We’re truly in dark times. Trump is building concentration camps for immigrants. They’re lynching Muslims in my (very-blue, even) state. People are getting thrown out of the country for disagreeing with the president. Jewish cemeteries are being desecrated. The list is too long. There are too many fires popping up everywhere to even keep track of.
It’s overwhelming, and unfortunately, this shit going on now is just piling up on top of the shit a lot of people were dealing with beforehand. This is just the bigotry, hatred, maliciousness…you name it…coming out into the open where EVERYONE can see (as long as they’re not blind, like the majority of Trump supporters).
There’s no way to really deal productively with this, from the position of “normal” people. All the lobbying, protesting, organizing, social action, and self-care in the world is just busywork while we’re watching our world crumble. Most of us, all we can do is stay strong, and be there for one another. We take the actions we can to try to bang sense and action into our government and to prop up our failing democracy, and to take care of ourselves and others who need it, but ultimately we’re relying on those in positions of power to do what they need to do and can to save the country and the freedoms we’ve been fighting for—have fought for forever—and that we’re so proud of.
Amongst all this, I see a lot of people on the left who are hurting our cause. And we can’t afford that. Not right now.
There has been a lot of upheaval in the left. There are a lot of tensions between marginalized groups and more advantaged liberals that are now coming to a head, because for people who don’t have a real dog in this fight, it seems difficult for them to understand the depth of the anger, terror, resentment, and feeling of betrayal disadvantaged people are feeling. These conversations are happening. They’re being sorted out. Please, God, I hope so, because we cannot sustain a rift right now.
I started to suspect that Trump could win when I first started paying attention to the campaigns. During the first part, I was dealing with the destruction of my marriage and some severe mental health instability (anyone new to this blog, I have severe bipolar and PTSD, and I deal with psychosis, suicidal behaviors…blah blah blah). So I wasn’t paying attention. When I started to, I had a feeling of creeping dread. But still, when he was elected, I was stunned, and thrown way off balance. I had a bad episode.
I started out talking to people about the election from a place of pure terror and rage. And it was infuriating that people supposedly on my side didn’t understand my anger. They said I was being immature and counterproductive.
I’m mentally ill, sure, but I’m an adult. I’m also used to second-guessing my feelings. People blame and belittle me for my behavior, and because of that I’ve spent my whole life fighting out-of-control emotions which I can’t actually control without medication. So yeah, even when I was in that state, part of me knew they had a point. But they needed to give me space for my anger.
I’m starting to come out of that angry place. Thank God. It was a horrible place to be. Some people aren’t out of it yet.
Most of you know what happened to me on Twitter the other day. People were so angry, that they forgot that they needed to listen to me. They didn’t realize that I understood their anger, but that I was speaking from a different standpoint (different types of marginalization, a different place in my processing cycle, different life experiences). They mistook the fact that I didn’t agree with all their points, for deafness to their arguments. I was listening, though.
The real barrier to communication was that they weren’t listening to me. Which is too bad, not just for me, but because people never listen to “people like me” with severe mental illness, and they might have learned something and strengthened the cause of social justice.
But they didn’t strengthen the cause. Quite the opposite. Those people, in their anger, embodied THE WORST of the bigotry I get from the right wing. They said I was whiny, delusional, a snowflake, and that I needed to sit down and shut up and listen to people who really knew what they were talking about. And then they didn’t give me space for my FURY that they would DARE say that shit to me.
People like that play right into the hands of the alt-right, who say we’re a bunch of delusional snowflakes who think no one has a right to an opinion but us. It creates a habitat for more gaslighting. It is counterproductive.
I say this even though I understand their anger . Some of the people I spoke to had damn good points. I know that because I was listening. Some people DID listen to me, and I thank them for it.
In the meantime, though, some of the worst of those people damaged my career. And I’ve spent the last few days clinging to my sanity and trying to stay out of the hospital for the sake of my mother (whom I’m caring for after her open-heart surgery a week ago) and my daughter (who is also openly bisexual and recently diagnosed as neurodiverse, is dealing with a lot of marginalization and bullying because of it, and needs a solid example of a mother who knows how to do this shit).
It wasn’t the right-wing that marginalized me. It was the left.
They need to stop. They’re turning into the thing we’re fighting against.
*I actually considered a more inflammatory title, but I learned a long time ago that purposefully goading people wasn’t a good way to open dialogue. The problem (and the reason I considered a clickbait title), is that it (inadvertently) worked last time. Human beings don’t pay attention unless you MAKE them, by pissing them off or creating some other emotional reaction, accidentally or intentionally. (Milo has learned this, and you’re falling for it.) I’m not gonna play that game (or maybe I am. Idfk. I don’t know how to behave in society anymore, or never did). So, now I’m back to talking to my regular audience, who knows me and will talk to me respectfully if they misunderstand or disagree (please. I hope).
Elizabeth Roderick is an Own Voices writer of neurodiverse fiction. You can find her on Amazon.