It’s my day to post. I don’t want to write. I don’t have any words right now because I am still shell shocked from the results of the election.
This is a blog by caregivers about caregiving; about our experiences and perceptions working within a broken system. It is not based on partisan ideas or politics. I get that. Still, I have always viewed what we do through a wider lens. What am I learning and how do I apply the lessons from what we do in our work to life as a whole? I write about that often; how working in this field has enhanced my ability to connect with people from all walks of life, on and off the clock. Maybe that’s why I feel so blind-sided. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to address it here. If you, our readers, will give me the leeway to stray from our typical topics and delve a little deeper, maybe I can find the words after all.
Merriam Webster defines a caregiver as a person who provides direct care (as for children, elderly people, or the chronically ill). It’s a fairly straight forward definition. We take care of people. For me, this is who I am every bit as much as it is what I do. I don’t suppose it’s an accident that I ended up doing this for a living.
When a person is hurting, I try to ease the pain. When people are lost, I use my own experiences to show them that there is always a way out. When people are scared, I try to offer comfort. I find the reasons to laugh and when life seems dark, I whistle until it passes. It’s what I know and it was the compassion and love I was shown that pulled me from my own dark times.
I see life through stories and moments, be them my own, my friends, people for whom I’ve cared, or anyone else who has left an impact on me. I see shades of gray instead of black and white. I seek truth and solutions rather than sitting in the problem and surrounding myself with people who will validate me, but I woke up this morning unable to see past the results of this election, which I personally consider catastrophic for so many people whom I love, and my heart just breaks.
I am so sorry. I am sorry, my friends in the LGBT community. I’m sorry that you will have to walk through discrimination that was finally fading, slowly but surely. I am sorry for my friends of color and am embarrassed that the man who ran with the support of white supremacists without disavowing them in disgust is now the leader of our nation. I’m sorry to all the little girls who will be affected by the legitimizing of sexual assault and the little boys who are being shown that such thinking and behavior is just “boys being boys”. I am sorry to all of the Hispanic community who will be looked upon with suspicion simply because of their heritage. I’m sorry to Muslim Americans for being labeled as “terrorists” because of a small segment of extremists. I certainly wouldn’t want all Christians to be labeled because of the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany. I’m sorry for our veterans, those living with mental illness, the disabled, the elderly…I’m sorry to all the people who have been and will be in my care for what I fear is coming. I’m sorry to all who blindly voted against your own self interests out of fear. You will end up paying the price too, and I imagine it will be hardest on you because of your misplaced faith and misguided allegiance. I didn’t realize how far off the tracks of humanity we had flown.
I don’t know how to take care of people in such an atmosphere, but I don’t know how to give up either. Writing this seemed as good a place as any to start. Later, I will share my experience with a group of people in the hopes of reaching others in need of help. Tomorrow, I will go to work and do my very best to care for my client and her family, regardless of who they supported. I can care for them and love them without agreeing with them. If I couldn’t, I would be no different than the people who are responsible for the outcome of this election. I will tackle each task in my path to the best of my ability and try to lead by example and learn as I go. My residents and clients taught me that. My co-authors, Yang and May, show me that. All caregivers everywhere remind me of that. We work within impossible situations every single day and we do not flinch. That does not change because of election results.