Let me begin by first confessing the worst sin a moderately liberal female can commit in this election year: I am not necessarily ‘for’ Hillary Clinton. I know, sacrilege. Here I am, PROUD ally to the LGBTQA community, with three incredible sons I’m raising to recognize those important things like: informed consent, gender nonconformity, freedom of speech, and so on. . . but I just don’t feel that passion. I didn’t care for Bernie, either (although he grew on me in the end).
I’ve followed this election with a curiosity I’ve not dedicated to prime time television since Tori Spelling and her family graced the Bravo network every week. Just loved that show – shout out @therealToriSpelling, stay strong Mama! ❤ Don’t judge me. Haters.
Anyway. . .I have watched this whole mess unfold with horror. Debating my very conservative work colleagues on things like rights, semantics and bathroom laws, trying desperately to maintain friendships with people who are just passionately for a republican ticket that would de-humanize my son and take away all the precious rights he was just on the cusp of being old enough to really enjoy. (Like, gasp, getting married to the love of his life – someday! God knows, that should be the most basic of all human rights, but ask Mike Pence. . . he wouldn’t even give my boy a job, never mind domestic happiness. . . )
Here’s my point. I’ve watched, and questioned. I’ve mostly kept my opinions to myself about Hillary Clinton, because she is just so clearly the lesser evil in this scenario, for a person with my person belief system and basic human values. BUT, during the debate last week I noticed something significant. Not only was I struggling with the PTSD I have carried since my divorce in 2004, but I was heavily relying on those soothing techniques normally required for pick up and drop off with my ex, or a particularly challenging therapy session, only I was sitting comfy on my sofa wrapped in my favorite blanket, listening to the way Trump was speaking at and over Clinton. Why was I feeling so shaken? So unsafe?
Being fairly private, I have never shared the truth about my past on social media. Many mutual friends know my ex husband, and while our child together is not currently on social media, I’m sure he will be someday. He knows, but it just isn’t the same as reading about my personal feelings about it in depth and without filter. So, I’ve stayed quiet.
Until I noticed other domestic abuse survivors also mentioning their struggles with the debate. Until I saw friends reaching out with sarcasm and hope intertwined, looking for understanding. Until I saw women I otherwise respected, mocking people for feeling triggered by Trumps very personality. Mocking those that have survived emotional, physical, sexual abuses. Mocking me.
So, I created a silly but poignant hashtag for myself and others to use while watching the debate. It lightened the pressure, created a feeling of one-ness, and you know what? It was shared out, and appreciated. I received messages from more than one friend who related deeply to the same level of discomfort I had felt while watching that disgrace of American politics.
And then that was mocked as well.
There was no hesitation. I shared out an article found on Huffington Post Women later in the week, and in my post shared all of the very personal reasons why I cannot ever support Trump, or anyone like him.
Because in my first marriage and in the courtship leading up to that marriage, I was abused in every way a woman can be. I had warning signs. I had lovely friends who staged a full blown intervention, begging me to break it off both while we were dating and later once we were engaged. On the day of our wedding, my mother offered to drive me three hours north to hide at my grandmother’s summer home! I listened to no one.
I was 19 then. Now, at 35, I still cannot be in an enclosed space with him without getting dizzy and feeling the same levels of internal panic I did 16 years ago when I was his wife. The body doesn’t forget. It may be worse for me, because I was just SO clever about my disassociation that I actually didn’t process most of the abuses until just over the past year or so. It’s been an intentional thing, learning to stay in my feelings and ride out the fear and grief, and I am proud of that work. It’s because of that grueling effort that I am unbelievably offended by the callousness and cruelty of these supporters mocking women like me, who have struggled to overcome – and who struggle to live with the constant anxiety that is left over even after escaping.
It wound up being incredibly freeing, to share that side of myself. Why should I keep his secrets, after all. So thank you, 2016 election cycle. You’ve taught me many, many lessons – tremendous lessons. Mainly disappointing and disheartening lessons about my fellow Americans. There was one good thing that I learned through all this chaos and discord -that I’m not alone, and I don’t have to be ashamed.
Judging women for how they’ve fought to overcome their battles is for the weak, and the hard-hearted. That has just never been my style ❤ Vote for whomever you believe is best for our country, and if you must mock the other side – let’s at least agree to keep domestic abuse out of it. Unless you’ve walked the path, you have no business making light of it.