The Times, Oh, They Are A’Changing

No matter what, when change occurs, it takes some time to adjust to the new reality of things. When the change is unwelcome, the adjustment period often co-occurs with sadness, grief, denial, anger, confusion, bargaining, and finally – hopefully – some form of acceptance.

Tuesday night around 11pm, after driving home from the VFW where I was watching the results roll in with a good (and sober) friend of mine, I walked into my boyfriend’s apartment, set my purse on the chair, and broke down crying. He came to me and held me, rubbed my back, and pulled me close. I cried for probably 5 minutes.

His roommate, R, and R’s girlfriend B sat nearby on the couch in the living room, their foreheads touching, arms wrapped around each other, silent.

After I calmed myself and collected my wits, R and B came to hug me. They grabbed beers from the fridge, and I noticed an empty wine bottle on the coffee table by the couch. R said something about trying to drink enough to make himself fall asleep. He said it wasn’t helping. He swallowed the first beer in several swift swigs and dove into another. It still wasn’t helping.

That night I laid in bed awake and restless until 4 in the morning. I could see the heartbreak spreading across my social media feeds. The fear. The pain. I couldn’t get my mind to stop, and for a moment, I wished again for a hard swig of booze to make me pass out. But the feeling passed eventually. And I laid there with that great mixture of pain, confusion, anger, and fear welling up within me. Beneath it all, one small splinter of hope clung onto my heart.

This will be okay. It has to be okay. This can’t be not okay. This will be okay.

That morning, exhausted, I drove to the gas station to pick up an energy drink and something to eat. As I walked up to the station, a man held the door open for me and smiled. As I left, another man held the door and smiled. I must have looked like hell. I cried in my car. I cried on the drive into the office. Really, I wept.

Mary, my 65-year-old coworker, hugged me when she came into the office. She looked at me and said, “I know I promised it would be okay. I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened.”

Many of my coworkers in the office stood quietly in a circle later that morning, talking about what to expect under a Trump presidency. The general consensus was that we simply couldn’t know what to expect.

This is change, folks. While one half of America is either rejoicing or breathing a sigh of relief that it’s all over, the other is coming to grips with facing this new reality. Many are angry about it. Many feel like they cannot breathe.  To be honest, it feels dark. These next four years will be very, very long.

The truth is that I haven’t ever really thought too hard about my citizenship until now. It felt like a given, and that has been my privilege. The idea of “being American” was always pretty passé and uninspiring, because as a white person, I’ve had very little deep-rooted culture to attach to my Americanness. I’m just…American. I felt proud when Obama was elected, sure. I embraced the progress but took it with a grain of salt.

My mouth is so full of salt now I can barely breathe.

But still, I will not drink. I won’t do harm to myself because of the actions of others. I have come too far to only come this far. In a way, I believe the same can be said for my country. We have pushed this huge boulder too far up the side of the mountain to let it slip away from us now.

I have come too far to allow the idea of hate to spread its way back into my heart. Not after all the work I’ve done while sober to push it out. Not after feeling so much pain caused by hatred for so long. I won’t accept it anymore. I refuse to make internal hatred or the hatred of others part of my world, as much as I possibly can.

I won’t drink because my country and community need me, and people like me, to help mend broken hearts and protect those who might be targets of violence or prejudice (on both sides).

I won’t drink because I am useless when I am drunk.

I won’t drink because clear-headed, open-hearted conversations need to happen between both sides now.

I won’t drink because drinking prevents healing. This is something I know very personally and deeply.

I won’t drink because this new reality is calling.

I won’t drink because no revolution ever started by getting shitfaced and passing out on the couch.

Day 125.

3 thoughts on “The Times, Oh, They Are A’Changing

  1. Anna says:

    Oh yes. All of this. You are not alone, I’ve had the same thoughts, and I feel clearheaded and powerful. Ready to take this on and be a shining light in a place of darkness We have a mission to be kind and spread love, booze will not let us do that. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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