politics triggers memories of childhood bullying

When Politics Exacerbate Memories of Childhood Bullying

I’ve never considered myself a political creature. Playing politics in the workplace (or within the family) was never my strength or interest.

I never much cared about who won elections.

A Political Crisis

However, the trauma I suffered as a result of childhood bullying directly led to my deep concern for anyone who is the target of abuse. The results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election created a crisis for me.  I saw a regime characterized by insensitivity and cruelty assume control of a government I once assumed was trustworthy and caring. I saw elected officials rule by verbal abuse, mockery, brute force, and threats.

I watched kindness evaporate, and I saw greed assume priority over everything.

During the past four years, I have watched the leadership of this country make an inexplicably selfish power grab that has used scapegoats to build a tribe, ignorance to control a vulnerable population, and lies and misdirection to cover up crimes against humanity.

The political turmoil in the country I loved has triggered the worst possible memories for me and fed into my fear that the abuse I suffered as a child isn’t over. Something could reignite it and catapult me back to the position of powerlessness and cowering that I remember so well.

Once again, I could be the 12-year-old girl whom I’d spent decades and expended so much effort in healing, comforting, and reassuring — and to whom I believed I’d finally gotten through. That child finally felt a semblance of safety…until the results of the 2016 presidential election challenged her equilibrium all over again.

The Illusion of Moving On

For those of us who have suffered at the hands of monsters, healing is so hard to come by. Peace is an elusive goal. The conviction that we’ve put the past behind us, now and forever, seems to be an eternal mirage.

The presidential election of 2016, unfortunately, taught me that complete recovery from trauma (and probable PTSD) is a lot harder than it looks.

All That I Can Do

So I cast my vote and volunteered for the political party that I feel cares the most for humanity and the future of our country — and our planet. That is all I can do. Now, along with millions of others, I wait and see what happens.

And I talk to that 12-year-old child who lives within me still. I cajole her. I commune with her gently and patiently. I ask her a few key questions.

Will she have faith, just a little bit longer? Can she believe — in the words of Anne Frank — that people are truly good at heart?

Can that inner 12-year-old child, as frightened as she is, hold onto the hope that there will be a positive resolution to this political turmoil and that kindness will be restored? That even if the 2020 election goes in the wrong direction, we — as the people who care about humanity — can course-correct and get back to caring about each other instead of attacking those who are different from us?

Are we ready to begin the healing process again?



  1. So well said. I am one of the lucky ones who has experienced little to no bullying but I so agree with the sentiment here. I cringe every time I hear the lies and ugliness that come out of others mouths. I fear their disdain for me, for my family and friends who only want to see people working together to build a strong, more promising, healthier and kinder world. My anxiety and even hatred towards others has NEVER surfaced in the way it has now. My heart goes out to you and all the others who are sadly reminded of childhood and adult bullying as a result of the current administration. You and the others are my heroes for speaking your truths and working hard to overcome your past (and present for some) and work towards a better today and tomorrow. Thank you for speaking out.

    1. Linda, thank you for your compassion and your huge heart. I’m so grateful you’re part of my world, and I know you join me in hoping this craziness will end soon. Much love to you.

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