Aftermath

aftermathThe Day After the Election

Last night I felt the same as when McGovern lost in 1972, although then my 17-year-old self sobbed and sobbed, and now I am too shocked to feel much of anything. It was unthinkable that McGovern could lose. It meant the cataclysmic Vietnam War would continue, with thousands more pointless deaths, a country ruined further.

I don’t remember how my parents reacted. Probably my mother cried and cursed at the TV. Probably they tried to comfort me, sharing my horror and grief, assuring me that the good fight must continue.

Now it is my daughters seeking comfort via text in these inconsolable times. I don’t know what to say, but my husband does. He writes:

We are incredibly fortunate to have a loving, healthy, prosperous family whose members have strong and good values. By always cherishing and building on this, we can prevent those who appeal to hatred and divisiveness from defeating us.

Love, Daddy

The morning after the election I tell my husband I haven’t felt this bad since 9/11 (although thankfully, 11/9 has not entailed such a horrible loss of life). At least the earlier trauma was mitigated by a brief feeling of unity, of the best in the world coming forth to vanquish the worst. Not so now, though that’s what I hunger for. I stay away from the news, but I relish the lingering hellos I exchange with every woman I pass, the conversations with the regulars in Comforts, a string of texts and emails. All of my therapy clients talk about the election. It’s good to be distracted by work, to hold their feelings as they mingle with my own.

Three Days Out

Maria, the woman who was born in El Salvador and now cleans our house, comes on Fridays. Three days after the election, I open the door to greet her. As always, she is wreathed in smiles, ready to work.

“Trump—Lo Siento!” I say. I’m sorry. Maria’s smile crumples a bit; she gravely nods.

This Friday is also Veteran’s Day. Since school is closed, Maria’s American-born daughter is with her. I ask her a bit about school, what grade she’s in, how she likes it.

Then I ask, “How are you doing? Are kids afraid?”

“Some are,” she responds.

A couple of days later I check out the Facebook page of a racial justice organization I’m considering joining. Someone has posted an essay telling white people that their professions of shock and disbelief, even their apologies, to people of color are microaggressions.

I feel hopeless in a different way.

Later Still . . .

It gets worse as the shock wears off. I’ve had difficult sleeping; I drift off only to wake again to the cold pit in my stomach, “OMG, Trump was elected President!” flashing in neon lights in my head. Then a squall of tears, and my husband holds me, his warm body a blanket of comfort. I sigh that broken sigh of someone who needs to cry but can’t quite. The tears come again in the morning as I read the paper, the headlines indisputable. A climate change denier is announced to head the EPA’s transition team. I cry a little in the shower. Finally, several days out, I manage more than a brief squall. My husband holds me again, and at last I sleep better.

It feels wrong to sleep better.

*

How are you doing post-election? Also, a kind reader sent along this link, which expresses what I’ve also been feeling: http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/11/17/if-you-voted-for-him/

6 thoughts on “Aftermath

  1. The collective anxiety that this election has produced is not unifying (yet). At the moment, all we can do is figure out ways to find and create calmness. I am using yoga (afterall I am a yoga teacher) and lots of controlled breathing exercises. Once I feel my nervous system has calmed down from the shock and disbelief of the election results then I know I will be able to jump in with others to do the work that needs to be done. For the moment though it feels like a moment in which we all must first put our own oxygen masks on before we can begin to help others. But it is VERY important we we each put our own oxygen masks on. Mine is through yoga and breathing.

Leave a Reply