In the last week, I figured out why each and every one of President Trump's press conferences, tweets, radio addresses, and rallies not only infuriate me, but leave me cringing with an all too familiar sickness to my stomach.
The 45th president of the United States — Donald J. Trump — embodies the worst traits of all my crappy ex-boyfriends.
Trump's behavior reminds me of the significant other who gets caught red-handed with a nude sext message with a note that reads, "This is all for you, babe." And when confronted gives the unrealistic response, "That's my best friend's girl," or "He's not naked he's wearing one of those new, lifelike latex body suits. You should get you one."
After you clearly told your lover that you were born during the day, but not yesterday, they deflect, doubling down: "Why were you going through my phone in the first place?"
The boyfriend comparison became painfully obvious on Friday, when the New York Times reported that the FBI seized an audio tape from Trump lawyer Michael D. Cohen's office with that allegedly includes a conversation between then–candidate Trump and Cohen chopping it up about paying off a woman Trump supposedly had an affair with. Hadn't Trump denied over and over again the affair he had back in 2006 with Karen McDougal? Wasn't that the same year he engaged in a tryst with Stormy Daniels? Didn't this all happen around the time his youngest son, Barron, was born? So what if the admission is a smoking gun admission of guilt. It's not Trump's fault, right?
Help us all.
"This relationship America has with Trump is parallel to a romantic one," said Marquita Williams, a Philadelphia-based psychologist and relationship expert. "Like all [bad] relationships in the beginning, we were like, 'Wait, are they lying?' And then there is this disbelief. When you realize that, yeah, this person you trusted, this person you wanted to believe was better than this, you get angry. As Americans we are trying to search for some level of understanding before ambivalence sets in."
Here is where stalwart Trump supporters are going to point out former President Bill Clinton's indiscretion with Monica Lewinsky. Yes, if Clinton's affair were made public today he'd be at the center of #MeToo protests. And there's no doubt that he was a bad husband. But in the end — after he could no longer lie anymore — he admitted publicly that he had "inappropriate and intimate contact," and he was "wrong." Clinton never suggested that it would be better for the country if we doubted the veracity of our own personal truths. To that end, our basic American ideals were never in jeopardy the way they are now.
Do we need any more proof that Trump is a bad ex than last week's events in Helsinki?
Like many Americans, I was flabbergasted by Trump's treasonous performance. "I will say this," Trump said, answering a question by Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire as to whether or not Trump thought interference in the 2016 presidential election came from Russia, "I don't see any reason why it would be."
Taking the KGB side over our own FBI's was bad. But then our president treated the country like one of the guys I dated treated me when he told me he was going out of town. Did his ex live there? She sure did. My bad. I thought she didn't. At least that's what he told me when I asked him. But in the end, she did.
So you see that whole treasonous thing is just a slip of the tongue? Because despite the context of the entire speech, Trump meant to say, "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be."
Deflection. Getting caught red handed. Stretching the truth. Treating grown-ups like impressionable children. It's sad that this isn't the only bad boyfriend behavior Trump is guilty of. He gaslights. A year ago in the aftermath of the Charlottesville protests, he said some white supremacists were "very fine people," as if they weren't responsible for decades of violence against people of color. He's verbally abusive when he feels threatened, referring to NFL players who take a knee during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality as SOBs. He acts as if the United States was/is/and will be nothing without him and blames our failures today on our prior relationships. According to Trump, former President Barack Obama is the reason why our relationships with North Korea, China, and Iran are iffy and only he can fix it.
But what makes Trump most like a dangerous ex is that he employs the divide-and-conquer strategy, the hallmark of a very bad boyfriend. Take U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, from California. She's that friend. She's your sister. Auntie Maxine has your back. She sees the signs and she warns, begs and pleads you to stay away from this destructive partner. What does this boyfriend do when he can't make her shut up? He demonizes her. And in the end, he demands an apology from her for speaking the truth: "Your friend is crazy," he says.
Even your family sometimes takes his side, such as when Sen. Chuck Schumer chastised Waters for going too far for advocating the public denouncement of Trump's staff and cabinet members when they are in public.
You are probably saying, "Dang, Elizabeth. You should pick better men." And I'd say, "You are absolutely right."
For the record, I am doing better. But there was a learning curve. The only way I can do better was to be better. There is hope. Maybe collectively we can employ some of these healing tactics.
First of all, we can't convert the pro-Trump crowd. We shouldn't. There is a lid for every pot and for some countries, Trump might be a fantastic boo. It's also important that those of us who are fed up acknowledge our past mistakes — whether they are not voting or assuming the role of the uppity liberal. Most important, however, we have to forgive ourselves. If we don't, apathy and remorse will set in. And we will be left with nothing — not even clean air.