I think part of my mental health decline lately has been with the ramping up of these weird games my mind plays constantly as I try to “understand” or at least “maintain relationships” with the Trump supporters I love. Or maybe it’s less “games” and more “mental dance of survival” in that it’s just these routines my brain has to go through every time it is confronted with the reminder that these people I love vote for a man I despise with every ounce of my soul.
1. The “Obama Era” Comparison
When I feel very overwhelmed and just agonize over the state of our country and the fear with what Trump is doing, I stop and ask myself, “Was it like this during the Obama presidency for the people I love?” Did they figure out a way to continue loving me even as I supported a President they hated? Then shouldn’t I do the same?
And of course, the mentally taxing part of this mind game is the fact that the majority of my brain screams: BUT IT IS NOT THE SAME! OBAMA WAS NOT A RACIST or a FASCIST or a MISOGYNIST or a NARCISSIST! So while part of my brain is in “maintain relationships with the people you love by trying to find common ground” the other part of it is screaming, “THERE IS NO COMMON GROUND! THEIR GUY IS A MONSTER!”
And so I have to resolve myself to this weird dissonance in order to simply be in their presence.
2. The Fox News Justification
I’m constantly telling people, “If I only watched Fox News 24 hours a day I’d probably support Trump too.” I have to watch it a lot and I’m amazed by the things they cover and focus on that none of my news sources even mention in any given day. Fox News kept referencing how Biden called Trump “George” this week and none of my news podcasts or articles or newsletters even mentioned it and I couldn’t figure out why it was getting so much coverage so of course I had to google it and there was a moment but it seems that there might have been referred to George Lopez who had asked the question but was no longer on the screen and so it’s confusing and…WHY AM I GOOGLING SOMETHING SO DUMB WHEN I GET MY KID’S NAMES MIXED UP EVERY DAY.
That’s what Fox News does to you. It makes you crazy. And so I find myself constantly justifying the beliefs of the people I love by their immersion in conservative media. But then my brain is like, “But they should bear some of that responsibility. They shouldn’t be off the hook entirely,” to which the other side of my brain says, “And it’s not like you’re seeking out pro-Tump messages either so maybe you’re stuck in biased media too,” and then that first half says, “NONE OF YOUR MEDIA IS A PROPAGANDA MACHINE FOR A FASCIST PRESIDENT.”
And so…my brain gets stuck in a “It’s Fox News’ fault” and “They’re grownups who choose their news to fit their views,” loop of constant anxiety as I try to give the people I love excuses for supporting a man I hate.
3. Avoiding Politics At All Cost
I don’t bring up politics with Trump supporters. I just don’t. I’ve actually never been one to bring up politics in person with anyone I know disagrees with me because I don’t handle fact-to-face confrontation/debate well. I get really emotional and my logical brain stops working and I stumble around my arguments and end up sounding like an idiot. Give me a screen and my reputable sources to quote and I’m fine, face-to-face? I’m a mess.
But that doesn’t stop the people I love from bringing it up. And while I have tried over the years to engage and change minds, it’s something you learn quite easily with some people is a waste of time and mental energy. Recently I said to someone I love, “I think it’s best we not talk about this subject,” and then I tried to change it. I was met with a bit of resistance but eventually we moved on.
The problem is, all of that lingers in my heart and taints everything so when I’m in their presence I’m feeling torn between love and distrust. I’m always in this tense dance to avoid anything even remotely political. And if something political comes up I have to decide if I want to respond, or ignore it, and either option is freakin’ EXHAUSTING. But the problem is…I’m already exhausted from spending the entire conversation PRAYING NO ONE BRINGS UP POLITICS.
I’m just so tired.
All of this mental gymnastics is going on in the foreground while in the background I’m constantly thinking: I can’t believe this person who is supposed to love my kids is voting against their futures and against their best interests.
To love a Trump Supporter is to constantly have that as background noise whenever you think of them or interact with them and it is draining.
There are tons of people who don’t understand, who just write people off and I get that completely because jeezus…it would be so nice to get a break from these mental gymnastics. But there are just reasons I can’t (or choose not to) do that and so I’m just stuck with this exhausting war raging in part of my brain and it takes up more and more of my thoughts the closer we get to this election and the more I see the shared memes or supportive posts about a man that gives me nightmares.
I’m barely hanging on by a thread right now. I’m praying Biden wins because I’m not sure I can continue these mental games for another 4 years.