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Gratitude in Adversity

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GRATITUDE IN ADVERSITY:

In the room — it doesn’t much matter which room — there is pain.

There is the woman whose middle child died four months ago today. She doesn’t say boy or girl, adolescent or adult, just that her “middle child” has died.

“Thanks for sharing,” we say. Thanks for sharing your pain.

“The good thing is,” she says, “my husband and I are finally seeing a counselor, something he’s been promising to do for years.”

“My child has died . . . the good thing is” — who says that?

A younger woman flushes ruby-red with emotion as she tells us that her ‘tween daughter has been in and out of the hospital for two years since a virus invaded her heart and caused brain damage. “I just got fired from my job for missing too much work,” she says. “But I have my priorities.” She straightens her back. “I’m grateful to have so much extra time with her while I’m job hunting,” she says. “It’s a gift.”

“Thanks for sharing,” we say.

A man holds his wife’s veiny hand and says he’s proud of himself for not giving in to obsessive worrying about her newly diagnosed immunodeficiency disorder that might cause permanent blindness or stroke. “I’m just grateful she finally got properly diagnosed and is home from the hospital where I can take care of her,” he says.

His wife gently retrieves her hand and places it on her heart, her other hand on her throat. (Later she tells me that she was doing Reiki on herself. I didn’t even know that was possible.) “I’m grateful that B put up a hummingbird feeder on the porch with the little overhang so I can sit out there on rainy mornings and do my meditation and watch the birds.”

“Thanks for sharing,” we all say.

A woman who was almost killed when she was hit by a car three years ago says the accident put her on “an emotional and spiritual healing path to joy I never dreamed of.” Then she laughs and says how appropriate it was that our group leader randomly chose the discussion topic of “gratitude in the face of adversity.”

We all laugh with her.

“We are survivors,” she says.

♥♥♥

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

— Rev. John Watson (pen name Ian Maclaren)

Trump’s Disagreement with Reality

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Trump’s Disagreement with Reality

You can disagree with a policy. You can disagree with an action. You can disagree with an interpretation or an assumption or even a worldview. But when you disagree with reality, you are either lying to others or lying to yourself.

Which category Mr. Trump’s disorder falls into is a mystery to me: probably both. I am not a psychologist (if I were, this election would have exploded my head months ago), but I am fascinated by what must go on in that orange head. 

One of my favorite moments during the presidential debate Monday night was Hillary’s line, “Donald, I know you live in your own reality.”

Bingo. I think that’s quite true.

A Big, Beautiful Wall

The Republican candidate’s brain seems to function like a second or third-grader’s. It’s motivated by wanting people to notice him and praise him, wanting to appear grand while always knowing underneath that he’s never going to be good enough to please Daddy.

I think he got emotionally stunted in elementary school and simply never grew into an adult who accepts and operates within reality. He does not have a moral center because he never matured enough to develop one. Instead, he built a “big, beautiful wall” around himself so that nothing and nobody could hurt him. He built it out of money and denial and meanness. And behind his wall, he hides from reality and launches tweets at anyone who disagrees with him.

Sadly, I believe his emotional immaturity and false reality ballooned into a personality disorder. At least one. But there I go again, trying to diagnose him. I have a terrible need to understand this entity that is threatening my country and the world.

Recovery is an Option, Mr. Trump

I wonder sometimes if the reason the man creeps so deeply into my psyche is that I can relate at some level. I struggle against the very same bugaboos that haunt him, the need for praise and recognition, the belief that my way is the only way, the insecurity that drives grandiosity — all driven by fears.

But I’ve worked crazy-hard to recover from my brokenness. It’s meant humbling myself and accepting hard truths. Through spiritual pursuits and practices, honest relationships, psychotherapy, and twelve-step recovery for various emotional addictions, I have escaped the house of mirrors with no true center where I used to live and am coming into an entirely new reality. One where I am good enough: beloved, even.

I get how emotional pain can leave you stranded in your own reality, isolated and afraid. I am sad for you, Donald.

Let’s Face Reality

But what of Trump’s followers? That’s a harder question and one that I  hesitate to address because I don’t want to come across as telling anyone that my reality is correct and theirs is incorrect. There’s enough of that going around, and it’s part of what’s bringing our country down.

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But please just take a big, self-reflective breath and think about this: How could you hear a man interrupt a woman over and over with “I never said that,” and “That’s not true,” and “Wrong, wrong,” without googling to find out who is telling the truth? Do you just assume that the male is always right? Or do you actually hate Clinton so much that you don’t want to know the truth — so much that you would vote for a pathological liar over her? Yes, I grant you, she is not honesty personified. And she’s secretive. Almost all politicians become like that.

But, but . . . Donald is sick. Unwell. Unbalanced. How could you watch the debate and deny that reality?

Imagine the man who turned up at that debate talking to FOREIGN LEADERS, for heaven’s sake! Tell me, didn’t you feel even the teensiest bit of relief when Clinton spoke directly to the rest of the world, trying to reassure them that we have not lost our minds, that we will stand by our agreements and will not catapult into an alternate universe? To me, it felt like an adult had finally entered the room to restore order.

I don’t agree with all of Clinton’s policies or actions, but I want a grown-up in the White House. One who doesn’t make faces and yell and interrupt and insult people and live inside a second-grader’s fortress of lies.

In response to a WordPress word prompt: disagree.

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