If You’re Afraid and Don’t Know What to Do: #YouAreSafeWithMe

Originally Shared on Facebook on Election Night:

It looks very much like Trump will win the White House, and my stomach is flip-flopping, alternating between butterflies and nausea, controlled as it is at the moment by the amygdala part of the brain, or Reptilian Brain — “FEAR and SURVIVAL, Beth,” it keeps repeating, “RUN. Or at least start digging the bunker! WHY HAVEN’T YOU STARTED ON THE BUNKER YET?”

Reptilian Brain is, to put it kindly, a freaking freaker who freaks.

I’d like to wallow a little, even though I promised not to. To grieve. To be sad. To rage.

But there isn’t time, friends.

Let me repeat: THERE IS NOT TIME TO INDULGE THE FULL WALLOW.

Listen. Reptilian Brain wants us to keep freaking the hell out. Reptilian Brain NEEDS us to do this. Reptilian Brain LIVES for this shit. But Reptilian Brain also (literally) shuts down our ability to do higher thinking. And, interestingly, higher thinking is required in order for kindness, gentleness and love to flourish. Higher thinking is required for us to think outside of ourselves.

Please understand — if it was up to me and Reptilian Brain over here, we would RELISH the opportunity to FREAK OUT and keep right on freaking. Wallowers R Us, friends. For real. Also, Reptilian Brain enjoys bourbon, and the two of us would like nothing more than a large glass of that stuff right now.

Reptilian Brain: WALLOW NOW. Gentleness and kindness another time.
Me: SOLD, Reptilian Brain. You so totally get me.

But I’m not kidding when I say there isn’t time.

There isn’t time because, while people like me who are white, cisgender, college educated, English speaking, suburban, dual income American citizens who have never once worried about whether my children will go to bed hungry… or whether I will be shunned or beaten or killed for my sexual or gender identity… or whether I will be summarily accused and sentenced for the color of my skin… or a whole host of other things…, there are millions of people in our country tonight who are worried not just for their livelihoods but for their lives.

The privileged people like me can take time to rage.

The privileged people like me can take time to analyze.

The privileged people like me can take time to wonder and wallow.

>>But there isn’t time because there are immigrant families tonight who are afraid they’ll be separated, and children who cling to mothers they fear they’ll lose.

>>There are refugees in desperate need of a safe place to land who will be turned away because there’s about to be less room in the American inn.

>>There are LGBTQ teens who have long suspected there is no place for them in this country who will believe this proves it and who will harm themselves.

>>There are Islamic families who will feel they have to hide and keep their heads down and who won’t know how to protect their kids as they walk to and from school.

>>There are precious people who live with disability, like two of my own kids, who are bewildered about how it’s possible they can be mocked and bullied by a man who is then handed the reins to the presidency.

These people needs us right now, friends; we do not have time to indulge our Reptilian Brains. Maybe later. We can set a date and throw our amygdalas a right rager of a party.

Right now, though, our friends need us. And, make no mistake, the marginalized and belittled and disenfranchised ARE the friends of all who believe in loving our neighbors as ourselves and that EVERYONE is our neighbor, like Jesus and Mr. Rogers said.

{{Our friends need to know where the safe spaces are.}}

We have to send the message loud and clear before we indulge our own outrage, so the disenfranchised will know where they can turn.

I’ll go first: You are safe with me, friends. I will guard your hearts. I will champion your place in this world and this country. I will work for your physical protection. I will not stand silently while you are harmed. You are safe with me, and I will fight for more safe places for you, too.

{{You do not go it alone.}} #YouAreSafeWithMe

I stand by what I said about how my family and I will be reacting to this election: We are going to be kind. We are going to look for ways to Invite People In. We are going to be people who hope. And we will work together to make a bright future a reality, putting our energy toward creating the country we wish we had, rather than lamenting its loss.

But first I need you to know, you are safe here, friends.

