When I was a little girl my life was fraught with anxiety. I lived with an unstable mother and in a house filled with depression, alcoholism, violence, and always the risk of complete collapse. But every year around Christmas my mother would get it together. She'd bake cookies and we'd decorate the tree. She'd play Christmas music on the HiFi every night as my brothers and I fell asleep. We'd have a lovely Christmas dinner and open gifts on Christmas morning, each of us receiving delightful presents. Christmas was like a fairy tale time, as if all was right in the house and in the world. The Christmas season has always been special to me.
This year I have baked thirty dozen cookies and put them in the freezer. We'll eat them a little at a time over the next month or so. The house is decorated and feels warm and cheery from the twinkling of lights. The cat is content sleeping under the Christmas tree. The dogs love it when I light the fireplace and we all snuggle around with a book or the television on. Like every year I've worked to create a semblance of hope and good cheer, as if this Christmas were like any other.
But. It's not. Nothing is right with this world. Despite all the exterior effort at hope, inside is bleak.
Every day I go to bed hoping that I will wake up to something, anything, that looks like the world is making a slow change toward good, bending that arc just a tiny bit more. Every day I go through the motions of being alive and act as though I am functioning. In truth, though, I am not doing well. To the core of my being I am unsettled, depressed, filled with a despair I have never felt before.
In the past when I've felt like the world around me was collapsing and taking me with it, I always trusted that somehow it would all work out. Maybe not today, but tomorrow. Like Christmas in my crazy childhood, somehow, something good will come along. Some little peace, some sign of hope.
This is not the reality I live in today. I see no hope for the future, at least probably not in my life time. The trajectory we are heading toward with the election of this POTUS, well, I don't even need to say it, the evidence is all around us.
And, I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed of the Attorney General in the State of Michigan, what's his name. Many of us called him and pleaded with him to not go forward with his effort to stop the recall. We begged him to let the recount happen in order to build up trust again. But he didn't. A Federal judge stopped the recount last night. Now the chasm of distrust in this state for our election process and for our government is perhaps too deep to repair. Yet, will the people in this state, with the electoral process as it is, be able to vote these people out of office? It seems unlikely. I've heard he plans to run for Governor. God help us. Much is rotten here and is going to fester for several more years.
I'm doing everything I can. More than I can. More than I ever have before. I will continue to do so. I can't just sit idly by and let these times define me. It's going to be difficult. I don't know who I am when I don't feel hope. I don't know how to redefine for myself what it means to be alive in these times of deep division and despair. I wish I could just turn it all off, close my eyes and ignore it.
But, I can't.
But if there is one thing I learned from a childhood of despair is that hope comes when one least expects it. So, I will keep hoping for hope until I feel it again. Because it is only with hope that one can truly muster the stamina and the fortitude and the courage to keep fighting for change, the change that must come for all people to live free and safe. There's an old saying in AA: "Fake it 'til you make it." Maybe that's what I need to do. Fake that hope exists until there really is hope.
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