I didn’t want to write this story.
Last Tuesday night, I didn’t take my coat or shoes off until three in the morning.
I’d walked through my front door that evening and immediately flipped my laptop open to watch a live feed of the election results while I made dinner for my daughters, thinking it would be an exciting, happy night of watching the first woman President be elected.
Needless to say, it didn’t quite go down like that.
I guess I kept thinking if I didn’t take my coat off, or if I only kept my shoes on, it would mean time could still go back. Part of me was still outside, in my white dress for the suffragettes, with my Hillary button proudly pinned on my coat, floating on a happy election day cloud of optimism and hope.
Something had gone terribly wrong, and I was confused.
Finally, close to midnight, it started to sink in that things were really not going to go the way I’d hoped…
I started to cry, and once I started, I couldn’t stop.
I cried on the phone with my mother, who didn’t believe me when I said Hillary was going to lose. I cried when my eldest daughter came to say goodnight, after finishing her homework. She asked if the election was over yet, and I just nodded vacantly.
I stayed awake until Trump made his victory speech. Then, exhausted and numb, I finally took my boots and jacket off. I slept for just a couple of hours before it was time to get the girls up for school. My little one asked me what had happened as soon as she woke up – but she hardly had to ask. She could see it on my face. She started to sob, and I struggled to hold it together and comfort her.
On the walk to her carpool, I started to cry again as I passed my friends on the street. I live in a very diverse city; there are many immigrant families, Muslim families, and people from all different places. No one was smiling. There was fear in people’s eyes. I overhead kids walking to school and solemnly saying, “my parents voted for Hillary.”.
I had trouble getting any work done that day. I watched Hillary give her concession speech, then Obama address the nation. I swung between rage and disbelief all day. I kept crying.
I cried because the day before, my doctor had prescribed antibiotics for the bronchitis that had left me coughing for weeks – and now, I might lose my health insurance. The girls and I have Obamacare, which Trump vowed to “repeal and replace” during his campaign. I wondered what would happen the next time I was sick.
I cried because I never saw Hillary’s loss coming. I was naive. I thought it would be landslide for her. I wasn’t even nervous. And I love her so much.
I cried because I took my little girl into the voting booth with me and let her fill in the little circle for Hillary, thinking she was participating in making history.
I cried because I was planning to take my girls to Washington DC in January, to watch the first woman president be inaugurated.
And I cried because every time I hear Donald Trump’s voice, I hear the voice of the man who raped me. When I see his face, I remember being pinned to the floor, not being able to breathe.
Trump is a known serial sexual predator and criminal. He’s a bigot and a racist. We knew this. We knew. And yet, people didn’t care. They voted him into office anyway. Hillary trounced him in every debate, and still, he won.
When the announcement came that my dream had been extinguished, I wanted Hillary and Obama to do something, to denounce this man, to say they’d protect us from him – and they didn’t. Instead, they said we needed to accept the results and root for his success. They would do nothing. Democracy was more important to them than the fact we’d elected a man who has zero qualifications for the job, who doesn’t even seem to want the job (he’s already said he won’t live in the White House full-time), and who has tacitly condoned his supporters’ hate speech and crimes against anyone they don’t like.
I didn’t want to have to write this version of the election story. I still don’t want to write it. I don’t have a happy ending. It feels, even a week later, like the end of the world.
Comment: How did you tell your children about Trump being named the next President?