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PTSD and Trump

I have made no secret of the fact that I, like many in our country, think that Trump is an abomination and ruinous to the progress that we have been able to eke out toward a goal of equal rights for all in this country. His election literally makes me ill. Since his election, many of the PTSD symptoms that I had worked for over a year to overcome, have come flooding back. The panic attacks are back. The bad dreams are back. The abject feeling of helplessness is back. I am not alone in this. I personally know several people experiencing this same phenomenon, and I would wager that therapists across this country have noted an uptick in patients with a resurgence of PTSD symptoms.


Trump is a self-confessed sexual predator. His election to the highest office in this country sent a crystal clear message to survivors of sexual assault and abuse that that behavior is totally acceptable. As two of the predominant symptoms of survivors of sexual abuse are shame and a belief that the abuse was their fault, I have a feeling that November 8th undid years of therapy for many people. The inauguration on the 20th probably undid more years. As my abuser was a woman, this was not the cause of my relapse. For me, it was the bullying and the gas-lighting.

I honestly didn’t even realize that I had relapsed as badly as I had, until my therapist pointed out that my despair after the election went far beyond the election itself. I had moments where I was paralyzed by panic, followed by rage, then denial, then I would just give up. Meanwhile, I had a never-ending loop playing in my head of every time I was ever bullied in my entire childhood. There was a lot more there then I remembered. It’s amazing what the brain can repress in order to protect itself. But it was all back, playing in Technicolor 24/7. The mistreatment. The lying about it afterwards. The carte blanche acceptance of the aggressor’s story.

Gas Lighting

What shocked me though, is that the bullies weren’t the stars of this film. Instead, the focus was on those who should have protected me. Those who should have stood up for me. Those who should have listened to me. Except for very rare occasions, ever single memory involved these “protectors” doing one of three things:

  1. Ignoring the maltreatment entirely.
  2. Participating in the maltreatment.
  3. Leading the maltreatment.

The first one I can understand to some extent. A very small extent. The second two caused the psychological damage. The fact that nobody had my back. That nobody felt the need to stop or even acknowledge the maltreatment. The subsequent belief, that I didn’t deserve anything better. That I wasn’t worthy of better. I can tell you right now that I spent many of my adult years letting people treat me like crap and letting them take advantage of me, because I thought I deserved it. And it took many hours of therapy to break those beliefs and patterns. Clearly, it’s work I’m still doing.

So to say that my distress comes from Trump himself is a gross misrepresentation that gives that man way more credit than he deserves. My distress comes from the feeling of betrayal, and the feeling of helplessness that I have been transported back to my childhood, by all of those who voted him into office. We, as an enlightened people, are supposed to look out for our fellow man. Common decency dictates that those who are stronger, more able, look out for those who are weaker. On November 8th, millions of people in this country voted for a man who revels in abusing those he deems weaker. And with those votes, those millions of people said in one unified voice to every survivor of abuse, “You deserved it.”

By voting for him, you condoned his actions, his words and his beliefs, telling everyone in the world that those actions/words/beliefs are perfectly acceptable and further more will help you succeed. I am disheartened by Trump’s policies and horrified at the actions that he is already taking in office. But I am crippled with grief by how many people in this country consider my abuse acceptable behavior. To others who are feeling this too, please know that you are not alone. Now is the time for us to stand together, and have each other’s backs.




Finding My Words

The first thing my therapist said to me after I expressed how upset I was, was that I was clearly upset about something more than the election. She was right. Without realizing it, I had been going around with the belief that people are generally good, that we have evolved to a point that as a whole, as a majority we reject hatred and ostracism. I realize now, how horribly naive was. The election of Donald Trump brought all of those beliefs crashing down and brought back every memory of being bullied from my past. It brought back every memory of my loved ones standing by and watching, or worse yet joining in on the bullying. It has made for super pleasant dreams.

