Anyone else been on an emotional roller coaster since election night?
It’s been a while but for many, myself included, waking up to the headlines is like being stuck in a reoccurring nightmare. Feelings from that fateful evening resurface on a daily basis.
I don’t remember much about the days following the election. I know I attempted to go about normal life, but instead, broke down in tears multiple times a day.
This was definitely not normal.
A week after the election, I finally left the house.
I went shopping and bought three all-black mourning outfits. Since I couldn’t verbalize the complexity of my different states of emotion, I figured I’d wear them (literally) on my sleeve.
Momentary distractions lifted the burden of my all-encompassing doom and gloom.
Friends came into town from Los Angeles for Thanksgiving. On an afternoon walk, their ten-year old son pointed up to a house. Wide-eyed and confused, he asked, “Is that a Trump flag?”
He had never seen one before.
In an attempt at self-healing, I psyched myself up to go salsa dancing one night. As I watched the diverse crowd dancing before me — all ages, all colors, all backgrounds — I was overcome with emotion.
My friend leaned over and commented, “If everyone would just learn how to salsa, we’d have world peace.”
Christmas came and went. My husband and I sent out holiday cards, adding an ACLU donation for every one sent — even to those we knew voted differently than us. People I hadn’t spoken to since the election. People I still haven’t spoken to — not necessarily out of anger, but because I simply don’t know what to say. Somehow they don’t recognize the hypocrisy of the individual they believe will “Make America Great Again.”
To say the election caused strain on a number of relationships is a gross understatement.
According to one article, it even instigated divorce between a couple that had been married for over 20 years. Sadly, I wasn’t immune to the collateral damage either.
A couple of weeks before the election, a childhood friend posted a photo of herself with her three children at a Trump rally.
I was floored.
This was well after the cringe-worthy debates, the revelation of potential Russian connections, the failure to release tax returns and the scandal of Pussygate.
Seeing those boys I’ve known since birth, proudly smiling next to a cardboard cutout of Trump as if he were some kind of role model, made me sick to my stomach. My world literally felt like it was caving in.
By New Year’s Eve, the reality of what was happening was finally sinking in. America was divided more than anyone realized. On a night typically full of possibility and optimism for the year ahead, I was feeling the exact opposite.
As 2017 began, the countdown to the inauguration was well under way.
I had a choice: leave the country for a deserted island with no Internet access (believe me, I did a lot of research), or attend the Women’s March in DC.
I chose to march.
On Saturday, January 21st, donning a pink pussyhat my aunt hand-knitted for me, my husband and I made our way to the National Mall.
Nothing could’ve prepared me for the scene.
Huge crowds. Hilarious signs. And a massive outpouring of love, respect and unity among hundreds of thousands of strangers — many of whom had travelled from all over the country to give voice to the movement.
The event was definitely a protest. But not just any protest.
It was the most peaceful, polite and friendly protest I’d ever had the privilege of attending.
Highlights were many: two sisters knitting pink pussyhats to give away, people scaling trees to start a lively chant, and an impromptu conga line formed behind police moving through the crowd. There was smiling, there was laughter — there was even singing and dancing.
Without cell coverage during the event, it would be hours later before I learned of the overwhelming turnout of the other sister marches around the world.
From Argentina to Zimbabwe, streets were flooded in a sea of pink, bonded by a litany of signs that expressed all the fears, concerns and bewilderment we were experiencing here in America.
History was being made and it was beautiful.
That emotional roller coaster? I’m still on it.
But on that Saturday afternoon, among a half million (or more) individuals fighting the good fight, I finally felt an emotion that I thought was gone forever. An emotion that was with me when I first went to cast my ballot on Election Day.
Thank you Women’s March (and a shout-out to the Pussyhat Project too) for giving me what I desperately needed to maintain my sanity going forward. There are many who will criticize our efforts, downplay our impact and chide our pink hats, but they don’t know the joy, empowerment and solidarity we experienced that day. A revolution was ignited and it’s clear we will hang on to one another during this crazy ride, resisting for as long as necessary.
And so, with the March behind us, I’m left with only one question:
When are we doing it again?