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Catharsis

I woke up this morning feeling sick and exhausted and more hopeless than I’ve ever felt in my life. I was surprised by the waking up part, since I felt like I’d never slept. And when I did sleep, I was dreaming about Electoral College tallies. My head hurt, my heart was heavy, and the only reason I got out of bed was because I had a haircut appointment. I spent the better part of the day wandering around like a zombie.

I am a mild political junkie and I love Election Day and participating in the process. If you are Facebook friends with me, you might have noticed my ebullient posting yesterday, until things got grim in the evening. I was giddy when I went to vote, and felt optimistic all day that Hillary was going to win. I called my grandma to talk about whether she ever thought she’d get to see a woman president.  I was hearing from friends throughout the day, checking in to share excitement or see how I was holding up with the waiting, and I was feeling the happy glow of camaraderie. And then in the evening, I started hearing from friends filled with anxiety and confusion. What was happening? How was this happening? What are we going to do?

I have been emotionally invested in elections before. I was depressed when Gore lost to Bush, which seems ridiculous now. I was moved to tears when President Obama won both times. But nothing before has affected me like this election. I’ve never cried off and on all day because my candidate lost. And misery loves company, but it’s grueling to scan my Facebook feed and see how many of us are heartbroken and truly scared about our future.

My despair is very distinctly twofold.

I am ill that Trump was elected. I can barely bring myself to type his name. I hold the office of president in high regard. I respect the office even when I don’t like the individual. But I can’t bring myself to put his name next to that title. (I think I’m solidly in denial at the moment.)

I could rattle off a litany of people I’m scared for, but it’s easier to say just assume that if you’re not a straight white Christian man, I share your anxiety, and I will fight for you. I will fight for you.

But separate from my terror over the bigotry, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and on and on, is my heartbreak that Hillary lost.

When my sister and I were little, we had a book called “Girls Can Be Anything” by Norma Klein. It was about how girls can be, well, anything: doctors, pilots, judges, EVEN President of United States.

Except that book is a big fat lie. I had it when I was a child and I’m 45 and a woman has yet to serve in the highest leadership role. I knew I wanted it, but I didn’t know how badly I wanted it. I am self-employed and I live in a little bubble and I don’t have to deal with a lot of sexism in my everyday life, but I witness it horribly in my friends’ professional lives. And we have men controlling the majority of the governing and even though not all men are sexist, we need women representing us. If you think it doesn’t matter, you’re wrong. It matters. It matters. It matters so much. We need women representing us and we need women showing girls that women CAN be fucking anything, EVEN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. And when it started becoming clear last night that Hillary was going to lose, I cried. Because the most qualified candidate maybe ever lost to a narcissistic incompetent lying bigot. What do we have to do to get a woman elected??

And I feel so sad for my mom and my grandma. They are strong, badass women who have shown me that women CAN do anything and have done all sorts of hard things to make things better for me and women following along behind me. I was so excited for them to see a woman be elected president. I thought we were poised for a huge leap forward, and instead we took about 25 steps backwards.

I should be filled with rage. I’m so confused that I’m not. Instead I’m consumed with sadness, except when I’m completely numb. For weeks I’ve been clicking “angry” on most political posts, but today I can only click “sad”. And I kind of wish I was overwhelmingly angry, because it can be motivating.  You can channel anger into something positive. Sadness weighs you down and makes it hard to move forward.

This morning I cried and cried and cried. And pretty much anytime I talked to another human, I cried some more, and fortunately everyone I crossed paths with this morning knew where I was coming from.  I wanted to call my grandma, but I had to wait until I could hold it together, and when I did, she told me she hadn’t wanted to talk to me because she didn’t want to make me feel worse, because she knew. And then she told me stories I hadn’t heard before, like about when she got the Temple to recognize women as full-fledged voting members in their own right, not as wives of members.

I’ve been pretty lost today, and the only thing that has made sense has been connecting with people. So you might’ve gotten a message from me just telling you that you matter to me, much like I got messages from several of you asking how I’m doing. I’m profoundly grateful for that, especially for those of you saying it’s ok to lick our wounds for a day or so, but then we need to pick ourselves up and get back to it. And for those of you saying you don’t know what the answer is, but we need to do something, so let’s talk about what that might be.  She is right, we are definitely stronger together.

I hope we’re wrong. I hope things aren’t as grim as they feel. I hope I get actual sleep tonight and I hope I feel better tomorrow than I did today.  So somehow in the face of my own crushing hopelessness, I still hope.

And because I know this makes everything a little less bleak, here’s a picture of my dog. Goodnight, friends. Get some rest. I love you.

