When my daughters were young, ages 4, 8, 9, and 10, we lived in Auburn, Alabama and I was a new masters student in the university’s marriage and family therapy program. It was a simple life, in a lovely college town, where I could go to school at night while Peter was home with our children; where I could manage a teaching assistantship while the kids were in school or preschool; where the older children and their friends could ride bikes to each other’s houses; where nature blessed us with sweet-smelling air, green grass, dogwood trees, and azaleas; where our church – St. Michael’s, a mission church of the Vincentian order of priests – was a strong, loving community. I knew and appreciated how fortunate we were to live there and how priviledged I was to be able to go to school as a young mother of four. I wanted the best for my girls. Fueled with determination to spare them the damaging family dynamics I had endured as a child, and to protect them from the horrors of the world, I worked hard.
I wasn’t naive about worldly horrors. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, a city of great culture and diversity, but also of wrenching poverty, crime, and despair. And then after college I married my husband Peter, a West Point grad, and trust me, it would be impossible to be married to an Army officer and live in a state of denial about war, terrorism, and natural disasters. In fact, while we were stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, where three of our babies were born, the Bader-Meinhof Gang attacked a building near Peter’s office, killing a young officer and injuring others. When soon after they threatened to bomb Patrick Henry Village, the U.S. government housing area we lived in, we were ordered to evacuate to a “safe place ” for a period of time. Even now a chill goes through me as I remember reaching for my baby as we rushed out the door of our apartment. Scarey. Scarey. Scarey. And yes, the Vietnam War was still going on plus there was unrest in the Holy Land.
Why am I telling you all this now? Because the personal is the political and the political is oh, so personal.The world is a complicated place and I don’t think Donald Trump is up to the multiple interdependent realities involved. Furthermore, I know that he is a dangerous man, so I’m scared. Yea, lots of what I’m reading in Facebook or watching in videos says don’t give in to fear. They’re advising that we steer away from it. Well, let me tell ya something: I’m not giving into fear but I’m not steering away from it either; I’m carrying it with me. I’m strong enough to do that. Many, many, women are. What awake, aware, nurturing, clean and sober, wise, intelligent mother lives a fear-free life? None that I know and I’ve known many in my 68 years. As the last line of one of my favorite poems, FOR STRONG WOMEN by Marge Piercy says, “until we are all strong together, a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.”
While we were living in Auburn I got involved with the nuclear disarmament movement. Helen Caldecott, author of MISSILE ENVY spoke at an AAMFT conference I attended and I learned about studies indicating that children are living with an underlying stress because of fear of nuclear war. Those whose parents were proactive in efforts to promote disarmament carried minimal stress. So, as you might guess, I got involved with a group of citizens marching for nuclear disarmament and holding peace vigils. Now what am I going to do? The results of this election have such deep and far-reaching implications. And I want to protect all of us – my daughters, their spouses and children, our extended families, my friends, US citizens, citizens of the world, Mother Nature. The list goes on and on and this blog needs to end. But let me just say, no ask, one more thing: HOW HOW HOW did we elect a PERPETRATOR of SEXUAL ASSAULT to be our President??