We can get so convinced that we understand it. We think we have all the right information. We know it so well, so much so that we can predict the future.
“I just know what’s going to happen next,” we think.
But really? You’re never gonna see it coming. You get fired when you thought you were about to get a raise. You get dumped when you thought he was going to say he can’t live without you. Your test results say cancer when you thought you were the healthiest person you know.
The harshest reminder that we know nothing about anything.
And when there’s a choice to make, somebody has to win while the other guy loses. Sorry, kids. There are times when there actually isn’t room for everyone.
A few months ago I read a book about Bill and Hillary’s marriage and this quote got me right in the gut:
“They’ve all underestimated our capacity for pain.” – Hillary
I don’t care who you voted for. Hell, I don’t really even care who I voted for anymore. Right now, I don’t think it matters. It doesn’t change the results of the election. It doesn’t change anything that happened in the past that got us to this moment. It doesn’t change what it means to be a good and decent human being. It doesn’t change who I want to be, or what I want to accomplish, or the future I envision for myself and my loved ones.
Do you know why people get angry or act out? It’s because they are in pain. Something inside of them hurts, and they don’t know what to do about it. They don’t know how to process it from the inside, so it gets projected out onto everyone and everything else.
Anger. Unbelievable. I’m shocked. Gross. Unsettling. Horrific. Terrifying. Scary. Embarrassed and ashamed. Doomed. Despair. Disgusted. Can’t believe it. I feel like I’m on another planet. This is a dark day. A living nightmare. America isn’t what I thought it was.
These are the words I saw and heard from my people last night and today. I feel some of these things, too, and feel them even more deeply for those who feel like their lives are in serious danger right now. And I mean it from the bottom of my heart when I say you have permission from me to feel anything you need to feel about it.
But I also don’t believe the sentiment that hate won, or that fear won, or that prejudice won.
I’ve seen enough of the world and this country to know that evil does exist, but for the most part it is the exception and NOT the rule. I don’t believe that all Trump supporters are extreme racists, sexists, full of hate, or any other words you could use to stereotype someone who voted for him. I can’t believe that half of this country is full of negative intentions and wants to see us go up in flames. I don’t believe that. I won’t believe that. I know it’s not true because plenty of them are right there on my Facebook friend list.
The people out there who got Trump enough votes to get elected? Many of them would appear to be just like me and the people I know. They have families and friends and jobs. But they have been living in so much frustration and pain–much like all of Hillary’s supporters may feel right now–for so long that they were simply so desperate for change, that they put that value above all else. They’re not thinking about woman’s rights or LGBTQ rights or racism or nuclear codes or international relations or any other policy. They are so sick and tired of being sick and tired. They feel completely powerless, like no one is paying attention to them, like they’re being left behind. It’s the only thing they know and they didn’t know what to do about it, so they picked the low-hanging fruit and that fruit was Donald Trump. And I can’t blame someone for believing that the president can and will save them from their own lives, because there was a time I probably believed that, too.
Does that category define all Trump supporters? Of course not. There are plenty of people who support him for other reasons, and we have to find peace in that, too. It’s these people, though–the ones who were “supposed to” vote Hillary or not vote at all–who surprised so many of us, and there are plenty of others who were “supposed to” vote against Trump that are so disengaged or pissed at the system that they didn’t even bother to show up.
Instead of deciding that America is fucked beyond repair, that people who didn’t vote are lazy, that all Trump supporters are bad people, or that Donald Trump himself is a bad person, I’m going to take them as what they are: human. And really, we all just want the same thing. Everyone wants a better life, safety for their family, more security, and more good times than bad — even if that doesn’t look the same for all of us, and we disagree on how to get it.
No, I don’t think hate won this election. I think pain won.
Half our country has decided that the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain and uncertainty this change might bring. The pain of another human being is something I can’t ignore, and I don’t want to live in a world where one person’s pain is less important than another person’s because of who they voted for.
Yes, it might hurt for a little bit longer. It might hurt for a lot longer. But no man or woman, president or not, can dictate the outcome of my life, however much it may seem like they do. Uncertainty and the unknown actually creates the potential for things that are even better than anyone could have imagined, doesn’t it? So after the pain is processed is when you get to prove that you are the person you want to be. And if you aren’t that person yet or feel like you could be or should be doing more or you’re still angry and scared? This is where you get to start.
On this day, absolutely anything is possible.
And there’s always going to be one more bully. There’s always going to be one more racist, one more sexist, and one more person who does not agree with you or like you. There’s always going to be someone at the top who probably doesn’t deserve it, or who cheated their way there, or didn’t put the work in you think they should have. There’s always going to be one more time when you don’t get what you want. And there’s always going to be a time when the person or thing you choose just doesn’t work out.
So, the only thing for me to do now is to take my own pain and continue to choose with a deep knowing that there will be a better outcome for everyone. I choose to move forward. I choose to feel all of my feelings, in private or with the ones who love me most. I choose to process all my feelings so hard and so deeply and for as long as I need to so feelings that do not serve me will be stopped dead in their tracks and can not spread out among us.
I choose feelings of empowerment instead of those that leave me feeling powerless, because thats how we got here in the first place. I choose taking responsibility over placing blame. I choose to give the next president a chance to prove himself and surprise me instead of hoping that he fails. I choose to see the good in all people until they show me otherwise, and support people who are doing good in this world.
I choose to acknowledge and take responsibility for my own privilege and use it for good, not evil. I’ll choose to speak up more often for myself and others, especially those who may be afraid to use their own voice. I’ll choose to see those who feel unseen, and do what I can to protect the rights of people whose lives may truly be at risk as a result of this election. I will continue to show love and respect to the people who matter most to me, and support them in the ways they ask me to, not in the ways I think are best for them.
I will ask more questions, and do my best to be curious, not judgmental. I choose to fully accept this challenge we have been provided to practice love and acceptance and connectedness and creativity. I choose to do everything I can to show love in the face of hate, and to be kind in the face of rudeness, and to be compassionate in the face of intolerance. I choose to think before I speak, or say nothing when there is nothing productive to say. I will choose to do more things that matter, and shine light on things that have been hiding in the dark for so long. I choose not to disregard the progress we have already made, just because there is more work to do and a long road to travel.
I choose not be afraid of the future, now or ever.
“They’ve all underestimated our capacity for pain.”
Because all the times before when everything fell apart, when I thought there was no hope, when I thought everything was over and would never be good again? Is when I came back stronger and better. And that’s what we’re gonna do this time. We’re strong enough to always take just a little more. And the more it hurts, the deeper the cut, the more space there is for growth and healing.
And it still might get worse before it gets better.
But I’m going to make damn sure that I’m part of the better.