Sorry, this is not Planner Friday. At the moment I just can’t.
I know that the last thing we should do is stop living our lives and seeking joy, but before I can return to things that mattered to me before this week, I have to give myself time and space to come to terms – as much as that’s possible.
I kept thinking, “How can I add anything to what’s already been said in such splendid depth by so many who are clearer thinkers and better writers than I?” But then I realized it’s not about saying something new, it’s about speaking up even if your voice is hoarse and brittle or barely a squeak. The more voices cry out in this darkness, the less alone we feel.
This year has been full of death, but without that “life continues cycle of blah blah blah” feeling we all try to find amid loss. When I think of this year I don’t think of natural cycles, or of death giving way to rebirth. I just see the abyss.
I’ve come to feel like God is playing a five-year game of “He loves me, he loves me not” with the petals of my beliefs and aspirations, and where even a year ago I might have had faith that the last petal would be “loves,” right now I’m having a hard time not finding that faith childish and kind of insane. 2016 has been the longest, most grueling mother of all heartfucks for all of us. Month after month 2016 has swallowed more and more wonderful people, and now it has swallowed the last, most precious illusion I think many of us were clinging to: that America is “better than that.”
Shaun King is compiling reports of all the hate crimes and attacks that have happened in the last few days, and they’ve already topped 3,000. Children being told they should “sit at the back of the bus now” or having “build the wall!” chanted at them. People ripping off women’s hijabs.
At least 10 police officers have been shot this week – all by white people. Did you hear about that on the news? I bet not.
There are lists popping up all over Facebook of “things to do before January” that include seeing the doctor, stocking up on Plan B (and hormones for trans folks), and taking self-defense classes.
At least eight trans kids killed themselves Tuesday night. I forget, how many straight white kids committed suicide after Obama’s election? Because people are saying we’re just bitter our candidate lost, but I don’t recall much of a body count last time theirs lost.
I am heartsick and ashamed that this is America. And make no mistake, it very much is. I’ve lived in this kind of world my whole life – Austin may seem like a liberal oasis, but there are plenty of bigots here, and I grew up in a state full of them.
Okay, so, this isn’t “all Conservatives.” Well then where are the decent Conservatives denouncing all of this? Where is their great orange savior’s call to peace? Why would he bother? He’s busy getting ready to appoint a completely daft Creationist Secretary of Education. He’s forcing a man whose citizenship he questioned for years to meet with him – to sit down with a man backed by the KKK and, I dunno, teach him how a bill becomes law? How to use the White House phone to dial out? If not all Conservatives are racist, what does it say about them that they voted for one – that sexual assault and misogyny and homophobia and racism were something they could overlook? “Hey man, I know he treats women like garbage and is cool with white supremacists, but compared to questionable judgment with emails, it’s no big thing!” Maybe they’re not all racists, but they were more than happy to throw POC and women and Muslims and Latinos and LGBT folk under the bus to serve their own interests. That doesn’t exactly encourage me to “build bridges.” If I were to see a hand reach toward me across the aisle, I wouldn’t assume it was a gesture of goodwill or cooperation – I’d assume the other hand was holding the knife.
The only thing I can think is that people who believe this is no big deal, that we’re all overreacting, are people who don’t have much to lose to this administration. Why worry about discrimination that will never touch you?
In case you can’t tell, I’m pissed the fuck off. And I’m despairing. I want to “stand and fight,” but I don’t know how to do that. I’ll figure out what that means for me once my rage and anguish calm down enough for me to think clearly. But right now, fuck “mending fences.” Fuck “reaching across the aisle.” You want me to play nice with people who think I and most of the people I love are less than human? Are you serious?
If a lover treated me without respect, abused and belittled me, would you expect me to turn around and offer reconciliation before a week had gone by? Well how about if HALF THE FUCKING COUNTRY DID IT?
I guess what I’m saying is, it’s all right if you’re not all right. You can be angry. You can be gutted and scared. I’m all of those things and I’m not getting better yet. That’s okay. If you’re numb, if you’re laughing to keep from sobbing, if you’re sobbing, if you’re curled up in your blanket fort, if you’re protesting, if you’re mainlining episodes of Friends and pints of Ben & Jerry’s – those are all totally understandable reactions to something we believed unthinkable.
Do what you have to do in the next few days to get your feet back under you. If you need to get off the internet, do it. God knows it wouldn’t hurt given the unending litany of bad news. Go outside, sit among trees. Snuggle your animals or your children. Deck out that blanket fort in high style. Smoke a ridiculous amount of weed.
We all grieve in our own way, and that’s exactly what we’re all doing. Even though the America we want to believe in never really existed any more than the “idyllic” Conservative Great America ever did, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to mourn. There is a whole world of pain coming our way in the next four years, assuming the leader of the Free World isn’t convicted of child rape or fraud…or if that even matters, because one thing’s become blisteringly obvious this week: a man can be forgiven for anything and a woman for nothing, ever. I saw that sentiment on Twitter and broke down in tears of recognition…one of the many spates of tears I’ve had this week. I can’t seem to stop crying, and it’s extra embarrassing because I’m a white woman, and 52% of white women voted for that predatory bigot. White privilege is more important to women than their own bodies and lives. How can I not cry about that? But moreover I cry for my friends whose rights stand to be shoved back decades, whose healthcare will vanish, who could be victimized at any time because they’re not white.
I know, I know. There’s hope. Of course there is. As you can see, I’m bouncing among panic, rage, and howling sadness. I have to believe that my warrior instincts will kick in and I’ll be ready to step up and stand with my friends and fans who have so, so much more to lose than I do in all this. I feel like a self-indulgent jerk being so devastated when I have the greatest of all undeserved benefits: white privilege. But while I fear for my own liberty, I am petrified for those I love. And I’m not naive enough to think that if the dominos begin to fall they won’t land on me eventually. I am, after all, still a woman.
I’m sorry to have heart-barfed all over you today. I wanted to come here and write something inspiring, something to arouse hope rather than wallowing in fear. But I’ve never been one for blowing sunshine up your ass – if I don’t feel it, I can’t in good conscience write it. In the coming days we will need each other more than ever, and we will need good writing and humor and poetry and music and art more than ever. We will need to remember to love…even if our trust is permanently shattered.
I will get myself together and I will do whatever is in my power to keep safe the progress we’ve made in the last eight years, or at least to keep safe those whose lives and rights are on the chopping block. I will not give up. But I’m not okay. And if you aren’t either, you aren’t alone.