I am a biracial, vagina-toting, west-coast, liberal-leaning psychotherapist.
I am also Trump.
I consumed him on social media. I gave him a decent amount of space in my mind. I grew excited – viscerally – when he shocked me. I cast my vote for him.
Stop reading. Take a moment. Breathe. How you feelin’?
Okay, I didn’t vote vote for Trump. I mean, I didn’t ink in his arrow on my ballot. But I did vote for him in a million other ways.
- I voted for Trump by buying my daily $3.75 (+ .50 cent tip) pour over coffee, stepping over a couple of homeless kids to do so, thinking “Smell Bad” in the voice of Bluto from Labyrinth.
- I voted for Trump by sequestering myself on the West Coast with a bunch of liberals, refusing to talk to, party with, friend on FB, listen to or attend church sessions with anyone who didn’t think Trump was a dick.
- I voted for Trump by watching (or not watching) in shock as Eric Garner (or Treyvon Martin or Dontre Hamilton or Tamir Rice or Jerame Reid or Phillip White or Eric Harris or Freddie Gray and on and on were killed while unarmed – and then jumping on Netflix to laugh at The Unbreakable Kimmie Schimdt, chuckling to myself and then falling into a very comfortable slumber.
The only way you can change things is to understand them. And this requires that you examine the ways you are them and they are you. The way “good” and “bad” both live inside each of us.
Splitting is a psychological term that describes a coping mechanism we employ to escape pain. We look for the “bad” (them) and split it apart from the “good” (us). In so doing, we can take all of our aggression and anger and push it out of us. We blame, attack, rally against “them” so that we can sleep better at night.
The Trouble With Splitting
Like many psychological mechanisms used to cope, splitting is an illusory solution which, in reality, perpetuates the problem. By splitting people or groups of people into “good” and “bad,” “me” and “not me,” we’re dooming ourselves to repeat and repeat and repeat the very patterns we claim to despise.
Of course we have reasons for numbing ourselves and moving on with our lives. If I truly took in each of these realities – really let myself understand how callous each of my actions was – why, I’d have a hard time waking up, doing my job, eating food or looking at myself in the mirror.
You justify your “bad” actions, thoughts, beliefs so that you can live. You post a lamentation or two on FaceBook, perhaps attend a two-hour social justice rally and then go back to your $11 Bourbon Old Fashioned… and “them” becomes “you.”
If you want to make a real difference – beyond simply splitting the Trump voters into “assholes,” “idiots” and “racists” – here are a few tips.
Tips from a Biracial West-Coast, Liberal Leaning Psychotherapist to Deal With the Election Results.
Shit is sad, confusing, disappointing, frustrating. Take time to feel all of these feelings. Mourn.
- THEN, point that pointy finger back at you.
Be real about the ways you have contributed to this problem. As much as pointing at “them” – the “racist, homophobic, misogynistic, bad people” – makes you feel better about yourself – it actually doesn’t work to solve the larger problem. I get it. You are feeling terrible. You don’t give a shit about examining your contribution. But if you really want change – beyond simply talking about change (read: be a hypocrite), you must look at how your thoughts and actions – or lack of actions – have contributed to a Trump presidency.
- And then – tell others about how you have voted for Trump.
It’s hard to admit that you’ve sat comfortably by, pointing your finger and eating your sushi dinner, while the majority of Americans are wrestling with joblessness, fear, poverty, poor health, inadequate education, imprisonment and general abandonment.
But I’ve done it. What about you?
- Use steps 1-3 to determine how to take meaningful action.
Once you’ve denied it, gotten angry, bargained, fallen into despair and then peeked up out of it; once you’ve taken a good hard look in the mirror; once you’ve told friends and strangers how you contributed – then, and only then, is the time for conscious action.
You cannot take meaningful action as long as you’re imagining yourself to be a smart, kind “me” against a vicious, cruel “them.” It is only after you see that we’re all – all of us – in this together that you can act with integrity.
I implore you to take a moment now – this moment – to reflect on the ways your actions put Trump in the White House, filled our Senate seats with ultra-conservatives, filled our House with Republicans. If you find yourself overwhelmed, depressed, unable to tolerate the nuances within you, call a therapist. Societal revolution begins with personal revolution.