The After

Here we are. It’s a few days past inauguration, and Biden has been working to undo the damage that four years and a bad pandemic have laid upon us.

I had drafted a blog about my anger and rage about the fact that a coup attempt happened a few weeks ago. We’ve been working to move past it and make popcorn when we see the perpetrators realizing that committing treason or sedition will actually lead to consequences, such as potential charges and jail time. What’s more, we find out that we can call out nonsense when a judge lets a perpetrator off the hook. I scrapped the draft because it was too angry.

The past four years have been long. I remember how I was feeling when Trump first got elected. It was my brother’s birthday, and despite my stress and feeling awful, I went and got him his favorite carrot cake from Publix because one election was not going to ruin that. This year, it was hard to believe that we had actually won. Even then, people had to fight to make sure that the results weren’t just tossed out on a technicality, or with someone using guns, bombs and zip ties to make their point.

Apparently, this is called a trauma response. After we are in perceived danger, it heightens our senses and makes us feel as if we are constantly in danger. This is apparently a common phenomenon in times like these, where we want a few days of no chaos happening.

It’s all a person can ask for, to have some boring days to recover, with no chaotic news. I miss the days when the only thing we would hear about a president is their daughter went dancing in a club. Going back to those days will be hard, though I won’t refuse updates about the new dogs in the White House.

Someone suggested an exercise to handle the old worries remaining: they asked me to picture if it’s a saber-tooth tiger. Sometimes I imagine a giant tiger of the past and wonder if it’s my worries about past wrongs and the dead. It works, a little. On other days, I know I’m facing a tiger, teeth and all.

We all have to find ways to not just move forward but to take our memories with us without them weighing us down. Forgetting means letting this nonsense happening again, and letting the perpetrators off the hook. It means willing to ignore our individual complicity in context, whether it was burning out when it came to calling senators to ask for basic decency, or excusing the racist remarks that others said in our presence because we are just so done. We don’t have to forgive anyone but ourselves, but forgetting is not an option. Instead, we heal, and then begin the work again.

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