I know something or another about grief, soreness, bitterness, loss. I've allowed those feelings to dominate very large portions of my life. And once they're inside, once they've been accepted as truths within your life they have a lingering effect. That is respective to personality and the individual--it really is very easy for some people to let things go, and it can be very difficult for others. But grief, and soreness, and bitterness, and loss will always and without permission take their own sense of time.
Even when those feelings are denied or repressed, that only delays them. Allows it to fester in the subconscious rather than to run its course in the consciousness. Maybe it goes without saying but it's always better to be honest and confrontational with one's own emotions. If the path upon which you find yourself is difficult to navigate, then why would you choose to close your eyes?
Sometimes it can be hard for people to be honest about their feelings, if it concerns subjects where pride and shame are deeply embedded. There are a lot of things we don't want to admit, things we don't want to feel and things we don't want to be. However, in an issue like politics, especially in the U.S.A., many of these obstacles don't apply on a superficial, theoretical level. It's considered appropriate to have an opinion. A strong opinion, that one is willing to defend in fierce debate. It's considered appropriate to express oneself. To wear one's heart on their sleeve, to turn oneself into a walking billboard with shirts hats pins bumper stickers signs posters flags and masks representing their subscribed beliefs. There is a cultural expectation of investment into the political system intellectually and emotionally, an investment in the process and an investment in the results. On a larger scale, very few people are suppressing their feelings in the wake of any election, and certainly not this election.
And so, in the midst of the election's results, many people are openly dealing with open wounds. I see people who support the winning candidate torn up about what they've had to endure over the course of the past 4 years, seeing a bigoted narcissistic known abuser using one of the largest platforms in the world to obfuscate, indoctrinate, and grandstand, and those people are not wrong. I see people who support the losing candidate upset at the result and fearing for the future as it pertains to their beliefs and affiliations and socioeconomic status, and those people are not wrong. I see the most profound, most socially conscious stand-up comedian in the world giving a(nother) brilliant monologue in which he claims the importance of people forgiving one another, and he's not wrong. I see a politically motivated rabbi explaining that from the perspective of Judaism, it is theoretically possible and acceptable for someone to be unforgivable, and she's not wrong.
I say this is the worst election not because of the results, but because of the circumstances. The drawn out process of taking over 3.5 days after the polls close to declare a winner. The allegations of fraud and the public litigation in the aftermath of it. My own personal inner conflict when it came to participating in the election. And more than anything just the clear divisiveness of it all, and how everyone is suffering from such stress and anxiety and such mental and emotional hardship before during and after the process.
Now we're left with managing all this negativity, whether it's been lingering or whether it's only just been ignited. It truly feels as though this country has been through another civil war, only this time it played out nonviolently, and also it still hasn't reach a definitive conclusion. How do we even begin to think of caring about other people, people upon whom we've placed blame and resentment, when it's so difficult to know how to even care for ourselves in the state we're in?
I feel like the most important first step is in one of the healthiest things one can do for their own psyche. And that's actively managing expectations. Nobody is entitled to receive anyone else's forgiveness, and don't you EVER forget that. But at the same time, forgiveness is noble. It is inherently progressive, and when it's genuine it is inherently an act of healing, and an act of peace. Forgiveness can be difficult, it can even be impossible, but it is something that everyone should feel obligated to move towards, if they can.
But here's where we get back to denial and suppression: don't fool yourself. Nobody should be telling themselves that forgiveness is where they are simply because it's where they want to be. It's not as much of a choice as you might think it is. To use the mind to claim forgiveness when the heart has not truly forgiven is to take a step backward. Trust me on this one: there's no difference between falsely convincing yourself that you're "over it" and denying that there was ever a problem in the first place. Choose to feel angry, if that's how you feel. Choose to be bitter. Choose to be sore, and choose to let it run its course. It doesn't mean that you're helpless to these feelings. Doesn't mean they'll last forever. It's been said a million times and it bears repeating a billion times: there's nothing wrong with seeking counseling. Professionally or unprofessionally. Everyone needs a confidant. Everyone needs someone off which they can reflect their anger and grief. Or else they're just bouncing off the walls indefinitely.
A crucial part of this is not only to accept your own feelings, but to accept that others might feel such bitterness about you, as you might feel about them, for the time that it takes them to. There is perhaps nothing in existence that is more empathetic than to accept somebody's hatred of you. Accept that everybody's sorting through their own garbage right now, and accept that for the time being many people are still going to feel as though they have to pick a side. I think, I fear, that might be the only way towards realizing that we're all on the same team.