Hope?: Learning to Trust Again in a Post-Bush Traumatic World

Strange thing, I have actually been feeling normal the last few days. After almost seven months of grief about my father's death filling most every nook and cranny in my psyche, this week there is no hole in my heart, no foggy confusion, no just staring at the refrigerator thinking that there must be something within it that will make it all better. There has been actual joy teeming through my body, hopefulness and a sense of possibility too. It is truly strange to feel normal.

But of course, because of my upbringing (I am an adult child of alcoholics and showbiz after all), I have also been waiting for the other shoe to drop. You know, that feeling where you reserve a small part of you to be on the ready, the all-alert, so that when the shit does hit the fan, you will not be knocked on your ass completely, but only partially. It's the part that says, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

Speaking of fools. George Bush. He is really leaving isn't he? In my mourning, I had almost forgotten that THIS was going on too. This hit me earlier this week. With the fog of my own confusion and grief lifted, I got back in touch with the fact that Obama is really here and Bush is really gone. Wow. Really? This is good news. I feel like I want to jump into a big old bowl of YAY and do the backstroke through the hope and possibility, and yet, this opens up a whole other can of worms, another place where letting my guard down may be difficult. After 8 years or trauma, abuse and reckless disregard to my country's foundation, how am I supposed to trust anything? And if I am willing to trust, am I still willing to question, you know, be a good citizen?

There is this thing called learned helplessness, and I hope that I, and this country, have not been pushed too far over the edge with chronic trauma to recover from it. When a person feels helpless or powerless in a chronic abusive situation (like an alcoholic family or 8 years of executive power and constitutional abuse), the victim may cope by just giving up. They think, 'Well this is just the way it is, and so I'm just going to go in the corner and eat a large bag of chips.' On some level that has been me these last eight years. I have felt utterly helpless under this regime and thought, 'What's the point, nothing will change anyway, so why should I fight?' I have been living a half-life as a citizen. I think that many of the citizens of this country have felt this way, even long before the Bush administration, and well I can't quite blame them. This country has been fucked up a long time. There is a lot of shit out there, and none of it looks easy to fix.

But looking at my own situation with my grief, I know one big important thing: I have choice. I can choose to armor myself, hide from life, and "feel" safe, by not risking myself emotionally or artistically anymore. Or I can let the healing balm of time work on me, and allow myself to see what is good, true and beautiful in my life and the world, and really take it in while knowing that life will be challenging and difficult at times too. There is no perfect world, no perfect life -- people die, people are cruel, people are greedy, AND people are generous, people love the best they can, and some evenings the sunset and rising moon are so damn beautiful, you can't even believe that you are lucky enough to witness such a sight.

Ultimately it is all a big mystery. We are here, on this big blue spinning ball, together. We have a new president who will do some good things, some not so good things and hopefully a couple of great things that will fill up our collective hearts enough to wake up the next day and face the next challenge. So, I'm going to dare to stop looking around for that other shoe to drop, open my heart and mind, and actually be present for this grand and historic moment.