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Comments on: "Catharsis" (13)

  1. April Gager said:

    Love u girl! Well said! I believe we all feel the exact same way! We are strong We are powerful we are WOMEN!

  2. I talked to many women yesterday and we all feel the same. Feel like we were punched in the stomach. Cried a lot too. I had hoped to feel better today but the hopelessness still prevails. I did get angry by the afternoon yesterday and anger is better than hopelessness. I do want to do something, anything to make a difference and try to defeat this horrible outcome of events.

  3. I’ve been deeply involved in politics and campaigns for many years-with plenty of disappointment and heartache that induced anger and numbness. But this is the first time there have been tears–and they came suddenly, prompted by a FB post about Hope. It’s just different this time. This time it isn’t just a difference of opinion or of political party choice. Instead it’s a demonstration of colliding and opposite views of what America is and should be. Monday this was My America and now I’m not sure if that is still true–It’s harder to believe this country still reflects who I am and what I believe. My core values and beliefs about human value and rights have been cast aside. This time it’s different..and the sadness is palpable.

    • I hear you, Deb. I meant to say this in the post – I truly believed in my heart that common sense and goodness would prevail, and that’s part of my shock. But she won the popular vote so that calms me somewhat – more than half of us (well, the voters anyway) still want Our America.

  4. Cheryl L. Poole said:

    Dear Wendy, thank you for writing. You express beautifully a lot of the angst I feel. I concur that being angry would be better than the despondency I feel right now. I can’t even go to yoga this morning because of the hopelessness. I guess I’ve lived long enough to know that will pass.

    I wanted Hillary because she is ultimately qualified and intelligent. I am limping along heartbroken still that, instead of choosing a qualified person, the US elected a person who has unequivocally and openly demonstrated bigotry, racism, misogyny, and bullying. Our country has chosen that person for the highest office in our country.

    • You should do the yoga – it’ll give you a little respite and you’ll feel better for a while after. I hate when I have to admit that physical activity makes me feel better, but it always ends up being true. :/

      Hang in there, sister. Fortunately we’re all cycling through these emotions at different speeds, so there’s always someone to lift us up when we’re in the depths. xoxo

  5. I feel your pain. I was never a big Hilary supporter but as a woman, a child of an immigrant from the Middle East, a Yogi and just a person with a heart, I could not and would not vote for Bigot. How I feel now is akin to grief. I am shocked, depressed and just now getting to acceptance. I usually am a leader in speaking my voice but the divisiveness of this election has rendered me speechless. Last night I drank my sorrows and I did my best to comfort my friends and my 19 year old daughter who is frankly scared for our democracy. Today we begin the work of caring. We can’t count on any help at the national level so we begin in our communities. Stand up for each other. Speak out for the oppressed. Donate your time and money to help those that will be suffering from the changes to come. We will survive this. Our Mothers and Grandmothers already have. The freedoms of ourselves as women and our friends of color, of different religions and in the LGBTQ will be challenged. We need to pull together and do the good work. We will get through this. We will not allow America to be taken over by the politics of hate. We will love and we will fight.

  6. b.stein01@comcast.net said:

    Well done, Wendy. And the picture of your beautiful Ruby is a lovely gift.   So now it’s two days later and the shock still hasn’t worn off and I’m still trying to understand what went so horribly wrong. Your Catharsis helps…

  7. Sharon Green said:

    This. Thank you. All day yesterday and, to a much lesser extent, today, I’ve been reading everything I can trying to make sense of what happened and why. I actually work and serve women that voted (proudly) for Trump. I wanted to punch each one of them in the face and then i remembered that they are women, too, and whether or not they like it, Susan B. Anthony and many with and after her and after us, will continue to fight for the rights of all women. I feel sucker-punched. I feel betrayed, by whom, I don’t know, but someone. I feel angry and sad and desperate. First I screamed at my husband that I was moving to Canada (that was before the results were even final). Yesterday morning, I sat on our bed and cried that I wanted him to consider moving to a part of the country where we could live with people who thought like we do. Today, I realize, I have to stay and fight. Right now, I feel like lashing out (and the thoughts are UGLY), so I need to keep a low profile and do me. But I honestly believe that the world has no clue what they have unleashed and it is going to be more powerful and more beautiful and more bright than anything we have ever seen.

    • You live in a swing state Sharon, you need to stay there and help it swing! 🙂 One of the good things that has happened is finding the people who are on the same team, so I don’t feel so alone. Sometimes they’ve been right next to me all along but we didn’t realize it. Sometimes we’re farther away, but we’re still connected. Hang in there, sister!

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