And everything shifted. What I wanted to share with you several weeks ago suddenly doesn’t feel as pressing or urgent.
Instead, the only thing that feels present for me, as I imagine it may for you, is the result of this week’s Presidential election.
I feel shocked. Saddened. Angered. Scared. And also a little helpless. (can you relate?)
I cannot and will not be neutral about President-elect Trump. Some may say it’s not my place as a therapist to be political. But frankly I could not disagree more.
As a psychotherapist, my life’s work is dedicated to undoing and healing the damage of explicit and implicit abuse, neglect, rejection, shaming, blaming, and ostracizing that many of us experienced (whether unintentionally or intentionally) in our families and communities of origin and in our culture collectively.
My life’s work is to help bring relief to those suffering from anxiety, depression, confusion, despair, and grief.
My life’s work is to support people — all people regardless of their race, sex, gender identity, religious affiliation, or abilities — to become more fully who they are and to live their lives in congruence with their authentic selves.
My life’s work is to help create a world where people feel safe to be themselves and to help heal and shift damaging and abusive cultural introjects and systems that lead to individual and collective suffering.
President-elect Trump and his track record of actions so far embodies everything that I work so hard to help people heal and overcome from: The painful collateral damage of narcissism, grandiosity, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, divisiveness, bullying, body-shaming, oppression, lies, and on and on the list goes.
Over the last year, what I’ve observed is that his campaign has been particularly triggering for vulnerable minority groups, specifically those denounced for their race, those who are sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors, those who are survivors of sociopathic and narcissistic parents, and frankly anyone who has ever felt and been told that they are “other” and who has felt unsafe for being “other.”
But now that triggering has amplified manifold for so many more of the people in my personal and professional life.
So many of us are grieving intensely this week, waking up each morning wondering if it was all a dream, if maybe there was some error. So many of us are still in shock and walking around in a surreal daze.
One person this week described it to me as a feeling akin to “a sucker punch to the gut that comes with an unexpected breakup.” Yet another described it as “some bizarre glitch in the Matrix that landed us in an alternate parallel reality.”
If you have felt this way this week, you likely already know that you’re not alone.
And if you’re still in shock and grieving, please know that you get to take ALL THE TIME you need to absorb the enormity of what just happened. You simply cannot rush your own personal process around this to race towards acceptance. (I fully admit I’m not there yet and I have no idea when I will be.)
If you are feeling afraid and frightened, let us remember this: we don’t have a crystal ball.
We don’t know what the coming months will hold for us. It’s normal and natural, I think, for our minds to go to catastrophic thinking, but as hard as it may be, let’s try to reign our fearful thoughts in and come back to present: Feel the ground under your feet, feel the air in your lungs, look around you and notice that you’re safe in the present no matter what imaginary future your thoughts may be concocting.
If you’re having a hard time this week, please take care of yourself in any way that feels good.
Maybe it looks like avoiding social media and watching the news; maybe it looks like eating chocolate cake for breakfast; maybe it looks like gathering in community with your friends and coworkers to express your heartbreak; maybe it looks like going to bed at 8pm. Whatever you need, please take care of you.
Emotional shock and grief consumes physical energy. Be gentle with yourself.
Sometimes my bi-weekly articles to you have answers in them. Tips and tricks and ideas about how to tackle the painful, confusing and challenging stuff of life.
Today, the best I can do is to share with you a roundup of articles — some from me written previously on this blog and also some new ones published recently on other media outlets this week — to help you process the results of this election and to support you in taking good care of yourself.
I’m also providing you with a list of resources that you may want to consider exploring if you feel inclined and called to further explore how you can be an ally in the face of narcissism, sexism, racism, bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, divisiveness, bullying, oppression, etc..
I firmly believe that abusiveness thrives and breeds both because of those who explicitly act abusively and because of those who are silently complicit with the abuse. Therefore, one of the greatest strengths we have in the face of abusiveness is the dual-edged weapon of education and vocal criticality.
