The seven stages of grief for the future of America

The seven stages of grief for the future of America

Shock

I turned CNN off around 11 PM on Tuesday, November 8th. I couldn’t handle it anymore. It made my head hurt.

“Do you want to go to bed?” my husband asked.

No. I couldn’t sleep. I felt numb. I felt punched in the gut. I felt like all the air had been sucked out of the world and I couldn’t breathe.

How had this happened?

But I got in bed anyway. Not to sleep. To scroll through my Facebook feed. To update the google live election page a hundred times a second. Willing Pennsylvania to turn blue. Wisconsin. Even Arizona.

At 1:23 AM, I made my husband come to bed and turn on Trump’s acceptance speech. I buried my head into his shoulder and I wept until I had no more tears and then I went to sleep.

Denial

My 8 year old came to me in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, November 9th to ask, excitedly, who had won. He was sure it was Clinton. Because I was sure it was Clinton. I was sure it would be Clinton. I was sure my husband and I would have listened with tears in our eyes as our first female president-elect made her acceptance speech. None of what had happened the night before seemed real.

I couldn’t find the words to admit the truth. I couldn’t tell him that a man bent on stripping our family, our friends, our community, so many people that we love of their rights as human beings had won the most powerful office in our entire country.

So I didn’t. I didn’t have to. I took him in my arms and held him as he wept until he had no more tears. And I wept with him until I had no more tears. And I promised him that we would keep him safe. We would protect him, no matter the cost. No matter what.

I refused to get out of bed. To acknowledge that this day had actually dawned. I covered my head with the blankets and pretended it was Tuesday all over again and I was stuck in a Groundhog’s Day scenario, like Bill Murray, only I wouldn’t seek to correct this day, unless by correct, you mean figure out a way to make America wake up and do the right thing.

I wanted to hold on to that feeling I had the day before. When I had hope, hope that tomorrow would dawn brighter than today. Hope that the world was a beautiful place. Hope that half of our voting country wouldn’t choose hate.

Hope that my child would have a future protected by a federal government that acknowledged him as a person worthy and deserving of the same rights as everyone else.

When I finally did, when I finally ventured to my computer, to see the damage that less than 8 hours of the new president-elect had caused, I was outraged.

Anger

Outraged by the news reports of KKK members on bridges or people posing as KKK members. Either is just as bad. Of graffiti spray painted on walls, messages of hate and vitriol that have no place in my America.

Outraged by reports from Trump’s campaign, making promises of their “first steps” in office. To repeal the ACA, which might result in us losing health coverage for my son when he gets blockers. Blockers cost $15,000 every two years, minimum. How could we possibly afford that? Or my dear friend’s husband, who relied on the ACA for his medicine and treatments for brain cancer. Repealing the ACA could very well be a death sentence for him.

To place a conservative Supreme Court Justice in the open seat, which would result in Gavin Grimm’s case being denied. If we don’t have the protection of Title IX to ensure our children are not discriminated against and segregated in schools, how would my child and other trans children ever be safe?

To overturn the Marriage Equality ruling. To overturn Roe V Wade. To undo every single thing that Obama had done over the past 8 years.

Bargaining / Denial / Anger / Hope

There’s no way he could undo every single thing that Obama had done, right? I mean, that’s insane. There has to be systems of checks and balances in place, to make sure that doesn’t happen.

I googled, Can a president undo an executive order?

Yep.

Can a president undo all executive orders?

Yep, again.

Of course, it wouldn’t happen instantly and there might be social backlash and outrage. But in a nutshell, yes. And certainly social backlash and outrage hadn’t stopped Trump thus far.

Maybe he’d get impeached before he was sworn in. Maybe he’d get arrested.

Except that would leave us Pence and he was so, so much worse.

Of course, that’s assuming Pence wouldn’t be running the country anyway, and Trump would simply be the figurehead spewing the hateful rhetoric of the far right.

I started crying around lunchtime, when word came out of LGBT youth who, in despair at the outcome of the election, had taken their own lives. I posted Suicide Hotline Numbers, I checked in on anyone and everyone I knew.

I even prayed.

I prayed that whatever cosmic force might be out there, to please, please give us some small ounce of hope. Some small amount of courage to pick ourselves up after this crippling blow and to move forward. To survive these next four years and to come out of it, whole and mostly unscathed, to make our world a better place.

And I don’t pray.

Depression

It was all too much. All of it. The reports, the posts, the numbers coming out.

I left my darling son to read his books, I put my youngest down for a nap, and I closed my bedroom door and wished the world to stop spinning.

Anger / Bargaining / Acceptance / Hope

When I came back to reality a few hours later, I started to see posts about falling in line and getting behind Trump because the people had spoken. Then the posts about how sick everyone was of hearing the whining liberals who couldn’t handle that their precious Hillary had lost.

I felt like I was swallowing bile. How dare they? How dare anyone shame me for my fear, my terror at a Trump presidency, for my shock and inability to react or to cope with the reality that I now live in?

How dare anyone sit in their privilege and point a finger at me? How dare anyone accuse anyone else of being weak or a poor loser? People will lose their rights. Their basic human rights. Their marriages and their children and their homes. Get over it? Move on? Keep fighting?

Those people who could be so heartless as to post that clearly have never experienced the depth of discrimination that so many of us have. Those people have never been made to feel like they don’t matter, like they’re less than human. Unworthy.

Worse, is that some of it came from liberals. People who voted for Hillary too.

But damnit, I want to go on fighting. I want to pick myself up and take the steps I need to ensure the safety of my son, of my family, of my community. I want to protest and petition and go on advocating as I have before. I want to live without fear that my son’s rights will be stripped away. I want to live in an America that embraces every single person.

I want to live in a world where love conquers all.

Acceptance

Except that I don’t.

I live in this America. This America where Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States.

And there’s not a damn thing I can do to change that.

But there are things I can do, that we can all do, to prepare for the next four years.

I can be strong for my children. I can speak up for what is right and against what is wrong. There are no laws, yet, to prevent that.

I can attend local school board meetings when they discuss issues of policy that might encourage discrimination and I can educate the school board members before they vote.

I can meet with my state representatives, even though they’re Republican. I can share my story, my fears, my concerns. I can force them to put my face to my cause, when they get down to Springfield to vote and maybe, who knows? Maybe change their minds.

I can attend Black Lives Matter protests and I can stand beside any person of color who is pulled over and interrogated or harassed by police. I can be a witness.

You can too.

Or if you’re too afraid to be vocal, if you’re too frightened of exposing your family and yourself to harassment and discrimination and violence, then reach out to anyone you know, today, tomorrow, next week, next year. Tell them they matter, that someone loves them and needs them in this world and that they shouldn’t ever give up.

Serve food at homeless shelters. Collect donations and raise funds. Donate money to organizations who will fight in your name.

Do something. Or do nothing. And that’s okay too.

But please, do not give up.

We live in this America. Our America. And we’re not beaten yet.

 Don’t miss either of my Listen to Your Mother Videos: Best Laid Plans and Welcome to My Holland.

Interested in learning more about my son? Read Portrait of a Transgender Child.  You can read my latest post here: Birds, Bees, and Unicorns: an Interview with Cory Silverberg

I’d love to hear your story. Please email me at affirmedmom@gmail.com if you want to share.

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photo credit: Aramisse Pleurer via photopin (license)

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