I’ve been trying to write a post on Donald Trump’s immigration policies. I sat down several times, determined to find that perfect mixture of edge and balance. Instead, I stared at my laptop and failed to find words. I tried music, pacing, watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns, eating frozen yogurt. Nothing was powerful enough to unlock my writing process on this topic. So I’m trying a new approach.
I’ll begin by wishing our president a happy birthday.
Since Donald Trump took office, he has provided ongoing motivation to write. Sometimes I struggled to find words, because posting I’M REALLY MAD AND REALLY SAD (while momentarily satisfying and extremely true) wouldn’t offer anything useful. However, the administration’s policies regarding immigration have catapulted me to a new level of inadequacy. The stories of a baby wrenched from the mother’s breast — the photos of inconsolable children — the descriptions of frantic parents…I have no words.
During my previous career as a therapist, my job was to help people find words. Language allowed their treatments to begin, then take off, then soar. The roadblocks to finding language often traced back to the core source, and finding those words unlocked the deepest holding cells storing the most primitive emotions. The challenge: If the source traced back to a place so basic that it was preverbal, then the structure of language was too elevated to match the primal character of the source.
And that’s my problem now. When I think about Donald Trump’s immigration policies, the feelings evoked are too deep for words. If you want to make a parent do anything, say anything, absolutely anything — don’t target them. Instead, target their children in front of their eyes. Tear their children away. Use their children as leverage. Torture the kids. It’s cruel and inhumane and primal and terrifyingly effective.
As a therapist-turned-writer, I’m trying to come up with a way to meet this problem head on. But this is beyond a problem. Donald Trump’s approach to immigration is evil, and I’m without words.
So again, happy birthday President Trump.
Still, I will not give up or give in. When I need bolstering, I think about Pride Month. I see people of all ages, folks in the LGBTQ+ community — who have been attacked repeatedly, whose inalienable rights have been assaulted — who join hands, stand shoulder to shoulder, march tall. I turn to Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg and Sam Fuentes as role models for taking a traumatic event and using it as a motivator to guide our troubled world. I look at those in the House and the Senate, the minority fighting for decency, running a marathon at the speed of a sprint. I stand in awe of the free press, journalists reporting with care and accuracy, while facing unprecedented hostility.
When I need more to restore the fight and the hope, I turn to other writers. Maya Angelou’s poetry takes impossible pain and somehow, against all odds, makes it sing. John Pavlovitz, a Christian minister, writes for inclusion and acceptance, offering a path to spirituality based on compassion. Daphne de Marneffe’s new book is about bringing down emotional barriers in relationships — directly opposing the Trump Regime which answers all conflict, all disagreement, all problems with divisions and walls. J.K. Rowling created a series of novels showing us how to fight evil, beginning with the first crucial step: Call it by its name.
In time, Donald Trump’s reign will end. But make no mistake — the road to recovery will be long, uphill, jagged. A wave of mental health issues will hit like an emotional tsunami. People will face recurring nightmares, post trauma stress reactions, intense grieving, depression, anxiety. But even as I prepare for the rough terrain ahead, I feel tremendous hope. I’ll work to find different paths to healing for diverse emotional styles, and I know I won’t be alone. A strong team is gaining momentum every day. For now, I’ll take my next step by following J.K. Rowling’s guidance.
Happy Birthday Donald Trump.
Amy Kaufman Burk is a therapist-turned-author. Her first novel, Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable, follows Caroline Black through tenth grade, as she leaves her college prep academy for the local public school. At Hollywood High, she finds over 40 native languages, gangs, extreme violence targeting the gay students, and friendships that open her world. Tightwire, Amy’s second novel, continues to follow Caroline, this time as a rookie psych intern treating her first patient — a stormy, brilliant, troubled young man who ran away from the circus to find himself. Amy’s blog includes posts about a variety of subjects including gender equality, LGBTQ+ ally support, racial equality and parenting. Amy collaborates with educators who include her books and essays in their classrooms.
Amy’s Author Page
Maya Angelou’s Author Page
John Pavlovitz’s Author Page
Daphne de Marneffe’s Author Page
J.K. Rowling’s Author Page