for those grieving and suffering from trauma. Posts and shares pushed the message that property can be replaced, but human lives cannot. I sighed relief and my heart could breathe again as Minnesota Nice started to return in full force.

Yet , the agitators suffer the wrath of society, as they always have, because they have opinions and perspectives and language and experiences that are different than the "norm." On a tiny level, smaller than the size of a pin tip, I know what it's like to think and feel differently than the norm, and keep silent about it. Perhaps the "agitators" have oppressed for their opinions, and perspectives, and language, and experiences so much that violence towards humans is their shattered glass, not unlike the popular Showtime series Dexter.

hazy Minneapolis
photo credit Sean Melom

As am empath, I look at the rubble left of my Twin Cities after five days of unrest:

  • I recognize that the African Americans have skillfully kept their temper monsters tamed under extreme stress and trauma for far longer and far better than I can imagine. They are master empaths. I bow to them.

  • I acknowledge that the "agitators" are probably extreme empaths who exist so far on the edge of the spectrum that they lack the ability to manage their

  • I know we will rebuild, as I always have. I know we will grow from this, as I always have.


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