Afraid is how I feel. As someone with post-traumatic stress, I’m used to being afraid.
This is different.
This isn’t a symptom.
This is reality-based fear.
This is the Maya Angelou “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time” kind of afraid.
It’s based on experience and knowing.
It’s more than the ache of someone who didn’t her first pick for a candidate. I can deal with that. We’ve all dealt with that.
It’s deeply personal the way say sexism is personal – if you’re a woman. Racism is personal if you are a person of color.
The President elect has sexual assault cases pending now which has he denied by saying one of the woman was too ugly to be assaultable. The former head of the KKK tweets pride and ownership in Trump’s win yesterday.
How can I dismiss all of the things he said to get elected if I am Mexican or Muslim or gay or a girl or a veteran or, as my mother said, “not a white man.”
Or if I’m a white man who gives a damn about any of the groups Trump threatened and offended.
Or if you care about Mother Earth.
So excuse me if I want to spit every time I hear the word unity.
What does unity mean when it comes to hate?
Are people of color supposed to break bread with Trump and David Duke as a show of nationalism?
Are women supposed to wear pussy mouse traps so we aren’t groped while we go in for a cordial make it all nice hand shake? Are we supposed to fight global warming with the cool breeze of shaking our head as we pretend the ice isn’t melting?
What does this unify?
Can unity exist between people who don’t honor or acknowledge the basic human rights of one another? That to me, is a pre-requisite and when it’s absent, it’s the first order of business not the last.
Not something I hope he gets around to addressing.
My daughter was born in another country and yesterday was the first time I worried about whether or not her paperwork was in order.
I have every reason to believe that there’s not a single person or group Trump wouldn’t sell out to get more votes or money.
And now he’s got more power.
That freaks me out.
This isn’t male bashing on my part. This is me acknowledging I’ve heard what the man has said and promised. It’s me who has read about the things he’s done as his platform.
It’s personal because laws made by the Supreme Court have personal impact for all persons.
Healthcare access – especially when one is sick is really rather personal.
When hate has been celebrated, legitimized and elected it’s a cause for concern. Or at least it should be.
It’s no unpatriotic to be upset, concerned and fearful.
And yet, I’m told I’m supposed to feel better because some who voted for Trump but didn’t think he’d really win or are super sure he won’t actually keep his word about deportation or building walls or (endless fill in the blanks).
Some of us are afraid for ourselves and / or others.
Pretending the president to be is a friendly, well-meaning and likable sexist and racist because he gave a not so horribly offensive speech is troubling. It’s like saying the relative saying all the sexist and racist doesn’t “really” mean them as they are saying really mean stuff.
It’s crazy making and I want better for our country.
I feel like a child in a chaotic home waiting for the grown-up to show up when it’s the grown ups bringing the chaos. I feel powerless in that way that lasts more than moments.
In the way that lasts for years and impacts many.
In a way that undoes the work many have done and are doing.
I can’t lie or spin things or yet see how all is good and well and for the best.
I can’t even say it’s clearly the will of the people. Even that sentence has to be qualified. But even if it was the will of the majority that wouldn’t make it right or less frightening.
It would be more frightening.
I take consolation in the fact that at least half of the country didn’t consciously cast a vote for Trump.
No matter what our political orientation or affiliation most of us actually know what’s right and wrong and good and just.
And maybe we can’t make the world a safer place today. But we can call foul and we can sure as hell keep it honest.
Because Trump was elected and because half of the country doesn’t know, care or believe how consequential that is.
Or is celebrating how some of us are scared.
Still, others are saying “don’t be afraid” which is another way of saying “shut up” or “your concerns are not consequential enough to me” to matter.
I don’t care” or I won’t see or believe you ore care.
It’s dismissive at best.
I don’t have to play along.
I keep reminding myself that while I feel afraid I am actually an adult. An adult who can ask what the actual f?
Mercifully, I need not wait for a president, a parent, a doctor or an authority to validate my worth and truth.
But some of my rights are at risk. Some are more vulnerable than others.
Some people actually do have more power, rights, resources and influence than others.
Like the president elect.
And President Trump – those words horrify me.
It’s true that half the country would wake up feeling bad no matter who won this election. I totally get that. I realize some people felt a Trump vote is a protest vote against the status quo and don’t even really agree with some, most or all of what he stands for.
Which means exactly what?
Just a little bit of hate is o.k.?
The rights of some are worth throwing under the bus to make a point?
I feel less safe. We took steps backwards when it comes to civil rights and social justice.
I’m not pretending it’s a happy jig of a dance. It’s more than I’m being asked to line dance when I’d really prefer to tango. It’s more like being kicked down the stairs and watching others being stomped on like a bug under a big smelly loafer.
We will get back up. We can climb and mobilize and move forward.
Lots of us. But that doesn’t mean everyone recovers and remains whole.
We can value ourselves and each other no matter who is in power. We can protect ourselves and each other as well. We can be vocal and activist and if we are in groups that have more safety and protection, we can be allies.
We are not powerless.
There is power in telling the truth.
But some of us are pissed and sad and afraid. We can stay clear and calm and kind and we can also be angry, upset and offended.
I’m still shaky. And with PTSD, I’m pretty expert at scanning for danger. It’s a super skill. I have to work hard to scan for love, compassion and kindness as well so I don’t get buried by despair. Especially now.
It helps. Pretending this is just another election does not help.
This a time of staying awake, alert, activist and aware.
I’m working to try to keep my heart and mind open and to fight and advocate and stand with others who are afraid. I’ll do what I can as a mom, a friend, an activist and a writer.
We can’t make our leaders represent or respect us all. But at least, when we speak up, we can find solace, support and one another.
You Matter Mantras
- Trauma sucks. You don't.
- Write to express not to impress.
- It's not trauma informed if it's not informed by trauma survivors.
- Breathing isn't optional.