It’s hard to scroll through posts on social media or watch TV without coming upon political rants. Witnessing the political divide fracturing North America is frightening. Seriously, I am deeply concerned. I choose not to fan this fire by sharing put down memes. Some of the statements I have read and listened to are so bizarre they’re disturbing. I’m feeling particularly sickened by one insane post – a red-headed celebrity spouting hate while clutching a beheaded and bleeding Donald Trumps’s head. If that weren’t bad enough, I listened to another celebrity say she’d like to blow up the White House. I was shocked. Not only by her statement – but by the cheers it was met with.

I understand not liking someone one, but aren’t some people taking this a little too far? I’m all for peaceful protests. But the acts of violence being committed, scare me. I voiced my concerns after viewing a clip of protesters burning a car and breaking things. There are many like me who feel concerned about  what’s happening. Yet my concerns were met with rage, anger and hostility. I was verbally attacked and put down for feeling the way I did.

I woke up the next morning with something I haven’t experienced in a long time… a hangover. Or more precisely, an emotional hang-over. It was a feeling I remember well. For those of you who don’t know, an emotional hang-over happens when you experience big, overwhelming emotions all at once, but don’t share or debrief them. I knew I was impacted by the anger directed at me, but I didn’t understand the toll it would take or that it would follow me into the next day.

I shudder to think I lived like this in my growing-up years. My alcoholic home was not a safe place to share my thoughts and feelings. In this home it was considered disloyal to feel and think differently than the alcoholic who ruled the roost. In this home I learned feelings were dangerous and to hold my tongue. In this home my words were twisted and misconstrued. In this home I walked on eggshells, afraid one wrong step would cause an explosion. In this home I learned survival and how to be numb.

But I am not in this home anymore. I have worked hard to leave that environment and to live with respect, love and integrity. I will not allow that toxic home to dwell inside this loving body. I will not abandon myself by stuffing my thoughts and feelings. I will continue to share my views in hopes it helps others. I will not be shamed into silence.

I must remember life is a balancing act. No matter who you voted for or what is happening in your life right now, we are defined by our thoughts, experiences and actions. We have free will. We have power of choice. We can live in the problem. Or we can live in the solution.

When we live in the problem, we expect others to change, never changing ourselves. When active in my addiction I was a problem liver. Problem livers are not open to healthy communication. Instead, they point fingers and blame. They may swear at you and ridicule you for your beliefs while feeling self-righteous in their verbal attacks on you. Problem livers are one-sided and rigid in their beliefs.

When you live in the solution, you are teachable and a little vulnerable. Solution livers ask themselves the tough questions. Questions like; what is my role? What part do I play in the trouble I’m experiencing? Problem livers are respectful of differences. They are willing to take responsibility for their attitude and behaviors. They make the necessary changes to accommodate a healthy mind set. To live in the solution is to listen and understand, not necessarily to agree, but to appreciate we all have our own values, rights and needs.

Solution livers are self-aware. They are willing to learn and educate themselves. They look at the bigger picture – both sides. Problem livers are other focused. They’re often judgemental and stuck in their ways. Relationships with problem livers are a power struggle, there is no give and take.

The transition between problem living and living in the solution, requires willingness, flexibility and courage. When this transformation occurs we see real change. Addicted persons seek recovery. Haters learn tolerance and love.

Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives, put aside your power struggles and embrace humanity. Life is precious. Love is the answer. You have the right to vote for whoever you want. You don’t have to cut people out of your life because they don’t agree with you. Still your tongue. Open your ears. Learn to treat each other with respect. There’s a reason people vote the way they do. Instead of disagreeing with one another find out why. Have a conversation. Step into their shoes. If you can’t do that then you’re in the same home I grew up in – the alcoholic family. The one that goes like this… Do as I say, not as I do.

The next time you get ready to disagree with someone or share a political put-down, stop and ask yourself this, am I helping anything by doing this? Or am I just fuelling the fire? Change starts with one person. Let that person be you. We don’t need more right fighters. We need integrity. No matter your politics, you don’t have the right to hurt people, break things or attack one another verbally.  It’s time to put our differences aside. Let’s come together in peace and understanding. Only then will we find healing in our relationships and communities.

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