When we know better, we do better. And when we know what’s healthy and functional versus unhealthy and dysfunctional, we can better call it out and add our voices to the chorus saying, “No, it is NOT okay that you said and did that. I demand something better.”
Indeed, what I’ve taken heart in this week (and in all the months leading up to this week) is how many of us have seen Trump clearly for who and what he is and denounced him, his words and his actions resoundingly. We have stood up to abuse, to dysfunction, and we have done so together. We are not alone in calling him out.
And this — continued vigilant observation and vocal expression of disagreement — will, I predict, remain incredibly important for us as engaged citizens and whole-hearted humans to continue doing.
So please, if you feel inclined and called to it, review the list of resources I’ve compiled below both for your own personal support and to strengthen your awareness of key social justice issues threatened by President-elect Trump’s election. I also urge and encourage you to share this article and its links with your friends and family and community members who may be interested in this perspective, too.
My friend, please know that you’re not alone in your hard feelings of grief and shock and fear this week. I’m right there with you.
Really, we are in this together and we will keep putting one foot in front of another until we live in a world that feels safe, accepting, and healthy.
We can intellectually accept President-elect Trump’s win, but we do not have to emotionally accept nor condone his destructive way of being in the world. Nor do we have to accept or condone the destructive behavior of anyone else that may feel legitimized by his ascent to Presidency. Abuse is any form — whether on the playground blacktop or in the Oval Office — is not okay.
And I want to personally commit to you that I will do my part as a psychotherapist, writer, and social justice advocate to continue working for you and everyone else who wants to live in a world that feels safe, healthy, and functional. Will you join me?
So very warmly, Annie
PS: Leave me a message in the comments below to let me know how you’re doing in the wake of this week’s election, what words of support and comfort you might share with someone having a tough time this week, and/or what resources you would add to the social justice list to encourage continued education and conversation in our community. I look forward to hearing from you.
Or if you live outside of these states, please consider enrolling in the waitlist for the Relational Trauma Recovery School – or my signature online course, Hard Families, Good Boundaries, designed to support you in healing your adverse early beginnings and create a beautiful adulthood for yourself, no matter where you started out in life.
And until next time, please take very good care of yourself. You’re so worth it.
- “What a therapist wants you to know about repairing America after this election.” An article I wrote for Upworthy comparing the election to a dysfunctional family system.
- “7 small things you can do right now to feel better after the 2016 election results.” Another article I wrote for Upworthy this week.
- A (self) Care Package: a virtual, multimedia, therapeutic collection of my very best resources designed to nourish your soul, support your mental health, spark some hope, and enhance your overall well-being.
- “Uplifting quotes to spark your soul.” A video made by The Mighty of my prior blog full-length blogpost — 99 Uplifting Quotes.
- A short little video of the ocean waves from my one-time home, Big Sur.
- Leslie Knope’s response to Trump’s win. (because you all know I’m a huge Parks and Recreation nerd.)
A small sampling of social justice resources:
- On exploring white privilege: “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh
- On exploring gendered stereotypes and institutionalized systemic sexism: “The Mask You Live In” and “Miss Representation.” (both are available for streaming on Netflix, you guys!)
- On bullying and homophobic harassment: A one-pager from the non-profit True Child.
- On body shaming and body positivity: The Body is Not an Apology. Sexual Objectification, a piece by Laci Green.
- On exploring abusive, narcissistic, destructive relational patterns: “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout, PhD.* Any book by Alice Miller, PhD but I especially love “Drama of the Gifted Child”* to help understand how destructive shaming and blaming over the less powerful can create profound damage.
- On exploring transphobia: Tackling Transphobia and Hate Crimes.
- On exploring xenophobia: Fighting the Good Fight (Personal Solutions to Everyday Xenophobia). 14 Ways You Can Fight Islamophobia.
- On exploring ableism: ” StopAbilism.org. “6 Forms of Ableism We Need to Retire Immediately.
- Organizations to consider connecting with and supporting: Planned Parenthood, The American Civil Liberties Union, The International Rescue Committee
*This is an affiliate link and any purchases made through this link will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you).