Yesterday I posted a short video on the AskMoxie Facebook page about being extra-kind and understanding of our kids right now because they’re so stressed out about self-confessed sexual assailant Donald Trump and the things he’s saying and doing. A few people asked me for suggestions for care for ourselves, the adults, so here you go:
Setting the terms: For me, “self-care” has to start with getting to the truth as soon as possible. You can slap feel-good stuff all over yourself all day long but until you hit bone with the truth you can’t start actually healing. These strategies are focused on exposing the truth so you can work from there.
1. Acknowledge that this is grief as much as anything else. We’re experiencing anger and fear, but it’s based on grief. We’ve lost so much already in 2016, and now we’re losing even the veneer of the social compact and any idea that we’re all citizens. Yes, the gross underbelly of racism and sexism has been in full effect forever, but until now there wasn’t license to spew bigoted garbage all over as if it’s reasonable. We’re losing something very real, and we have to grieve it.
2. Name why you’re feeling bad. I can see four distinct reasons the walking bag of feces is making us all feel horrible, and think identifying which ones are worse for you may help tame the feelings a little:
a. Sexual assault. If you’re a survivor, all of his glee at committing sexual assault is probably triggery af. You don’t have to read about it or watch any of it. Do all the stuff you usually do to get yourself through, and rely on your fellow survivors to stay on an even keel. If you haven’t been sexually assaulted, you know a lot of people who have (even if you don’t know they were). Be a safe place for your people, and don’t stop fighting for them.
b. Narcissism. This ball of gas is King Narcissist. Anyone who’s had a narcissist in their life–parent, partner, boss, coworker, friend–might be getting that same panicked tight feeling in your chest when he speaks that you got when your narcissist was gaslighting you. That feeling of not being able to explain yourself, not being able to list enough facts, bring enough receipts, prove yourself, of being backed into a corner and never being able to catch up or be good enough. That’s because his entire speaking mode is gaslighting. (Not to mention his physically stalking and bullying HRC during the last debate.) There’s a fantastic breakdown of how everything he says is a narcissistic form in this epic Twitter thread: https://storify.com/valerieinto/donald-trump-s-apology-and-patterns-of-abusers (If you are in a relationship of any sort with someone who makes you feel that panicky chest feeling and you didn’t know the person is a narcissist, check out outofthefog.net and see if it matches up. It’s not you.)
c. He’s threatened almost every single person in the United States except for a very small window of straight white cis conservative Christian men, and pretty much everyone else in the rest of the world. He hates all of us and is threatening to harm us in a variety of ways, from shooting us to jailing us to making us register to deporting us to simply insulting us to not paying us for work we do.
Subpoint of c. Children have heard about all these threats and are scared for themselves and for their friends and their friends’ parents. and that makes the threats even worse.
d. People you know and used to respect are actively supporting him, which means they’re actively supporting harm to you and other people. That’s heartbreaking.
Name these reasons for your bad feelings and they already have a little less power over you.
3. Stop reading and watching him. Knowing every detail of everything he says and how different constituencies are responding to it and what other videos are out there and who’s still supporting him isn’t going to do anything except make you feel worse. This reminds me of having a tiny baby and being so desperate for him to sleep through the night that I’d crank up the baby monitor so I could hear every movement and snuffle to know if he was about to wake up. Knowing what noises he was making wasn’t making him sleep longer, but it was keeping me awake even when he was asleep. This is the same thing. You can drop your end of the rope and give yourself peace.
4. Protect your boundaries. As Randi Buckley says, defending boundaries helps you be kind. Be kind to yourself and your family. Protect yourself and your family (whatever your family looks like). There are people who you have assumed love you and are working for your well-being who don’t love you the way you assumed they did. People who have a different agenda than you and I do. People who find whatever they see in that bag of hot pus to be more important than caring for you. That is 100% their right. But it’s your duty to yourself to figure that out, and then stop asking them for care, and invest your energy and love in people who do give you the care you need.
Take stock and figure out who are your people. Then invest in them and allow them to invest in you. Be honest about what you need and ask for help. Give what you can when they ask for help. Even just daily check-ins with a few people on mental health and stressors can keep you treading water.
5. Take action to create resilient communities and better institutions. Donate money to Haiti relief (they need so much help–almost 1,000 dead and counting, and mass devastation). Keep working for racial justice and anti-racist institutions. Keep working for a higher minimum wage and family leave. Do good works and bring your children with you when you do, so they learn to be good community members and citizens of the world.
6. Seek out and treasure healthy physical touch. Hugs go a long way. Spend as much time as you can hugging the people and animals around you. Choose hugs instead of information-seeking activities that will harm you.
We can make it. There’s going to be a lot of healing to do after this election is over, and there are relationships we won’t ever get back with people we used to think were in our corners. But we can be as good as possible to ourselves and to each other for the next four weeks.