Election Grief

Waking to a different country, alternate universe. Feeling that the values I was raised with have been demolished.

Questioning whether equality, truth, knowledge, justice, or respect are held in any regard by the citizens of this country.

I am terrified, sad, angry, ashamed. I go through the day feeling emotions sway, my resolve is tested, my strength is being tested, my conviction is being tested.

My belief in humanity and the values that I thought held us together is being tested.

I feel so scared that I will not be able to do anything. That I will be overcome with hate, or with apathy, or by a culture that tolerates and encourages violence, and disregards human rights.

I am terrified for people who are being discriminated against systematically in this country. Who now risk violence and bodily harm condoned and encouraged by the soon to be president.

It feels like the ground I walk on is no longer stable.

Today my entire mind felt heavy and distracted. My body was tense, weak, thready. Grasping for anything to bring back a feeling of sanity or security.

What to do, what action might help, which words might change the outlook, can anything change this reality?

I found comfort in talking to our community. In knowing that we as a group hold equality and diversity as core values, and that we truly care about each other.

In this moment it is important that we make a statement for ourselves about what we stand for.

It is crucial that we affirm the values that create a safe, inclusive, and positive environment for people of all races, genders, sexualities, abilities and religions. Equality, diversity, justice, respect, love.

By holding these values as central to our identity we define what we are, and we define what will stand up and fight against.

We must continue to create a diverse and inclusive community because with experience comes understanding. Understanding and empathy create the conditions in which we can thrive and live peacefully.

One glimmer of light that helped me today was realizing the position we are in as physical therapists.

We have the opportunity to affect many peoples’ lives and be part of their experience of the world. Strangers whose background and life experiences are different than our own.

Rarely in life do we get to have meaningful interactions with people we have never met before. This is the arena in which empathy and understanding can grow.

We can exemplify and act out our values and show others what it means to care. We will have the chance to interact with many, many people throughout our time as therapists.

All of these interactions are opportunities to positively influence another person’s life.

Just as importantly, these are opportunities for us to learn from the person sitting in front of us. We approach our practice on the physical, intellectual, and emotional level.

These are all avenues for healing, and influencing one affects the others. I will keep this in the front of my consciousness moving forward.

We cannot be afraid to be open and vulnerable with people we treat.

As physical therapists we are lucky to have the opportunity to continue to learn, grow, and be a positive influence on our community.