To be honest, in light of last’s week’s election, I felt a great deal of pressure to say something about the outcome. To be even more honest, the results were not what I was hoping for. They were not what I would have wanted or chosen. I let myself process (okay, maybe grieve is a better word) for two days…confusion, fear, uncertainty. Cloudiness and fog. I allowed myself two days of not knowing, not focusing, not sleeping particularly well.
Yet, as a psychiatrist, I also had to provide a safe space for my patients to process their emotions around the election. Some of them felt the same as I did, but many felt differently. My job was to create a sense of holding and non judgment no matter who walked through my door, and no matter what their political leanings were.
I had to contain my own emotions and thoughts and ideas, in order to give my patients an opportunity to express theirs. After all, that is what they were coming to me for, and that is my professional responsibility. And not in an artificial way, but in a true, I want to hear you and understand you, way. Anything less genuine than that would be a true disservice to my patients.
That type of curiosity was not easy for me to discover within myself, given the intensity of my own reactions. But, it was necessary. And that is what I will continue to try and find in the weeks and months ahead. I will continue to sit with my own experience, sit with the experience of my patients, while trying to understand what I can do to contribute to the individual and collective healing that is so desperately needed right now.
Right now, for me, that healing comes down to very small acts. A deep and honest look within, first and foremost. A pause before speaking. A pause before reacting. And then, reacting mindfully. With inquiry. With compassion. With awareness.
I don’t have a wisdom any greater than that accessible to me right now, and I am sorry. I hope I am not failing any of you by not having better words. But to pretend that I have insight beyond that would be false and misleading. I am muddling my way through, essentially coming to terms with how things feel when I lose, when I don’t get the outcome that I wanted, and I don’t understand why.
And that is where I am right now.
I want to share with you a brief poem that I wrote on November 9, 2016. And let you all know that, no matter who you are, where you come from, what you stand for, who you voted for, I would like to know you. I would like to understand. I would like to try and find a way forward, together, with you, and with love.
When things don’t go the way I want,
I dream of my bed–hiding– Maybe for years in the warm darkness Emerging only when I feel like I can be with the reality of what is.
When things don’t go the way I want, I escape inside of my sleep into the most colorful fantasy world
of kindness, love, grace, tolerance Above all. Infinite. Unconditional. Innocent. That world, imagined within the solitude of my dreams, Sounds like the drum of falling rain, Feels like the beaming light of the moon, Looks like the luminous eyes of a child.
When things don’t go the way I want I am jolted awake by the incessant alarm clock of reality in the morning Left to somehow sew the imaginary into the ripped threads of the day.
And I don’t know how but I always know why. And so above all, I must try, especially when things don’t go my way.