I have four posts in drafts that I can’t bring myself to publish.
Like many of you, this election has me wound up, unwound, locked up, flayed open, anxious anxious anxious. I didn’t really realize until yesterday how bad it’s been, which is itself a symptom of how bad it’s been because I’m kinda boss at the self-awareness in recent years. Out of necessity.
So it was startling to me to tally all the evidence that I’m struggling to hold myself together right now. How many little things I’ve forgotten this week. How much has slipped my mind that I would never have normally forgotten–to give a read on a friend’s essay, an essay I was excited to read. To return an important work email. To take my reusable tote covered in pics of veggies to the farmer’s market with me yesterday (it’s the little things, ok? I love my veggie tote, and I love filling it with veggies). I tucked Jax into bed the other night and he asked, mommy, are we going to brush my teeth?
I know these things might seem minor, but I don’t forget much. If something slips in my life it’s because there is no time, not because I forget. I don’t forget oil changes, appointments, obligations to friends, or things that are deeply ingrained in my routine–like helping little man get the Spongebob toothpaste on the Nemo toothbrush and reminding him that we don’t swallow paste. I can’t afford to forget things. My life, my jobs, my schedule, my writing, this solo mom thing, it’s all very precariously balanced on my ability to not screw up even a little bit.
I have been having intrusive thoughts. Mental pictures of men moving into my space, putting their hands on me, putting marks on my body. I have been having more difficulty managing my triggers than usual.
When I switched off the debate the other night, and tore myself away from Twitter, it was with this kind of eye-rolling resignation because I didn’t have the energy to be as angry as I was. I woke up angry. I tried to tell myself stuff like are you surprised? and this will be over soon and people are mostly good and they will see through this, because talking myself down has also become part of my routine, part of my trigger management. I moved through an incredibly busy week thinking I’d handled that anger, pushed it back down for a bit.
I have not. It took me until Thursday to figure that out.
The four posts sitting in my drafts are about 1) how I feel third party voters are privileging their political ideals over the safety, equality, and lives of women and POC; 2) coercive sex, how it’s rape, and how I’ve experienced it (<– first time I ever said that “out loud”); 3) being asked to serve on the advisory board of the domestic violence shelter in my community, the one that helped me obtain my Protection from Abuse order; and 4) writing a letter to an academic publisher of a book marketed to incoming first-year international students, in which I object to the statement that purports that one of the “causes” of rape on college campuses is excessive consumption of alcohol.
I write about rape and abuse culture because I have lived rape and abuse culture. I didn’t ask for these issues to factor so prominently into my life. And I certainly didn’t ask for a presidential candidate that perpetuates rape and abuse culture, and a base of support that perpetuates rape and abuse culture, and a major political party that perpetuates rape and abuse culture, and a media that perpetuates rape and abuse culture, and neighbors who perpetuate rape and abuse culture with their goddamn Trump signs everywhere while I’m just trying to take my son for a walk.
You don’t matter. Your body isn’t yours. You are worthless. You don’t matter. I’ve lived this for so long. Longer than not. So many of us have, whether because of gender, race, ability, class, sexual orientation, or country of origin. For me, right now, society is the abusive boyfriend from which I can’t escape. Michelle Obama called what Trump said “abuse” in her latest speech, and I am so thankful for that, but it’s not going to make anyone care who doesn’t already care. Everyone else–they are the neighbors who close the blinds, the cops who roll their eyes, the judges who don’t listen, the acquaintances who ask why you stayed but you know no answer you can provide will make them understand. They are all willfully ignorant of how women are dying inside and out, daily, from their perception of our worthlessness. They assault us literally and figuratively from all sides, and I’m so tired right now. I feel torn at the seams.
I don’t feel safe posting anything but this post about how I can’t post anything.
I’ve been trying to take Shawna’s advice, and I am doing the writing, but the “later” of “write now, worry later” keeps getting pushed back as my list of drafts grows.
It might be like this for a bit. I need a timeout. I’ve got nothing right now, you guys. Love for you all, but otherwise, I’ve just got nothing.