Dear Donald Trump,
THANK YOU for being the man that you are! I’m so grateful that your behavior on the bus that day in 2005 was recorded, and that I happened to hear it this last Wednesday.
Now, I want to be clear about two things here: First, this thank you note has NOTHING to do with the 2016 election or making any American voter right or wrong regarding their choice in this election. Second, I’m making it public because I know that I’m not the only survivor of sexual abuse and/or domestic violence who has ever been emotionally triggered by your words and actions over the years.
For myself, the revulsion I feel when I hear your voice or see your face began decades ago, and it’s a simple fact that my gut reaction to who you are is not your fault. I recognize that it is my own emotional programming that gets jolted into reminding me of my history of abuse whenever I see or hear you, and that it has nothing to do with you personally. It has to do with your public displays of personality. It has to do with how you present yourself to the world. And up until that recording was gifted to the public a few days ago I had no idea what you were like in private. That recording has provided us all with a “fly on the wall” perspective that shows us the reality of your private personality. So now we know.
And now, because I HAVE discovered one particular aspect of the “real” you that showed itself clearly in that video, I’ve found (to my intense gratitude and relief) a reason to be glad that you are the man that you are. I have spent this entire election working at feeling compassion for you, rather than condemnation, because I know from experience that when I’m busy condemning somebody I’m stuck carrying their heavy ass around with me wherever I go. When I’m busy condemning someone, I must stay – quite literally – diligently busy checking on them to see what I can judge them about next so I can continually prove to myself that they are deserving of my judgment, contempt, and condemnation. And if I’m not able to find anything “out there,” then I have to reignite stuff inside my own thoughts, like a damn bellows, fanning those flames of hatred and judgment. This is actually really hard work and I freaking HATE it. There are so many other things I could be focusing my energy and attention on, and the only way to release myself from this burden (which I, myself, lug around everywhere – nobody forces me to do that) is to let go of condemnation and choose compassion, instead. So I have been working hard, looking for something – anything – to light up for me regarding you that I can find compassion for. Because really, you ARE heavy, and you keep giving me more and more stuff to drag around with me. Until now.
There was one word that you used in the conversation on that bus that has given me that “something” to focus on that helps me to be able to purposefully (for my own benefit, not yours, so there’s no need for anyone to go into “how dare you” mode, or point out to me that you don’t care what I think of you) choose compassion. And I’ve been able use this one thing, over and over again as necessary, to free myself from carrying you around with me everywhere I go. Thank you so much! It’s so nice to feel free again!
No, “pussy” was not the word. The word was “it.” When you saw Arianne Zucker you said, “Oh, it looks good.” With your use of that one word when referring to that young woman, it was like you were viewing her as a cardboard game piece, and you had zero recognition of her (very real and very worthy of so much more than being seen as just a thing) personhood.
Not only did I find my compassion for you within your use of that one word, I also found a feeling of actual appreciation for two of my most violent, hateful, hurtful abusers. And THAT is why I’m writing this note. Thank you, Mr. Trump, for giving me this new insight into two men that I’ve worked very hard to forgive. Those two men were the most abusive of all the men who ever hurt me during the first 35 years of my life, but neither of them ever treated me like I was just a thing. And that is something that I can choose to appreciate about them. Although they did both try to suppress and control my personhood, neither of them ever treated me like it did not exist. I am so grateful that you have gifted me with this new and different perception of them because this has caused another piece of the forgiveness puzzle to fall into place for me. Again, freedom. Something to appreciate.
As for you and what your use of that word means to me, as heard in an everyday Donald Trump dialogue: Your view of a human being as an “it,” as just a “thing,” can only mean a pretty lonely, shallow existence for you, whether you realize that or not. I’d be willing to bet that you don’t, or you would be doing your life differently. You don’t know what you’re missing. And if all of your relations with people are as shallow as your use of that one little word suggests, then what you are missing is an aspect of true riches that you – with that “cardboard game piece” view of other people – cannot possibly understand. My life, which you would probably consider puny, includes many, many people that I love and value, and that love and value me. And THIS life is worth so much more to me than anything that you have ever displayed to the world as so-called proof of how “great” your life supposedly is.
