Here we are, at the one-year mark on the biggest disaster in my lifetime to hit this nation; the election that brought about The Trumpocalypse.
Everyone I know is experiencing a level of triggering regarding trauma that is profound. Some of us seem very awake to that triggering. We are aware of the behavioral data that confirms our patterns of response to ongoing abusive behaviors. We know that this republican administration and its actions are triggering us just as a batterer does. Others continue to wander about, dazed and confused. Recent polls indicate that those who voted for Trump continue to be content with the chaotic world he has plunged us into.
So be it.
But I feel called to the powerful work of calling out behaviors that contribute to our current crisis in self-care, self-awareness, and civic responsibilities.
Sadly, my own personal trauma history does not easily allow for me to be a clear and coherent spokesperson.
I am not Uma Thurman. I DO speak, when angry.
Ever since a powerful spiritual crisis in 2005, I have consciously worked at articulating my needs, and at knowing and cataloging my various emotions. Yet I continue to look and sound simply angry to the world around me for most of my Big Feelings.
Here is a list of some of the big feelings I have been having for the past year:
I am a complicated human being with many more feelings in me than anger. The fact that so much of what I try to express gets distilled down to that emotion alone blows me away. I see that my race and my gender are deeply affecting how others see me. This morning I had an epiphany. This is a racial/sexual stereotype.
It is called the Sapphire stereotype of African-American women:
“As a stereotype, Sapphire is a domineering female who consumes men and usurps their role. They were characterized as strong, masculine workhorses who labored with black men in the fields or as aggressive women who drove their children and partners away with their overbearing natures. Her assertive demeanor identifies her with the Mammy, but unlike the Mammy she is devoid of maternal compassion and understanding.”
Things that make you go hmmmm.
The more authentic I am in relaying my story to others, the more vulnerable I become. If a projection of “anger” is still imposed on me by others, for all those other emotions that I am trying to convey, then I can move forward, or I can stop relaying my story. I choose to move forward. With caution.
Today’s blog I choose to catalog areas of abuse in my life.
FAMILY OF ORIGIN:
Since September 2016 I have officially been an orphan. That leaves two humans in my life (my brothers who are two and four years younger than me) who share the same/similar life stories. So I asked one brother for monthly space to reminisce about memories from our childhood.
“l was thinking on things in the past that we remember, and l remember waking up on the ocean liner with the cabin steward that molested you. l remember him leaving after a few moments after l woke up, and you ran into the bathroom.”
And I texted back,
” Wow, what a trip! That was the same adventure where Daddy smacked you down a hallway after you pointed at and made a comment about a man with a disfigured face. Daddy did not hear our baby brother make the same comment first… only your echo.”
I was seven. The brother I am reminiscing with was five years old. The baby– who had spoken the inflammatory words first– was three.
I am 60 and my brother is 58. This is the first time we have spoken directly to each other about abuse in our family of origin.
Certainly looks and feels as if our sessions are going to be powerful and cleansing.
I was a smart little black girl. Correction I was a brilliant little black girl and that just really was not okay. I will be forever thankful for the buffer zone my parents created with the rest of the world regarding this issue. But the traumas I have experienced in my life– as a female with a brain who uses it– have been profound. From kindergarten, through medical school. Enough said on that for now. That is a very very painful topic for me.
Having been raised in a upper-middle-class black family, I believed in meritocracy and the power of the American dream. I believed that doing the right thing would be rewarded. I believed I could make my personal political, and as an integrationist I believed that we could all live together across all of these lines of difference. I kept my eyes closed to how fast I was running, inside that particular hamster cage of beliefs. Since busting out in 2005, I have become less and less employable every few years and more and more marginal to the Dominator culture. That is my intention; to “decolonize my mind” and to scramble and claw my way out from under the astonishingly big pile of BS I was given…
But the saddest part of all of this work to me is how challenging it is to get underneath all of my anger and sort through all those other feelings I listed above.
When I am having a particularly challenging day, I am learning to hermit myself somewhat. After the Trumpocalypse, I had a plan to be far far away from the day today of my country’s moral collapse. Instead of witnessing this not simply from Canada, not just from British Columbia, but from all the way out on Vancouver Island in a little tiny community far far away, I find myself Back East.
Here there are many triggers everyday. Here I encounter frequent microaggressions. Here, my anger and hurt and disbelief at the state of my country gets stoked on a regular basis.
Okay, I am a believer in “everything is unfolding EXACTLY the way that it should.” So how do I make meaning of it all?
I imagine that I can settle in for the winter, soon, to write.
From the anthem of the Women’s Marches, I Can’t Keep Quiet” to here, in a year.
What a world.
And yet, we rise. This, I believe.