Land That I Love
I keep crying at my desk.
When I was 19, my then-fiance called me over the phone to end our engagement, telling me he never loved me. I was young, naive, and had never had my heart broken. The idea he could betray me, hurt me, leave me, had honestly never crossed my mind. The grief was so intense I felt it as physical pain, stabbing daggers in my chest. My sister tells me I was screaming more than crying, but I don’t remember this. The pain was so severe, I felt disconnected from my body. It was the closest to a mental breakdown I ever had.
This morning I had that same disconnect, the same kind of grief that manifests as physical pain. I felt disconnected from my body, my mind, as if my psyche was trying to protect me from the reality I woke up to. Donald Trump is president. The man who began his campaign calling Mexican’s rapists, who has zero public service experience, who has said, on record, you have to treat women like shit. He is the president elect.
I’m grieving. Not a Republican winning the presidency. I’m not even grieving the failure of America to elect it’s first female president (although I’m sure I will soon enough.) I’m grieving the fact that millions of Americans voted for pure, unadulterated hate. My country elected hate to the highest office of the land. The leader of the free world is now a man who hates immigrants, women, Muslims, war-veterans, the disabled, and anyone who does not bow down and give him the glory and honor he so craves. Despite his ignorance, his complete and total lack of qualifications for this most precious responsibility, millions of white Americans said, “No matter. He’s better than her.”
It’s shocking and it’s not. That this country has this many people willing to vote for hate shocks me, but not that hate runs through so many of our veins. That ignorance and inexperience and utter incompetence could prevail – that Republicans wouldn’t stop it, that the media treated it as entertainment, that emails were made an issue on the same scale as sexual assault….this is America. This is the land that I….love? No. This is the land that never loved me.
I can’t stop crying at my desk. I sit in an open concept floor plan, no cubicles, no wall dividers. My co-workers can all see and hear me. I can’t meet the eyes of the white ones, can’t look at them, wondering if they were part of who did this. The first person who asked me if I was alright, acknowledged my tears, was my black female co-worker, who sits a few desks away.
“Are you okay?” She sent me a message via Lync.
“No. Not really,” I typed.
“Let’s talk outside.”
Together we lamented. I cried. We both expressed our disbelief that 66% of white women voted for a man who has, on camera, said he doesn’t respect women, and bragged about committing sexual assault. We talked some more and my tears eventually stopped. Her kindness was the first thing since last night that has given me hope.
I am grieving. I will be grieving for some time. But once I am able to pull myself up, to go on, like I did before the last time my heart was broken like this, I will not forget this pain. Or the kindness of people like my co-worker.
No matter where we go from here, America is no longer the land that I love. It’s the land that broke my heart.