Wednesday was a difficult day. Wednesday, when I opened my eyes around 5:00am, I realized that what I fell asleep worried about around 2:00am was very much real 3 hours later. And so I cried.
I had cried the night before, in a public venue. After a great dinner celebrating my stepmom’s birthday, we went to the bar to have a few drinks. Election updates were on the TV. And then Trump won Ohio. A small group of middle-aged, white men cheered. I cried. One of my brothers put his arm around me asking what was wrong. “He can’t win…and those men…cheered.” was about all I could muster as I tried to hold it together. As we worked to make sure a tab was paid and get me out, one of my aunts hugged me and told me it would be ok.
I drove my brother home that night. I didn’t cry as he sang along to songs as we traveled the back roads of Lakewood. He hugged me and said he loved me as he got out of the car.
I drove home thinking. Thinking of how I didn’t say anything to those men that cheered. How I wasn’t brave enough. How I had failed to stand up for all that Hillary was standing up for. I thought about all the things you think about in those moments of hindsight. I wanted to make them look me in the eye as they cheered for a man who thinks it’s ok to grab a woman by the pussy. That sexual assault is ok. Because I thought, “Maybe they have never met a person who was sexually assaulted?” The same thing I thought when I saw that my aunt (who had told me it would ok mid-hug) had also cheered for Trump’s victory.
When the “Trump Tapes” were initially released, I wrote a blog post as I was filled with rage about what was happening. A feeling that is returning but in a very different way. But when I posted that blog post to Facebook, I hid it from my family. I was afraid. I’m not really sure why, but I was. And I’m trying not to cry as I write this one, and know that this one, I won’t hide.
I cried Wednesday morning and had a difficult time getting out of bed. I almost thought about not getting out of bed. I thought about staying there in the dark, listening to the wind beat up against my window. But I felt like perhaps I needed to be there for other people. So I made myself stop crying. I made myself get out of bed. I made myself get into the shower. Upon getting out of the shower, I broke down again into uncontrollable sobs.
I put on some makeup. Not a lot in case I cried again. But just enough to cover an already blotchy face. I walked to the bus. I watched people get on the bus wondering how they felt. It was a quiet bus ride. Campus felt quiet. The office was quiet.
I sat in my corner of our office space and silently cried throughout the day. I was not ok.
14 years ago I was sexually assaulted. And now a man who thought that was all just “locker room talk” was President of my country. In a position to make more laws on what I should do with my body.
This morning I woke up and told myself I could do this. I could be stronger. I could be braver. I made myself a small playlist. It pushed me through my morning. It helped.
My friend Ann Marie shared a blog post. That helped.
I have some incredible friends and family members to talk to. That all helps. Sometimes you just need to know that other people are struggling along side of you. When you sit across from a friend during your lunch break and you know that you are both struggling and holding back tears, nothing has to be said. It’s already all been said. The people that are “My persons”. We are hurting together.
This election season has given a stronger light to racism, sexism, homophobia, bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, and just plain hatred for others. Please know I don’t think this is republicans vs. democrats. I don’t hate anyone. I know that my anger can be construed to be from a place of hate, but it’s not. It’s fear. It’s disappointment. It’s just being so tired to fight for something that should just be a basic part of our humanity. That we can love one another. That we don’t have to pass laws to discriminate against people. That we don’t have to use religion as some sort of exclusionary device, making it really difficult for people, like me, to want to walk into a church ever again. People are hurting. People are afraid.
So I’m ready. I may have thought I was ready before, and to an extent that was true, but now I’m really ready. For all the people I know and for those I don’t, let me stand next to you. Let me listen to your fears. You can tell me your story. You can cry on my shoulder. I will hold your hand. I will stand in front of you when you need defending. And I will lift you up so that you can shine in your own amazing way.
Together we will Rise Up. We will be Unstoppable. We will love.