I remember the morning after Bush was re-elected, 2004. My last year in college waking up that dreary November morning with that kind of heavy, rotted feeling weighing your brain just before you can readily identify the reason behind such slow blooming blues. Until it hits. The sharp stinging reason for it, unfolding a sense of helplessness, heartache and despair. As reality takes shape and begins to whisper the reason for your grieving. Washed momentarily with waves of denial (no, that didn't really happen, did it?) Then sadness. Then tears, then anger, blame and so on. Cycled in bouts, to varying degrees, as you inch your way out of the protective layer exhausted sleep provides us.
When I compared the feelings yesterday, waking up to news of Donald Trump's shocking victory on Instagram as being similar to the emotions attached to the loss of a loved one, I got some flack for the analogy being unjust or over dramatic. But I disagree. For those around me - most of whom are familiar with the awful binds of fresh grief - expressed the same sentiments. I had a women who lost a child say she felt that way too. And a close friend who watched her father die at home from brain cancer agree. Telling me in a phone call this morning how it stirred up old grief she had yet to fully work through in digesting the horror of this new world reality. For many of us, Hilary Clinton losing felt like coming to terms with a death. In both a literal and metaphorical sense. Not because we were hellbent on a women, or believed her to an ideal or unflawed candidate, or even an exceptional vibrant agent of change, but because (regardless of what you think of her) she is whip smart and prepared, she put in 30 years of public service and remains clearly one the most capable candidates to ever run for office, while the alternative is so horrifying we let our hearts convince our heads that a billionaire Buffon with a big mouth, an appetite for sexual harassment, bad hair and a reality television gig as side jobs had a chance in hell at snagging the votes from fellow Americans who we (woefully) assumed could surely see through a brash bigot touting a hate charged agenda and penchant for berating the underdog. A man who openly mocks the disabled. Who doesn't believe in global warming. Who consistently undermines the Mexican and Muslim vote, and speaks so disgustingly of women that I've had to change the channel too many times to count in our house so my boys don't hear words that demeaning coming out of the mouth of a man of power, holding court on a public forum.
For us, it is a death we are rightfully allowed to mourn as despairing Americans. The loss of a dream we cling to as patrons and parents, hopeful that our children will grow up more evolved than each generation that's come before them. That the best parts of humanity seek essentially to rise up and push for leadership governed with empathy to see to it that love and equality prevail, because the greater good of our nation depends on it. Because we envision that we are all dedicated to moving forward in a more progressive direction. Because we finally felt like this was all happening, that regardless of you skin color, sexual identity, annual income, or religious background our children could grow up believing his or her stake in this country is equal to that of their neighbors, his statesmen, lawyer, and bus boy. And yet everything this man and his mindset stands for threatens to eradicate the best parts of that whole notion. A dream we thought we were building together eclipsed by a step backwards so big it pains us too much at this point to even fully face fact of.
Flashback eight years ago, after Obama was elected president and the unbridled joy that erupted that evening was palpable. People in the streets dancing, victory parties erupting, texts and congratulations pouring in from people around the country wanting to share in the glory of our new day seeing a black man, with a sharp mind and smooth disposition - who's passion and charisma was unarguably unlike anything else we'd ever seen before, clench the presidency. A man who seemed to take note and digest and internalize the struggles around him, of the working men and women voting for him. Everyday folks who found empowerment in his promise and inspiration using words of unison. Arlo reminded me of my reaction the night he won and the party I hosted during his inauguration. That only pained me more in comparison to the sobering contrast we saw Tuesday night. Where even the victories and celebrations on his side felt flat and oddly cautious. Riots brewing in the streets and devastation settled in the hearts of everyone else now feeling suddenly on the "other" side of humanity. Having a very hard time looking opposing friends and family in the eye because this year had so little to do with standard party ties and everything to do with regression vs progression. The worst part being, at a certain point, wedged in the mire of social media wars, realizing that it's not even worth the battle when it comes to addressing the reasons behind those supporting him. Who claim they simply want to "shake things up" at the cost of our collective moral compass taking a bit hit in choosing misogamy, racism, classism, and filth as new means of modern dictation.
The bright side - and remember 2 days in we're still struggling to find them - is that out of darkness we have to believe that we can spring brighter and stronger and bolder and brave. We can show our children grace in the face of defeat. Steadiness in fear and action in disappointment. I think of the great art that this is bound to inspire and the support it pushes us to keep. How much of a lesson we have to glean from it all, proving how much we took for granted in growing complacent in the path forward. That we need be tireless soldiers to power on, to work harder and push further, activate, organize, unify and protect all that we value as patrons of this nation. So we can ensure that we remain aligned with tolerance. Make our children proud and at home in a country that embraces diversity and fights and respects it's citizens and their justices.
I took the day off yesterday because my heart was heavy and my energy spent, feeling flat out deflated by the upset & decided to skip out on school. To find relief in ocean air, and step away from the day for an hour or two. Telling the office when they called that we were home sick "like 50 percent of the rest of the country" (which I admit will not go down as my best hour, but then again yesterday it wasn't much of an option) Everything I faced felt like a new kind of struggle. Everything I attempted came with obstruction. Teary eyed in the bleakness of my early morning news channel, short with the kids over breakfast, fired up on social media seeing 80 percent of the people I grew up with defending Trump glory, and altogether wrapped in an ugliness I couldn't seem to shake away. At a certain point I let myself cry for as long as I needed. Not questioning why or for how long but learned later that so many of us were doing the same thing. Giving in to the grieving before we pull ourselves together and climb out of this depression and find new ways of healing so we can figure out the path forward, alongside so many around us, clearly seeing things from an opposite shoreline.
I have hope. Because we have to. But of now I still stand solid in my outrage. Accepting that we can be sad as Democrats, and frustrated as women, and heart heavy as Americans, and while the child in me keeps looking for someone wiser to stroll in and tell me it's all going to be ok, the mother in me is shaking her head in dismay, knowing with everything inside of her that we are better this.
Today is my 37th birthday, I don't have plans for anything special but I did put on the closest thing I have to pantsuit, poured my coffee, played a record, instead of the morning news and signed petitions before I wrote this post. It's a new day. And with it comes big lessons. Reminding us once again that the good fight (whatever you define as yours as) is always worth the battle it entails.
So onward we go.
Shrouded in optimism.
Armed in big love.
* articles to consider
- This Exchange brought a smile
- Talking to your kids about Trump
- Michael Moore, - you have our attention
- A petition to abolish electoral college
- A song to inspire