finding safety

I must admit that one of my first responses to our current president, when I was still in deep denial at the possibility of his potential presidency, early on in the primary campaign season, was a strong feeling of deep familiarity. I recognized this man instantly. It is perhaps a testament to how far I’d come from that time in my life, rather than naivitee,  that I didn’t believe men like this could still be elevated to positions of authority.

As has often occurred for me in these months since election day, the words of my beloved counselor, who walked with me through that transformative journey, come to me. This morning, I recall her using the imagery of a pond, full of life, of finally reaching that cool clear water, entering into what feels like a warm bath, so soothing and enveloping. How difficult it is to explain to someone who has never experienced such a place that this one exists, or to convince them to traverse the barren stretch of land between us to experience it. They have no context for even imagining it.

Back in those days, even the phrase ‘crazymaking’ was a new one to me. I simply had no concept of a reality other than the one I was living in, which I believed at the time was just the way things were. The truth. I didn’t understand the way manipulation and control worked, the ways one’s trust in one’s own sanity is eroded, one’s friends and family disparaged if they offered a glimpse, one’s own desires and needs labeled as abnormal, one’s very goodness maligned and disrespected, one’s connection with the world kept small, the things one reads  delegitimized. Then there is the living with paranoia and the lies.  What is really true? What/who is really good?

I suppose one might say that making that long journey over to that other pool, choosing to dwell in that place, surrounding oneself with the other lives that also flourish in that place is not so different than living in a bubble. I don’t know if this is true or not. I do know that it is impossible any longer for me to dwell in that other place, or even to visit it for very long, and retain my sanity. It feels to me like falling down the rabbit hole.

One thing I learned all those years ago is that you cannot continue to live in the same household with a crazymaker and their constant gaslighting of you if you are to find your way to wholeness. Their lies are so entrenched – ‘They are so good at lying they don’t even know that they lie to themselves’ (more words from my counselor that have resurfaced for me in these days). You, too, quickly begin to feel disoriented, spinning in that chaos, and lose not only your way, but your sense of truth, your sense of self. I don’t know what this means to a country whose head-of-household lives in that twisted reality.

This morning, an article in Politico Magazine, explored the ways in which our brains are bombarded by lies, how they adapt

“When we are overwhelmed with false, or potentially false, statements, our brains pretty quickly become so overworked that we stop trying to sift through everything.” (Remember my blog about my brain on information?)… Our sense of truth is far more fragile than we would like to think it is, especially when that sense of truth is twisted by a figure in power…. you are annihilated, exhausted (by it)”

My experience, and this research, both seem to reinforce my feeling and my intuition that engagement doesn’t seem to be the path either to change or to healing. You will  not be heard nor understood by one such as this, nor by those who are caught in that paradigm. Instead you will be either ignored, at best, denigrated and belittled, or even punished, at worst. You will simply exhaust yourself, the proverbial beating one’s head against the brick wall.

The only way to new life is either to get out…or to get him out …of your house. Create or find a new one. You don’t have to go alone. There are others out there that you just haven’t been allowed to see before now. Soon you will be surrounded by those ones, ones who also affirm the goodness in humanity, the goodness in you.

I wonder, Is there a way we can sing loudly enough from this place so that someone stuck in that other place might be made curious enough to come for a swim?  Will they even be able to hear it? Likely not, depending upon how isolated and entrenched they are. Still, it seems to me that singing will be much more effective than shouting, for shouting will not feel so different to them than the place they already live. It may even reinforce what they have been told about us as being crazy. But Peace. Hope. Joy. Love. These may invite them over. I know that my first taste of freedom came that way, with the noticing the strange  gentleness that I felt different in the presence of certain persons, and being drawn to it, wondering what it was that they knew/had.

In the days, leading up to and immediately following the election, I got lured back into that other world. I had effectively kept myself at a distance from all of the chaos and crazymaking that was happening out there (as you know, I was out of the country for a lot of it, and in the wilderness canoeing for much of it). When I returned, I felt completely swept into the hyperbolic fear on both sides, got swept into a battle that was framed as good vs evil  (and here, I will freely acknowledge that there is crazymaking and lies happening on both sides of this sociopolitical and cultural divide, from which both, I believe, are necessary to step away in order to find clarity. Full disclosure here – I recognize that even the article I quoted in this blog post is slanted to persuade, and create fear in me).

I was shocked by what I was reading. I couldn’t get away from Facebook. I felt as if my world and myself within it were personally being attacked. The stories and the rhetoric, the negativity, the posturing, the escalations, even the despair reminded me so much of the world I thought was forever gone from me. In the immediate aftermath of election day, I couldn’t stop crying. I’d lost my faith in humanity (because I’d temporarily forgotten/been blinded about where to look for it)  I stumbled about for a few days in a state of dissociation, as if through a war zone. I recognize that today as a typical PTSD response. This was not a war at all. My mind had been manipulated once again. I needed a reality check.

Since then, I have had to withdraw, calm myself. Seek the truth. Ground myself, quiet myself, rediscover that inner voice of wisdom, of love, of perspective, of safety, of peace. This has not been understood by many with whom I found shelter in that initial aftermath, that their anger and rage began to feel as unsafe and insane to me as the results of the election.

I feel as if I am just now coming back, I think, and am saddened in some ways that I couldn’t be a part of the historical marches yesterday. Mostly, I recognize that this is FOMO (fear of missing out) as I truly didn’t feel called there, to that energy (which may be an imagined energy, I admit). I knew in some way that I did not need to be re-fueled by that fire (or triggered by it) in that way again. Again, I was remembering the words of my counselor, even here. I recall her telling me that she no longer needed the kind of heart pounding, frantic and loud music of her youth, in order to find expression or release.

I trust there was some silence there too, and a lot of love, amidst that display of energy. Perhaps even some singing. I honor my sisters, many of whom I love, for their hopeful presence there, even while holding fast to the Wisdom within me that whispered her assurance that I belonged in another kind of space, in solidarity, holding onto this stillness.

I found this image, entitled Women’s March, that Louise Cannell created for the day. Now this is something I could dive into.






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