Note: This was written as a personal essay as a part of my grieving process after the 2016 Election. That morning after I woke up and felt like the majority of the country had voted to say that sexual assault is okay, and violence against women is totally legitimate and expected in our society. This is of course, not true, but that is how the election results personally hit me in the next few days. Then in my meditation practice I remembered the concept of practicing compassion and forgiveness for all. I decided to meditate on compassion for Donald Trump and see if it helped to lift the heaviness on my heart. I imagined him at that present time as a client seeking my help. And it worked! The result is I haven't had to live with the anger and stress hormones wreaking havoc on my body and nervous system, and I've been able to function in my work and focus on making this world a better place. The following letter is a written expression of the compassion I used to get me through that rough time:
I first empathized with you when I watched a documentary featuring details of your early life. One would think growing up in luxury meets a child's every need, but I saw a little boy lost amidst servants and older siblings, wanting to feel warmth and tenderness from his mother. A boy whose father was often working, leaving a craving for closeness and acceptance.
When your parents sent you to military school at age 13, it was an abandonment. You must have felt totally unloved. All of your efforts, your cries for help as a child went unheard, seen only as bad behavior. Instead of being wrapped up in your mother's arms or truly listened to by your father, you were labeled as a problem child needing discipline and discarded. My heart breaks for that little boy.
It's interesting that your dad's father died when he was 13 years old, the same age he would later send you away. He immediately began working after school carrying lumber to help support the family. What a great burden for a young child to bear, he had to throw himself into work and become a man at a young age. I can only imagine how if affected his being a father, it makes sense why he was so focused on work and didn't make time to devote himself to you, to playing games he must have deemed childish. Expressing emotions he may have not known how to.
You channeled your energy into surviving and being at the top of the pack. In your experience the world had already taught you it's "every man for himself." Yet no matter your accomplishments in military school or in college, your father never really acknowledged you, the real you deep inside who still craved his approval. You began working in his company, achieving success and eventually taking it over, and the drive to be the best and strive for continually bigger and greater things never faded. From what I can tell that desire to make your father proud of you never went away. I don't know if he ever said that to you, "I'm proud of you, son." Maybe he did once or twice, and they are your most treasured memories. I know he would be proud of you today, as President-Elect of the United States.
But not everyone is proud of you, or even accepting. I think maybe you had a different expectation. After meeting with President Obama, which was a positive, probably sobering, possibly even humbling experience for you, you learned that a large crowd of protesters was gathered outside the White House. And you felt hurt. Here you are, ready to move forward and do your best, and people are protesting the fact you are even there. They don't want to even give you a chance. It felt unfair. I can see that.
I also know why they were protesting. I get them too. They don't feel heard by you. They can tell by your words and actions that you don't understand their perspective, and they feel you haven't made any perceivable moves to listen to them, to truly know their experience. In my unique view as a mental health counselor, I get to understand both sides. Now that campaigning is over, it's your official job to understand both sides. And they're demanding that.
In the days where the news reported you as staying inside Trump Tower, I felt compassion for your state of being. I know what it's like when the emotional storm hits after a big accomplishment. And you have achieved one of the highest accomplishments in our society. It's opened you up to the most criticism I'm sure you've ever had to bear in your life. Protesters were crowded in the street outside of your home. For someone in your position who doesn't want to appear vulnerable, I can only imagine how difficult that was to bear.
I saw your desperation in the 60-minutes interview. After the election, racial tensions exploded, and people felt validated in perpetuating hate crimes across the country. You did not expect this. I truly believe you do not want this. Struggling to find words, you turned directly to the camera to sternly tell the public "Stop it." As the parent of a toddler, I know the feeling of fear and frustration that can arise and take over when she's doing a behavior I don't like. But when I'm calm I know that yelling "Stop it" doesn't work. My child needs my empathy in order to be connected to me and follow my directions. This requires me to do the work to amp up my emotional intelligence and respond from my mature heart's intelligence instead of reacting in the moment. It's a much harder path to follow, and it's not taught in school growing up or even in college. It's something I had to learn by going to counseling and even going to school to become a counselor myself. And it's the only path that works. You now have this task ahead of you, to learn how to empathize with others and connect with them so they naturally want to follow your lead.
I also feel for your young son. I see the cycle of what you experienced with your father repeating itself. Your youngest son looks so unimpressed with this whole my-dad-is-the-president thing. He is still a child, and I know he only wants to connect with his father and feel your approval, pride and love. His dad is very busy, and possibly didn't have the best example of how to be a loving and supportive parent. The decision to keep him in his school for now instead of moving to DC surprised me, but in a good way. It shows a desire on you and your wife's part to take his feelings into account, and the loss of friendships from moving can be a traumatic experience for kids. It also means that you will probably see him less than ever, so I challenge you to make every moment count. When you're with him use every ounce of strength in you to just be present in the moment with your child. Let him guide what you do together, and listen to him. It doesn't matter to him that you're the President, he just wants to be seen and feel valued by his dad.
I write this because I don't see anyone else taking the time to understand you on this level. To offer you compassion and empathize with your emotional state. I believe you could greatly, hugely benefit from a counseling relationship with a professional mental health counselor. It's never too late for personal growth, for getting in touch with your compassionate heart, for finding an intuitive guide within yourself. All Great leaders lead with both their minds and their hearts. There are actually neurons present in our hearts, they're like little brains and they have wisdom.
I can help you get in touch with this wisdom. I'm sure your people can set up a secure line, and the best part is, it's completely confidential, (unless you clearly tell me you are going to hurt yourself or others). No one will ever have to know you're getting counseling support from a 31-year-old counselor in Jacksonville, Florida working towards her license. Don't tell me any State secrets! And don't ask me for advice on policy. My guidance will be in helping you find your own answers, to uncover the real you that is hidden within. This is the tough stuff that your family can't do for you, and your official advisers aren't going to be able to help you with. You need a total stranger to truly see you, a trained therapist who will hold you in unconditional positive regard. Someone who will see you as a whole person, with a lifetime of experiences and cultural programming imprinted onto your psychic being.
If not me, I hope you feel moved by this to find the right counselor for you. We need a President whose mind and heart intelligence are aligned. And you deserve peace, as much peace as can be afforded to someone with the weight of the world resting on your shoulders. I believe it is possible you can do a great job, and I wish you well.