I do not believe that the 62 million plus people who voted for Trump are all misogynistic-racist-xenophobes. I believe that some of them are, probably a higher number than I want to think about, but not all of them. However, I now believe that there are 62 million people in the US who are either okay with those behaviors, and/or willing to join in if someone else starts. There are over 62 million people in this country who put down their vote for all time, to elect a bully to the highest office in this land.

That was enough to break me. I had no words. I did not want to live in that world. I don’t want to live in a world where bullies feel that their behavior is not only acceptable but sanctioned. A world where someone felt that it was perfectly acceptable to spit in my friend’s face and tell her to enjoy her free trip back to Mexico. A world where someone felt that it was perfectly acceptable to call another friend of mine a ch*nk and tell him that he wasn’t welcome here anymore. These are not anecdotes off the internet, these are things that happened to people that I know and hold dear. I repeat, I don’t want to live in that world.*

But I’m also starting to see something that is renewing some of my faith. People aren’t putting up with it.

I am a member of two different groups on Facebook. At first, these groups were all about action. Numbers to call, petitions to sign, rallies to attend. That still exists, but something more has developed. They have both become a safe place where people can come and express their fears, their humiliations, and their tears from hateful experiences. The love and support that they get in return are a balm for anyone hurting. Better yet, it has become a place to share victories. Stories of people standing up to bullies, some with broken voices and shaking hands, but standing up anyway. People refusing to listen to hate without saying something in return. Stories of people straight up asking the strangers around them for support in confronting this hate, and getting the support. Stories of solidarity that declare in no uncertain terms that xenophobia/racism/hate are not currencies that are accepted here.

And nowhere in any of these stories is there name-calling or yelling at the bully. (I’m sure confrontations like that exist, they just aren’t being shared.) Instead these stories are of people asking for tolerance to be shown to those who are different. They are stories of strangers banding together to cover up racist and anti-Semitic graffiti so no one else has to see it. They are stories of kindness being used to smother hurt. They are stories of people no longer willing to look the other way. Maybe that is our victory. We aren’t seeing anything in this country that didn’t already exist, and quite frankly minorities have been trying to tell the white population about it for years. Maybe our victory is the clarity and unity to stand up against those who derive their power from putting other people down. That gives me hope.

I also applied to volunteer for the ACLU, because you can’t sustain hope without action.



*Not in a “suicide-put-me-in-a-48-hour-watch” sort of way, but in a “denial-fingers-in-your-ears-say-it-ain’t-so” sort of way.

Look for the Helpers

I didn’t watch Mr. Rogers as a kid. He always kind of gave me the creeps. I had never encountered anybody that was that kind all of the time, and I doubted his sincerity. And now I need to add that to the list of things I should bring up with my therapist. Regardless, as an adult I have come to love and, in times of trial, cling to a quote of his: “Look for the helpers.”


There will always be helpers. There will always be hope. There will always be a way. I am still at a loss to fully express myself after the election. I sat down to witness history, and I did. Just not the history I had anticipated. I watched as an oft ignored part of our country declared in one loud, red voice that they would not be ignored any longer. That they would not let their way of life go quietly into that good night. They raged, and we all listened in disbelief.

To the rural Americans who feel disenfranchised because their America has been slipping away from them, I am sorry. I am sorry that we didn’t listen, that we didn’t care. I am sorry that we didn’t hear your cries and that even though everyone says you’re privileged you don’t feel that way living at the poverty line. I am sorry that it has come to this, and I hope that in the years to come your situation will improve. I truly do. We are listening now.

However, we need you to listen too. As evidenced by how close this election was, we are a country divided. A deep chasm exists separating one side from the other and because of that chasm neither side can hear the hopes, dreams, fears and wants from the other. And if we can’t hear each other, we have no hope of understanding or empathizing with each other. This is a problem. This country is big enough for all of us to exist together, but only if we can understand each other. The only way for that to happen is to truly listen and appreciate where the opposite side is coming from.


