When the map went red, it bled. That uniform block of frustration and alienation is as visible as an open wound.
For me, this election is personal. I haven’t spoken publicly about it until now, but last summer, I was ensnared by a romantic sociopath and when I discovered the depth of this person’s lies, I had a mental health crisis complete with panic, anxiety/depression, PTSD, insomnia, the whole shebang.
At the time, I was working at a mental health facility teaching yoga to acute patients. These vulnerable people had often sustained ongoing childhood abuse. I could not teach anymore because I was now a patient and I couldn’t separate myself from my students; I was lost in empathy, my own pain mixing with their’s.
When the map went that red last night, it was like watching a dear friend willingly return to the home of her abusive husband. Our nation voted for a sociopath because it has Stockholm Syndrome. Our red states feel powerless and so they reach for and identify with power, even if that power is their oppressor.
We have to wonder about free will in this moment and how much we are actually exercising it if we put the tax-evading bully in the driver’s seat.
I’m grieving a future that is not fraught with draconian repeals and abusive cycles that grind up our best and brightest.
I’m in the second phase of grief: denial.
Followed closely by bargaining: your mind just keeps trying to peel back time and rewrite the event, bending it another way. It happens repeatedly throughout your day, your mind doing impossible gymnastics to make that one moment of shock disappear. I’m going to let myself feel it, so I can move onto guilty, anger and eventually hope.
I am already tired from the work that must be done. I see with fresh awareness that my privilege has afforded me the ability to opt out of activism. The Obama years were a piece of cake I ate daily without realizing it. But none of us, not one American, will have that luxury anymore.
I have one perspective I learned through my experience with the sociopath that is both disheartening and hopeful as it applies to Trump: sociopaths usually self-destruct. because they are not conscience-bound at all, they do not apply loyalty to their interactions. His loose cannon antics will continue once he gets into the White House and while we can count on him disposing of Obamacare, overturning Roe v. Wade, and setting up shop for his billionaire friends, he will also be bored, cruel, and destructive with the wrong people.
Malcolm Gladwell predicts Trump will be hip-deep in a lawyer huddle, if not in jail within the first year. I sort of hope he is right; I’d be really surprised if Trump makes it through a first term.
In the meantime, we need to bind together tighter, we need to reach back out to the middle, and bravely carry the torch of love, inclusion, forgiveness. We need to see this as it is, a wound that needs healing.
Let’s be ready, friends, neighbors, families, communities, cities and allies. Let’s start to build a model of what we do want so when this thing comes crashing down, we can create again.
May we eradicate hate. One world, one people, one love.