It’s been a rough five years. From the moment I awoke on the morning after Election Day 2016, I felt as if I had experienced a death. I went to bed that night praying for a different outcome and woke up, only to find that the world as I knew it would never be the same. Deep grief has accompanied me for those turns of the calendar pages. I have lived through elections in my adulthood where the end result was the President that I chose, from Carter to Clinton to Obama. I have also survived the terms of those I didn’t vote for; Reagan, Ford, Bush father, and son, and of course #45. As disappointed as I was that my candidate didn’t win, I have never felt devastated as I did when someone wholly unqualified sat behind the Resolute Desk. Like many, I prayed that his wild ways would be reined in by the grown-ups in the room. There too, I was horrified, wondering as I opened my eyes each of the mornings of his failed presidency what fresh hell had broken loose overnight. There were many actions that were infused with hatred and the desire for upheaval and destruction. His M.O. was to win at all costs. To self aggrandize and demand fealty. To threaten and demean anyone who didn’t share his world view. To hold the country hostage with his petulance. Remember when the government shut down and federal employees were furloughed? All of this over his insistence that his vanity wall at the Southern Border be built post haste. What astounded me about that move is that there were those whose livelihood was threatened who continued to support him.
We were warned by a family member who predicted all of what we experienced since she knew what it was like to grow up Trump. His niece Mary’s book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man let us know what we were in for in the waning months of his term in office. A deteriorating state of mind when his well-fortified walls began to crumble, scrambling to cling to any, as it turned out, futile attempt to get re-elected. Bribery, threats, ‘the Big Lie’ that the election was stolen from him culminated in a violent insurrection on January 6th. It is another ‘day that will live in Infamy’ for historians to tout as a turning point in the recognition that White Supremecy has its tendrils around the throat of America attempting to choke out any semblance of safety for anyone who didn’t fit their idea of an acceptable human being.
Those of us who saw it coming were still gobsmacked by how horrific it was. Watching the news reports of a mob, fueled by the incendiary words of the former president and his enablers, we were both informed and re-traumatized. It feels like an accident from which we can’t look away. As more evidence is unveiled, about how this was allowed to happen, I find myself despairing that we will ever find a way through the morass. What shocks me more than nearly any other aspect is that those who huddled under desks and tables, donning gas masks, wondering if this would be their last day on the planet, can still stand by him, as the impeachment trial looms. Many continue to fuel the fire, calling for the deaths of those who are speaking truth to power.
All of this in the midst of a pandemic that steals both life and livelihood. While he is not responsible for the arrival of the virus on our shores, I do hold him accountable for deadly delays, deflection, and dropping the ball. Polarizing and politicizing what should have been seen as an act of social responsibility, with mask-wearing and physical distancing as simple interventions and potential preventative measures, gave the virus a stronger foothold.
In my professional life, I am a psychotherapist and minister, as well as a journalist. Each day, I encounter people who are at the effect of the socio-political climate, the financial downturn, the psychological and physical impact of the pandemic. They wonder as I do when there will be a return to some semblance of normalcy. I have no answers for them. I do what I can to bolster their resiliency skills, listening to their fears and frustrations. We come up with coping strategies and focus on what they can control. Some days, it is whether or not they get out of bed. On other days, like champions, they complete their personal and professional tasks, going to work, homeschooling their children, and attempting to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy. I have a few who have contracted the virus and are in recovery mode.
Blessedly, my immediate family (son, daughter-in-law, and grandson) have remained healthy. We are doing all we can to stay safe. This once upon a time social butterfly who flitted here, there, and everywhere has folded her wings a bit and limited activity to going to my office to do paperwork and as needed grocery shopping and doc appointments. I miss hugs, I miss monthly massage, I miss going to the gym. I miss the maskless, face to face conversations that I took for granted ‘in the before times’. I miss feeling safe out in the world. I miss solid sleep since crazy dreams have awakened me at all hours over the past five years. I miss a sense of certainty, albeit misplaced that I could trust those in my community. Some, as it turns out, attended the insurrectionist assault, not only on the Capitol building but on Democracy itself. I have heard of others who had trekked to DC, only to leave before things got out of control. They expressed shock and disorientation since they had no conception that it would turn violent and now they are in the process of re-evaluating their belief system. I admit a sense of relief that there were now more people who had come to their senses. Others dug in, defending their right to stand up for what they were indoctrinated to believe. Two are gym owners in our area with a large platform. There are others, as I am discovering, who have businesses that I will no longer support, who voted for him.
I celebrate the Inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris and pray for their safety. I am encouraged by their immediate actions to heal the wounds caused by the previous administration. Seems that they are among the grown-ups in the room now.
I take heart in discovering that my tribe is steadfast in showing up, standing up, and speaking out about injustice. I am grateful that those in my immediate circles are not at odds with my desire to seek unity in the midst of division. I know that unity does not mean spiritual bypass, it does not mean that all opinions are valid. Any opinion that seeks to disenfranchise, demean and diminish others, is unacceptable to me.
As I am writing this, I am feeling the impact of the past five years. There are some days when I’m the one who needs to intentionally launch out of bed, rather than languish because I just don’t want to face the world. There are some days when a good car cry is in order. I give myself permission to fully feel since repressing will lead to eventual overwhelm.
How about a Global Group Therapy session where we can sit together and indulge in a good cry, speaking our most heartfelt truths, followed by a long nap to catch up on the sleep we have missed? And then a group hug and some chocolate. I’d vote for that.
This post has been republished on Medium.
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