I, like so many others, am tired of talking about this election and politics. So hear me when I say, this is NOT about the election or politics. This is about people, this is about emotion, this is about what has resulted from the election. So many people seem to think this is about winning or losing the election. It has NOTHING to do with that.
At first I didn’t understand the overwhelming dread so many felt. Don’t get me wrong, I was disappointed and awe struck and left wondering how in the world did this happen? But I didn’t understand why the doom and gloom, why people were feeling like they lost something so personal, like they had been deflated, personally let down. Nothing had changed yet. I thought some had jumped the gun on thinking how much Trump would change and overturn. I figured there would be a lashing out of Trump followers who would take advantage of the free pass they had been given to discriminate towards others. I mean, after all, our country had just shown the world that not only does the majority of the US accept discrimination, we elect it president. I figured there would be outright acts of hate and discrimination, and there have been.
Discrimination isn’t always delivered in obvious ways. It is passing comments between friends and family. Passive aggressive remarks. “Playful” teasing and poking. I think it would be easier to deal with if it were obvious discrimination, we have laws against that. But how do you claim discrimination when a friend or family member makes a “playful” remark? How do you claim discrimination when a friend makes you feel like your opinions don’t matter? And how do you get those people to understand that those little comments and pokes are hurtful? How do you get them to understand what you’re feeling and that what you’re feeling is real? And how are we supposed to cope with their inability to “see” us and to “hear” us? How are we supposed to cope with this new realization that we suffer discrimination at the hands of our inner circle, our friends and our family?
I didn’t fully understand why all the extreme sadness and feeling of doom and despair. It wasn’t until I was part of a discussion over the weekend that it hit me. I got it. I came out of that discussion feeling quite offended.
I couldn’t believe some of the things I was hearing during this discussion. Apparently it was acceptable to use terms like “fag, dyke, and queer” as derogatory terms 20-30 years ago. Why you ask? Because gay people weren’t really a thing then. I know, I was just as taken-aback by this as you are.
The LGBTQ community is just one issue that was touched on during this discussion, race and immigration were also discussed (those topics weren’t any less offensive). It was eye opening for me how unaware they were of how hurtful their statements were.
How do we cope with this new found discovery of the people in our lives? I suppose with friends if the hurt gets to be too much we can let them go. As hard as it is to walk away from a friendship it’s even harder to stay in one when you don’t feel respected.
But how do we cope with family who behave in this way? We have choices here too. No easy choices of course, but we do have choices. We can talk to them, we can make them aware of how hurtful their comments are. Even if they say them jokingly, it is still hurtful. We can ask them to be more aware of what they are saying and how it makes you feel. Now, you may be thinking that this option is a bit intimidating. You may question if you will be heard? Will your wishes be disregarded? Will this be one more reason for them to poke fun and make hurtful comments? The honest answer is, there is no way of knowing unless you try.
Another option is to say nothing and hope for the best. Or perhaps you’ve had the aforementioned talk with your family and it didn’t do any good. Nothing changed or it made things worse. You can hang in there. You can find support groups, surround yourself with people outside of your family who value you and respect you, find yourself like-minded people. Having a circle who is supportive and respectful of you may better help you cope with the disrespect you get from your family.
If you find that you just can’t cope with it, then your last option is to cut the family member out, or at the very least limit your contact with them. I know this is not an easy option, but being disrespected/discriminated against is an even harder thing to deal with.
I would advise talking with them. Letting them know how you feel and asking them to have an awareness of how their words hurt you. Hopefully this will be enough to change the behavior and life can go on. And if not, then I would advise limiting contact or cutting them out completely.
Self-love is a very essential part of healthy living. Doing the right and healthy thing for yourself isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is the most worthwhile thing to do. Give yourself the love you’re missing. Give yourself what you need. You do not need to live your life being put down, made fun of, and ridiculed for who you are.
You are worthy. You are more than enough. You are valuable. You are loved. You are not alone.