You’ve been there before.
Something happens. It’s jarring. Shifts seismic plates. Your world turns over, even though it appears, against all reason, to still spin.
You’re bereft. Abandoned. Left alone.
They say there are stages of grief.
In You Can Heal Your Heart, by Hay and Kessler, the authors claim “the five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.”
I must be strange. My grief swims around me like fish under frozen ice.
I wake up.
I’m trying to create plans for progress that will not see the light of day.
No one died and all my family is currently well. I suppose I am grieving a nation.
It’s not that I don’t think time and politics will go on. They will. And long after I’m gone.
It’s just that I grew up believing. My childhood was full of institutional trust. We had John F. Kennedy before I knew he was a womanizer (although, it appears there was consent), the moon walk, and the end of the Cold War. I was conveniently at the end of bomb shelters and just behind The Electric Koolaid Acid Test.
Farm land surrounded me. If I hurt, I walked. My brother walked. We dug in the dirt. We rode bikes. No one worried about our bumps and bruises, unless we were bleeding. And when we bled, the neighborhood came running.
The church was my home. I knew it as a space for community. You got together and you did things for other people. You did not question why you should want to help. People helped people.
I feel like someone drove me out to a far, far plain and left me. If you know me, you are aware I have no internal navigation system, even though I don’t always believe my GPS. This is me, right now.
Lost. I know this country from another time, but I have no compass inside to navigate these roads. I try and disbelieve, but I like to study. I read. I have always read, even if it was cereal boxes or Reader’s Digest crosswords. I seek facts and I grew up in a time when you learned how to validate. This place does not seem like mine. How can we be here? And yet, here we are.
It would be so convenient to blame the media. I am a media person, by trade, and I know you have to feed the beast. These articles, these stories, do not come from a dearth of news and a need to sensationalize. Slashings at OSU. Homophobic rantings online. Hillary rantings on an airplane. Friends unfriending friends. Families reading tools to navigate conversations surrounding the election over Thanksgiving dinner. A man coming into power who has suggested only property owners should vote. My brain finally explodes. What would that do to New York City? I can’t get a read on this. There’s no place to anchor.
But in the dark, when I worry and plan and pray, I think there is no need to fabricate. There’s just so much available. And so I’m grieving, even when I don’t know the dead.