Back to Self-Care in Trump’s Dysfunctional America

Monday was a new low point for me since 11/8. To my credit, I got out of bed which is more than I can say for some of the other days since the election.  Despite this victory, I was shaky, nauseous, and cranky AF.  I picked fights with people who I know love me and who I generally agree with on big picture topics.  It looked something like:

Them: Yes I can see it.  And I need to take care of myself so that I can be helpful.

And then I would get back on Facebook and see that half of everyone else was just as shaky, nauseous, and cranky as I was, screaming at the top of their lungs into a void that THIS ISNT FAIR THIS ISNT CONSTITUTIONAL THE WORLD IS ON FIRE AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE.  Posting longer posts with more emojis and more capital letters more and more frequently BECAUSE WHY ARENT YOU LISTENING WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE.  And that would help me calm down and get back to feeling grounded, safe, competent, and capable. JUST KIDDING.

After a lively conversation with my favorite person, a trip to the grocery store – our happy place, dinner, Baby Animals in the Wild on netflix, getting down with my coloring book during the Celtics game, and a decision to turn off news and social media (sports excepted) after 9PM it hit me:

Our country, under Trump’s “leadership”, has turned into a totally effed up, dysfunctional family.

This hit me in the gut and reminded me for the umpteenth time that First Lady Michelle and President Barack Obama were GREAT, ENLIGHTENED, AWESOME PARENTS (to our country at least) IMO and I miss them something fierce.  Now I feel confusion, fear, and anxiety.  There is a Bo-sized hole in my heart that is filling up with the weight of all of the dreams that Trump eats for breakfast every morning.  Does that imagery even make sense? My point is that my heart is heavy and I’m scared.

But I have to say that naming my experience – “I’m a child in a dysfunctional family” – brought me some peace and relief because something with a name can be fought.  In dysfunctional families, folks shout into a void at the top of their lungs SEE ME SEE ME SEE ME THIS ISNT FAIR THIS ISNT RIGHT I HATE YOU WHY CANT YOU SEE ME!  This generally stems from codependence among the family elders which dribbles down into ultimate and supreme chaos and confusion for the youngsters. Maybe because the adults are not seen themselves? Maybe because they themselves grew up in a dysfunctional family?  Or maybe because there are untreated personality disorders or mental health issues?

Unfortunately, we can’t “fix” Trump and his immigrant wife so that they are no longer dysfunctional parents (this is what kids in dysfunctional families try to do to no avail).  So what does all of this mean?  I think it means we take care of ourselves and we take care of each other, and we encourage everyone we know to take care of themselves.  For me, this means connecting with my friends and family, and setting boundaries so that I have time to connect with myself.  Let me be real: I am a white, straight, female, US-born citizen so I consider myself pretty safe relative to a sizable portion of my fellow citizens.  If you do not feel safe or you are actually not safe from Trump’s policies, I’m honored you’re reading this post but reaching out to the ACLU might be a more prudent action.  But really, this post probably doesn’t speak to your situation.

My Monday melt down and “dysfunctional family” revelation reminded me to get back to some of my self-care basics.  My most reliable standby’s are to:

  • watch Baby Animals in the Wild on Netflix instead of listening to angry talking heads.  We started doing this shortly before 11/8 and found comfort in watching adorable fuzzies do adorable things.  And there’s no talk of anything scientific like extinction and/or climate change that makes your heart sink like when you watch BBC Earth.
  • meditate using the Headspace app.  Or use guided meditations on youtube.
  • read passages from my favorite books by Thich Nhat Hanh and/or Pema Chodron.
  • read the daily passage from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening.
  • turn off news until my body says it can handle stepping back into the typhoon.
  • step away from social media (and my keyboard) to connect with friends and family in person or via phone/skype/etc so that I can listen and be heard in a real way.
  • hug my favorite person.
  • snuggle with my bears, Misty Bear and Nimbus.

When I feel balanced again, I’ll go to the Women’s March website to look at the suggested action.  On this first day of February, the action is to “huddle” with friends and family to talk about steps we can take at the local and national level to promote our message, whatever that is.  At first glance, I was totally disappointed by this vague recommendation.  On second glance, this is pretty profound to me because it requires that we CONNECT, which is an important self-care strategy for me.  It requires that we step away from Facebook or our social media platform of choice and share snacks, a meal, or a beverage with people in our community.  We can share novel ideas and engage in civil argument, despite being part of a dysfunctional family. And we can create safety and a place for productive action amidst the chaos and confusion.

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