Disclaimer: I am trying to be aware of my privilege as I process the recent US election. As a white, well-off, educated, able-bodied, cisgendered, straight woman I have a lot of damn privilege. So I put this out there just to say I recognize this post may reek of privilege, try as I might.
One week out and I’m still despairing. It’s not that I necessarily thought I’d feel different as time went on. I didn’t and that’s part of why I woke up so utterly gutted one week ago.
So let’s go back to that, what was happening for me one week ago. After a mostly sleepless night, I woke up and double-checked the election results, just in case. But nope, Trump had still been elected. So I got ready to face the day. I wasn’t hungry but I ate. I was in a foggy daze as I went through the motions of my morning. I wanted to cry but wasn’t sure why. I mean, was I overreacting, like was I reacting to a catastrophic fear of what his presidency might mean, things like nuclear war and concentration camps? That would be horrific but it also might be extreme.
Or might it?
Side note- I’m not saying I was overreacting because the idea of either of those things is pretty terrifying, I’m just saying those were my thoughts in that moment. So I tested myself and let a tear fall. And the next thing I knew, I was sobbing and gasping for breath. Because the reality is that I’d never felt before such an acute likelihood of a genocide or world war happening in my country. Hopefully it won’t happen. But it no longer feels like some far-off unlikelihood. It feels like it could happen, like it wouldn’t surprise me if it did happen. And not only is your perception your reality but for genocide to be even a remote possibility is pretty damn horrific.
And the truth is, many people in the US especially people who aren’t white, already live with this feeling. Slavery, the war on drugs and mass incarceration are less overt but still so damaging and so insidious for people of color. And that these injustices are hidden in plain sight, I’d imagine, only adds to the devastation. So I bring all this up to acknowledge my privilege and that my feeling of shock over Trump’s election may not be shared by everyone.
So my tears fell for this reason. But also, as a woman, even a privileged woman, I broke down because I felt violated. Since this whole icky election began, Trump had always triggered my traumas and sadness but when the tapes from his 2005 discussion with Billy Bush were revealed, it hit another level for me. I… Looking at him, all I could see was men who have groped me or harassed me. All I could feel was the misogyny I’ve been exposed to throughout my life, but especially during my years in the DV field. It wasn’t just anger that filled me as I listened to those recordings. It was pain. A feeling of being so degraded and feeling like no one cared – men and women still supported him (in terms of women, especially white women but more on that later). It was like people witnessed his violence (because yes talking about assaulting someone is violence) and they witnessed the pain he inflicted on so many people and they still didn’t care. It was a hurtful betrayal. And so standing alone in my kitchen on November 9, 2016, I felt emotionally hit by a Mack truck as I realized I have no choice, I have to look at that nasty man for the next four years and be re-traumatized over and over and there’s nothing I can do to stop that.
I cried for myself. For the pain and bad memories I won’t be able to escape any time soon. I cried for my well-being and hoping I never end up in some awful situation and need an abortion. I cried knowing so many others would rather earn more money or cling to jobs that are long-gone than value my right to choose, my life. I know these are long-shots and in terms of abortion rights, I’ll probably be fine. But two things; one, that I at all fear being unable to get necessary health care is not okay. And two, it’s not just about me. There are many women and people with female anatomy who are far more vulnerable than me and who much more need the right to choose than I do, at this point in my life.
So I sobbed for others. For people less privileged than me. For people I know and love with less privilege. For people I don’t know personally but I know they still matter and that now more than ever, society has given a big fat, fatal middle finger to their very existence. I shattered again and again, wondering how it was possible people were this way and wondering more how I managed to go in some denial about this. It’s my privilege, I know. And I wasn’t totally in denial. My past DV work exposed me to the entitled beliefs that are the seeds of all oppression. I knew those beliefs were there; whether they were sexist, racist, ableist and so forth beliefs. I knew they were there and that they would be what could facilitate a Trump presidency. It shouldn’t be a surprise and in ways it wasn’t but in ways it was… And I didn’t understand how I didn’t completely see this coming and why I had failed so many people.
It would be grandiose to say it all comes down to me. I only know so many people and blah, blah, blah. But I could have tried so much harder and that I didn’t… it’s shameful. And now I, and so many of us, are left with a big, gaping wound and a paralyzing fear for what the next four years will be.
I’m not feeling better. Because how could I be? But that he’s really truly going to be our president is still a shock. And how terrible I feel is still a shock, even if it was also somewhat predictable.
So here I am, sad, scared, depressed, terrified…I’m heartbroken, missing Obama already and wondering how I could have ever thought anything could be so bad when he was our president …and look I know he still is an American president and there’s only so much good a president of an imperialistic country can do. But still… I’m going to miss him and can’t believe he’s being replaced by that man. I am a bit more composed one week out but no less broken. The election goes, thanks to my privilege, out of my head for a moment but then I remember, I remember this is really happening. And I’m punched in the gut all over again. I again realize that I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next four years, I don’t know how I can feel okay and safe and valued when I heard our president talk about the very things I fear so much; rape and sexual assault. And so many people just didn’t give a shit. Every day is so heavy, it carries so much weight that even if I mobilize and even if his presidency only lasts four years, it will take so much longer to shift.