Never have I empathized with a woman in the public eye the same way that I empathize with First Lady Trump. I watched the inauguration from an Olive Garden bar, lamenting over other personal issues with a close friend. It was on all of the TV screens, so I couldn’t really avoid it much as I wanted to. The entire family really, much more so that President Trump looked incredibly uncomfortable. Barron was bored, as any preteen kid would be after an entire day of being paraded around for the nation to oggle over, and while the older kids managed to maintain their poise fairly well in the eyes of the camera, the few times they were caught in a candid shot showed them all incredibly nervous and anxious.

First Lady Trump was at the forefront of this, dropping her facade much more readily than the older children. I’ve read the countless articles by so called body language “experts” analyzing President Trump’s behavior, and by proxy the First Lady. I’m not doubting the validity of their credentials, but they all seemed to miss a very important factor: First Lady Trump was petrified, and exhausted by the end of the evening. Going from being a fairly well known, upperclass wife who was only minimally in the spotlight to the First Lady of the United States where her every moment will be ruthlessly scrutinized by more detractors than supporters? Yep. That would be pretty terrifying. Especially considering that her husband is not a beloved elected official.

Regardless of your political views, whether you support or denounce the President, at least have some basic human compassion for his family. I’ve seen several articles rushing to Barron’s defense, as other tasteless articles decrying his behavior and questioning his mental status have emerged, and there is the mostly tongue in cheek hashtag campaign “free Melania” and yet it all seems to be a big running joke. It doesn’t matter why they were married, or the status of their marriage compared to the Obamas. It’s true, a lot can be read into by the way a man treats his wife, but how do you think it makes her feel to see those articles plastered literally everywhere?

My thoughts on this whole matter were really solidified this past Tuesday when I attended my Great Uncle’s funeral. Interacting with my mom’s family is very much like interacting with the public as a respected figure. There are rules of etiquette to follow, certain times to smile, certain things to wear, certain ways to behave, and very little of it is genuine at all. I felt very much like the First Lady, as I was trying to walk in heels for the first time in five or six years (I don’t actually remember when the last time was lol), trying to remember my manners, keep my legs gracefully crossed, and smile at the appropriate times all while trying to keep the children in line and following my mom around to show off the Twins. Grief wasn’t really at all in the equation as to our attendance, it was more of a way to appease my mom.

If there had been cameras following me around watching my every move, I’m certain that very many of the small candid moments the Trump Family has been criticized for would also have been captured in my personal “appearance” for my family. If what several notable psychologist have said about Trump is true, and he does suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (much more obviously than his fellow politicians anyway) I can only imagine what must have been going on behind the scenes. The lectures, the ranting, the list of rules for behavior ten miles long, and how the negative press they all received has been saved away in a narcissist mental file folder, an arsenal of abuse to be dished out later.

I wish more people could empathize with the Trump Family instead of providing all of this critical material to haunt them for years to come. I definitely don’t agree with Trump in any of his policies, but I do maintain my compassion for the First Family.