Since about 11:30 on Tuesday night, I have been rotating feeling scared, helpless, angry, hurt, and sad. I felt shaky, though I wasn’t physically shaking. And I couldn’t control my tears. People have seen me cry. I have let people hug me.
I have also drank and ate and slept and turned off Facebook but obsessively checked Twitter and watched news coverage and then turned on bad movies to distract myself, while still checking Twitter and responding to friend’s text messages asking if I was okay.
The drinking and eating and checking social media is all pretty normal for me --- it is how I cope --- but I’m not particularly outwardly emotional person. So, today, when my boss asked me how I was doing and I responded “I am going to be fine” but started crying, she was alarmed and asked me into her office.
We talked. I cried some more. I expressed feeling stupid about being so upset about this and she listened and offered some advice and assured me that I wasn’t stupid and that it is okay to be upset and that maybe I should talk to someone about how I have internalized this and about my anger and I listened and said I would consider it.
She then told me I should go home.
I told her I would be fine.
She told me to go home.
I said I was really busy and had to stay.
She told me to take my laptop home, go for a run, log back on and finish up whatever needed to get done.
I assured I would be fine.
She told me if I didn’t go home she would be angry.
I then said it was too embarrassing, that I had to go home because I was too emotionally wrought from an election everyone else in the department seemed to be processing just fine.
She then told me to give it an hour and then pretend I was leaving for a meeting.
I agreed I would.
But I didn’t want to. Yes, it was embarrassing. But there was also something else. Something true. I didn’t want to feel better. I worried feeling better meant congratulating the orange-faced monster and hoping it will all be okay even though a 1/3 of my fellow Americans heard everything he said this last year, shrugged and said, “Yeah, but never her.”
More than 50 percent of those voters were white women.
I didn’t want to feel better. I didn’t want to feel okay with this election.
Still, I was being sent home. And when I got home I did go for a run. Because I felt like I had to: not only did my boss order it but I couldn’t get sent home from work again tomorrow.
And it helped. I no longer feel on the verge of tears. My skin is no longer crawling. I no longer need to stare at my hands to see if they are actually shaking or if it just feels that way.
But I am still angry. Maybe even angrier. And scared. And hurt. I am still not ready to call him president or feel empathy for the rich white people who voted for him or believe the rhetoric that this was about anything other than racism and sexism.
But I also feel physically better, stronger: not helpless. Which is why I want to reach out to all of you out there still hurting: resist the urge to for paralysis, resist the urge to do things harmful to yourself because it may temporarily make you feel better (whether it is binge eating or drinking or a combination of both, smoking, engaging in other risky behavior). Instead do something good for yourself. Take care of yourself. Your anger won’t go away. You will just be in better shape for this fight.