I hold strongly to the belief that you don’t have to push others down in order to rise yourself, which is in direct conflict to the rhetoric of our new president. I respect the decision of our country to elect him, but I do not respect him or his hateful disparagements and I will not sit quietly by while they are said. I will not sit quietly by and watch rights being taken away from American citizens simply because they are different. There is room for all of us, and we can all rise together if we are willing to listen and try. And while we learn to do that, we need to have each other’s backs.


To the LGBTQ+ communities – I stand with you, I am your advocate.

To the people of color in this nation – I stand with you, I am your advocate.

To the women who seek equality and autonomy of their bodies – I am one of you, I am your advocate.

To the non-Christian religious communities – I stand with you, I am your advocate.


Now is the time for tolerance and acceptance. Now is the time for love. Now is the time for the helpers.



This is a good resource talking about what to do if you witness or experience racism specifically, but the information can be expanded to other scenarios as well.

This is a good strategy to use if you witness Islamaphobic harassment. Again the technique can be used in other scenarios as well.

If you are LGBTQ and need a friendly forum to express your concerns or you need someone to talk to click here for an established community who are there to help.

If you feel that your rights are being infringed upon, please check out the ACLU.

If it all feels like too much and you are considering suicide, please now that you matter, and call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for help – 1-800-273-8255.

Things I Have Learned From Discussing Politics on Facebook

  1. Always read the article before posting it. NEVER trust the headline. There is nothing worse than posting an article because you completely agree with the headline only to open it up and discover that you completely disagree with what the actual article says. For that matter, make sure the article is from a credible source and not Jim Bob’s Website of Conspiracy Theories.
  2. Blanket statements will come back to bite you in the ass. It might not be immediately, but eventually you’re going to get bit.
  3. There will be people, both right-wing and left-wing, who are operating on nothing but the propaganda of their party. The second that you start giving facts and sources and asking them to do the same they will resort to calling you names and shouting invectives against your character. If this happens on their page, walk away. If it happens on your page, politely ask them to be respectful and to source what they’re saying. Eventually, in my experience rather quickly, they will run out of ways to avoid stating facts and block you. Then you don’t have to deal with them anymore, and then you have a fun story about that one time you were called a fascist on the internet.

No Reaction

  1. The odds of completely changing somebody’s mind is low. However, the odds of getting somebody to think about something in a new way, or to question the way they do think about something is fairly good. Set your expectations accordingly. People who are undecided about issues are the most fun to talk to.
  2. If someone’s fundamental beliefs are the polar opposite from yours, put the mouse down and step away from the computer. Even in the best of circumstances – face to face with charts, graphs, and expert Witnesses at your beck and call – the odds are slim to none that you will sway that person to your way of thinking, or that they will be able to sway you to theirs. The odds of it happening on the internet are non-existent. Save everybody a headache and don’t even try.
  3. It is perfectly acceptable to agree to disagree. And just because you disagree does not mean that you cannot still be friends. Always try to take the high road, and if you truly have offended someone, apologize.

High road

  1. ‘I’ statements help to further the conversation, while ‘you’ statements generally result in someone taking offense. For example ‘I disagree because of XY and Z,’ vs ‘You are wrong. The answer is XY and Z.’
  2. Know your facts, and be prepared to admit when you have entered areas where your knowledge is lacking.
  3. Sometimes you just need to preach to the choir and ignore the haters. That’s okay too.




No, Lincoln Did Not Run on a Third Party Platform

There has been a meme floating around to advocate voting for a third party candidate by saying that Lincoln was a third party candidate and those votes weren’t wasted. I hate to be the one to burst everyone’s bubble, but Lincoln was not a third party candidate. Bruce Catton’s book The Coming Fury has a somewhat dry, but excellent accounting of the election that preceded the outbreak of the Civil War. However, if reading a long book about history isn’t your idea of fun, here’s my summation.



