When I wrote before the election that I knew there would be a lot of emotions that needed to come out after the election was over, I couldn’t have predicted what some of those emotions would be for me. To be honest, I thought I’d be feeling elation at the election of the first woman President; relief that years of inequality (at least on that front) had come to an end; release of the fear and tension that had built up throughout the election.
Instead, I just realized that I feel like I’ve been through a breakup. What clued me in? Tears that started flowing whenever I worked out, heard a sad song, or thought about explaining the whole thing to my kids (among other times).
I feel like I just broke up with who I thought we were as a country. Yes, I feel pleased that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote (that helps me to feel hopeful about what we care about as a country), but I had really hoped that we would continue moving forward toward greater equality and openness as a country, when it seems a great deal of our country wants to move back to a time that has passed.
I am worried about the hate that emerged during the campaign and the rise in hate since the election. I am concerned about the safety of immigrants, people of color, LGBT people, Muslims, and women in this country. I fear that there is a sizable portion of the white people in this country who want to go back to a time when white privilege went unchecked.
I don’t think that everyone who voted for Trump is sexist or racist or xenophobic, but in the course of the campaign, Trump constantly uttered statements that were sexist, racist, and xenophobic, and I think people had to, at the least, look past those things in order to vote for him.
That’s not the country I thought we were. Though we have a history of racism and sexism, I really believed that we were doing the work necessary to move further away from that history. There was still plenty of work to do, but I thought we were moving in the right direction. I no longer feel that way.
I’ll be honest– I’m still heartbroken. But I feel like I’m having a different breakup too: a breakup from who I used to be. Something about the way this has all gone down has me going deep into who I am to find what matters the most to me; what I can hold onto when so much seems so uncertain.
It has made me pull back in some ways in order to gather the energy to figure out who I want to be going forward. And, in some ways, it feels comfortable to feel like the underdog again. There’s something about that energy that feels true to who I am. I’m okay being one of the ones fighting for change from the outside.
But I also realize that I have to fight. I cannot sit by and watch my country slip backwards without fighting for what I believe in, without supporting people who feel afraid about their place in our country. If Hillary had been elected, maybe it would have felt easier to sit back and coast. Now, coasting is not an option. We all have to stand up for what we believe in and ensure that our country doesn’t become the worst of itself.
I will be giving to organizations that protect women and minorities. I will be joining forces with racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, LGBT people, and people with disabilities in fighting for equality and inclusion. I will be using my power to help protect people who might be feeling threatened. I will be as outspoken as ever about my feminism.
I’m back to avoiding George Stephanopoulos (and other political pundits) and limiting what news I pay attention to. I think it’s the best for me right now.
But I have changed. This “breakup” changed me. And I’m starting to feel just fine about that. Because I like the me that’s left behind.