Coping with the politics

Dear President Trump,

Yesterday I spent the morning at church working on an installation for Advent. There were just a few of us, so I asked the others how they are coping with all the difficult (for us) politics. One of the women became very animated and told us that in November 2016 she suddenly found she couldn’t eat because her stomach hurt all the time. She said she was constantly watching and reading and listening to political coverage, but didn’t put it together with your inauguration right away. She recounted how her therapist helped her piece together that she was so stressed once you took office, her body wasn’t allowing her to eat. Her therapist asked if she remembered anything similar from when she was a child and she realized she’d suppressed memories of the miners’ strike that happened in her Idaho town when she was in middle school. She said the town was horribly divided. People in support of the union were accused of being Communists, including her father and the other Protestant clergy in town. There were cross burnings and a cross was thrown through their front window. She said her parents tried to shield them from the malice, but it was clear things were very bad. My friend said that time from her childhood impressed upon her just how awful things can get when people are locked into extreme adversarial positions and refuse to deal with one another constructively. When she was finally able to tell us how she copes with the current politics she said she has to avoid it all. No newspapers, no TV, no radio. She occasionally asks her husband to fill her in, but she said she can’t function if she goes there herself.

The other person said she and her husband watch the TV news pretty much all the time and feel they need to stay on top of everything in order to cope.

I realize it is an N of 2 so I’m going to keep asking people to get a broader sense, but early on after your election when I asked people how they were coping, this was the sort of dichotomy I heard; some completely shutting it out and others completely obsessed with it. So far there doesn’t seem to be any healthy middle ground. Not surprising, really, though.

May we be safe to take our eyes off you for a minute.
May we have the space to be happy sometimes.
May we get to a time when a healthy moderate dose of news seems reasonable.
May we figure ourselves out so we don’t tear ourselves apart.

Tracy Simpson

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