Trigger Warning

Alchemy 2This pain has been ramping up, slowly, for a few weeks now. But it’s like boiling a frog: Start him in a pot of cold water and he’ll never notice. Yeah, it’s like that. What I was conscious of, early this month, was an increasing sense of “upset” about the Presidential campaign.

I didn’t see the connection.

On Sunday the 9th, I watched the second presidential debate, even though my intuition told me it wasn’t a good idea. Watching it wouldn’t change things, obviously, and I was already upset. But it’s like gawking at a car wreck—so very hard to look away as you drive past.

Sunday night I went to bed full of the image of Donald Trump lurking behind Hillary Clinton, glaring intensely at her in the most physically threatening manner imaginable. I do not know how she managed to stand there and continue calmly to speak; I was cowering, unable to sit down and watch. Even now, typing this, my heart rate goes up at the memory.

Less than an hour after going to bed, I was awakened by an agonizing jolt to the nerve in my jaw. Then another, and another—the assault continued most of the night, let up for an hour or so, and then resumed as soon as I woke up.

Nearly two weeks later, the pain has finally relented enough for me to function again, though I’m exhausted and not thinking very clearly. I can speak, cautiously, at least a few words at a time again; I can eat without much pain provided I run everything through a blender and water it down first.

Not fun, folks.

Here’s the interesting part: I am far from the only person suffering in this way at this time. The viciousness, anger, and misogyny of this election campaign has affected many, many of us.

Donald Trump, in that debate setting, in his statements, and in the recordings that have surfaced, displays the kind of physical and emotional threat behavior that so many women have experienced all our lives. Trump embodies the abuser. I’m not going to try to say more about that: Just attempting to describe his behavior, and the effect on my own psyche, raises my heart rate and drives most coherent thought right out of my head. I just want to run somewhere and hide.

Not just me. A therapist friend of mine said, “You wouldn’t believe how many of my clients are reporting having trouble with this!” Clearly, I’m not alone—it’s triggering trauma survivors all over. All over social media, people are posting and tweeting responses.There was even a post in the Washington Times offering suggestions on how to cope.

One brave woman got a million tweets after asking other women to tweet their first sexual assault. “Harrowing” is one of the words she uses to describe the responses. Mine? Minor, by comparison to some, but significant: Fifth grade, one of my male classmates snapped my bra strap. He was followed by a few of his companions. I was afraid to cry for help; the teacher looked away.

“I was afraid to cry for help.” That tells me that it was not, in fact, the first time; just the first time that I can now remember.

I can’t write much more now—I risk the return of the pain, which I can feel lurking in the background. But as the ability to think and understand returns, I’m working on making sense of this. For now, though, let me just post a “dialogue,” facilitated by a shaman friend of mine, from the beginning of this month. I was addressing the pain itself:

Kay to the pain: Why will you not leave?

Pain: I am anger! I am rage!

Kay: You frighten me! How can I help? This anger and rage—it’s hurting me! How can I help?

Pain: Stop! No words! Fire. Tears. No breath. Help me!

Kay: I understand; I hear you. I feel that rage! Is there something I can do to help?

Pain: [Long silence] I’m afraid too.

5 thoughts on “Trigger Warning

  1. Ann Janes says:

    Kay – So sorry for your pain! I too have witnessed the recoiling of the Feminine from his tyrannical patriarchy. I believe “the Donald” has emerged at this time in history in order to give women a voice/a vote/an opportunity to say NO! Enough! And to send a clear message to tyrannical patriarchy preying upon women that we are done with this cr*p.
    Hope you feel better soon

  2. Roo says:

    Kay – I love this post… although I hate hearing about your pain. I absolutely can feel the stress and the effect of it. For me it is also amplified by the ‘friends’ I have who are openly supporting him and the real fear I have of what will happen when he loses. His lunacy has started a ‘movement’ that is going to hard to put back in a box… it does make me feel physically sick 😦

  3. Connie Spasser says:

    I related to your pain over this, Kay. I have been conscious of a certain restless rage, an inability to stop feeding it by reading more and more, checking this source and that source. I have felt physically ill when looking at his face, his smugness, his entitled behavior in regard to women. He is everything I want to see smashed and eradicated from our world. For me, this restless anger has been punctuated with little-girl fears of sounding angry (forget BEING angry) on social media, of posting, then second-guessing myself, of feeling “wrong.” I believe that many women are reliving trauma as you are. I hope that knowing that others are grappling with some of the same issues will help you feel less alone. ❤

  4. Connie Spasser says:

    BTW, I just sent you a story. Hope your email is the same as previously.

  5. Mai van Run says:

    Dear Kay,

    Even in our little country, far away from yours, Donald Trump keeps our minds busy… There’s disbelief and rage about his vicious part in this whole election campaign here too, and there’s the question: how is it possible that someone like Trump can make it this far?? – it’s so scary!

    When I think beyond that, to me it means more than it superficially seems to be. I see Trump as a ‘representative’ of all the pent up anger and frustration of (mainly) women around the world. In a way we can be thankful and grateful for the fact that this blunt, primitive man brings all of this to the surface, because apparently it’s HIGH TIME that women speak up about being suppressed! It’s no coincidence that all this ends in an election fight between Trump and a WOMAN! If you can see this ‘from a distance’ – without all the details – it’s in fact so simple, metaphorical (is that an existing word?) and so perfect… It just HAS to be this way for all our ‘shadows’ to come out of the closet. I think they are only able to come out because the rage has become as overwhelming as it is right now, and this rage can only be caused by something ugly like Trump… It’s just impossible to NOT pay attention to him. And that’s just the way it works. As long as everything stays ‘nice and peaceful’, we just keep pushing our shadows back under the surface with a smile on our faces, don’t we ;-)? We need to be provoked to let it all out. Well, let’s let it all out then!

    I thank you for contributing to our collective process of awakening and becoming honest to ourselves Kay, by being so honest and inquisitive about your own painful process. You make a difference!

    Love and Hugs from Holland,
    Mai

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