I watched the election results trickle in on Tuesday night and into the early hours of Wednesday morning. I watched, completely unprepared for what I was seeing and for what would eventually unfold as reality. I fell asleep and woke at 4:00am to see the results. Donald Trump is President Elect of the United States of America. My tired brain couldn’t process it. Or maybe I shouldn’t blame the early hour. I’m still unable to fully process it, but I do know this space, this vacuum of hope and proliferation of fear, and I want to share what I have learned with you.
I know what it feels like to be crushed by a reality that you have no control over. I know what it feels like to have tried your best, and then to have stunning feelings of loss despite those attempts. I know how personal something like this can sink into your gut and sit with you like an unwelcome houseguest. I know what it feels like to live with deep seeded fear and uncertainty over the future. I know what if feels like for your world to have stopped making sense. For you to question the basic and fundamental nature of the people and forces around you. I know loss of control. I know that sinking, draining feeling of being overwhelmed, blind-sided, and unprepared. I know what it feels like to try to be an example to your children during these hard moments and the questions you ask yourself in the quiet, dark hours of the night. I know these things. I get it. That pretty much is life with cancer, after all.
So here is what I have learned. There are many, many things in life we cannot control. Sometimes we are like toddlers bumping into the bigger universe, suffering meltdowns of grief between what we thought we could force into action and what, in fact, is beyond our reach. It is totally normal to grieve loss and to sometimes surrender to the fear and sadness that is defeat. We have to honor those moments and those feelings. It’s all part of the package deal of life.
But then we have to get to work. Our true challenge in the tough moments is to understand what makes us feel so hurt, so disenfranchised. We have to ask ourselves the hard questions of “what did I believe was true?” and “what reality was threatened?”.
What am I really afraid of?
We have to understand what basic core value; be it safety, fairness, validation, faith, hope, security, love, has been compromised? We have to figure out where the cracks are in our hearts and souls and do a repair job. Setbacks are excellent opportunities to understand our values. We can reflect on our wounds and discover what core principal was violated. We can then turn to repairing our hearts and reinforcing our values. We strengthen ourselves internally in order to be a more focused, more resilient, more sturdy agent of change and improvement to the outside world.
And then, we set our aim on defending what we feel truly matters. When pain comes and knocks us upside the head, we have to slow down our thinking. We have to challenge our assumptions. Is everything really going to hell in a hand basket, or does it just feel that way? What is actually happening today, in this moment and what narrative am I telling myself about this? Chances are, in this moment, you are actually okay. You can breath and move and you are safe. So, we start with these little fragments of safety and clarity and we begin to move forward step-by-step.
The next focus is: What is within my control? Even in our darkest moments, when it feels we have been stripped of all our control, I can promise you, there is power within you. You have the capacity to effect the world around you and it is the only way you are going to feel better about being disenfranchised. You consider your talents and resources, you evaluate the opportunities around you, and you formulate a plan. You honor and release what you truly have no power over, and in so doing you turn to the vastness of what is still within your domain. And there, you begin to rise.
I know there are a lot of people who are not experiencing, or who do not understand, the pain and grief so many others are challenged with right now. If that is you, I invite you to listen and suppport your friends and neighbors as we all transition together. If you are suffering, I invite you to challenge yourself to reflect, reinforce, and rise again and to do so in a way that models your best values and extends a hand to our friends, family and neighbors who see things differently. Remember, we are the home of the brave. So be brave. Push yourself to be better. In the end, this is our country. We the people will be responsible for creating a future that reflects the best of what we are capable of. I’m quite confident we won’t get there if we allow ourselves to be reduced to our worst versions of ourselves. So rise up and shine on.
Give ‘Em Hell.