I'm in bed, the room full of muted light. Sleeping at Last is playing through wireless headphones while I sit curled in bed after soaking in a hot bath. It helped. A little.
This week has been heavy and it's been numbing. I've been silent about what's happened since yesterday afternoon—when I started to calmly express how I was feeling to a male family member. One sentence and I was met with a raging voice and angry eyes. "You don't know him. You don't know his heart. Only God knows the heart." My heart sunk and my eyes began to fill with tears. "You can't judge a man based off what he did 15 years ago. People can change... If Hillary had joked about touching a man's butt, no one would have cared." I was in shock. I couldn't find the words. So I continuously repeated, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything."
In that moment, I was a woman silenced by a man who continued to express his anger of being called a bigot by people on Facebook. This poor, white privileged man—one who I've seen champion bullies over the years, including those who have directly bullied me. In that moment, the reality of this entire election sunk deep.
As a woman, you grow up knowing there are certain things you'll encounter or deal with simply because you're a woman. You learn to avoid going somewhere alone at night—for me, it's gas stations and grocery stores. You learn to master the dirty look you give to men who whistle as they drive by or the type who stare you down, smirking with rape in their eyes. You learn how to defend yourself. You encounter sexist remarks in the workplace—or in public or family gatherings—on a regular basis. You grow up fearing sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. You grow up and you know these things to be the reality of the world we live in.
On Tuesday night, I learned something else about our reality. Something I didn't know. I learned that half the country declares this reality acceptable.
Tens of millions of people voted for Trump, a man who ran on a platform of sexism and racism and hate. A man who embodies a lot of what woman fear about men. The majority of my family voted for him. When his horrid remarks were released weeks ago, the silence from my loved ones was deafening. This, this is acceptable? I've tried and tried and tried. My mind can't comprehend it.
I can't help but feel what I feel. And what I feel is that a vote for this man was a vote for every man who has looked at me with that slimy smirk on his face; for every man who has tried to intimidate me or make me feel uncomfortable; for every man who has looked down on me because of my sex; and for the man who groped me in junior high.
Tuesday hurt. It hurt for millions of Americans. It hurt because it felt personal.
To those who art hurting, who are struggling to comprehend what has happened, who are afraid of what this means for the world: I love you. I am for you. Apologize to no one for feeling what you feel. It's okay to mourn. But please don't go quiet. Your voice matters. I hold hope that this outcome will inspire us. To be kinder, gentler, and more loving to each other—and to always remember that love does and always will trump hate.
P.S. This article, Here's Why We Grieve Today, also sums up so much of what I'm feeling.
[Image shows an excerpt from Yes Please by Amy Poehler.]