The Day After
Updated: Jan 8, 2021
How are you feeling today?
I am feeling a mixture of emotions - sad, depressed, still a little angrier than I expected and a slight amount of hope.
This is a difficult post to write. I am anxious about how I am feeling, I am concerned about how this will be received, and I am angry.
I write this to share my experience with you, in the hopes for a bit of understanding behind the mixture of emotions that is currently coursing through this country.
We were all more than a little surprised to turn on the news at any point late yesterday to see the riot that occurred at the US Capitol. I immediately felt anger, sadness, and compassion for my country.
If you’ve never visited our nation’s Capitol, it is a humbling experience. I was able to tour the Capitol a few years ago accompanied by one of our Senator’s interns. This was a very special experience because it was an opportunity to see a bit more and learn so much about what the Capitol means. I also learned how the many hundreds of people before us had the forethought to build not only an astonishing architectural building, but to also foresee the vision of what this country should be, and thus, is built on.
Within the Capitol, you can view the US Constitution. When I saw it, I was amazed and again, humbled. I am so impressed by this written structure that outlines what our country is built on and the freedoms that were ensured to the American people. Freedom of speech, press, and religion to name a few. Yet, within this document is also the statement of unity of the people and rules, if you will, to guide decisions that I believe are to protect the American people.
What happened yesterday superseded everything that this country and its Constitution stands for. The view of anger, disrespect, prejudice, and bigotry was on full display in the faces of the out-of-control mob that forced their way into the Capitol. A place that always welcomes its citizens. A place that is open and stands for its people.
I am not naive to think that many of those that ravaged through those hallowed halls yesterday don’t feel supported or seen by the politicians that work within the Capitol. You can clearly see their anger, even through the snide smiles in awful selfies or when they were destroying windows or other parts of the building.
I couldn’t help but think - why and how did they get to this place? Let me be clear - I am, by no means defending their actions. They were wrong. They were desecrating their nation’s building that was built to protect them. They were vicious, hateful, and beyond disrespectful. They also put people’s lives in danger. For that, there is no defense.
However, I couldn’t help but wonder how and why?
First, when you look to a leader that demonstrates and touts anger, lies and hatred, something can fester within a person to act out.
Second, I couldn’t help but notice some of the protesters in the beginning of the day. Again, let me be clear - not the terrorists that invaded the Capitol later on. I am referencing some of the protestors that attended the rally earlier in the day. A few of these protesters were injured in some way. They walked with canes or were in wheelchairs. I saw some that didn’t have full use of an arm or walked with a limp. Now, I do not know their stories but I couldn’t help but wonder if they felt that their country had failed them. Perhaps they were a veteran denied benefits or proper physical care after serving our country. Perhaps there were more injuries that we couldn’t physically see through the images that were shown on TV. Maybe some had lost spouses or contact with their children because they were impacted by serving their country. Just maybe this could be what drove some to protest yesterday.
Third, anarchy. These individuals believed that the election was stolen or not lawfully done. They have a right to think that. In contrast, there were many that thought this same thing during the 2016 election. What those that rioted yesterday did not have the right to do was hurt people, destroy sacred property, or disrespect our country. In their effort to be heard, they denounced everything that this country was built on. They were seen but not heard because they forcefully tried to overturn the United States political process.
Yet, again, why?
The true basis for all of this is fear. Fear of not being heard. Fear that leaders are making wrong decisions for us that will harm us. Fear that they are not in control.
Fear festers anger, resentment, rebellion, and hatred. Yesterday, we saw all of this.
I fell victim to it in my reaction to the disgraceful behavior. As I watched yesterday’s events unfold, I could feel my anger growing. I won’t go into my political beliefs right now because it doesn’t make a difference what party line you are on, everyone is feeling some kind of anger due to this event.
I casually went on Facebook as a distraction from the news headlines. I then saw a post from a dear friend of mine. A jolt of anger and frustration hit me immediately and without thinking, I responded. Normally, I think before I type. I re-read, think about what is being said, and if I still feel compelled to respond, I think through what I want to say. Yesterday, with emotions running high, I did not do this. I just responded. My response pointed out that I completely disagreed with what was being said and gave reasons why.
Within moments, a comment was posted back to me by someone that I didn’t know, accusing me of bad things. I was furious. I responded back, which was almost immediately met with more angry responses and accusations. I got really angry. So angry that I couldn’t sit down. I was pacing, my blood pressure was rising, and I could feel my heartbeat in my ears. I was going to tell this person where to go. I was going to spew my anger and prove how wrong they are. I was going to protest. I was going to riot through the magic of my keyboard.
Was I physically being violent? No. Did I spew profanity at this person? No. Did I destroy anything? No. But I was not helping. I was ranting, raving and adding fuel to a fire that was already out of control. So, I stopped to think about my actions and how I could possibly correct them.
I typed one last post to this stranger, asking to stop this anger, to go our separate ways and for peace. I didn’t know her and don’t think I will ever have a relationship with this person. Yet, there was someone else involved in this situation - my friend that originally posted her thoughts and opinions. She means a lot to me. She’s been there for me in some of my toughest situations. She did not deserve the war of words that were posted on her feed.
I needed to apologize. I worried that she would be just as angry as the stranger that I had just interacted with. I worried that she wouldn’t want to be my friend. I worried that I had lost someone very special to me.
So, I sent her my apology via text. I would have called but at this point, it was late at night and I didn’t feel that I could phone her. We are both moms, you see, and bedtime is a high priority - LOL.
It took her a while to respond, which made me anxious. When she responded, it was a loving and caring response. She felt as I did - political differences aside, our friendship was more important. I was relieved but also very sad.
The anger had subsided a bit and I was left with sadness and remorse. I’m still fumbling my way through it, as sometimes happens, but I am clear about what is important to me. I am clear that my friendship with this person is something to be cherished. It is more important than what side of the aisle I am on. I am also clear about what made me so angry. Again, anger is brought on by fear. Just ask Brené Brown. Fear and shame are very powerful emotions. We don’t want to accept or share what scares us or what we are ashamed of.
My anger yesterday was brought on by being fearful for my country, that I so deeply love. My anger was brought on out of fear of the future for my children. My anger was brought on out of fear of where our democracy and freedoms are headed.
So, what do I do with this fear? I own it. I just stated what I am fearful of and now I have to accept and own it. That doesn’t mean that my fears will magically go away. It just means that I am aware of why my fear turned to anger. If I understand what makes me feel this way, I can think through my emotions a little more clearly.
Damn, it’s hard.
I don’t have all the answers and I might never get full closure within myself about what happened yesterday - with my friend or what happened at our nation’s Capitol. Yet, I promise myself to try. Why? Because I am bigger than my anger. I am better than the fear that festers when I see events that happen that are outside of my control yet impact my beliefs and the country that I so love.
I did not just write down what I said above for this post. I write these words to remind myself of my emotions. I will repeat those words to myself when I feel that I am going down the rabbit hole of fear and anger.
I hope this helps any emotions that you might be feeling after yesterday. Whether you watched the horrible visions of what unfolded yesterday on the news or something personally impacted you, I hope you take a moment to think through what you are feeling.
We are on in a world that is divided and hurting, for many reasons. We must do better. We must find a way through this.
I pray for peace, understanding, and forgiveness.
Thanks for crossing this bridge with me. I actually feel like a crawled across this one.
Until next time -