“The mind is like water. When you let it sit still, all becomes clear.”
– Tibetan Buddhist teaching
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t write it in a scathing text and send it to someone you love.
Take it from me. It doesn’t help to bridge those silos of which I spoke last week. I took my own frustration from the election results out on my family because they didn’t vote like me. Seriously? I did exactly the opposite of what I blogged about days before the election—and I feel crappy for doing so.
I was suffering from PTTD. Similar to PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), Post-traumatic Trump Disorder made me (more than) a tad bit CRAY CRAY! I am not the only one to have expressed this, but having been the victim of a violent physical assault/crime in my life, I was immediately feeling that same out of control feeling the day after the election—like something really bad and unexpected happened and I could not make it change or go away.
But one thing I know from experience is humans are resilient. Only four days later and I am getting out of bed without running to the toilet, I’ve shared a couple laughs with friends and re-committed to daily meditation. I wish I had meditated before I sent that text.
The day after, (you know of which day I speak), I woke up in my pantsuit with a dread and an ache in my stomach that launched me out of bed so swiftly I almost fell over with lightheadedness, or grief or dissociative shock, or all of the above.
I was drunk with fatigue, my stomach fluttered with fear and I stumbled awkwardly.
Can this be real?
I didn’t want to face the reality. I didn’t believe it was really happening. But, alas, America voted and this is the leader of our future for now.
I was rapid cycling through the first 4 out of 5 stages of grief Elisabeth Kübler-Ross postulates for people facing death.
Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression, (the 5th stage being acceptance—was not there yet).
My mind was stuck on replay.
little voice: This is not happening. How can this be happening? I hate hate, but I’m pissed! A platform heralding racism, xenophobia, misogynistic language and behaviors, climate-denial and Islamaphobia won. Crap, I am feeding into the hate. We can fix this. He really just wanted to win, but now that he did, he will be happy to hand over the reigns to the real professionals. We have to be able to demand a recount. What is America THINKING (or at all)? This isn’t happening. How will we go on? Tears. Apathy.
I had no words to soothe, calm and make sense of this “new normal”. I spent the first 15 minutes of the day responding to terrified texts and exchanging support. One high school friend, concerned about my sadness hoped I “recovered” soon, that he didn’t want to see me down from this. Several more texts and messages requested a blog, some sort of statement of hope and inspiration.
I couldn’t write.
I didn’t have the adequate language or peace skills at the moment to be any source of inspiration, let alone, a source of light. I was lost in the darkness. I had crept into the din of my own shadow, devoid of light and deep in the grief like so many of us.
The day before, I was nervous, but hopeful. I was almost sure we would not be waking up to the reality of this extreme of a divided nation. I am devastated by so many details, most of which have been hashed in and out by many, much more intelligent and well-spoken bloggers.
Election night, several friends gathered for (what we thought would be) a celebration of our American ideals of diversity and inclusion. The night quickly dissolved into disbelief and shock. As my dear friend, older than me said, “I lived through the civil rights movement, we can’t go back there.” His reality as a black man in America has precariously shifted again. After 17 years of friendship, I have never seen fear or despair in his eyes like this. I held him and cried.
The pain and fear is real for so many of us.
It was still early, our other friend implored us to “keep the faith”, “do not go there”, “be positive”, “stay hopeful”. I looked her solemnly in the eyes and said, “I know, I will get there, but I am in a legitimate state of fear. I choose to authentically accept my current place of grief.”
Women are taught to build and maintain the home fires, to hold space, to not be too victim-y, to get over it. Women inadvertently pressure each other to “move on too quickly” sometimes. We want to raise each other up, to avoid seeing each other in pain; but before we can rise up we must sometimes feel the darkness, dance with the shadow and grieve our losses.
I allowed my authentic expression in the moment (and did not apologize for it). I am seeing a lot of us over the past couple days shell-shocked, surprised, hopeless, confused, angry and vulnerable. Please, sisters and brothers, give your selves the space. Please, brothers and sisters, don’t judge, just be the space for them.
I didn’t know how to parent, I didn’t know how to teach, lead or hold space as a therapist in those early moments last week. I could barely move my body from grief embodied as heavy bones and flesh.
Now, I am calling myself out publicly. I did have a hard time bridging those silos this week. I had ignored all that nice stuff I wrote about in Surviving the Election last week. I realized, in retrospect, that I wrote last week’s blog from the perspective of Hillary winning. Now, I am the one asking myself to belong to my fellow Americans.
I took a couple of days to refrain from spilling too messily in public, but regret unleashing that wrath on my parents. Part blame, part repressed, unexpressed anger, what have you gotten us into?
It’s Saturday now. AND I’m ready to move forward, hopefully not too late with them. I have listened peacefully and respectfully in a couple personal conversations with the “other side” in the past couple days; and I have reached out to apologize for my angry outburst directed at my family.
Grief and shock are legitimate phases in the process of getting to active hope and moving forward. As bodhissatvas, we feel the pain and channel it for the benefit of all beings. I am getting there, so can you.
I needed to get it together to provide some answers to my girls. Over the past nine months, while traveling the world, we boldly declared we’d “be outta here” if Donald Trump became president. My youngest, Channing (9), woke up the day after asking if we had to move and where would we be going. She doesn’t want to leave. She likes her friends, school and simple life in a small-ish community; but she has no idea what’s in store for her near future and beyond. And, quite frankly, neither do I.
As a parent, as a human, I must put on my big girl Made-in-America dreams and say, we are going to be okay. We are going to love and include, share and speak kindness, play hard and work smart. We will show up even more awesome than before.
Now more than ever we must dig into the trenches to re-build a foundation, love deeper, position ourselves wisely, surround our selves powerfully, lead humbly, rise up courageously.
I did not show I was ready for any of this love and kindness shit earlier this week. Hours after learning the results I was full of vitriol and hate and spewed it all over my parents. I repeat. I didn’t feel any better after. It doesn’t work!
Many people keep saying Donald Trump is just one person; we, the citizens, make up the country. The concern is there are a lot of Americans afraid of their fellow Americans right now. Let’s prove to each other that no one is out to “get us”, that when we step out in the world everyone is “out to love us”.
Can each of us prove that we are both loving and lovable? I challenge you! I challenge ME to do that.
We have to get to loving (or at the very least, liking) and respecting one another. I ask for your love, support, guidance and patience because I need some supplies and tools to help build these bridges I started to break down last week!
The final phase of grief is acceptance.
Now, we act.
We all have a hand in co-creating our future.
We are the answer to the question, who?
Now is the answer to the question, when?
I’m sorry to anyone I have let down, offended, or denied my absolute respect and attention during this tumultuous last several months.