#YouAreSafeWithMe

With my whole heart,
Beth

P.S. Whether you share this post or the #YouAreSafeWithMe hashtag or express yourself another way, please find a way to send a message of safety and solidarity to those who need to hear this now.

P.P.S. I usually allow for a rather wide diversity of thought on this page and on my blog. On this post and those to come, I will allow for a diversity of kindness only. Meaning I’ll shut anything else right down. This is my online living room, and those who are kind are welcome in it. <3

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
12 comments
  1. this! #YouAreSafeWithMe yes, just yes.

  2. Um, “heavy vetting of anyone coming in of muslim persuasion” *is* blanket bigotry towards every Muslim. And undocumented persons may have committed a violation of a civil statute. Not a criminal law. And so on. Hence Beth’s post. Many people are justifiably scared for themselves or their friends and neighbors.

  3. It is because the Mike’s of this country feel emboldened to reject kindness and empathy that the rest of us must provide more.

  4. I have never responded to a post but must now. Mike your reply saddens me. In a world with fear, terror, hopelessness, and confusion, unconditional love will triumph. The offer of a safe place is the act of unconditional love. I pray one day you too can have the feeling of unconditional love.

  5. Thank you for this…it is the only sane response to this election. I’m repeating it in my head over and over and over.

  6. I am SO SO sad but thank you for these words. It’s a scary time but it’s not time to retreat.

  7. I refused to watch the returns last night, I simply could not watch my country give itself away. I have not been this fearful since I was a freshman in college and the Cuban missile crisis. This is a deep stomach wrenching fear – we gave our country to this man because we disliked a career politician. Really? The Founding Fathers never ever envisioned a one party Congress, but somehow it has happened. I doubt there is a hole big enough to hide my concerns. I think I will start my chicken soup now and keep a pot going!!

  8. My son thinks we need to built a bunker to protect our gay and brown friends, and all the others who need help too. He’s 10.
    He asked me why I chose to believe the way I did, and I explained that the fact this person marked people as a C or #9 to discriminate against them even though it was many years ago did not sit well with me. I explained that I wanted the same rights for my gay friends, biracial and black family members as I have. I explained his running mate did not support gay people. I explained that I believe EVERYONE should feel like a valid, equal person in this country, and that so far, that candidate had made most feel like outsiders.
    I have family members and friends who voted for him. I can’t say I understand it. I can’t talk about it today. I’m just too sad. I’m too mad. I also know we won’t see eye to eye on this, and they won’t understand my sadness. I have always said that when in doubt…go with kindness. That didn’t happen. I just don’t know what to say.

  9. This is beautiful. And you are so right. I fear for the direction we will be pushed and those who will be affected, my friends. I will share your post with sadness and a resolve to do more.

  10. Thank you for this post. It actually brought me to tears. I am so sad and scared by the results from last night but living in fear and grief will get us nowhere. So thank you for pointing the way to light when it seems really dark right now. M

  11. Thank you for sending out the message, with which I totally agree. I am German, living in Germany, so at first sight very far away from this all, and still I cannot muster the same strength as you. I just can’t put all my feelings away enough to not wallow. I am afraid and scared and cried in the morning upon hearing the news, and I am desperate to understand how this could happen – I am having a bit of Weltschmerz right now.
    BUT! But I will do my very best to support people who are very directly affected by this, to keep fighting for kindness and tolerance and acceptance WHILE also raging and wallowing inside. And hopefully, with time, the ratio will heavily lean towards the fighting and working and creating…

  12. This is lovely. You are right. Raging with Reptilian Brian (as I first read it) might feel good but it’s a bit like my three-year-old throwing Teddy across the room in a violent fit of rage because I have asked her to do something outrageous (get dressed, come to the dinner table, use the toilet, etc.). It will not accomplish anything, it will not change anything and it will not solve the problem. Each of us has some task to fulfil to make the world a better place. Keep breathing and don’t forget the soup.

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