Warning: This post does not shy from the fact that Trump is a liar, hatemonger, and sex predator. Disagree? Cool. To quote Jay Z, if you don’t like my lyrics you can press fast forward.
I’m back … in more ways than one. Well, two actually.
First, I’m back on the blog after a 10-month hiatus that included 10 amazing days in DC, a fourth Meander to Seattle and back, and a relationship with a lovely lady that wasn’t meant to be.
It’s been so long that a Facebook-free friend recently asked if he’d been removed from my email list. Hope you’re seeing this, Brett! Thanks for the reminder to blog. 🙂
Second, I’m back from the election of Donald Trump.
The hateful campaign and distressing result were incredibly painful for me, just as they were painful for many of you.
Here’s how I journeyed through the five stages of grief before finally recovering from the tragedy of Trump. If you’re stuck in the first four stages, be sure to read through to the final two.
Stage 1: Denial
I kicked off my 2016 Meander with 10 days of touristing and lobbying in Washington DC. I left our nation’s capital convinced there was no way such a great country would elect such a pig.
That confidence held until the last few weeks of the campaign. As I stumbled into conversations with more and more closeted Trump voters and as I formulated my Colin Kapernick theory, my eyes opened.
Soon, I was freaking out. I attended my first political rally. I shared my fears on social media. I challenged cocky liberals to do more. I watched cable news and addictively read campaign coverage on my smartphone. I tried to convince myself that FiveThirtyEight was right and that everything would be OK.
As the votes rolled in, denial didn’t serve me.
Stage 2: Anger
On Election Day, my freakout compelled me to push back against the impending Tragedy of Trump.
I went on the offensive declaring that my vote was for all the ladies who’d been “grabbed by the pussy”. All the Latinos who’ve been eyeballed by Sherriff Joe. All the LGBT folks, dark-skinned folks, and everyone else who’ve been stepped on by assholes like Trump.
The anger didn’t end there. It lasted for days as I became what I loathe – one of those people who can’t come to bed because someone else is wrong on the Internet.
Anger didn’t serve me. Neither did the gin and sodas.
Stage 3: Bargaining
I tried to make sense of it all the next morning. I made excuses for Trump voters because I deeply love some of them. (In another rationalization, I still can’t bring myself to say Trump supporter.)
Hey, it’s not their fault. They just value local autonomy, gun rights, and abortion bans. Besides, their minds were poisoned by Fox News and fake news. They were tricked into voting for the pig.
On some level, I knew I was lying to myself. People who voted Trump weren’t necessarily liars or sexists or racists or homophobes themselves. They were just saying that those things were OK from the leader of our nation.
Bargaining didn’t serve me. In fact, it drove me into Stage 4 as I questioned myself.
Stage 4: Depression
Sitting atop Camelback Mountain that Friday, I pulled out my notepad to journal. Then I sketched a peace sign, a heart, and an American flag. The peace sign found the piece of paper first.
I just so very badly wanted the pain to go away.
George Bush’s reelection disappointed me, but I didn’t despair. Good person. Bad president. Trump is a bad person (presidential skill TBD) and I was depressed that so many chose him.
Depression didn’t serve me.
But the seeds of recovery were planted when I descended Camelback and posted my drawing to Facebook with an offer: “I’m around all weekend. If you wanna talk, hit me up.”
Stage 5: Acceptance
I invited communication – first implicitly by being so vocal on Facebook and later explicitly by telling y’all to hit me up. And hit me up you did.
I talked with gays, non-citizen legal immigrants, and Muslims. I chatted with men who actually looked to me for answers. (Does that mean I’m a grown ass man now?)
And, yes, I talked to Trump voters. Some were respectful. Some have since been unfriended.
The conversations reminded me that I wasn’t alone. They broke the isolation of working from home and of keeping quiet publicly to avoid closeted Trump voters.
Finally, acceptance served me. Trump was president-elect and no amount of cable news or Facebook arguments or whining with friends would change that. So I opted out of it all.
Stage 6: Action
Did you know there are only five stages of grief? I think there should be six. After all, acceptance is awesome. Action is awesomer.
Over the course of my conversations, a new call to action emerged. I found myself pushing friends to opt out of the negativity and opt in to service. And I pushed myself to do the same.
For example, I was filled with volatile negative emotions as Thanksgiving approached. A normal holiday with my family involves about 50 people, a decent percentage of whom are Trump voters.
So, I opted out.
I spent the morning with my immediate family then left to volunteer with the Humane Society. Sure, there was some election talk. The outcome of this election will be horrendous for animals.
In those conversations too, I challenged friends to reroute their negative energy toward service. To make a difference in their local communities. To take action.
After all, the impact any individual can have on the federal level is small. The impact any one of us can have locally is huge.
And, now, I challenge you to take action.
We have four years until we can right this wrong. How will YOU make a difference in the meantime? Hit me up with your answer.
In case it’s another 10 months before my next post, you might want to subscribe by email.