The night that Donald Trump was elected president I dreamed I was trying to type the word nightmare but my fingers couldn't grasp onto the letters to spell the word. I dreamed the sentence "I haven't had enough grief trauma therapy for this." When I rose to go to the bathroom I stepped barefoot in cat vomit. But finally waking in the morning was far worse. As I tried to fully process the news, weeping loudly in my bed, my son called from across the house. "Mom? You know that learning curve you showed me, with all the troughs and plateaus? America's in a learning curve right now. Half of America is just trying to catch up."
And then he asked if online petitions or paper petitions were more effective. Because surely the half of America that voted for Donald Trump didn't realize he'd been endorsed by the KKK. He wanted to let them know. I didn't have the heart to tell him I was pretty sure they already did.
Together my son and I frantically googled "What to Tell Your Children" because I couldn't come up with any comforting words on my own. It felt to me like the earth had cracked open and would swallow us up. It felt like blood was running in the streets. That The End was near. That history would repeat itself, here in the "Land of the Free."
"So will he have to start wearing a Star of David to school now?" my husband asked, giving words to the horror I felt in the deepest pit of my stomach, my soul. But not just for us, the Jews. For African Americans and Hispanics and Muslims and the LGBQT community. For women. For the men and boys who are married to and loved by and needed and mothered by them.
That morning, getting dressed and driving to the Writing Room for my class felt like play-acting in a surreal alternate reality. I had done my very best in this election cycle to keep the names of particular political figures out of the classroom, to make it a safe place for everybody. This morning I told my class, "Fuck that. We need to process. We need to grieve. We need to be honest. We need to heal. Let it all out. Anyway you need to."
And that's what we did. Not everyone in the room held the same opinions as me. One woman said she almost didn't come to class because she felt her position wouldn't be popular. I thanked her profusely for being brave and honest, for shining a light on another perspective, for telling her truth even though she was afraid. I believe in my deepest heart of hearts that being honest and listening deeply to each other will help us heal. And for me, that means speaking out and speaking up, showing up and not shutting down. Doing everything I can in my little circle of the world to make it a safe, loving, kind, nurturing, accepting place for everyone to be exactly who and what they are. To have every color skin, sexuality, ability, class, income and religion or lack thereof. I will not be silent. I will not give in.
"What does it mean to join the resistance?" a friend asked me later that day.
"I don't know," I said. "But we're going to find out."
PS: Stay tuned for upcoming community workshops dedicated to writing, sharing, listening and healing.