A mere 24-hours ago, I would have never in a million years and a hell freezing over would have even thought Donald Trump would be our President-Elect.
But, alas. He. Is.
Like more than HALF OF THE POPULATION (i.e. the popular vote), I went to bed last night feeling a myriad of things after Hillary conceded via call to The Donald.
I felt hopeless.
I felt helpless.
I felt ashamed.
I felt embarrassed.
I felt betrayed.
I felt appalled.
However, the most predominant feeling I had was horror. (It’s true. I pretty much commented on every message which sent to me from friends around the world that I was horrified. When I could type. Sometimes, my tears were so thick, I could do nothing but ugly cry.)
For months, it seemed Hillary was on track to become the first woman to take the White House. Even last night, as I sat down with my spaghetti squash to watch what I assumed to be her landslide victory, I still felt the night was going to be historic.
And it was. Only, for the wrong reasons.
Instead, once the vote tallies began trickling in from Florida, and then Michigan and then Wisconsin, I felt something I hadn’t felt in the pit of my stomach for a long time. Not since I was trapped in the middle of a field in Thailand surrounded by water buffalo that began to encircle me as I stood there, knowing damn well I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, had I felt this.
I felt fear.
Gut-wrenching, sick-to-my-stomach fear.
Donald Trump was going to shock the nation. To less than the majority’s delight, but still, enough to win the Presidency because we have an antiquated system of letting “our voices be heard” (Ed. Note: because, really, they are not) he became the successor to Obama.
I watched as Trump supporters praised his campaign, praised him, and I listened, with tears in my eyes as Van Jones spoke of “whitelash” and the fear parents had about talking to their children in the morning, after the election was called.
On Facebook, my feed quickly filled with disbelief. Shock. Hysteria. Statements from my international community of friends about just how unbelievably fucked we truly were. It was the worst moment of watching breaking news unfold on social media I have ever witnessed, and it began to slowly fill me with hate.
Last night, I felt so much hate flow through me. More than I have ever known. I felt more hate sitting on my couch, tucked safely in my Las Vegas apartment than I did towards a villager when I witnessed him torturing an elephant to train her, filled with pride at his ability to do so.
If there is anything I have learned the past six months, it is to practice gratitude, and yet, last night, as hate and sadness spewed forth in every social media account I could manage to check, I lost that gratitude.
Instead, I cried. Big, fat tears. Every post friends wrote about feeling ashamed, scared, devastated, ripped through me.
But, hate was the predominant feeling.
When my mom called me early in the evening to tell me she was going to bed, I could barely speak, I was so overcome.
“I can’t believe this,” I nearly wailed to her. “How can people hate so much? How can people stand by and vote for hate? For racism? For sexual assault? For a woman not to have rights to her body? How can this happen?”
“You can’t take it personally,” she sighed, even though I am sure it hurt her just as much as it hurt me. Hillary was going to be the first woman president. She was going to speak for us. She was going to be that beacon of hope to little girls everywhere. She was going to finally shatter the political glass ceiling and break into the Boys Club. “We don’t walk in their shoes. We aren’t living their lives. It isn’t all about hate, honey. It is about other things, too. And, maybe that is what they voted for.”
Those words didn’t matter to me. I sat, staring at my television — which is never normally on, but played for more than six hours last night — damning those red states that flipped. Damning Wisconsin. Damning Michigan. Damning Florida.
I sat there, thinking about how all of those people who hated went to the polls, and hated that those people spoke louder than us. Outnumbered us in the states that mattered. That my story of assault, that others’ stories of assault, that misogyny, racism, ignorance, fear, homophobia, spoke louder than my voice. Than most of the people’s voices I loved.
I don’t like Trump. I never have.
In fact, I think he is a shitty person with zero respect for women. He makes my skin crawl and I loathe how he has brought together people who so freely hate, bully and justify their actions. But, I also don’t think he is as hateful as he led people to be. I can’t fathom that someone with that level of fame, with that level of support over the years, would truly be that horrid of a person. Deep down, I pray he is simply really, really good at playing a villain to drum up the support of those who are scared of, well, everything.
But, his supporters? Last night, there wasn’t a one I would have been able to look in the eye because to me — that vote for Trump was a vote against women, a vote against minorities, a vote against the LGBT community, a vote against those who are differently abled, a vote against immigrants, a vote against anyone who isn’t Christian or Catholic.
I went to bed last night feeling the worst I’ve felt in a long time and with a heavy heart.When I moved back here last December after four years living abroad, I never imagined I would be moving back to a place where a President who stirs such hate and nastiness could exist. That our nation, our people, would elect someone who could incite such hate.
I never could have imagined how helpless, powerless, terrified and sad I would feel. How betrayed I would feel.
I went to bed ashamed of what my country had voted for; it was everything I saw wrong with the world and they saw right.
And yet …
But, this morning, I woke up and made a very conscious decision to let it go. Hatred. Anger. Fear. Why? Those feelings do nothing positive for me.
Instead, I messaged two of my dear friends and we met at our Downtown vegan spot, and hugged. And cried. And burned some sage. And when a woman walked in, tears rolling down her face, we hugged her, too, even though she was a stranger. More people came in, inspired by the chalk board out front reminding people #lovetrumpshate. And magic started to seriously happen.
I made a decision: to speak louder. To speak with compassion. To speak with love. To put faith in this universe and that everything would work out.
I also forgave. I let the hate leave me. I repeated in my head throughout the day to be rid of hate. Instead, I opened myself up to understanding. Understanding that not every person who cast their ballot for Trump is a racist, or homophobe or doesn’t respect women. That some of those people who voted for him are my friends and did so because the hatred he spewed wasn’t as important to them as the other things he promised to the people — things they felt strong passionately about. Or, they voted for him because he was the lesser of two evils in an election filled with accusations of corruption, rigging, bias, conspiracies, manipulation, and more.
Understanding that there were plenty of other ideas at play, and the reason these stood out and upset me is because these are the values and morals I abhor. Understanding that people aren’t happy with their lives as American citizens and they wanted their voices to be heard and Trump seemed to be the person who would hear them. That some of these people were — and are — my friends.
Today, I decided to not sit down and let politics continue as usual, but to speak. To hug strangers (you know, if they want a hug, of course). To promise I would help speak out for my fellow women, assault and rape survivors, those who believe in a woman’s right to choose, who support Muslims, who believe we are all created equal — regardless of nationality, skin color or religious beliefs, who don’t believe in a wall, who are in same sex relationships, who need that extra push.
When Trump gave his victory speech last night, he said it was time to come together. And, it is.
No matter what side you sit, please, let’s all try to love. It’s the only positive choice we have, and the only way to truly impart change. Get involved. Write letters to politicians. Boycott. Protest. Speak loud. But with kindness.
We have an arduous task these next days, weeks, months, years. Regardless of the protests taking place in the streets in major cities tonight across the US, Trump is, in fact (as much as the majority of the population hates it and says he is #notmypresident), the nation’s President-Elect.
It is up to us, the people who don’t want to see him in office, to be peaceful. To use our words. To use our hearts. To stand strong. Together. To not bully. We are better when we love. Hate gets us nowhere. Let’s show the people who voted for hate that #LoveTrumpsHate. Regardless of who is in office. ALWAYS.