Part II: After the Fall – Step 1 of a 3-Step Plan to Thrive in the Time of Trump

Step 1: GO IN

So, my nightmare is now reality. Wow! Now what?

Not everyone feels like I do. That is a fact, not an opinion. There are those I like, admire, and even love who are happy about the incoming administration. While I accept this intellectually, it’s taking longer for my emotions to catch up. But, what I know and feel is this: it is critical that I stay in relationship with people of all stripes – or else risk feeling alienated from them, turning them into the “other” in some kind of negative way. That is not acceptable to me. I want to keep the bridges open, the ones that are already working well, and to invest in building new ones. I have no desire to blow them up.

Eau Gallie Causeway

Eau Gallie Causeway

However, it ain’t easy. I am stumbling through Kübler-Ross’s stages of grief. It is not a linear process, but a recursive one. Dang it! Yet subtle shifts are happening, a new strength and resolve emerging. I picture myself as a modern Rosie the Riveter, hair caught up under a bandana, all toned-arms (I wish) driving pilings deep into the earth (well, as deep as they can go in the shallow limestone in Cocoa Beach), building a new, stronger foundation. Clad in denim overalls on the construction site, I pound in a sign with big, bold, blocky, black letters that spell out, ENGAGE, RECONCILE, RESIST, POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!! 

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter

I seek comfort and strength from friends, family, spiritual communities, my animal companions, houses of worship, prayer and meditation, and the beach. Always the beach, where I sink my toes deep in the sand, and tune in to the waves slapping the shore rather than the voices in my head spinning out future, frightful scenarios. It is during those walks that a plan to survive and maybe even thrive during the next four years takes form, a three-step plan that I hope strikes resonant chords with you.

Toes and bunions

Toes and bunions

Each of the next three posts will focus on a specific step. They all have share a couple of common beliefs: that our external world is a reflection of our internal worlds, for good, bad and everything in between, which means we are creating our external reality, and that within some field, (energetic, heart, spiritual, etc.), we are all connected. What I do affects you and vice versa, everyone affects everyone. Therefore, it makes a difference what we put out into this field, how we feed it. So just what am I serving up for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Is it a form of love: compassion, empathy, peace, gratitude, or a form of hate: anger, resentment, contempt, fear?

Step 1: GO IN. Heal Thyself. Self first. Since the election, well- and not-so-well-intentioned people have said to me, “Get over it,” “Stop whining,” “Stop being a cry baby liberal,” comments colossally lacking empathy. I feel the sting (although I kind of like “cry baby liberal,”) and wonder just what happens to all those feelings that are not welcomed? Where do they go when there is no place for them? What happens when suffering is not heard and received?

I suspect nothing good, and that what is going on in the USA (and around the world) may be related to this dearth of empathy – that too many of us, including those in “power,” are not paying adequate attention to or really listening and acknowledging the pain of others. And, now we know what happens when long-simmering resentments and anger don’t get the outlet or attention they need. Now we know that a conflation of certain conditions can create a void which allows “someone,” to step in and fill it – with a platform that intentionally, purposely, strategically fans the absolute worst instincts of our natures (and we all have these worst instincts), and suddenly, we are in a reality that just a short time ago was unfathomable to many of us.

Wouldn’t it be a shame to waste the shock of this election and not own our own shit (as well as our magnificence)? But, how do I do this with kindness and compassion? The templates already exist and I can borrow wisdom from the 12-Steppers, and take a fearless moral inventory – of myself. I can ask: Just what is it that drives me crazy about the “other” side – what do I project on the “other?” How am I divisive, condescending, full of contempt? What have I done to promote peace? What have I done to stoke discord? How do I behave that helps engagement with another? How do I behave that hinders that? I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I am willing to let the questions live in my consciousness.

With reluctance, I see that I have to say good-bye to my self-righteousness, which I feed daily when I consume the Op-Ed pieces in the newspaper. I’m not going to stop reading them, but I can own that my moral indignation, which feels pretty good in the moment, adds negativity to the collective field.

I feel a gap too between my grief and the American way to rush past it without fully metabolizing it. Black Friday, anyone? Surely, I am not alone in my feelings. So, in the absence of a collective time of grieving and reconciliation, how do I do the necessary work to first heal myself? How do we do it? And, what if I don’t? What if we don’t?

But, what if I do? What if we do? Consider the effects on the collective consciousness and how that then may play out –  a world drawing on our better angels rather than our shadows. Peace rather than discord. Albert Einstein, a genius, said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” But, it doesn’t take a genius to shift our reality (just lots of us), to offset hate, anger, and outrage with love, peace and equanimity. Mostly, it takes courage. It takes courage to do the internal exploration and not simply revert to blaming the “other.” It takes courage to build bridges – internally and externally, within self and to others.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

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Reader Invitation: I’d love to hear how this post resonates with you. How are you feeling? How are you contributing to the “field?” What have been sources of comfort and inspiration for you?

2 thoughts on “Part II: After the Fall – Step 1 of a 3-Step Plan to Thrive in the Time of Trump”

  1. Hi Beth! Great post as always. I love your commitment to reconciliation and not “othering” Trump voters. I love that you mention empathy; empathy is something i see in Trump voters but not in the alt-right, with whom they share some overlapping views. My fear is that the alt-right has had a more powerful influence on Christians and mainstream Republicans than they are yet willing to admit to themselves. After gleefully sharing and spreading alt-right posts for the past year because they happened to share common ground on some issues, like, say abortion, Christians and mainstream Republicans are having hard time coming to terms with the fact a lot of this content was created with a white supremacist agenda. Their personal intentions aside, this is a fact- and there are social consequences.

    And like you said, we are just as guilty if we are run away with by self-righteousness, fueling ourselves with indignant op-eds.

    Human empathy is what we must cling to. For me, my faith in God and Jesus’s example helps me when my own heart fails the empathy test. Jesus was able to forgive the religious and political leaders who put him to death, the betrayal by his closest friends, and even the thieves who heaped insults on his head as he hung on the cross. I can certainly move past this moment in America.

    PS- I would like a crybaby liberal T shirt if anyone is making them. The funny thing is that before all this I would never have called myself a liberal, but more of a libertarian. But, questioning Trump means I have been labeled liberal so why not embrace it? Haha

    1. Sarah, I so appreciate your thoughtful and caring response to the blog post. Definitely one of the joys of blogging is the opportunity to interact in this way. I love that you mention empathy – and Jesus’s model of forgiveness. Don’t believe I can ever hear enough about empathy and forgiveness. This blog was originally intended to have a gratitude focus, but I felt so gobsmacked by the election and cabinet appointments that I diverted from the original plan for a while to deal with this strange, new world. I will likely return to that theme of gratitude (and maybe empathy too) soon in at least some fashion. Thanks for reading and commenting. I’ll let you know if I find a CBL t-shirt.

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