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I'm tired.

I'm so, so tired, but I must attempt to capture my thoughts, my feelings and my heart tonight before I sleep.

I'm tired of fighting. I'm tired of repeating myself, and hearing others repeat themselves, too. I’m tired of defending. I'm tired of being surrounded by negativity. I’m tired of the constant hum of each of us trying to speak louder than the next and “win.”

I've spent the last year fighting for my life, very literally. Putting my emotional framework back into place, reconciling the millions of shattered fragments and pieces of a woman who was once very strong, but who gave away her power, little by little, until she collapsed. 

I’ve stood up day after day this year when the weight of my reality felt as though it would crush me. I stood back up. Again. And again. Until standing up didn’t feel so hard anymore. Day. By day.

Recently, but only very recently, my grief has passed. Optimism, gratitude, trust, faith, happiness, hope and love dominate my emotional spectrum, a glaring contrast to despair, pity, hopelessness, sadness and pain just six months ago. 

In this process of healing my own heart and attending to my own very personal process, I did what they said. What Democrats are currently being accused of. I remained in a bubble until this morning. I rid my circle of the voices that opposed my views and the echoes in the chamber assured me that today would not happen. But it did. 

But I remained in my bubble because I was fighting my own battle to live, to rise again from the ashes of my burnt down hopes, dreams and hard work, and to build a new day for my daughter. I was of no use in fighting for democracy when it took every ounce of my mental and physical strength to assure myself that we — my daughter and I — were going to be okay. I rid myself of opposing voices because the leader of the voices was spewing a fountain of consistently vile hatred and negativity at a time when one positive or self-affirming thought per day was an accomplishment. It was self-preservation that kept me from participating at a higher level. I told myself to tune out for self-preservation, that the reality we are living today was entirely impossible.

Self-aggrandizing? Perhaps. But I endured the worst year of my life this year, and just as I’ve come out of the cave, just as one cycle of grief moved through and out of my body, heart and soul, another has begun with the worst timing imaginable.

I trust that, in time, I will understand why Trump supporters — and I don’t mean the KKK, and the blatant, overt bigots, but rather the members of my own extended family and friends (I haven't had one friend own up to that vote, but surely one or two are hiding in there) — made this questionable choice. 

What I don’t believe I will ever understand is how he was the lesser of two evils, or how voting a third party to serve one's “conscience” served us well. I do care that Hillary rigged the Democratic nomination in her favor. I wanted Bernie. I still believe in Bernie. The system is broken and she’s the status quo. But choosing a racist, sexist, misogynistic, bigoted, pussy-grabbing maniac will never make sense to me. I have grandparents, and uncles, and aunts, and cousins who chose a man who brags about sexually assaulting women, and dismisses such behavior is locker room talk.

I — a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed woman — feel terrified, but the reason I could not control my tears all day was for those whose terror is magnified on a spectrum far beyond my own or even, my imagination. 

If my skin were darker, or others deemed me a terrorist based on my religion, I would have woken up today a living, breathing, walking target for the margin of Trump-supporters who now feel they have justification to act on their hate.

But I still woke up a woman. And the mother of a very young woman. That, in itself, holds a number of terrors. My only glimmer of hope in Hillary was to be led, if only for four years, by a human who understands exactly what this means. For as well-meaning as any male ally is, the experience of being a woman is sometimes hard to put into words and is rarely adequately understand by anyone other than a woman. 

My right to control my vagina, my uterus and therefore my own body is in jeopardy. I still live in a country where men can tell me what to do, despite having been told my entire life and wanting with my entire heart, to believe that isn’t true. 

For the next four years, I will not be able to forget that people close to me don’t care about keeping me safe and about keeping so many people close to me safe. That will be hard to swallow at Thanksgiving this year, or on Christmas Eve.

Waking up to that reality this morning crushed my heart, it crushed my spirit, it crushed my personal emotional progress, and it said, WAKE UP. I felt deep sadness, confusion, shock, as though someone had died, I had lost something. That feeling describes grief.

And the answer to that wave of grief is not 'buck up.' Not 'stop crying.' Not 'quit your whining.' Not 'get over it.'

No.

Feel all the feels. Feel shock and denial and disbelief. Feel angry. Feel the “what if’s” and the “if only’s.” Feel sad and hopeless. Feel despair. Feel scared. 

As you move through these stages, you will eventually come upon the final stage of grief. Acceptance. Not in the sense that you condone the four years ahead or support our leader.

Acceptance as in, I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to try to understand why this happened and open my heart to the lessons to be learned here. I’m ready to rally against a broken system. I’m ready to hear what I don’t want to hear and feel what I don’t want to feel in order to understand and love the “other.” 

I’m not quite there yet. I’m stuck between shock, anger and despair. But I recently rode this roller coaster and I will prove that I’m a fighter yet again, but more so, that I am willing to build bridges and engage love, even in the face of ignorance and hate.

I woke up scared. But I’m going to bed with the resolution that the past year has equipped me with. The past year, and Finding Dory, that is: Just keep swimming