Saturday, January 7, 2017

Treading Water in a Sea of Anxiety

photo via Keeper's Blog
“We should be celebrating everyone as much as we can. There’s so much darkness that it’s hard to keep your head above water sometimes.” Christian Siriano

I struggle daily with anxiety from the impending Trump presidency. Impending is a word, for me, that is often followed by the word doom. Impending: imminently threatening or menacing. Doom: adverse fate; ruin; death. Impending Doom. Yep. Sounds about right. 

As a gay man who saw his courage grow by leaps and bounds in 2016 alone, the imminent changing of the guard from the Obama administration to the Trump administration is justifiably unnerving. Therefore: fear of impending doom. I’m treading water in a sea of anxiety. I know I’m not alone.

My anxiety derives from the recent past: Mr. Trump’s words, actions, and reactions on the campaign trail. It is nourished daily as I try to digest the information released of those he’s chosen to surround himself with in the White House — a barrage of anti-gay humans, many of whom seem to lack the qualifications necessary to do the job they’ve been appointed to do. It maintains its grip on me every time he takes to Twitter to tweet…about anything. 

I wish I could keep wearing my rose-colored glasses and pretend everything is ok. But I can't ignore what is happening in the world. I need to be informed, but I’m finding it more and more difficult every day to open my reputable news apps. I fear the headlines. I think to myself: What now? What’s next? I have to read the story because otherwise I won’t know what’s going on. Then, more often than not, my heart sinks into a despair that turns to frustration, then anger. The glasses are cracked. I've had to take them off. The resulting imagery is harsh. As the truth often is. 

Have you noticed the photos that often accompany any article about Mr. Trump? They’re photos that often show him with an expression so self-righteous and smug it makes me think he couldn’t really care less about the people of the country he was just elected to represent. I know these photos are chosen on purpose — a manipulation — to show Mr. Trump at his worst. But I watched him on the campaign trail. I watched portions of the debates. And I’ve read his words. Self-righteous, smug, egotistical, self-important, oppressive, and dishonest are just some of the words I’d use to describe how he comes across. He doesn’t seem approachable and doesn’t seem as if he would take to heart any of the concerns of the people, even if he did take a moment to listen to those concerns. The image he has cultivated is not that of a nice person, and I think he likes it that way. 

I, like many others, never thought Mr. Trump had a chance of winning the election. But he did win. I don’t know how and I don’t know why. As TIME states on the cover of their “Person of the Year” issue, he is “President of the Divided States of America.” Remember the motto, “United we stand, divided we fall?” We are divided as a country. So divided. I can’t even imagine what the next four years will bring, and I don’t even want to think about the possibility of eight. I can’t think about it. I fear we’re on the precipice of a fall: momentous, hazardous, deadly. Every minority group in the "United" States of America has the potential to feel a terminating grip on its rights and freedoms during the Trump administration. All the courage must be gathered. All the voices must be raised. We'll all be stronger together.

So many bemoaned the suckocity of the year that was 2016. I concur (even if I did find a great deal more personal courage). There was terrorism at home and on foreign soil. There was shooting after shooting after shooting. There was hacking (Russia anyone?), and too much attention paid to emails that proved nothing. There was contaminated water and a pipeline. There was fake news shared and tweeted as real. Then there was the Presidential campaign and its subsequent election results. All led to anxiety inducing headlines with subsequent stories that did not alleviate the tension. Now 2016 has ended and the new and shiny year 2017 has begun. But I fear we have passed from the bleak into the ominous. The cold, gray, gloomy days of January are apropos. 

The new year hasn’t had a chance to get tarnished or genuinely fucked up yet. However, this new is not a renewal. It’s a continuation. It’s a year that will bring change to be sure. What that change will be no one knows. I’m guessing not even Mr. Trump. 

We’re hovering over an abyss of the unknown. The darkness is foreboding. I keep trying to shine my light but it’s arduous.

Is it any wonder my anxiety continues to flourish?