Stupid right? People telling us what and how to feel.
Either your candidate won or lost, and you’re feeling either elated or despondent, thrilled or pissed off, shouting ‘neener neener’ all over social media or looking for solace from other like-minded folks. Or maybe you just don’t give a shit — you’re just glad those damn commercials are finally off your TV, and the signs will now be out of your neighbor’s yard.
As a student of social media, as an author and branding strategist, trauma survivor, parent, feminist and woman, I find myself at an impasse: feelings are swirling one direction, yet thoughts are pulsing out of my head, down my veins, itching to share on social media or here on my blog. I want to support my friends and colleagues, yet maintain my sense of professionalism.
(My truth? *removes professional hat*
Fuck yea, I’m pissed my candidate didn’t win. Will it help to plaster that all over social media? No. Will that help me personally? No, because it only brings on the ugly trolls and goodness knows, I’ve had enough of that. Let’s face it: here in the West, we are All About Winning. The sting of this loss hurts not only because we felt personally invested in our candidate, but also because we have taken it personally; because the ‘winners’ are rubbing it in with hate, and we hate sore winners.
We worry about ourselves, our families, and our friends. We feel fear, dread, and anxiety about our future, and our future is happening right now.
It’s all about the extremes, and extremes are uncomfortable, and cannot be sustained for long. *puts back on hat*)
As a professional, however, I have stopped myself. I vowed not to discuss politics on social media any longer, and I am keeping that promise –regardless of the outcome of this election, my opinion of it now doesn’t matter. I’d rather focus on helping and healing.
However, my feelings do. To me. Just as yours do, to you. Let’s deconstruct.
“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”
~ Mr. Rogers
Feelings You Listen To
From Mean Girls:
Crying Girl: [reading from paper] I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school… I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy…
[about to cry]
Damian: [shouting from back] She doesn’t even go here!
Ms. Norbury: Do you even go to this school?
Crying Girl: No… I just have a lot of feelings…
Ms. Norbury: Ok go home…
[girl walks off stage]
Ms. Norbury: Next!
Okay, I love this movie, because it gives me the feels (pun intended). It’s also a smart as a whip commentary on our culture as a whole, not only high school (watch it if you haven’t). Here’s an insightful post about the power and social analysis of the movie. In case you think it’s just a dumb girl flick, think again: the movie is based on the wonderful sociology book Queen Bees and WannaBees, by Rosalind Wiseman (educator, writer, and founder of Cultures With Dignity).
Here’s how I break down a comparison of the movie to the election (just go with it):
Many of us were Janis — honest believers who truly thought that in playing our cards straight, our self-deprecating and admittedly flawed candidate, (Cady) could win. We genuinely believed in her. Our mistake was in underestimating the overt (and covert) abilities of the other candidate (Regina George) — power, assets, attention, and ability to motivate the disenfranchised. Of course, it took a deus ex machina to defeat Regina, a convenient story tool that doesn’t happen in real life (so far, anyway).
In the pivotal scene in the movie, the girls (mostly) yelled, screamed, and physically fought with each other, until Ms. Norbury calmed them down by encouraging them to share their words and yup, their feelings, which in a long and winding way, brings me to my point about this election: you are entitled to share how you are feeling right now. Feel your feels, even if you don’t go here. We are humans, and humans have feelings.
How Feelings, Opinions, and Behaviors Differ
We don’t have to listen to the hate — that is a choice you make. You can choose to participate in those conversations, or not. That’s on you.
There’s a differentiation here between what the haters are espousing — opinions — and what people are feeling. I am referring to the hate people are spewing on social media, online, in blogs, on posts, in tweets, etc. Opinions are a reflection of one’s feelings, a representation if you will, but are quite different from “I’m feeling happy my candidate won,” vs. “Suck it, my guy is awesome. Get over it, losers.”
There are also terrifying real-life hate crimes happening already that we cannot ignore — these are not feelings, these are behaviors. Behaviors that have consequences. Behaviors that are against the law. The people engaging in those illegal behaviors are making a choice to engage in ways that only they are responsible for — nobody else.
They may feel justified in their hate, encouraged by campaign rhetoric, but make no mistake: the only people who will be arrested and do any time are the people who do the crimes.
Feelings You Own
I recently suffered a devastating (non-personal) loss that I won’t go into because honestly, it’s nobody’s business but my own. I didn’t cry, but I became an anxious, angry, migraine-ridden, insomniac for a few days. Eventually, something small set me off and I cried, allowing my guy and kids in. They sat me down and we all had a pity party full of movies, cuddles and chocolate — and then I picked myself up, gathered up the pieces, and went about fixing what I could.
I owned this pain, I sat with it, and I held its hand. I honored my emotions. Initially, yea, I ran from it (because that’s what I do), but I came back, immersed myself in it, and then, and here’s the critical part — I moved on. Maybe it’s the survivor in me, but that resiliency is how I’m still around all these many years. Being a realist helps me immensely: the Capricorn in me takes over, sits my ass down, and gets me back to work.
Processing It All
This election will take time for us all to process, and I encourage everyone to do so in our own way, at our own pace. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should be feeling, what you should be saying, or how you should be acting. For trauma survivors especially, we are used to being dismissed and minimized, so this is nothing new however, it doesn’t mean we have to take that kind of bullying on.
For your own mental health, pay attention to your emotional needs. Get help if you need it, please (more below). Practice good self-care (read, write, go on walks, take baths, light a candle, meditate, do yoga, whatever helps you stay calm and centered). Take breaks from the news and social media. I guarantee that will calm you. More options:
- Fight back if that helps you.
- Attend marches, rallies, protests.
- Cocoon if that’s your preferred mode.
- Talk with others in hangouts and/or public or private groups.
- Write it out in letters, blog posts or journal entries if that’s your way.
- Humor helps. A lot.
Whatever works for you to process this event, that’s what you need to do, for you.
Remember this: there’s no right way to feel your feelings, except what feels right for you.
If you’re a survivor who isn’t currently in therapy, there are free resources available. RAINN, the largest sexual assault support organization in the country, has a 24-hour hotline: 1-800-656-4673. They also have online chat if you prefer.
If you’re in crisis, there’s an exhaustive list of resources here: National Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors and their Loved Ones via RAINN http://ow.ly/UMkg3066d6D
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