Almost a month after the election, I thought it would be a good idea to step back and notice the different ways that various selves within me are reacting to the outcome. The overriding feeling over the last four weeks has been heartbreak. I've felt a deep sadness that has had me close to tears during large portions of the last 28 days.
My rational mind self has found the intensity and duration of this grief perplexing. This part reasons that, in actuality, things were just as bad before the election. Whatever misogyny, whatever disregard for the effects of fossil fuels on our planet, whatever xenophobia I'm aware of post-November 8th was also there before November 8th. To this mind part, my emotional response makes no sense.
In contrast to the rational self, I'm also aware of a part that feels greatly relieved to have been given a key to unlock this deep grief and give it full expression. This part is, in the words of Stephen Jenkinson, "on the side of heartbreak." This self agrees with the rational self that there was plenty to grieve before the election, but points out that very little grieving was actually happening.
This one longs for me to face into the real pain of living in the world today and allow myself to feel it. So many people are suffering from war, from poverty, from racial oppression, from genocide, from watching their land become uninhabitable due to climate change, from losing their livelihoods, and on and on.
When we look beyond the human population, things get even worse. By 2020, 75% of wild animals (vertebrates, which includes fish) will have died off. And just walking around my town, I see over and over what we've done to the Earth. This morning, I was walking through the Delta Ponds, a beautiful area along the Willamette River where wildlife can flourish. Even as a great blue heron gracefully lifted itself from the water's surface, I heard a blaring voice from the PA system of a nearby car dealership.
Plenty to grieve indeed. This part of me appreciates how accessible this heartbreak is to me in the aftermath of the election.
A third self I've encountered came to the surface a couple of weeks ago. I was talking with my partner about a moment of intimacy we had shared, during which my mind kept going to Donald Trump and the things he said on Access Hollywood and on Howard Stern's radio show. As I remembered the moment, I started crying and the little girl's voice came through clearly: "how could so many daddies of the world have voted for that man? Didn't they realize he was talking about me and their little girls?"
This little one inside of me is frightened and confused by the election results. She wanted to be president when I was her age and she was so excited for a girl president. She can't understand why so many people said no to the girl president even though she was so much more qualified than the boy and even though he said so many mean things about so many people. He even made fun of a person in a wheelchair. And now he's going to be president.
Finally, the day after I discovered the little girl self, a fourth self came rushing forward. I was at a dance class in Boulder, Colorado and one of the women from the class was speaking about the Women's March on Washington. She said that she and her daughters and granddaughters were all going. Suddenly I knew that I, too, would be at that march. I went back to the place where I was staying and started researching the logistics.
This fourth self is part activist, part advocate for my little girl self and others like her. She's riled up and ready to get to work on behalf of women's rights and the rights of other beings who experience marginalization. This part feels super energized by what's happening at Standing Rock and by the almost 4 million members of Pantsuit Nation who are standing for and with each other and others in need. She will be marching in Washington D.C. on January 21st on behalf of little girls and women all across the country.
As I navigate the post-election landscape, I am grateful for these four selves and the gifts and vulnerabilities that they bring to my life. I'm also grateful for the work of Voice Dialogue, through which I can be present to these selves without collapsing into them.
Would you like to learn more about Voice Dialogue? If so, I'll be hosting a Free Introduction to the work on Monday, December 12th. Also, I'd love to hear about what selves you've been noticing in response to recent events.