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I find I do not relate to the doom and gloom of so many around me.
I think it's because I was born and raised in a household run by a violent, untreated bipolar father.
After 17 years of walking on eggshells and strategizing ways to avert disaster and pain in my home life, I learned what it means to actually live under the thumb of a tyrant.
We are not there, yet. If we were, the Internet would be unavailable for us to project our lamentations.
I must have learned something about psychic survival from that childhood, and please know that I do not play the victim. My adult life (I am now 52) has been mostly successful and satisfying.
My father is still a monster but that is for him to deal with, not me. I chose not to be destroyed by his illness. And that pretty much saved my life.
But listen... I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis years later and was able to cycle through those stages of grief and come out on the better side of it. I credit my childhood.
I still have to live with this incurable, unpredictable illness, which shapes my life every single day, but you won't find me hiding in bed, waiting for the apocalypse.
There is an art to living in chaos and uncertainty, but I think it requires a major defining life experience to tap into that skill set. One I wouldn't wish on anybody.
Still, so many in our country have it way better than they believe they do, so any rocking of their boat seems like catastrophe. It is all a matter of perspective. A baby cries out because there is a hair between his toes and it is the most excruciating sensation they have ever felt. We don't judge the baby for lacking experience to know what to do, nor should we judge others who have had safe, comfortable lives
which are now being threatened.
But fear is not only a knee-jerk response, but a behavioral choice we can and should address moving forward.
Part of me loses patience with the "sky is falling" crowd because they are such victims of their own fear.
Meanwhile, part of me loses heart when the extremist minorities step forward and flout their divisive, bigoted messages.
But instead of letting it paralyze me (metaphorically), I remind myself that this, too, shall pass. The stress of living in fear and loathing could literally paralyze me, so I choose a third way: patience, mindfulness, and calm.
So I've stepped away from the rim of either abyss. It will be up to those others lingering there to determine whether they will fall into a Hell of their own making or grow and evolve into better human beings.
My job, in the end, is not to save them, but to save myself. That is what I learned from my childhood that I can easily apply to the surreal "home" we're all sharing in 2017.
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