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One of the most healing tools we have at our disposal is our ability to tell our stories through art. Some of us dance the pain out of our bodies and psyches, some of us paint, and some of us write. While I have done all three, my most consistent mode of expression is what I think of as “telling.” My telling involves my journal and my keyboard and a long and tender commitment to becoming whole by embracing all my broken places. As I’ve watched this current election contest spin out of control, my personal work has led me to see this election in the same archetypal terms that have helped me to understand my personal family dynamic. Donald Trump, in my scheme of things, represents full blown patriarchy, a system that both knowingly and unconsciously exploits and “conquers” groups perceived as outsiders. In our day, these groups include women, all people of colour, the GBLTQ community, people in poverty, and anyone who worships differently from the fundamentalist Christian faith designed by white patriarchs to keep these groups in physical shame and spiritual distress.
Because of my early childhood trauma, I came to address patriarchy full on when I was in my thirties and forties. I understood I had to undertake this task in order to heal from my personal father wound and a lingering sense of victimization. My father left me as a baby, my inner story went, and no one was there to “keep me safe, give me a name I could be proud of, teach me what it meant to be a woman . . . ,” and on and on. Formal therapy, undertaken because of a terrifying depression that took hold of me after I had achieved a major goal and was living my dream, helped me to find the context in which patriarchy played out in my personal life and in the larger world.
Hillary Clinton, as the Democratic nominee for President of the US, is and will continue to call out of all the dark places patriarchy’s last rampages. When we do our personal work, this contest takes on mythic proportions. No matter whether we are for Trump, for Clinton, for Stein, or continuing to cling to Sanders as our “saviour,” these current unsettling political times bring forward the personal work we must do regarding our personal belief systems. Do our beliefs shore up the status quo? Do they energize woman hatred in subtle ways? Do they continually play the race card? Whatever we feel and think politically sheds light on the personal work we are invited to do. If we do this work well – by examining and deconstructing our skewed beliefs – we will elect the most competent and experienced candidate; if we don’t, we’ll vote in reaction to our darkest fears and hatred.
With Barack Obama’s election came a wave of overt racism, the likes of which we have not seen since the fifties and sixties. In like manner, we will no doubt see overt misogyny rise to the surface now that Clinton has secured the Democratic Party nomination. There are signs, however, that patriarchy is crumbling. Fox News has replaced Roger Ailes, a man who consistently behaved as Archetypal Patriarch, contaminating the work place with degrading requests and views of women and other groups even as he gave Donald Trump a platform from which to spread fear and disinformation.
Happily, as Dylan sings, these times they are a changing. Eight years ago, Barack Obama reminded us, despite the obvious failings of an imperfect democratic system, we have reason to hope. And now, Hillary Clinton has stepped forward as our lightning rod. She took on the woman haters in 2008 and she takes them on now, with the difference that she is not taking them on alone. In the interim many of us have worked through a lot of our unconscious prejudices, largely because we could see Barack Obama move through the racist wall of hate with such amazing courage, intelligence, and grace. Now we get to watch Hillary Clinton do the same. What a privilege to be alive today, and to participate in our evolution out of patriarchy and into maturity, kindness, intelligence, and wisdom, these qualities creating an intersection of all empowered peoples.
If you are curious about what catalyzed my healing perspective regarding what I perceived as patriarchy’s out-sized privilege, please click the link below to read an excerpt from Learning, Loss, and Love, my unpublished memoir.