I needed and took ten days to come out from under the fear the presidential election flattened me with. Here’s what I’ve come to understand so far:
1. I am scared. I can’t believe that I now had a commander in chief who bragged about being a sexual predator. I am just like millions of other people who have experienced sexual assault throughout their lives in a variety of ways – all damaging. And this president, this president, oh my gosh, this president terrifies me in a primal way.
2. I have enemies I hadn’t recognized. And I must learn to love them. I am a straight, white, middle class woman, so my enemies may not recognize me right away. But when I speak out and work for immigrants, children, women, disabled people, homeless people, mentally ill and other oppressed people, they’ll know just where to find me. And then we will know each other.
3. I am grateful that my military-aged son is a thorough-going pacifist who has already made clear that he is a conscientious objector. Our country has made war nonstop since my son was born in 1995, so he has thought about his belief system in light of a possible military draft. (He also wondered when he would show up in this blog; here you go, honey.)
4. I have to stop tracking the news throughout the day. I can only take so much reality right now without being rendered useless. To move forward, I need to limit my contact with the media.
5. I can have only one political conversation a day. It doesn’t matter if it is with people I agree with or not, these conversations leave me way out of balance. I want to recover my equilibrium before too long.6. I must reach out to people to do some good in the world. I am lucky to have an ongoing project called Poetry Heals that brings therapeutic writing to people living distressed lives. I got to work with some young homeless folks on poems, and we all felt a bit healed.
7. When I need support, I must tell people because I am really good at pushing on with a brave face. I told to my husband, the person who knows me and loves me the most, that I was feeling awful and afraid this morning over coffee. He turned to me with concern and said, “Really? You look pretty calm.” That is how completely I can mask my feelings without meaning to.
8. I am sad. I bet I go through all the stages of grief, but I have settled on sad for a few days. I know what to do with sad because I have been here before. I exercise what a Friend tells me is extreme self care, and I do one thing at a time — slowly.
9.I am grateful for the people who aren’t immobilized and can protest. I can’t do that right now.
10. As a Friend, I am searching for a constructive path forward as I am hunting for the Light in everyone. There is quite a bit of healing to be done at many levels. Before I drown in the chaos, I hope to find my footing.
And so I end up with some hope. Hope that I will see the Light of God and I will find my footing. Hope that I will be useful in moving our world toward love. Hope that you will take care of yourself so you can find hope, too.
photo by Nicolas Raymond