What Are We Getting Over?

Someone finally said it to me.

“Get over it.”

It was a comment on my post about the fact that when I see people commenting that the election results were God’s plan, I have to assume that it is also in God’s plan for many of us to raise a little hell for the next few years.

I responded that this advice was not helpful and that we were working on it. But then I walked my dogs because that is what I do when I am trying to get over things.

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The walk did not help me get over it, but it did help me to realize that I need to explain to those who will listen why so many of us are having some trouble.

I know that I am overly idealistic and left-leaning to a fault.  My sweet husband reminds of this often. “Atlas Shrugged” never spoke to me the way it spoke to many of my friends, all of whom I hold dear. I seem to hear and understand Jesus’s messages of love and inclusion differently than many of my friends do. It makes me sad when some people refer disparagingly to things like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families as “welfare” when really they are plans to make sure that people who sometimes can’t get their shit together in our country do not starve or become homeless while they are trying to get their shit together (but sometimes, due to mental illness or terrible childhoods, or very bad luck or very bad decisions, they starve and are homeless anyway), and I truly, deeply feel in my bones that everyone is entitled to excellent physical and mental healthcare in this country.

But I also understand and respect the politics and the politicians on the other side. Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I even agree with them–the idea that government sometimes (often?) oversteps its bounds, the fact that the ACA (which many of you will recognize more easily as Obamacare) needs a lot of work before it actually works well, the feeling that people should always strive for personal responsibility (which, by the way, is why Republicans thought it made sense to require everyone to have health insurance when they thought of the idea back in the 90’s).

I can get over losing an election based on policies. I understand that people in coal mining country and the rust belt have been cruelly left behind as the employment rate in the rest of the country dropped from the teens in early 2009 to 4.8% now. I understand that healthcare premiums have risen too high for many (but still, I remember that 20 million now have some access to healthcare, whereas they had none 8 years ago). I totally get it.

I can get over why people voted on some of the policies they voted for.

All of us who are trying to get over it truly understand that people disagree on policy. We are grown ups. We will get over that part.

But we thought that people did agree on a few fundamental things, and our worlds have been rocked by the realization that there is actually not agreement on these few fundamental things. Instead, some of these things have been accepted or normalized through Tuesday’s election results.

We are having trouble getting over the following things which have nothing to do with policy or politics:

  1. That a man who brags about sexually assaulting a woman is now our President Elect.
  2. That many don’t see the parallels between asking all muslims to “register” with the policies of 1930’s Germany.
  3. That a man who has declared bankruptcy seven times and routinely refused to pay hard-working people who worked on his projects (all of whom pay taxes routinely, whether here legally or not) can be seen not just as an ethical businessman, but can become the leader of the free world.
  4. That this same man who avoided paying taxes for 18 years will be commanding our military.
  5. That immigrants who came here seeking better lives are vilified, but those who employ them by paying poor wages at Mar-a-Lago and threatening to expose them if they complain are seen as having “business savvy.”
  6. That a thin-skinned man who responds to criticism at 3 a.m. by bullying women and families who have lost sons while serving our country is now charged with setting the tone for our country.
  7. That white supremacists endorsed a candidate for our presidency and are celebrating his election (and let’s just close our eyes and picture, for a minute, a black man running for president with the same qualifications and views and making the comments alluded to in #1. Raise your hand if you think the outcome would have been the same).
  8. That a white supremacist has now been named his chief strategist.

 

We are working on getting over it, but understand that there are some things we will never get over or begin to see as normal.

We simply can’t.

 

 

 

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Weighing Shakespeare

When I see her on my list, I smile.  Her name was there recently, toward the end of the afternoon.

I smiled.

I knew she would come in with her grandmother.  I knew we would discuss her weight and her behavior, just like the last time. And the last time. And the time before that.

Her grandmother would be dissatisfied with both of those things.

She would be satisfied with both of those things. Confidently, unapologetically satisfied.

The extra folds of fat on her belly, the limited number of friends in her sphere, the teetering grades, the mop of unkempt wild red hair on her head, the looks from strangers who stare at her quirky ways and wonder at the volume of her joyful voice .

In the old days, her grandmother and I would set about trying to diagnose her, to fix her, to make her fit in.  She had been through hell and back her first six years, seen things that no child should see, felt things that no child should ever feel.

Should we try counseling? Medication? Social skills training?

We tried them all.

“She’s driving me crazy,” the tired, older woman would greet me, every single time I entered the room. “She never shuts up.” Today was no exception.

These things were true.

She did.

And she didn’t.

But as the visits went by and the years did too, and nothing seemed to ever change, it dawned on me. Her grandmother loved being driven crazy. She loved the constant stream of chatter. More than anything, though, she simply loved this child the way she was and is and will be.

Suddenly nothing needed fixing anymore. Counseling? Medication? Social skills training? All were good ideas, but we slowly stopped them all.

Because love is better.

Today she brought a friend with her to the visit–a huge book of Shakespeare she was reading for fun. We talked about which play she liked best–she had read about ten of them and was smack in the middle of Midsummer Night’s Dream.

We put the massive black book on the scale to see how much it weighed.

9 pounds, 3 ounces. The size of a very large newborn baby.

“I love this book!” she said, reading off the name of each work she had already read in the table of contents.

“But tell her what you are making in English” said grumpy grandmother, scowling.

“I’ve got a 69!” she announced happily.

All of us know that with her IQ, she should have about 105 in English. But she wants to read Shakespeare for fun instead of doing her classwork.

I couldn’t think of a treatment for that, couldn’t think of a counselor or medication that would or should diminish a love for Shakespeare in a 14 year old red head.

More love was prescribed, with a tincture of patience.

And I am already looking forward to her next visit.