Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife

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Resistance, Day 1

Posted by Lucille on November 10, 2016 at 5:50 PM

So much time has passed in the last day.

On the evening of November 8th, I remarked that I was nervous, but excited. Excited to witness the election of the first woman president. Excited to be done with this surreal reality show of an election. Excited to, sometime soon, watch an entire news cycle that didn't include Trump's latest violent obscenities. I remarked that there was literally nothing Trump could do that would surprise me. He could murder someone on camera and it would not have shocked me. It wouldn't even have shocked me for him to do that and then somehow be excused of all wrong doing, even praised by some people on the right. But I was wrong. There was one thing left that Trump could do that would still shock me. He won the election.

When we sat down to watch the results come in, analysts were giving Hillary a 75% chance of winning. And then Trump's numbers slowly rose. When it first rose above 50, we started pacing. We called family and friends. It dipped back below 50%, then started climbing again, and as it kept climbing, we stopped pacing and settled in front of the screen, motionless, numb with dread and horror. And then he hit 270. He did not win the popular vote, notably. But in spite of this, Trump was suddenly smiling and waving on the screen as he gave his acceptance speech.

The 24 hours that followed have been surreal.

Understand that this is not about losing an election. This is not about someone being elected who was not my preferred candidate or who has policies I disagree with. This is about electing a fascist whose policies are founded in a mentality of us vs. them, of weeding out the less desirable members of the community, of literally and figuratively building walls at every level possible. This is about electing someone who openly promotes violence against women and LGBT, Muslim, and Latinx folks, both personally and politically. I am as scared of the interpersonal violence Trump validates as I am of his policies. And he has a conservative Congress and Supreme Court with no one to hold him in check. It is not remotely an exageration to say that people will die. People, particularly in the aforementioned communities, will die as a direct result of this, both through hate crimes and through oppressive policies. The terror and rage people are feeling is real, valid, justified.

There is an order to these things. It is funny how you can know this without having lived through the opening sequence of a dystopian novel before. There is an order. First, you publicize yourself as an open door for those needing support, especially those in the communities that have been and will be most targeted. People will recognize the need for acute mental health support in the immediate aftermath of this, showing up on hotlines, in health centers, on street corners. Some of them will be professionals, others teenagers. Send them all your fierce love and pride. Send fierce love and pride, too, to everyone who recognizes their own need for support and does the brave, brave thing of seeking help when they need it.

Then, you tend to yourself. You may already see messages asking for unity across political lines. You may not be there yet. I am so sick of the false equivalences that have characterized this election. I am not in a place yet to reach for empathy for any of the people who actively or passively contributed to this disaster, and that's okay. You may already see messages expressing fear, rage, and promises of resistance or solidarity. You might not be there yet either. You might still just be numb. That is okay too. Meet yourself wherever you are. I was numb and the only thing I could feel in my body was the tension that precedes a migraine. I took my migraine pills and went to bed. Self care is radical. Should anyone start putting together an instruction manual for joining the rebels under a dystopian regime, let it be known that the Lucille-approved Step 2 is take your meds and go to bed.

Morning came, and I remembered that this had not been a nightmare. Still numb, I dragged myself to my reproductive health class. I had no energy but I went through the motions of getting to the bus stop because I felt more grateful than ever to be in school. Looking at the demographic breakdown of the election drove home the need for affordable education more than ever. It is about so much more than an individual's career aspirations or even the ability to benefit from a highly specialized profession when you need one. Affordable higher education effects our entire future as a country. 

There was a stunned, eery silence as we gathered in the classroom. Our teacher had been elevated to tears before she arrived and she thanked us for being there and opened the first part of the lecture for us to acknowlege our needs in light of recent events. We talked about what this might mean for us as future healthcare providers, including future abortion care providers. We shared our fear and horror and grief, and our resolute determination. We passed around tissues and chocolate and started plotting the revolution.

