I am not okay today. I’m not. Yesterday morning I was excited. I was powerful and bold and, dare I say, optimistic for once against my more skeptical nature. Today I am sad, and it’s not that garden variety of sad where you can’t put your finger on it. It’s not general melancholy. It’s in-your-face, raw, jagged, emotional pain. It’s pathetic, disconsolate, achy-breaky heart sickness. This country, which I was starting to imagine was leaning towards becoming more inclusive and welcoming and more like our forefathers envisioned and Lady Liberty professes, pulled my heart out of my closed chest last night with some crazy nunchuck moves and then used it as a target for AK-47 practice rounds. So I am not okay today. I am struggling, and I know I am not alone.
I am not okay today because of who I am and not because of what happened yesterday. I am a woman. A well-educated, well-read, white, straight, upper middle class, clearly privileged woman, to be sure, but a woman nonetheless. I am a mother. I am what my detractors would term a “bleeding heart” liberal. I am an agnostic. I am a feminist. I am a friend to gays and lesbians, people of all faiths, and all colors. I labor to keep an open mind and I search daily for our common values so I can remain open hearted and accepting. It is hard work, but I do it ceaselessly, remaining friends with people I don’t agree with in the hope that I learn more about them and their views and grow in understanding. For a while, I had tricked myself into believing that I was part of a majority and that, as a collective, we would triumph, love over hate, stronger together, all the while going high. It didn’t happen.
An election is an election. It is politics as usual. So, at 48, the election of someone I did not vote for is not something with which I am unfamiliar. I was deeply troubled in 2000 when Al Gore lost the presidency. I worked in the renewable energy industry. Jobs were lost. I’m familiar with disappointment, but this is different. For me, this is a personal loss. I can put aside politics. I can trust that the next administration will do their best. I can be a good US citizen and play nicely with others when my candidate loses. This loss was not about politics for me. It was about sexism, racism, xenophobia, and hate. And when those are your stakes, when you are not simply voting democrat versus republican, a loss is devastating. Today I am poignantly aware that I am in the minority. I am on the outside. To many, I am an unwelcome aberration, at best an anomaly and at worst a nuisance. But if you think for one second that I am going to go quietly, to shut up, stay out of things, and let hatred and ignorance rule, you don’t know me very well. And you don’t understand Pantsuit Nation at all. I’m a middle aged woman with time, money, and pussy-grabs-back attitude. I’m not going quietly.
This is my challenge and my charge. I have only one choice and that is to rise from the heap of those left disenfranchised and make my voice heard. My privileged white sons are about to witness something powerful. Their dragon mother has awoken. First thing this morning, I set up a monthly donation to Planned Parenthood, the first place that opened its doors for me when I was a young college student without insurance looking for well-woman care. Planned Parenthood saved me from a sexually transmitted disease that was on its way to becoming cervical cancer. Because of that, I have long stood with them for the health of all women, women like me who needed some help when nothing else was accessible. As women before me suffered for causes like the right to vote, I will gladly step up, with my money, my voice, and my body to keep the doors of Planned Parenthood open. It’s imperative. Whatever it takes. Don’t even think you can stop me.
When I was younger and an important relationship would end, I would pull out every song that reminded me of the person I’d lost and play them over and over until I was reduced to a tearless, dehydrated, emotionless lump of flesh. Today I thought about playing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and just having a good cry. Instead, I found Katy Perry. Today I am giving myself permission and space to mourn. Tomorrow I roar.
I’m not okay either. Been weepy and feeling such an array of emotions since the results came in. Shock, anger, disbelief, sadness, fear…….
And by the way, that is the cutest picture ever! I LOVE your mane!
Gail…I have to tell you that I was starting to feel better until someone I have known a long time commented negatively on my blog post on Facebook. That dragged me back into the quagmire and I have been digging myself out of that all day. The good news is that through having to defend my choice I was able to understand it better. I am sorry so many people felt disenfranchised by the Obama administration and I wish I had taken their dissatisfaction to heart before election night, but I stand by my choice. I will always fight for equality for all, for inclusivity, for compassion, and for hope. I am just going to have to step up and fight a little more vociferously over the next four years. And I am sure I will be in good company.
Oh Justine, I know just how you feel. I had to get off of Facebook because my sensitivity to people’s harsh comments continually sent me spiraling into severe depressions. One day something was said that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me and I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to delete my FB account.
I sent your blog post to a friend last night who is having a hard time. I told her it was from one of my “favorite bloggers” who I have followed for years. She sent me a message back thanking me and told me how you expressed so well what she had been feeling. Keep writing, keep expressing yourself and keep fighting for what you believe in. ROAR girl!!!!
With a demographic profile similar to yours, I can relate. I feel very much like I did after 9/11. It’s what I imagine walking pneumonia feels like. I am still able to function, but there’s a nagging sense that something is off. The day after Election Day, I was dizzy. Since then, I’ve been anxious, a little depressed and fearful. Now I feel like all I can do is stay informed about our government and involved in causes that tear down walls rather than build them.
That’s exactly how I feel, Gail. I told my sons that our work now is to lift others up and rally for them because we are in the position to do so. Still, I cannot understand how so many white women could vote against the best interests of all women. We have become so selfish and short-sighted. I hope that we are able to use our position to make our voices heard.
My husband and went out with another couple – old friends of ours – before the election. Unfortunately, the subject of politics came up. They are intelligent, upper-middle class adults in their 60s, and both adamant that anyone was better than Hillary, convinced that she was too corrupt to be in office. I wonder how many other women who voted for Trump are not actually Trump supporters but are so opposed to Hillary that they would have voted for Humpty Dumpty if he’d run against her. Oh wait..he did. We need to ensure that when he comes tumbling down as I believe he will, that he doesn’t bring the rest of the country down with him.
Well said, Justine. I am so out of sorts up here in Alaska and out of my element. No marches or protests or coffee talks here to salve the blow. I was simply stunned when the tide turned toward that abhorrent man on election night. And have painfully watched his transition to power this last week. Does he even know what he’s doing? What a horrible example for my children. Is he going to appoint a single woman or a person of color at all? What is happening to our government and values we strive for everyday? Like you, I realize that we’ve been in a bubble and this is surely a call to action. What can we do to start having conversations with the unhappy masses that want change? How can we be a part of the change? People need to be heard and change needs to happen. Would love to hear more about your plans. What next?