In my last post, I wrote that I was moving quickly through the five stages of grief. Since then, I have noticed my mood swinging on such an unpredictable pendulum that I think I may need to retract my statement.
I am fairly certain that I spent most of the day yesterday in a kind of strange, disbelieving haze, somewhere between shock and denial. I awoke to the news of the new president elect and broke my own rule—never send the first message you write—and posted an angry note on Facebook about the nation showing its true colors with regard to racism, homophobia, and beyond.
This morning, I woke up with such a deep sadness that I could hardly bring myself to get out of bed and start the day. What was the point? My country elected a monster for president.
I wound up revising and then deleting the message on Facebook because it occurred to me that I did not wish to be one of the many people from my country who have chosen the path of perpetuating negative energy. I also recognize that many people voted for a candidate who would enforce laws and act on behalf of the many rather than the few.
Am I still upset?
You better believe I am, and my upset continues because I cannot settle the storm that is brewing with over the news that so many of my fellow Americans voted for a leader whose platform supports and perpetuates issues of race, gender, sexism, and beyond. I feel completely betrayed. I am ashamed that I know people who voted for Trump. I cannot believe that more than half of the country can vote for one candidate while the Electoral College can make an alternate decision.
Throughout the day today, I have moved between a dark melancholia and a fiery rage. What to do with all of this energy?
There is no way to make it better. The country that has been my home has grown ever foreign to me. I am not saying it has ever been a picture of perfection with regard to ethics and morality. Clearly, a nation that nearly destroyed the Native American people, enslaved thousands of Africans, forced Japanese Americans into internment camps, and cannot seem to keep guns out of the hands of those who would harm others is a place with severe issues.
Despite its patchwork history of brilliant successes for human rights coupled with inhumane acts of cruelty, I have considered America to be my home, a place to return to. Even with its problems, I thought of the United States as a place that was more conscious and free than most. As a child, I could refuse to stand and take the pledge of allegiance and receive only detention as punishment. As an adult with the president elect looming on the horizon, I wonder how many freedoms will be taken away?
What will become of this place I have called home? Already, swastikas have been painted on storefront windows in Philadelphia; students of color at Clinton’s alma mater have been harassed and spit by men shouting Make America Great Again.
These are dark times, indeed, and my heart is heavy.
So here I sit, horrified beyond belief that any person could actually vote for someone who would build a fence to keep people out; who would label people as monsters out of fear; who would speak of women in such a disgusting, derogatory manner.
I do not believe in apathy or in uniting to support a new president who acts from a place of fear and ignorance and who gives permission for fear, hatred, and ignorance to prevail. I have been the victim of bullying, in my childhood by other children and by people in positions of power at my workplace.
I don’t believe in name calling, but I do believe in holding people responsible for their actions. The actions taken by thousands to bring a person like Trump into the White House are beyond despicable. I literally have no words to express just how afraid I am for the future of the earth, for queer friends and family, for myself as a woman of Jewish descent, for the women in my life, for the people of color in my life, for the children being born into this world.
With regard to the five stages of grief, I can say this much. I have experienced denial. I have experienced depression and anger. I cannot see where bargaining will be helpful, and I certainly have no intention of practicing acceptance.
In the words of Terry Tempest Williams, I am a writer without words who is struggling to find them, yet I will continue to write. What else can I do? To stop writing, to stop speaking, to stop shouting is to give in and to give up.
It is morning. I am mourning.
And the river is before me.
I am a writer without words who is struggling to find them.
I am holding the balm of beauty, this river, this desert, so vulnerable, all of us.
I am trying to shape my despair into some form of action, but for now, I am standing on the cold edge of grief.
We are staring at a belligerent rejection of change by our fellow Americans who believe they have voted for change.
The seismic shock of a new political landscape is settling.
For now, I do not feel like unity is what is called for.
Resistance is our courage.
Love will become us.
The land holds us still.
Let us pause and listen and gather our strength with grace and move forward like water in all its manifestation: flat water, white water, rapids and eddies, and flood this country with an integrity of purpose and patience and persistence capable of cracking stone.
I am a writer without words who continues to believe in the vitality of the struggle.
Let us hold each other close
and be kind.
Let us gather together and break bread.
Let us trust that what is required of us next will become clear in time.
What has been hidden is now exposed.
This river, this mourning, this moment — May we be brave enough to feel it deeply.
~ Terry Tempest Williams