I can totally have compassion for a man as shallow as you have shown us that you are, because the only depth that you can personally claim as real is the chasm that stands between your ego and your heart. And that is yours to deal with on your own, should you ever choose to do so.
I, myself, can now freely choose to perceive you as a human being who is deserving of compassion, because your behavior proves over and over again that true happiness is not something that is a part of your experience. (Believe it or not, there’s a difference between real happiness and feeling glee as a result of hurting, dominating, denigrating, or forcing yourself upon a person who feels powerless to stop you.)
In the sixteen years since I left my domestic violence existence behind me once and for all, I have created and enjoyed a VERY rich life. Rich in love. Rich in friendships. Rich in community. Rich in mutual respect and working together with people who are very different from me. Rich in feelings of appreciation and joy and deep connection.
I am not claiming myself to be better than you or my life to be better than yours. I am only saying that I experience life in a very different way than you do. And now you have helped me – with your use of that one little two-letter word – to be able to choose to see you with compassion rather than condemnation, and to be able to set the burden of you down and not pick you back up again. Whatever your behavior from here on out – and whether or not you become our President – I never again need to feel emotionally invested in wishing that you would be different so that I can feel better when I look at you. All I need to do is remember the depth of that chasm that I mentioned above. Just the thought of a fellow human being living with that kind of void inside him- or herself automatically generates a feeling of compassion within me because I have first-hand knowledge of what that person is missing. And you, with your perception of that young woman as an “it,” have shown us clearly that you are missing a lot.
AND – holy shit! – finding actual APPRECIATION for the two men in my life that I have resented the most over the years is a GREAT added bonus, and that is the reason I’m posting this publicly. Perhaps some of my fellow DV survivors can use this idea to ease their own resentments toward their abusers, whether those abusers acknowledged their personhood through trying to suppress and control it, or treated them like game pieces – like “its” – there is something in this thank you note for any survivor who would like a different perception of anyone in their life who has hurt them, whether sexually, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, physically, or any combination thereof.
So thank you again, sir, for having that particular conversation on that particular bus on that particular day, and for using that particular word in that particular way, because with that one little word you told the world who you really are and how you really view the rest of humanity – as cardboard game pieces put here for you to manipulate. Knowing that ONE thing about you lets me know that I can move you and your behavior to the “non-issue” pile, because nothing that I do can ever force you to see my personhood. So really, it wouldn’t be worth any of the time or effort that I would have to spend in that kind of useless endeavor.
I have found over the last few days that I no longer have to struggle against my gag reflex when I see your face or hear your voice. Now it’s more of a matter-of-fact, “Oh look. There’s that little man again. Yep, he’s still little. I can go to compassion here and now, or I can let myself get caught up in whatever he happens to be spewing today. Oh yeah… the little man is really a non-issue. I choose compassion and wishing for him that one day he finds his way across that chasm that exists between his ego and his heart. I look forward to meeting the version of Donald Trump that will be the result of that journey.” That would be epic. For you to experience that journey, and for the world to see what a truly wealthy Donald Trump is like.
P.S.: If you are a person who is a fan of Donald Trump becoming the President of the United States of America, it is not up to me to make you “wrong” for that. Nor am I. There are quite a few people in my life who are a part of the “richness” that I mentioned above – people that I love, admire, and respect – who do want to see him win this election, and I think that is perfectly okay. Why? Because I happen to believe that every one of us is doing absolutely the best that we know how from where we each stand as individuals within this circumstance. I, from my position within the circumstance, cannot and would not ever presume to know what is the best choice for YOU to make from YOUR position within this circumstance. So please, if you are tempted to post a hateful response, just don’t. I don’t have time for that shit, and really, neither do you. I am not coming from hatred. I am actually being sincere in expressing my thanks to Mr. Trump. My compassion is also sincere. And so is my thought that it would be truly epic to see who he would become if he ever did decide to make that journey. This letter is not about politics. It is about me choosing compassion over condemnation, because I have the power to do so. It is about me being responsible for my own experience of a circumstance that appears to be absolutely ugly. This shift in perception is my way of doing so. I do not want to hate this man. And so I choose not to.