The Whig party, Lincoln’s original party, began to split in the 1850’s and that is when the Republican Party came into existence. Please note, at that time Republicans were liberal and Democrats were conservative. The Whig split was due in large part to opinions about slavery. Despite what I was taught as a kid, the Civil War was not fought over whether the slaves should be freed. Lincoln introduced that objective with the Emancipation Proclamation which went into effect mid-war, in 1863. This was an attempt to give Northerners who were growing weary of the fighting a rallying cry that they could gather around. Not to mention, cutting off any possible support for the South from abolitionist countries like England. But that’s a totally different conversation, so let’s get back to before the war even started. Among other factors, the Civil War was fought over the possible expansion of slavery and the right of the Federal government to control slavery.

In the 1850’s, leading into the 1860 election, the hot button topic was whether or not slavery should be allowed in new territories and then subsequent states as they were established. As well as the enforcement of fugitive slave laws. The extreme liberals, who were a minority, wanted complete abolition. However, most liberals were content if slavery stayed in the South, wasn’t allowed to expand into new territories, and remained under the jurisdiction of the Federal government. See the Missouri Compromise map below.


The Conservatives wanted the fugitive slave laws more strictly enforced and an amendment to be passed stating that the Federal government had no authority to ever abolish slavery – or “the peculiar institution” as they called it. The extreme conservatives, or “Fire-Eaters” as they were branded, wanted all of that and assurances that any new territory that fell South of the Mason-Dixon Line would become a slave state. This is a simplification obviously, but this is the main issue that split, then dissolved the Whig Party by the 1852 and 1856 election respectively. This opened the stage for the Republican Party to form.

With the dissolution of their party, many Whigs stepped out of politics for a while, if not permanently, and/or changed parties. Northern Whigs tended to gravitate to the new Republican Party. Deep-south Whigs went to the Know Nothing Party, upper-south Whigs went to the Constitutional Union Party and those remaining filtered over to the Democrats. The Know Nothing Party was only prominent for a few years and their stances were based mainly on the beliefs that Irish Catholic and German immigrants were ruining America – some sentiments never change. The Constitutional Union Party was anti-secession and believed that the Constitution was the first and final word for all governing. They hoped that by not taking a stand as either pro or anti-slavery, the whole issue would go away. Their party pretty much dissolved completely with secession.

By 1860, the Whig party was all but gone. Lincoln ran under the Republican ticket, however, he was far from a favorite. The people running his campaign though, were very smart. They realized that there were so many hot button topics that anyone who drew large amounts of attention wouldn’t be able to get elected. William Seward was so outspoken that it would be nearly impossible for him to get a majority vote at the convention. However he was going to lead the first vote because he did have quite a bit of popularity. So Lincoln’s campaign manager – at this point in time the candidates themselves didn’t go out on the campaign trail, they stayed home – made agreements with several crucial states that when the second or third vote came around they would switch their vote to Lincoln. They did the same with states backing Salmon Chase. So by playing up the underdog card, they were able to sway enough states who voted for Seward or Chase in the first and second vote to switch to Lincoln by the third vote. Thus, Lincoln gained a majority and won the convention nomination.



Meanwhile back at the Democratic convention,* they were splitting into two. When the Democrats refused to adopt the platform that the “Fire-Eaters” insisted upon, the Fire-Eaters literally walked out of the convention and formed their own. So for the 1860 election, there were two Democratic conventions and two Democratic nominees. Both claiming that they were in the right and they represented the true Democrats. Again, those running Lincoln’s campaign were savvy. They approached the states who were backing the non-Fire-Eater Democratic nominee and convinced them that their man wouldn’t be able to win with their party split. However, as Lincoln opposed slavery expanding into new territories, but was content to let it exist where it already was this was an agreeable compromise for them. In this way, Lincoln was able to get some of the Democratic votes and gain the White House. The Know Nothing Party and Constitutional Union Party were mere blips on the radar and didn’t have a chance at propelling their candidates into the White House.


