Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Show up and shine.
Speechless, yet so many words inside me.
Paralyzed with fear, yet grappling for a handhold.
I started my work day talking to a Hispanic friend, who held back tears as she told me that her half Hispanic, half black daughter cried all night, realizing realities way too harsh for any young person to ever have to know.
As a woman, I am a second class citizen.
Yet I am dripping with white privilege, privilege that I cannot vote away.
I am in debt, yet I am educated. I have had the opportunity to learn, far beyond the minimum amount of learning required by the State.
I don't know what to do with the person that is me, with my womanhood, with my whiteness, with my knowledge. As an (admittedly) pretty self-involved person, I like knowing who I am and what I am to do as that person.
I showed up yesterday; I have a sticker to prove it. But today I feel like I'm waiting for an earthquake. What next? What now?
As the results were officially announced last night, I was on stage at karaoke (I watched results at home with the cat and then decided I needed to be with people). I thought it horribly inappropriate to be singing in such a moment, and I was disgusted with myself, to be honest, but as everyone's gaze turned to CNN, I thought that all I could do was keep singing:
"What the world needs now, is love, sweet love."
Today a friend called to tell me that she's worried about someone in her life who is inconsolable after the election. I called someone else I know, a licensed therapist, to see if she would guide my friend through today.
We can only get through today at this point. That's all we can ever do. Life has never guaranteed us two days to rub together, but God do I hope we have more days of hope and love ahead.
When I asked my therapist friend if she'd be willing to talk to my other friend, she said, "Of course."
She showed up.
When my friend called me today, my heart pounded as she talked. As I thought of other people in my life who I'm worried about.
And I mean truly worried about.
I've always been a little more paranoid than most, when it comes to fearing that people might harm themselves.
But here's the reason why: I've been there. I've been afraid that I might harm myself, so I know that such a thing is real, and not a joke.
I've been in despair. I've been so low that I couldn't see light.
So, yes. I worry. I worry greatly. And I take my friends' phone calls and I refer them to the therapists in my life and I pray and remind people that I will take phone calls at 3 a.m.
And I urge you to be on alert with your friends and loved ones, now and always, for signs that they may be in despair, in the dark.
Be the light. Show up.
A few more things and then I'll leave you be.
I won't lie. I'm scared today. More so than I am sad, and I am a whole lot of that. More than anything else I'm feeling today, I'm feeling absolutely terrified for the physical safety of many people, for very many reasons.
But somewhere I am finding strength.
I may finally crumple tonight into the tears that I've been choking back throughout today. But so far, I haven't veered into a panic attack.
After I got off the phone with my friend today, where I was composed and calm and handed out advice like a strong and steady Oprah, I thought, "When is it my turn to have a breakdown?"
I've hesitated to text people today. I fear that if we open our mouths, we'll truly feel the grief. The grief of a nation divided. The grief of...well, just so many things. Too many to name here, without getting into an argument. Which is another thing we grieve.
I have feared today that if I open my mouth, no matter what I say, we'll feel our open wound, with grit poured in and ground around in the flesh.
I'm not ready to really get raw. And I'm usually always game for getting raw.
But on a few occasions today, I've reached out. I've said I'm scared. I've said I can't concentrate on work. I've said I can't be alone tonight, can I come over?
And people have shown up.
Every night Max shows up in my lap. He's in it right now, and his purring motor has shown up, too.
My family has shown up. My friends. Strangers. Educators. Leaders. They've supported me and valued me and loved me.
This week Alex showed up for me in a way that means the world to me. He didn't have to show up and he did and I nearly cried and I counted his presence a miracle.
I KNOW that people in my life will show up. People who voted for Hillary, for Trump, and for those other people whose names, to be honest, I couldn't tell you.
I know that if I get so sad and scared that I feel like jumping off a bridge, SO MANY PEOPLE will claw for me. Will grab me back over the railing. Will hold me as I sob, and will give me the tools and the love to see that I can keep going.
You are good, People. You've shown up before, you showed up for me today, and I know you'll show up again, and not just for me.
There is light in all of you. Please keep it on, nice and bright, and shine it in the corners.
Shine your light under beds; assure the children that there are no monsters.
Shine your light on the streets; don't let people pass your warm body and think they're alone.
Shine your light in your house of worship; read the Torah and break bread and remember that you are small but mighty.
And shine your light on the person nearest you right now. If you can't stand them, give them dignity. If you love them, wrap them up in a long embrace -- if tears come so be it. Let them flow until you can breathe again and then get a glass of water. Or whiskey; your choice.
Late this afternoon I finally cracked up. Not in a I'm-falling-apart way. But in a oh-my-goodness-I'm-laughing way. I didn't fall apart. In laughter I was knit back together.
Tonight I'm getting together with a leader in love. Someone who shines light even when he's in the dark. We're showing up for each other.
To quote the lovely Lauren Daigle, "I will stand my ground. Where hope can be found."
To all of you, who have been light in my life, thank you for showing up. I love you more than I can say.