No. I’m not okay.
It’s been three and a half weeks since I woke up, sick to my stomach over the electoral college victory of Donald Trump. An acquaintance kindly asked last night if I had “recovered” from the election. In the company of women that I didn’t know well, several of whom do not share my feelings, it took a lot of restraint to stop myself from ranting in the middle of a dance studio where our seven year olds were in the next room, completing an activity for their Brownie troop. Instead of saying, “Recover? Fuck no! How the fuck will I ever recover from an election that has legitimized hate, bigotry, and the worst tendencies among us? How will I ever come to grips with people’s rights, with the very freedoms that we take for granted, being threatened? No, I will never fucking recover from this. None of us should.” So I stood there, shrugged my shoulders, and said, “Well, I’m here. In one piece. At least physically.”, and left it at that. Because I didn’t even know what to say. Apparently the voice that I use at my computer doesn’t work as quickly in real time situations.
So, the answer is no. I’m not okay. Not even the slightest bit okay. I wake up every morning, and remember that I live in a country that despite the popular vote strongly pointing to the contrary, will inaugurate a bigoted man, who is appointing incompetent, bigoted people to carry out the business of the country. I wake up realizing that my DD’s reproductive rights will not resemble my own. My DS comes into my bed every morning, and snuggles me. As I hold him, my mind races with thoughts about what is coming, what I can do in my small corner of the world to stem the tide. And I feel my body tense up as I hold my beautiful boy, and I have to breathe, and remind myself to be in the moment, holding my son, and remind myself that I can’t live this way for the next four years, that I have people right in front of me who need me to be their mom, and show them how to navigate the world. And that gives me the strength and drive to square my shoulders, and figure out how to proceed.
My days since the election have been a mix of daily tasks, caring for my kids, making music and teaching, all of which are beautiful ways to put one foot in front of the other and find ways to be empathetic, present, and purposeful. I try to do something politically active every day; I get on the phone and make calls, and I feel temporarily less anxious, but as I gear up to call, I don’t even know which issue I should bring up. Trump’s cabinet appointments? His conflicts of interest? The hearing that Merrick Garland never got? My congressman’s refusal to speak out over Trump’s racist appointments, and the incidents that have followed in my country? Begging my senators to filibuster all the shit that is about to rain down on us? Should I write each senator of every committee on the issues that matter to me? And if so, which issue? Climate change, gun control, reproductive rights, hate crimes? As much as I am committed to activism in my daily life, I often feel like I’m trying to stop a dam by plugging it with my thumb, and I alternate between wanting to fingerbang the fuck out of that dam, or just sticking my thumb in my mouth and ugly crying.
And every time someone asks me “How are you?”, I have to stop myself from answering, “How the fuck do you think I am?”, because of course, they’re being polite, and the well meaning folks in my life are not the appropriate outlet for my rage. So I generally say, “I’m fine”, even though that is clearly far from the truth. I’m not fine. I’m heartbroken, angry, afraid, full of despair, and also determined as hell to make the best possible use of my thumb, my brain, and my heart in this new world where I, as a Jewish woman, no longer feel that this is my country. I never imagined that I would feel that in America. And I know that I am not alone in my unease and despair. It’s one of the only things that comforts me, that there are like minded folks out there, who are also not okay, who have not recovered, who are also feeling these overwhelming emotions. And knowing that I am not alone gives me strength to work through these feelings, to dry my tears when I’m done ugly crying, and pick up the phone. Pick up my pen, my laptop, and find the voice that I couldn’t find last night. Because this fight has just begun, and like millions of Americans, I’ve got skin in this game.