Late the night before (a year ago today) I violently poked at the remote control to the television and tossed/ threw it onto the sofa. Then amid expletives, tears, and arms flailing, punctuating the air, I marched upstairs to bed. But I couldn’t sleep; I marched myself back down those stairs and into my office. I shook the mouse to awaken the computer and logged into my Facebook account.
I was tired, raw and angrier than I probably have ever been before; and I have been angry many times before. I was angrier than when at age 10 my beloved grandmother died, after having a heart attack in my house. She was there because while my cousin and I were spending the night at her house, she fell ill and asked me to call my mom. My cousin and I had been messing around late into the night ignoring her pleas that we go to sleep. Then my mom picked us up and my grandmother came home to rest in our house. I can’t remember where my cousin went. Perhaps she was dropped off at her house. The next morning I awoke to the sounds of rushed whispers and an ambulance in front of my window. I don’t remember anything in between that scene and the point in time when my mom told me that my Abuelita died. Time stood still. Forty years later, I am still unable to talk about it without tears.
Back then, though I was mostly angry at myself, I was also angry at the world. I should have known she was having a heart attack since I had just seen a tv commercial or show (can’t recall which) about the symptoms. I should have not played with my cousin so late at night, giggling and laughing. I should have called my mom earlier when I did know she was sick. The ambulance should have gotten to my house sooner, and driven faster. The hospital doctors should have saved her. I felt lots of anger and regret not speaking out.
The experience of losing my grandmother was probably the first time that I responded to an event that while painful and sad, was not something to be angry about. Since that time I have continued that pattern; morphing a variety of emotions into anger. I’ve just in the past decade come to realize it and have been working on it. I’m failing miserably I might add. Although I often look angry on the outside, it’s more likely that I am hurt on the inside.
A year ago I was mad at the world for allowing someone better suited to be a snake oil salesman to not only run for POTUS but to win. How could Republicans not see the danger in voting for him? How could we allow the vote to be split? How could people choose not to vote? How could we have let this happen?
I wrote a long scathing indictment of his words and those who believe in them. I called out to my FB “friends” to remove themselves from “my friends” list if they felt so strongly in support of this man because I could not fathom any understanding. I was furious at them for betraying me and my beliefs; the beliefs I consider the cornerstone of my character, my actions, and my life. Yet, there were some of my friends telling me that indeed, they are not who I thought they were. I learned that I didn’t know my friends nor what they believe in their hearts.
I lost my mind and I wrote a long post and one very long comment on that post asking people who voted for Trump or against Mrs. Clinton, to remove themselves from my FB account.
I did this on the night of his election. I lost a lot of “friends” that night and the following day. My sadness deepened into grief. How could I have ignored all the signs all these years? Why did it take this election for me to say, “I don’t like who you are and how you act!” Why did I put up with 8 years of racist comments, terrible jokes, and uninformed complaints from people I rarely saw and barely knew? Why didn’t I call them out for their hypocrisy when it danced itself in front of me? Was I being polite or lazy? Why was it so easy for them to attack me back and easily jump out of my life when I finally did speak out?
Some people did contact me and we talked. Some people told me I was spewing hate. Others said I was judging them and that was the bigger problem. Others said we could remain as friends, just not on FB, which is exactly what I proposed initially. Others reiterated their complete and blind support for the new president. Some agreed that who you support is a reflection of your own values….which is why we vote in the first place, to make sure that our leaders reflect the majority. (I won’t get into the electoral college argument.)
Since then I have gained some distance from my initial anger and outrage at the voters in this country. I have learned an incredible amount about the election system as well. I have learned how to spot “privilege” speaking and on occasion quash it from my own lips. I have learned that the best way to fight despair and hopelessness is action; both in demonstrations of resistance such as joining marches and protests and making phone calls, and helping where needed as often as possible.
A year later, I have come to understand that my hurt was not reciprocated. My disappointment in my friends and family and my despair over the loss of their affection was not felt by them. There have been no efforts to reconcile; not on my part, not on their part. No one has admitted regret at supporting Trump and his hateful, corrupt actions. Well, at least no one has admitted their regret to me. So, ergo they still support him a year after the election day. They support him even knowing his rhetoric is bad for this country.
As such, my sense of loss is lessened. I have twinges of missing some of the people who removed themselves from my life. But then I turn on the news and it goes away. They are happy defending a man simply because they voted for him. It’s like a clinical denial has taken over this country. Knowing that they voted for him, they cannot admit that he is destroying the United States because it would be like admitting they are complicit. So they continue to argue that all would be well if someone would just do something about Hillary’s emails.
That day, the day after the election was as eye-opening as the day I discovered that 10-year-old children cannot hold themselves accountable for the death of their grandmother. One year later I am even more determined to live my life according to my own core values. I will no longer entertain friends who values don’t align with mine and I will not be silently complicit when my friends do or say things that hurt others, including myself.
If you are reading this you may or may not be a friend of mine in the strict sense of the term. You may be a fellow writer who follows my blog. You may be on my “friends list” on my FB account. You may be a reader looking through your friend’s FB page feed. You may be a related to me or a friend of someone in my family. As such, this blog entry is not meant to say anything to anyone in particular other than that one year later, I am permanently changed.
I won’t be quiet. I won’t pretend. I won’t listen to anyone’s rhetoric without being able to respond; and if I am not allowed to respond, then I will remove myself from its source. I don’t wish ill will on anyone. I just want to be true to myself.
One year ago, I lost my mind and found my heart.