This is going to be reeeeeeally difficult for a lot of us. Here are ways to keep yourself treading water:
1. Keep it in the front of your mind that millions of us are having a hard time this week. You are not alone. You are not alone.
2. Don’t get into any fights on the internet with anyone for any reason. Let them be right. Walk away. Whether it’s about politics or regional pizza variations or gun control or anything. Just walk away. If the non-existent fight is with someone you love, you can always revisit it later when you’re not so bruised or you could just let it go entirely. And if it’s with a stranger, then walking away is a gift to the world.
3. Consider getting off the internet entirely for a few days or a week or a month. Read some kind of fiction that has an implausibly happy ending. Knit a baby sweater for someone’s baby. Let your kids teach you how to play their favorite video game. Chew gum until your jaw hurts. Just do something else.
5. Seek out soothing touch from the mammals in your life. I don’t mean to shortchange snakes and birds, but hugs and snuggles are more powerful coming from your mammal pets and friends and family. “I could use a hug” is a good way to make your needs known.
6. Find one or two people who are willing to talk out their feelings with you. It helps to be able to talk about expectations and disappointments, anger and sadness. You don’t have to display yourself for anyone and you don’t owe anyone your pain, but being honest with a few people you really trust will be a release valve.
Above all, remember that you are not alone. While you’re in line to vote tomorrow, the person next to you might be trying to hold back the tears like you are. Just showing up every day is good, important work. You can do it.
Part of trauma is being retraumatized every time you realize again what happened and what you now have to live with. It hurts again, and forces you to confront again the fact that millions of people (some of whom claim to love you) not only said they didn’t agree with your vision for your own life but didn’t think you could have the right to dream for yourself.
That’s painful. And it’s ok to admit that it’s painful.
It’s been 359 days and I still can’t believe he’s the actual president. It’s been 359 days and I still can’t believe that so many people rejected the idea of a woman president. (And I know they say they’re fine with a woman, “just not that woman,” but there are an awful lot of us who didn’t love her positions but still voted for her because she was the only realistic candidate. That line betrays either deep misogyny or lack of understanding of cause and effect.)
Every time I think about how those millions of people hate my female body so much that they chose an abusive criminal instead, it hurts again. I’ve mostly gotten desensitized to seeing him and having to hear his voice, but occasionally there’s still a flash of panic, like when you come around the corner at the grocery store and your middle school bully walks past you.
I just want to say that it’s not only typical to still be emotional about it, it’s normal. We are all being held hostage. We can’t afford not to care. And even if we don’t want to care, that hurt and shock is in our bodies.
Today, give yourself a break from thinking you should be over it, should have known, should “move on.” Today, let yourself admit that it’s cost you and continues to cost you, and there’s no way he or his family and cronies or the Republicans in Congress or any of the appointed heads of agencies and judges or any of our former/still friends can make it up to us. There are no possible amends. There can be no amends.
Last year at this time we were all so agitated and so hopeful, sure that we were just over a week away from banishing the sentient yam and his stooges forever. But everything fell apart and now our country and the world looks very different than we imagined it could.
A lot of us have lost relationships we thought were important to us. Most of us have lost illusions of safety and kindness. We’re afraid for the kids in our lives. It feels isolating and alone.
This is trauma, and it’s probably going to flare in the next few weeks. The election itself and the weeks afterward were so traumatizing for so many of us and that trauma is stored in our bodies. Give yourself a break, don’t expect too much, and stay connected to other people.
If you haven’t been doing it already, now is the time to start meditating. Meditation is one of the serious treatments for trauma, and you should try it every day for a few weeks to see if it helps you. I personally like guided meditations because it makes me feel connected to someone else’s voice and because I wander off or fall asleep without the guiding voice.
We can make it through this month (and all subsequent months) together.
If you get stressed and anxious about the long holiday juggernaut in November and December, sign up for my Coffee and Eggnog Holiday Survival Guide. I’ll lead you through making the necessary decisions about approaching the holidays and cultural expectations to make a Holiday Survival Plan so you can just glide through the season following your plan without all the pressure and worry.