I work with both individuals and couples in my practice. I also work with Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Greens. I know that I’ve had people in my office recently who supported Hillary, Bernie, and yes, even Trump.
I can’t disclose client data publicly, but I think it’s not a surprise and will reveal the identity no one in particular to say that we are all just flipping out. This is truly a traumatic time for most of us. Seriously: take my diagnostic manual off my shelf, turn to the PTSD page, and yeah, that’s us. Except it’s not even “post” trauma. The trauma is happening right now, like a live video on Facebook.
One couple felt sheepish that they were coming to work on relationship problems while the world outside my office seemed to be hurtling into apocalypse. I dispensed with that concern immediately: there is probably no better thing to do right now, for all of us, than to take good care of our personal relationships. That has to be a starting point for us. Tempers are beyond frayed; people are losing sleep (I finally got a full night of sleep last night, after laying awake the night before feeling profound anxiety about what was happening); even therapists like me are getting therapy to cope with the strain.
I also believe that what happens globally also happens locally, in the same general pattern. If you’re in a pattern of discord and chaos in your primary relationship, some of the dynamics of that problem mirror the dynamics we see in the news: you are likely interacting with unflattering caricatures of each other; you are likely making decisions from an unconscious place of emotional overstimulation; you likely have much more in common with each other than you are prepared to admit; and you likely do have authentic hope that you can somehow make your way through the mess, even though that hope proves elusive right now.
So my advice to you, and to myself is this: “take good care.” It’s how I sign off on my emails, and for me it’s more than just a nice courteous way to sign a note. I really mean it. Take good care of your relationships. Take good care of your physical bodies. Start there. You are probably being traumatized right now, and for some of you, you obviously are, and you know that. Focusing on your personal needs is not only okay to do, it is essential.
Know also that when I say “take good care” to you, I am also saying it to myself, about you. When I write it in an email, it is a wish that moves in both directions: I am gently reminding myself to take good care of you, as best I can in my role as your therapist.
History is full of dreadful stories of political and social upheaval, violence, trauma, and terror. We are moving through that right now. Will we survive? Yes and no. We are a resilient species, and we have many gifts and skills. We are also deeply fallible and universally mortal. At some point, none of us will be here to see how things turned out.
In the meantime, take good care, and know that you are not alone.