Tuesday, November 09, 2004

My Heart is Numb with Grief

The words sat mutely on the computer screen, and it took long, sad moments for my brain to catch up with my eyes. "Kerry Concedes."

[Other bloggers have enumerated the sins of this administration far more eloquently and in more detail than I will attempt here. But I am going to be talking about them, ranting if you will, for the rest of this post, to perhaps explain the extremity of my disgust and despair over the election results. But let me warn you right now: As this is my blog, I am making no attempt to be fair and balanced whatsoever. This is my description of the unchecked emotional outpouring I felt after the results were in, and until the next appointed puppets in the Supreme Court decide to forgo all pretense of adherence to the Constitution, and carelessly chuck out the Bill of Rights like it's some useless Ikea assembly instructions, I still have the right of free speech, and will rant about this travesty in any way I see fit. If you are offended by the liberal point of view, don't even bother reading any further. Okay, you've been warned.]

Before I had the chance to censor myself, I felt the tears in my eyes, and a tsunami of hopelessness and grief washed over me. Never before in my life have I felt so personally, emotionally involved in the results of a presidential election as I did this year, knowing that so much of the present and the future are at stake. And for a few moments the night before, I had allowed myself to believe that, quite possibly, the nightmare would be over, and someone, sweet Jesus, SOMEONE would come along and save us from the obvious catastrophes to come.

I can't believe that the majority of the country voted for this stammeringly stupid, cold-hearted frat boy, under the guise that his Christian morality and bravery in the face of invisible WMD's will save this nation. What about the economy? It's in ruins. What about the civil rights that previous generations fought so hard for? The notion that this miserable excuse for a president will influence Supreme Court decisions for decades to come makes me so angry. How DARE a religious group be allowed to alter the decision making process of this country. What happened to separation of church and state? As a Christian, I am APPALLED at the decisions currently being made in the name of Christianity. You think Jesus was angry with the money changers in the temple? Wait until He gets a hold of the sons of bitches that are currently in power. There is a separate circle of hell just for Dick Cheney alone, and another for every evil bastard who decided that it's better to go invade a country based on lies and deceit, than it is to allow loving partners of the same sex to be allowed to visit one another in the hospital ICU.

There is a sickness in this country right now that scares me down to the marrow, a complete blind faith in a president and administration that is so incompetent and deceitful that their Pinocchio noses dwarf the size of the national debt. The misguided war, the favoritism shown to corporations over the middle class, the rape of the environment, the cavalier dismissal of the opinions of the United Nations, the contempt in which we are now held by the majority of the world, the erosion of civil rights, the homophobia, the religious fanaticism and the lack of attention to the health care crisis, are just a few of the issues that bulldozed over my brain in that moment - the moment I realized that any hope of a real dialogue and hope of change regarding these issues was dead, for at least another four years. I hang my head in shame.

The cascade of fears, regrets, anger, loathing and despair engulfed me so quickly, that I froze. That familiar, terrifying feeling, of my face paralyzed into a mask of solemnity and devastation, came over me before I'd even fully processed the message. It was the frozen facade of depression, that I've fought for so long, covering my face and dulling my senses, in one fell swoop. It has never come over me so quickly before, literally in seconds, and I was scared and desperate to go home and crawl into bed.

For someone who grew up in a home where extreme displays of emotion were tamped down, so as to not arouse the turmoil within the Mother Beast, crying in public, or in front of nearly anyone for that matter, is just short of humiliating. You can't be angry with Mom, it'll upset her. She'll throw a complete fit if you don't go make up with her and tell her you love her. Go hug her, so she'll calm down. (No, it doesn't matter that you are still angry and that your anger is justified, go make up with her anyway.) Don't cry in front of Mom, or you'll have to explain to her what you are upset about, and then she will fly into a ranting rage at the real or her imagined source of your unhappiness, completely out of proportion to the event. And whatever you do, don't tell her that you are sad, or she will be unbearable to live with, sobbing and carrying on as if she were the injured party.

The lesson I learned from those early days: Don't show people your emotions, you aren't entitled to them anyway, and others' emotions take precedence over yours, anyway. The ability to articulate these lessons doesn't make the instinct to fall back into these patterns any less strong. Showing uncomfortable emotions, learning when, where and how much is appropriate, and once it is let out, getting control over extreme emotion, is still a difficult work in progress. So you can imagine my mortification at both the intensity and speed with which this depression descended upon me, at the same time at which I was trying to get a grip on the surprising flood of tears. The grief was palpable, as if I had just lost a loved one, and I was unprepared for the size and swiftness of its grasp.

There would be no opportunity to go home from work, not for hours. But since the first tidal wave of grief came over me, I wasn't able to stop the silent crying. As it happened, that day was very busy, forcing me to come into contact with a steady stream of both strangers and distant acquaintances as I grappled with my emotions. I used the useful white lie I have called upon for years, on the few occasions when I became overwhelmed in a public place with no hope of privacy - I always say that my allergies are bothering me. It's a perfect excuse to be red-eyed and dabbing at your eyes and face with a tissue, without having to explain why on earth you are so emotional that you are crying in public.

I wadded through the sea of faces and demands on my time and attention until the end of the day, the whole time feeling like I was wearing a heavy mask, unable to smile or find humor or pleasure in anything. The country I love is not the country I thought it was, and I felt alienated and confused, disenfranchised in my own home. The despair and resultant exhaustion stayed with me for days, as I dragged myself to and from activities with the knowledge that eventually, somehow, I would make it to acceptance. But not yet.

How could my America be the world's bully? How could most of the country be so blinded with fear by 9/11 that they can't see that the administration is playing a deadly game, diverting attention from our real security risk. by going after the President's personal enemy instead of the country's true, admitted foe? How can the people be willing to turn a blind eye to the obvious personal financial gains of the Vice President as a result of this war? How does the average American ignore the tax cuts for the minority of super-rich individuals who Bush owed favors to, while allowing themselves to be bribed with $300 into thinking that the administration cares one iota for the middle class, blue collar worker and the army of unemployed, poverty-stricken and underinsured? What will happen to our environment if the current administration continues to allow corporations to pollute the air, ground and water at the current rate? Do you REALLY think that this president, from an oil family, will give a crap about supporting environmentally friendly energy alternatives? Has he so far? Has the word of God and Jesus Christ been perverted so fully by certain organized religious groups that xenophobia and homophobia are acceptable replacements for loving thy neighbor as thyself?

November 3 was one of the saddest days of my life.

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