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.