Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Post Election Reflection by Marie Shriver

 "Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope." —Maya Angelou

I've Been Thinking...

Hi there. How are you feeling on this day? Check in with yourself before you read on…  
 
Pause. Breathe.
 
It’s okay not to be okay today. I certainly wasn’t okay when I went to bed. I hit the hay way too late. I ate way too much. I bit off my nails. I didn’t have the evening I thought I was going to have. It felt reminiscent of 2016 at times. It was a total roller coaster. (I'm writing this as the election has yet to be called.)

I know most of us are waking up feeling confused, sad, angry, bewildered. Most of all just exhausted. We’ve all been through a lot, and while we have been through it together, we have also all gone through it in our own personal way. It’s brought up so much for so many, so go easy today. 
 
Put your hand over your heart. Feel it beating, close your eyes. Breathe. 
 
Honor yourself for making it to this moment. For having made the effort to make your voice heard, even if you didn’t get everything you wanted. Honor the fact that you stepped up. You were a part of history. Think about that. 
 
For me, election nights bring up so many emotions, so many memories, and even some trauma that I can feel in my body. When I close my eyes and get still, I can recall my very first election night. It was in 1960—before many of you might have even been born! I remember all the adults around me were swirling. They were anxious and yelling. They were nervous and high strung. Everyone was running in and out of rooms, on the telephone, acting out of sorts. 
 
I remember feeling stressed and anxious, even afraid. I didn’t understand what was going on. We all went to bed not knowing the outcome of the election we were watching. We woke up to find out my uncle had been elected president! As a child, this was a lot to experience and to take in. 
 
I also remember election night in 1972, like it just happened last night. My dad was the vice-presidential candidate on the McGovern/Shriver ticket running against Nixon. I remember standing on the stage with him in a big hotel ballroom in Washington, DC as he conceded. I remember looking out and thinking to myself, I hate politics. I hate everything about it. I will never ever have anything to do with it again. I remember thinking, I hate how personal this rejection feels. I hate that my father could be rejected in such a deep, personal, and resounding way. 
 
It was brutally painful. It also felt really embarrassing. 
 
I remember going home seeing all the Secret Service officers packing up their equipment. All the volunteers were gone. I got in my bed and wept. I even refused to go to school the next day because I felt so humiliated. I was angry about it for a very long time. 
 
Since then, I’ve stood on election night stages in victory and others in defeat. I must say, it never gets easier. I’ve watched members of my family struggle with their losses for years after election night.  Ruminating over what they could have done differently. Wondering why they were rejected so soundly. Wondering whether they ever should have run in the first place. 
 
Trust me: election nights are way deeper than balloons and confetti. They are soul-searching nights, and of course, when you win they are joy filled—until the next day when everyone starts telling you all the problems you will be encountering now that you have won! 
 
So today I’m thinking of all those who have won and those who have lost. I thank them all for stepping into the arena. I’m thinking of their families who also go into the arena, whether they like it or not. 
 
I’m also thinking of all the emotions that are out in the atmosphere today and about how we can all begin to heal. Yes, heal. Healing takes time, trust me, I know. You can’t rush it or make it so. But you can set an intention to heal. You can set an intention to do your part, to look within and see what you can do to help the process of moving forward. 
 
Today that’s my intention. Today I’m going to look within. 
 
First, I’m going to honor the trauma that comes up in me around election nights. I’m going to work with the emotions that come up—in me and around me—about those who don’t see what I see and feel what I feel. For those who didn’t vote the way I voted.. I’m going to work on asking those feelings to step aside to make room for my higher self to take the lead. 
 
Yes, I’m going to ask my higher self to lead me forward. I need her today. I need her steadiness. I need her wisdom. I need her ability to Rise Above, I need her tenderness. I need the love she has because there is a lot of hate and anger out there. I need her love to help dissolve that hate. This I know. 
 
We’ve all got to do our part. We’ve all got to bend, listen, stay open, and stay the course.  Because if we don’t each do our parts to work toward unity, understanding, and healing, we will descend into darkness, anger, and hate. We will become what we say we are not. We will inhabit our worst selves. 
 
So today is about resting, reflecting, resetting. It’s about setting an intention for ourselves. It’s about honoring your wounds. It’s also about realizing that others also have wounds. It’s about understanding that people worked really hard for different people. It’s about sitting still and being quiet if we feel out of our minds, or if we feel like our hearts are broken.  And it’s about talking to our children, to our friends, and to ourselves.

When I think back to those memorable election nights, I wish someone had sat with me the day after. I wish someone had asked me about my anger, my sadness, my fear, my loss, my shame. I truly think that if they had I wouldn’t have been so mad for so long. I wish someone had sat with me to talk about how people that don’t vote for you aren’t the enemy, they are people, too. They are people who are scared, who have shame, who have had different life experiences—and that the beauty of our elections is that we each have equal say.

So today be that person for someone else. Be that person for yourself. Write down the story you want to tell those who aren’t here. Write down your part and then write down your intention for our shared future. If it’s not a shared one, I fear we won’t have one at all. 
 
As usual, it’s up to us. As the Hopi poem says, we are the ones we have been waiting for.  Now let’s build what we’ve been waiting for and what we’ve worked for. 
 
Let’s build what we deserve. 
 
Fired up, ready to go!

 

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