Before this election actually occurred, I struggled so much with how or whether to write about it. It’s been an event of enormous personal interest to me, and I think that I just wasn’t sure how much the people who read my writing would care, or find it relevant to my work.
If you follow me on social media you may know that I’ve dipped a toe in once or twice – I’m perhaps most vocal about politics on Twitter because it’s, hey, Twitter – but I’ve refrained so far from blogging or sending out newsletters about it because I didn’t want to alienate anyone, or come across as “off-message.”
At the same time, the way that I think about my own writing is that my focus is on how people are psychologically impacted by their life experiences, and that applies to both the “micro level” (our interactions with family and friends) as well as the “macro level” (which has to do with society, politics, and institutions).
And in the past 5 days or so, since our world shifted so dramatically, all I can think is that this counts.
The personal is political and the political is personal, and as I find myself grappling with big questions from the safety of a deep blue state, my mind wanders to you, wherever you might be in the world.
I know that I may lose some subscribers right now for taking this issue on, and I’m OK with that. I’m choosing instead to prioritize those of you who woke up last Wednesday morning feeling less safe than you did the day before – those of you who are black and seeing that the KKK is now having open rallies in North Carolina, those of you who are muslim and afraid to wear your hijab, those of you who are immigrants, now living in fear of being deported.
If you’re a woman, this election may have been triggering for you in a million different ways. Perhaps you’re afraid that your right to choose will be further eroded. If you’ve been sexually assaulted, it’s probably distressing that a man was just elected to be president who brags about grabbing women by the pussy, a man who appears to see little value in a woman beyond her looks, ranked on a scale from 1-10.
My heart breaks for all of you.
My heart breaks for myself.
If you’re looking to me for answers and comfort, my response might surprise you, because I won’t encourage you to look on the bright side sooner than it feels natural.
There’s a time to lick our wounds, a time to mourn.
It’s important not to future trip too much, because we have no idea what the future has in store, but the truth of the matter is that what’s happened already is deeply distressing, and it’s OK if you have feelings about that.
If you’re looking for something to DO right now, here’s what I suggest:
1) Deepen your own self-care. Meditation has never been more important. If there’s anything that I’ve learned so far in my life it’s that when life gets REALLY challenging, it’s time to ratchet up the self-care, because we have nothing to offer if we’re rung dry – so drag your sad ass to yoga, book a massage, steam, do whatever your thing is, and trust that it matters. Now more than ever. It is not selfish. It’s called putting gas in your tank.
2) Instead of trying to feel happy in the face of sadness and fear, try instead to transform more nuanced elements of your own experience. By this I mean: If you feel silenced, speak up. If you feel powerless, take action. Get involved. Find out who your local representatives are and support the ones who share your values. I don’t mean to overwhelm you but the 2018 elections will be upon us before we know it, and it’s up to US to get them to turn out in our favor. As they say, if you think you’re too small to matter, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito 😉 If you feel agitated, agitate.
3) Donate your time and/or money to causes that you believe in. Planned Parenthood. The ACLU. Supporting the free press will be a matter of primary urgency because Donald Trump has threatened to sue media outlets that have criticized him, which is a dangerous thing in a democracy. So sign up and get subscriptions to the publications of your choice – I recommend The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Slate.com.
All of those publications uphold themselves to a high degree of journalistic integrity, and they acknowledge it when they make errors, which is not true of other, more fringy news sites these days.
Finally, if you have neither time nor money to offer, know that people who do are fighting on your behalf. I will be fighting on your behalf. Know that my private Facebook groups are a safe space for you to feel your feelings and to ask for support. If you find an ally in your hometown, meet up with each other and see how you can get involved in making a difference.
Because it’s up to us now to stand by one another, side by side. I still believe that Love Trumps Hate – and that in our darkest moments, we rise.