All My Bags Are Packed

48 hours have passed.

I’m actually looking forward to four days in Canada answering questions from friends and family about what just happened. I’m thinking very carefully about the value and importance of civil discourse, not just in the United States but in other countries talking and thinking about the United States.

Do I have a lot of emotional response to the election results? Absolutely, I do. Recurring waves of emotion.

I’d thought that after a couple of days, that would all subside. I woke up to find myself in an undertow, sucked down by a fresh wave of emotions and finding I had more to say.

Is anyone’s interest served by my dumping raw emotions out onto Facebook? Absolutely not. I have these emotions, though, and I have to process them. I process by writing.  I find a few places in private to talk through things with thoughtful friends with whom I can speak candidly, sift out the unhelpful language, and figure a way through to the point where I can speak with civility in public again.

Some of my friends are especially worried about the future in America of a wide range of human rights, and rights for women in particular. They have expressed those thoughts in extremely strong language filled with emotion, and I understand that very well. I share many of their fears and high emotions.

I have also had a lot of difficulty trying to understand how to process emotions, and what good they are and what to do about them. Fulmination (of which there was no shortage on the post-election internet) is futile. If it’s not practical, I’m not interested.

I’m Action Girl: I need to figure out what to do, not just how to stew.

I’m grateful to have spent most of this past year, with eerie prescience, developing a better understanding the full range of emotional responses, and how to get curious about them before going out into the world and interacting with people.

Related: Research and courses by Dr Brene Brown

Let’s just say it’s work that I am glad I have done. It’s never been more useful.

Before I got on the plane, I was talking to JJ about this, and we agreed that, with respect to women’s rights, there are now two generations of women who have had some of these rights and freedoms already in place for their entire lives. It may be that they are about to feel what it means to fight for those rights and freedoms, just as our own mothers and grandmothers have done.

It is far too easy to vilify or simply shun people who think differently from you. When you don’t talk to people, and you make assumptions about them instead, we never understand each other and we never find common ground. The only thing we know for sure about someone who voted a particular way is that they voted a particular way.

I process emotion by writing. I expect I shall be writing a great deal more in the days and weeks ahead. I appreciate that many of my friends have many strong emotions as well. And I know that all of those things will take time for them to process as well. Remaining in a perpetual state of emotional high dudgeon is just plain unhealthy on every level. So sooner or later we all have to get past that and figure out what next.

One of the marvelous things about this republic is that it permits the contrary minded to work for change. My goodness, there’s now a whole lot of very important things to do. Pollyanna has not taken over my brain. Civility and determined optimism have. Where to begin?

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