So, was Lincoln a member of the Whig Party? When it existed, yes. Was he a third party candidate during the 1860 election? No. And thus, I will stop spewing a history lesson at you.



*Okay, technically speaking the Democratic convention that split occurred before the Republican convention, but I couldn’t resist the throwback to one of my favorite childhood books.




How I Chose My Candidate

Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows very clearly that Hillary Clinton has my vote in November. I post about her often and have gotten into more than a handful of conversations with people. One of the things that I see more than anything else from Hillary-Haters is this sentiment, “Give me a reason other than she is a woman or she is better than Trump.” Which is absolutely fair. This is your vote and I completely respect people’s desires to want to vote for a candidate who will best represent them and their beliefs. Neither of those two answers is adequate.


There are multiple reasons that HRC has my vote. Looking at her resume alone, she is one of the most qualified people to ever run for the presidency. She has extensive international diplomacy experience, has dealt with the military, knows firsthand how the Senate runs, knows firsthand what life in the White House is like and has similar if not the same stances on the majority of the major issues as me. See below. Not to mention, anybody that can weather as much criticism and backlash as she has and still be standing, much less functioning at a high level, has the fortitude to withstand a presidency. As a glass-ceiling-breaker she has been put up against higher standards then any male politician. From my study of other glass-ceiling-breakers in America, this is par for the course. She has weathered the storm with grace. And last but not least, the more that I read about her the more her tenacity and “fuck your expectations, I don’t care if I’m a woman” attitude reminds me of myself. The fact that she is a woman is just icing on the cake.

As far as my comparison of the issues, I started in two places. This information below was taken from the results of the quiz on www.iSidewith.com. As I work full time I don’t have the luxury of being able to look up all of this info on separate independent websites and compile my own results. I needed a jumping off point to know where to begin my research and what my research should focus on. In the quiz itself I clicked the “Other Stances” button to read all of the options for each question. At the end of each big issues, I clicked on “answer more questions about . . .” and continued to do this until I had answered every question available. There is also a nifty “Learn More” button next to each question. I clicked on and read almost every one of them. Some categories have many more questions than others, so it’s obviously not perfect. But for a jumping off point, really handy. Here are my results. I was actually surprised by Jill Stein, which warranted more investigation.

Candidates you side with…

89% – Hillary Clinton on social, domestic policy, economic, immigration, healthcare, environmental, science, education, and electoral issues.

87% – Jill Stein on social, domestic policy, economic, foreign policy, immigration, environmental, healthcare, science, education, and electoral issues.

65% – Gary Johnson on social, immigration, and electoral issues.

27% – Donald Trump on no major issues.

Next I looked at www.ontheissues.com which lays out each candidate, the issues and multiple quotes of their stances over time. Awesome! And wouldn’t you know it, they have a candidate picker quiz too. This one’s cool because it lets you see how you line up with senators, mayors, etc as well. However, it only asks 20 pretty basic questions. (To save time, use your back navigation button to switch which candidates you’re comparing yourself to. That way you don’t have to redo the quiz each time!) Again, this is not perfect, but it’s nice to see how this one compared to the other. I still scored with Hillary as first and Trump as last, however, the gap between Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein was bigger, and reading all of Stein’s quotes I think the bigger gap is more accurate. She’s a little too liberal for me.

This is where I started. The quizzes aside, both of these sites are great resources because of all of the questions have snippets about what the questions is talking about. On The Issues has links for every issue. It is really hard to research a topic that you know nothing about. I will be the first to admit that I am not well versed in all of the major topics. My understanding of economics is abysmal. These websites provided me with a launching point to know what and if I wanted to do research on something specific. That allowed me to brush up on, or learn about the issues themselves, decide where I stood and then match it up to a candidate. I have also read my share of articles, watched speeches and shared more than a few memes spouting rhetoric. But this is where I started, and I am more than happy to have intelligent, respectful conversations about any of it, because there is still plenty that I have to learn. Especially economics. My understanding there is still abysmal.