Two Dangerous Weeks,Normalizing the Abnormal
Two Dangerous Weeks, Normalizing the Abnormal
Patti Ashley, PhD
January 7, 2021
Yesterday I watched the live coverage of the unthinkable violence that erupted at the Capital most of the afternoon and evening. I don’t usually watch that much news in one day. Even though I keep up with current events, I won’t stay tuned into the big box for very long. Yesterday I did.
As a psychotherapist I couldn’t help but notice how the members of Congress were showing back up after such a traumatic event. This morning I woke up wondering how late they had stayed up last night. I turned on the big box again and saw that it was after 3:00 am EST.
Knowing how trauma effects the nervous system and activates intense fear responses, I was imagining the impact on the individuals and families of those who were in the Capital building. My therapist, mama-bear heart simply wanted everyone to go home and hug their loved ones to find a sense of safety in each other’s arms.
Instead they soldiered on in order to complete the process of certifying our new President. A noble and important act that sent a message out to the violent mob that they couldn’t stop this process. On one level I understand and applaud that. However, I couldn’t help but notice the stunned look in the eyes of the individuals who were hours earlier locked down in rooms with gas masks in order to stay safe. I imagined the fatigue and/or adrenaline that may have been in each of their bodies.I felt so sad about it all.
When they reconvened there were speeches that pointed out the horror, however it still appeared to be business as usual. As I continued to watch this all unfold, I was grateful that MSNBC reporter Chris Hayes pointed out that there was an “unpleasant episode” going on, that was also “flirting with ignoring” our President as a threat. He labeled it as “decrepit proceduralism.”
I don’t define myself with a political stance. I am simply an individual who strives to uphold truth and justice. I don’t often write or talk about politics because of the polarization that it tends to evoke. For the most part, I am just like you. I wake up every morning and want to have a good day. I want to feel loved, cared for, and safe. And I want to be sure everyone else feels that way too.
Instead, what I have witnessed over the past four years, has been tremendous amounts of secondary trauma and an all-to common feeling of fear, injustice and helplessness. How could so many crimes be left unaddressed? How could lies, slander, abuse and betrayal be okay? Why were so many people in power allowed and encouraged to normalize the abnormal?
Yesterday’s events provided a blatant look at what has been happening in our country for way too long. A horrid abuse of power. And as I said before, I don’t identify with a political party and I want to be sure my words stay out of that arena. Instead, I want to be clear how stunned I am that injustice has been allowed and normalized for so long.
Psychologist Mary Trump and author of the book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man last night in one of her many interviews regarding her uncle’s behavior, said that last night’s terror attack “shouldn’t have be allowed to happen.” She continued in this interview with Katie Couric to say that “people willing to commit sedition in the next two weeks are going to be the most dangerous in our country’s history.”
At the end of my day, I tuned into The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. One show I do watch every day! Fallon started his show saying how hard it is to do an entertainment show in times like these. He also said that if his grandfather was alive today he would be disgusted. Continuing to say that what had happened was not patriotism. It was terrorism. Fallon also repeated President Joe Biden’s earlier comment “enough is enough.”
Fallon then interviewed former national evening news anchor Dan Rather. In this interview Rather said that the day was unprecedented, and posed the question “What should be done with our President?” For a third time, let me say I am not speaking about a political party or alliance. I am speaking about justice.
After such a catastrophic event, I can’t help but imagine what a more congruent emotional and humane response might have been to yesterday’s terror attack. Maybe allowing everyone to go home and hug their loved ones. To grieve. To mourn. And first and foremost, to hold the people in power who allowed this tragedy to happen accountable. The most influential of all of them being Donald Trump.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney last night said “What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States. Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”
There has been talk of impeachment and urgent pleas to uphold the 25th amendment which would remove President Trump from office immediately. According to the 25th Amendment, if a President has a physical illness that precludes his ability to perform his duties, then the VP takes over the office. What if Donald Trump was evaluated by a reliable mental health professional? Delusional patients can be considered “gravely disabled” and unable to meet the demands of day-to-day life. I can’t help but wonder if the delusions of grandeur that proliferate Donald Trump’s need for power might be diagnosed as a debilitating mental illness. Which would then deem the 25th Amendment necessary.
At this point in the morning after, I hope that the traumatized ones have gotten those hugs and maybe a little sleep. However, the only accountability so far for what has happened is sanctions put on President Trump’s social media accounts. Meanwhile, today he is awarding a Medal of Freedom to three golfers.
This is not normal. What will it take to restore justice and acknowledge the level of abnormal disasters that continue, and more frightening could get worse? As Mary trump said last night “the next two weeks are going to be the most dangerous in our country’s history.” Mitt Romney last night denounced the false claims of election fraud and said it was time to tell the voters the truth. Donald Trump lost the election.
Yet, with so much uncertainty and varying perspectives of reality, how do we discern what it true? My moral compass always asks “Is it kind?” How might things be different if we all asked that question? I pray this becomes our new normal. Stay safe and hold your babies tight. We shall overcome.