For those of living in the US, this election was a major political, social, emotional, and energetic event. And for those of living in more blue states or enclaves, especially those of us who didn’t see the election results coming, the election landed as a kind of trauma. I posted the following words on Facebook to make sense of the collective and personal chaos that I’ve felt in the aftermath of the election, and to offer a small grain of support. I thought I’d pass them along here as well. May they serve.
Wednesday night I went for a walk in the dark in the neighborhood around my home, and that’s when I felt it—the world around me was radically different than it had before. Eerily silent. Fragmented. It felt as if we had entered a different dimension. As if the world as we had known it had suddenly changed.
And it had.
Trauma creates a fissure, a rupture, a wound, and crack where the light can get through. But first comes the falling away. The falling apart.
We are living in that divided world now. Maybe we always were, and for some of us, it is just the veil that obscured this from our vision that has fallen away. The veil that let us live in our bubble of denial. That hid the shadow. That cloaked the urgency.
This division is now more visible than ever. And it goes beyond politics. Beyond views and beliefs. It feels like many of us are literally living in different dimensions from our brothers and sisters, from our lovers, and from our friends.
Trauma is born from and creates separation; and it often reveals the deeper separation that is already there.
This is a healing crisis. An awful (literally, full of awe) opportunity to allow for something new. The big question many of us are asking ourselves (after the waves of “How did this happen?” moved through) is, “What we can do now?”
Each person will have a different answer to this question, based on their beliefs, skills, and capacities. Here’s my response from my limited corner of the universe. I hope it can be of some use:
1) Ground and resource: The first thing most of us need after a big shock that re-arranges our worlds is to find our ground. Of course our political and social ground in many ways has changed. But I’m speaking here about the literal ground. Find your feet. Return to your body. Move. Dance. Breathe. Find physical safety so that the emotion can cycle through. Find your resources—what helps you feel connected, alive, and good? Not complacent, but relatively safe. Is it your partner, your kids, your home, nature, music, laughter, running, prayer? Find that. And do it. We need ourselves intact in these chaotic times.
2) Be extra kind to yourself and others: We are all going through it, processing our personal and collective pieces of the puzzle. Trauma invokes earlier trauma. This means that in the aftermath of a big stressor, we often act out, withdraw, or react before we even know what is happening. Some people are in shock, fear, rage, grief. If you are not, allow those people to have their experiences without judging or making them wrong. If you are, give yourself permission to feel everything. Do not feed it or suppress it, let it move all the way through.
I was sitting with a client yesterday who found himself enraged at his co-workers vitriol towards those that voted for Trump. He was judging their anger. But in doing so, he was perpetuating the polarity. When we judge each other’s responses we create further separation.
It is hard, especially for empaths and lightworkers, to feel the divisiveness of the darkness at work within ourselves and others, and not to get angry at it. We stand for light. But the shadow is demanding our attention right now. And judgment only perpetuates the division. Judging cements the polarity. And the separation must stop somewhere. My practice is to try and stop it within my own heart.
This does not mean condone, or be open to everything, or abandon your discernment. It does mean have healthy boundaries and love with fierceness, but not with hate. We are all hurting here. Have compassion for one another. Compassion does not always mean agreement; it does mean love.
3) Honor that we are all in different places and be where you are: If you are happy, beam the vibration of happiness out into the world, God knows we need it right now. If you hope, please hope. If you rage, rage fully and well, and let it mobilize you into action. If you fear, let yourself be held by another so that you can shake and let the fear move through. It is all needed.
4) Mobilize: Don’t go back to sleep. Those that take inspired action after a trauma are less likely to hold on to the stagnant energy of it after. There is much to be done. Join a dialogue. Volunteer. Stand up for others. Show up. Work for the prevention of climate change, or civil rights, or gender equality. Do what moves you. Listen. Speak. Act.
5) Connect: The most sophisticated part of our nervous systems is called our Social Engagement System. This is the part of us that is designed for contact, dialogue, play, love, and connection. Especially in times of crisis; we need one another. One of the most beautiful outcomes of collective trauma is that it has the potential to inspire greater connection. Find your tribe. Reach out. Drink in love. And open to new tribes as well.
6) Pray: These are dark times. There are tremendous forces swirling amongst us and between us. We need to call on the light now more than ever, to allow our hearts to open and to be guided by goodness. To call on our spiritual allies and find our center, our true north. Now is the time for us, as humans, to choose, what are we truly in allegiance to? What gods do we serve?
Finally—a note on Post Traumatic Growth:
I’m in the business of alchemy—learning how to use our challenges as doorways into the greatest expression of our Souls. Trauma as initiation into grace. I have observed that this process of Post Traumatic Growth doesn’t usually happen overnight. Sometimes it is a very, very slow evolution. Or sometimes we get stuck in fragmentation, or take a detour for a while. Be kind to one another here. If you are “looking for the gifts” and your neighbor isn’t, don’t impose your view on him. He may be in shock. She may be in rage. Let them be where they are. But let yourself be where you are as well. Hold steady to the light. We need your vision.
Likewise, it is worth noting that your “looking for the gifts” may be a way to bypass the hurt and rage that is underneath. Or maybe you are not feeling hurt, but relief, that the country is waking up, out of the stupor of complacency and into the urgency of action.
The point is, there is no right way to respond. “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground,” as Rumi wrote, hundreds of ways to pray.
And trauma is, in a way, a prayer. It cracks us open to God, to our own Souls, to what is possible for humanity.
It can also fragment us. And it does, by nature. So be kind. The alchemy is already unfolding and there is no way to skip any of the steps. Each of us is a part of the organism of consciousness that is arising now in the aftermath of sacred rupture. Each of our nervous systems plays a role. Do your part. Do what occurs to you. The evolution is upon us. It is internal and external. Personal and collective. Not either/or but both/and. And it requires all of us. Exactly as we are.
The question that Post Traumatic Growth invites us to ask is: “What can happen now that couldn’t happen before?”
Often, we cannot answer that question right away. We need to reassemble ourselves first, to find our feet, and locate our arms. To re-member. But the selves we are re-membering are not the same as they were before. Something has irrevocably changed—for the better and for the worse. The pain and the gifts live side by side. Do not be afraid. Open to it all. Allow yourself to be changed.