Aftershock

It’s Saturday after the election. I’ve caught up on sleep, headed back to the gym, and started reading and writing again—a return to some normalcy after the shock waves.

I didn’t think it would hit me this hard, because I actually didn’t even consider it could happen. I spent my day on Tuesday thinking about how I would reach out to my Republican family members—some Trump voters, some Johnson voters, some angry, reluctant Hillary voters—and move on. Get back to life without an ounce of gloating about my candidate winning. Little did I know they’d be the ones reaching out to me.

I’ve been glued to social media. At times it’s been comforting, seeing how others are coping. At times it takes everything in me not to jump through the screen and strangle people. I understand impulsivity when you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut. Hell, I started writing letters to generations of offspring I’ll never even know. But here are some thoughts to consider:

You have a choice in how you make people feel…

You should probably think about the consequences of your words…

And here’s a tough pill to swallow…

Is your own sense of self-righteousness hypocritical?

Ouch.

I am a heartbroken Democrat, but I refuse to let this turn me into something I’m not. I strongly believe in friendship, family, community, and working hard to find common ground. I know—if we choose to live in a completely dichotomous world, then there is no common ground. If that’s your belief, then it is. It’s not what President Obama asked you to do. It’s not what Hillary Clinton asked you to do. Vitriol is the antithesis of the First Lady’s battle cry, “When they go low, we go high!” Remember that? Maybe your anger will fuel you to do more. But first, look around. If you are letting this election destroy your family, check yourself. You need to talk this out with your uncle? Get off of Facebook and get on the damn phone. Did your mom piss you off with her third-party vote? Invite her to dinner. Or, here’s a thought… you can even look in the mirror and ask yourself if this is a bigger issue than just the election. Maybe you need to work on family, in general. Hmm.

I’m still thinking, planning, trying to find the best way to funnel my energy in the most effective way possible, because I am angry. I know it has to be more than just teaching. That’s my job. I love it, I feel inspired every day, but it’s what I get paid to do. Above and beyond my contract, I volunteer my time with Challenge Day, Community of Caring, and the literary magazine. This world I’m in has shown me the plight of those from different walks of life and how much we need each other. But I can do more. I have to do more. I’ve been complacent, and if my vote is my only civic duty, then I am the hypocrite. And so are you.

My battle cry is going to be loud, fierce, and peaceful. I will continue to fight the racists, the xenophobes, the bigots, the misogynists, but I refuse to stoop to their level or the level of the president-elect. I’ve spent my life honoring the written word too much to use that same gift towards more hatred. I think I need to pull myself together and stop writing letters to my imaginary granddaughters. Instead, I’m going to buy myself some gorgeous old-school stationery and start writing some respectful, but stern letters to the white patriarchy. It’s just a start, but it will help me get my thoughts in order. It will fuel the walk that I’ve talked for 20 years. It will set my purpose, the fire in my heart. While I’m at it though, I’ll probably write one to my mom and dad—a nice little thank you for never making this black sheep feel out of place, for always being proud of me, for consoling me after the woman I liked, and the woman they didn’t, lost. We don’t see completely eye to eye on things, but here’s the reality that all three of us know: There will come a day when they are no longer here, when I am left on this planet without them. And I bet I won’t be thinking about this election then.

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