Fill It Up Again

(or You Can’t Always Get What You Want Need)

One of the ideas rattling around in my head before the election madness took over had to do with routines and the impact of disruption to these orienting, centering, reliable constructs that make up most of our lives.  As a parent, I know I bemoan any disruption in my children’s routine, be it a snow day, a holiday break, summer vacation, even the weekend.  We all know that children usually thrive on routine, when they are fully aware of plans and timings and expectations and what comes next.

I suspect many adults also function better on routines, but for some reason we aren’t allowed to openly admit that.  As adults we are somehow expected to better withstand the changes in routine, to be able to adjust the sails and keep the boat from capsizing.  Even if it’s a tricky maneuver, we must try to make it look easy and effortless, even in the face of gale-force winds.

I’m likewise certain that the recent election results are unsettling to so many precisely because we are entering unchartered waters, and have no idea of where we are going, or how we will get there or what the ultimate outcome will be.  The routine of life as we know it has been completely disrupted and we may never settle into a new, predictable routine again.  Responding to rapid changes may become the new norm.

For me, the theme of therapy this year has been disruption in routine.  It started back in April when my therapist took a much-needed sabbatical abroad.  I didn’t begrudge her (too much) this time away, but I did anxiously count down the 25 days she was gone.  Then we ran into a 21 day stretch at the end of June when I was away and another 20 day stretch at the end of the summer when our vacations misaligned.

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Upset

(or The Only Thing We Have to Fear is…?)

For the past few weeks, I’ve been in a state of emotional paralysis.  It started before Election Day, when the pundits and media were still re-assuring us of a Hillary victory, even though I feared, back then, that they weren’t telling us the whole truth.  I clung to the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight and Rachel Maddow.  I remember a feeling of relief well over me – relief! – that Rachel was hosting a show on the Sunday night before the election, so that we only had to get through Saturday without her calm presence and analysis and experts reassuring us that it was all going to be okay.

Since Election Day, I feel like I’ve been trapped in the opening sequence of the movie Groundhog Day.  Every morning I wake up and it’s if my mind has to re-learn the fact that we have, actually, for real, in all seriousness, elected Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States.  It’s as if my brain so completely cannot wrap itself around this fact that I have to forget it each and every night in order to go to sleep, then am forced to re-learn it every morning when I wake up and am confronted with this new reality.  It’s everywhere and can’t be avoided – social media, old-fashioned media, the distraught faces of my fellow citizens of these great Northeastern States of America.

Before the election I had several blog posts in the works.  Ideas, musings, even some sentences loosely constructed and strung together.  But those thoughts are all blocked, and I have to get my thoughts on this election out before anything else can emerge.  I’ve read and reacted to the thoughts and reflections of so many of my friends, who all make up my own “bubble” of kind, empathic, moral people.  But I wanted to leave my own thoughts here.

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