I am still trying to wrap my head around what has occurred during this past election week. As a staunch supporter of minority rights in all capacities, I and many others in the nation have been stunned to realize that those very rights are in jeopardy once again.
I am trying very hard to not take the hate – such as those who wish for those rights to be taken away carry - and make it my own, but I have to admit it has been very difficult. In light of people’s outcry, whether it is for or against what has transpired, I have unfollowed people on social media and most likely have been unfollowed myself. I have seen people I thought I truly knew say and support things that I have been shocked and dismayed by. I have had healthy and eye opening conversations which, although uncomfortable, have helped me see why choices were made. I have joined a few groups and signed a few petitions that I believe need to be supported at this time. I have cried with clients and I have held emergency sessions for those who fear for their safety. I have seen horrific racial slurs strewn across cars and so called pranks that were not in the least remotely funny as they are based on a time that should long be gone. I have received private messages from friends and colleagues raising true concerns about the safety of their families.
I am still unclear how to proceed myself let alone help clients. I am not sure that there has been a time where such a mass cause and effect has happened in which it touches everyone in a multitude of ways except for 9/11. I think back to that time and how we all rallied together for the common good and how we got through it together.
Today, I am not sure that will be so easy. Just looking at the statistics alone, it is clear to see that there is a divide cut so deep in our nation that the idea of coming together seems near impossible.
For now, all I have is hope and to be honest that is a bit thin right now. But I do hope that, somehow, we can educate one another and learn from one another in a way we have not done in a long time, if ever. I hope that we can step out of our own box and help those around us who desperately need it right now. I hope that the fear that is being perpetuated and fanned is a fever that will burn out soon because those who have it – including myself – feel heard and understood. I hope that we address the concerns of those who feel threatened and marginalized - that we do something to make sure they not only feel safe, but are safe. I hope for so many things and I know you all do, too.
As counselors, that hope has to reach out to our work now more than ever before. We have to take a stand on the ethics we built our career on and do no harm. We must embrace our clients’ thoughts, feelings, fears, and emotions in a way that will support them and help them to the best of our ability. I am hoping – always hoping – that by doing this – we can make a difference.
Dr. Melissa Lee-Tammeus is a licensed mental health counselor in private practice in Jacksonville, Florida. She specializes in LGB couples, anger, and grief and trauma. To learn more about Melissa, check out her webpage at www.possibleselfcounseling.com