Donald Trump getting elected as the President of the United States in 2016 was both astonishing and heartbreaking. I sat in my living room with the comfort of a bottle (or two) of red wine, trying to digest how the most powerful and sought-after country in the world elected a reality star; a sexist, racist, unintelligent reality star, to lead the free world.
At the time, what seemed to give me the most solace was knowing so many others felt as confused and angry as I was. But as time went on, that relief began to diminish as I realized our country was not unified in disgust, it was divided, with many of his unapologetic followers walking the same streets I was, eating at the same restaurants, and invading my inner circle of friends, whom I thought would never support the antics and foolishness America was witnessing on a regular basis.
Boy was I wrong.
For years I made excuses on their behalf because ultimately, I loved them and thought they’d see the light. With just a little more time and persistence, the people I trust, and respect will surely see the error of their ways in supporting a man who would run them over in his gold-plated limousine without giving the accident so much as a second glance.
The proverbial nail in the coffin was their inane willingness to overlook a global pandemic and to argue against every medical and scientific claim. Instead, they spread conspiracy theories about how many COVID-19 cases spread worldwide; that the vaccines would alter DNA; or my personal favorite, that vaccines were created by the government to implant microchips into our bodies in order to keep track of our whereabouts, as if Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates hadn’t already laid the groundwork for that.
It’s not easy walking away from someone you love, but sometimes necessary. If you are also contemplating walking away from a loved one due to their harmful beliefs, here are a few ways to cope with the pain and separation.
Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People
If you have a group of friends or family that share the same beliefs you do, confide your pain in them and talk through your choices to move away from others whose beliefs do not align with yours.
Chances are, they, too, have cut communication with someone close and can understand the emotional turmoil. If you don’t have a physical support system you can rely on, the internet is a great place to voice your feelings or read about other people’s experiences. I’ve seen heartwarming threads of acceptance and reassurance on Reddit and Twitter, filling timelines with complete strangers cheering each other on and offering support through uncertain times.
Continue to Educate Yourself on Systemic Discrimination
Many of the reasons we separate ourselves from those who promote right-wing ideals are less about right-wing politics and more about the deep-rooted sexism and racism. Trump supporters will yell from the mountaintops that they are not racist, but although they may not show physical acts of racism in their everyday lives, supporting Trump equates to allowing racism to exist. When you compare peaches to plums, you being to realize at the end of the day, they are still both fruits.
Stand Tall and Be Proud of Yourself
You will likely feel pangs of doubt, wondering if you were too harsh or too close-minded in shutting people out of your life over their own personal opinions. While it may be normal to feel this way, understand it’s just your embedded empathetic nature that is kicking in.
Walking away from those who no longer serve you is not only necessary for your own mental wellbeing, it is admirable. Taking a stance against the cruel views of QAnon and the masses is something to be proud of. It takes strength and a firm sense of knowing who you are to make hard choices in life. Stand tall and stand proud.
Give Yourself Time
The last bit of advice is often the worst to hear, but it is the most effective – time. Although we can’t rush our healing, we can find relief in knowing our wounds will mend. The pain will pass. Eventually, we’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel; a light that will shine on for those of us who have fought, sacrificed, and battled against a ravaging virus – bigotry.
For those of us fighting the good fight, keep going, and when it comes to burning the bridges from those who accept racism, sexism, homophobia, and all the other endless acts of hatred, I leave you with one last bit of advice – don’t forget the matches.