We made a plan for how to take care of ourselves while covering the content on pathophysiology effecting the menstrual cycle. It was hard to focus, but I was more successful than I expected, because continuing to learn how to empower people in their sexual & reproductive health felt like Step 3 of joining the resistance.

I came home. It had been 12 hours since Trump was elected.

There is a chunk of hours here I have trouble accounting for, and a good chance some of it was spent staring numbly at the wall, contemplating the surrealness and profound uncertainty of the future. A good portion was also spent on social media, sharing feelings and ideas, listening and serving as a mic boost for others, joining groups, signing petitions, marking down events. News reports were already coming in of hate crimes and sexual assaults across the country. I went through the motions of consuming food, then spent more time staring at the ceiling. 

In the early evening, there were sounds of helicopters and small explosions from outside. Alarmed, I pulled up the local news and saw that some people had been setting off fireworks in protest. I remembered saying before the election that if Trump won, I would protest in the streets. I had not anticipated such a profound feeling of numbness and exhaustion.

I went out onto my balcony for fresh air and looked out over my city. I have a view of the freeway where it crosses the river, with cars streaming in both directions. And then all traffic suddenly stopped. I knew, without being able to see or hear them, that that meant there were protests happening, and with enough people to shut down the entire freeway. And I suddenly knew I had to be there. Travis and I headed out.

We didn't catch up to the protest until they were back in downtown. We filed in and joined the chanting, peace signs held high. The protest joined up with a second one downtown, and then set out to make another loop across the river. We met up with friends from nursing school, marching together and yelling "Not my president," "No trump, no KKK no fascist USA," "Black lives matter, "These streets are our streets," and "Immigrants are welcome here," among others. I am enthusiastically embracing #notmypresident, not because I think disliking the outcome of an election makes it invalid, but because I honestly believe this was not democracy. Without the FBI violating the Hatch Act, without extensive gerry-mandering, without Fox News deliberately and persistently lying to voters, without widespread voter suppression, we would not be here. And moreover, I can't count the number of things Trump has done that should have immediately disqualified him.

For those who think that protests are stupid and don't accomplish anything except mass inconvenience by blocking traffic, consider that this protest was not for you. It was so that everyone who is terrified for the future and watching the coverage of hate crime after hate crime on the news will have that sequence interrupted with footage of several thousand people marching through the city, loudly and defiantly pledging their support. And it was also for ourselves. Shouting myself hoarse, my arms aching from holding peace signs over my head, my feet pounding against the pavement, I felt myself starting to slip back into my body. I moved with the current of thousands of people pledging their support for the people in their communities and their resistance against everything that Trump stands for. If protests are not for you, take care of yourself however you need to, but please understand that for thousands of people, at that moment, nothing was more important.

The protest was powerful and well orchestrated. By making a loop through downtown and across the river that included a short segment of freeway, we got to keep moving and take the freeway repeatedly without stopping any particular traffic for very long. People honked their support, raised peace signs out of their windows, and offered us high fives as we passed. Many were crying. Only twice, we passed cars who shouted racist, sexist, and homophobic slurs at us as we passed, and people were quick to remind everyone to ignore them and just keep moving forward. I also want to acknowledge the great work that the Portland Police did last night allowing us to protest safely. They helped to coordinate traffic and I never saw any of them harass the protesters. Only one person was arrested, and it was because he assaulted someone and protesters waved the police over and asked for their help getting him out of there.

I am damn proud of my city tonight.

I came home more tired but more present than I had been in the 24 hours since Trump was elected.

I have no idea what the future is going to look like, but we will face it together.

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Sometimes I have the privilege of being a part of intimate, powerful moments in other people’s lives. I cannot and would not share these stories, because they are not mine to tell. However, they touch my life and become part of my own story. When I share these moments here, you can trust that I have not broken anyone’s confidentiality. The characters are invented. They are not real, but could be. I take creative license to communicate the essence of my experience while respecting the privacy of others.