I cried today. I haven’t cried in weeks, maybe longer. There was a period of months this year when I was hard pressed to find a day where I didn’t cry. I’m not like that anymore. I’m better now. I’m stronger now. I’m out of my cocoon…aren’t I? I thought I was. I peeled off those painful layers and processed each one…sobbing, aching, fearing…I did that already. I’m all done with the part of therapy where you physically feel your emotions and memories. I’m all done with flashbacks, nausea, hyper-vigilance, insecurity, depression…fear. I made it out to the other side. I found my voice. I told my story. I released my shame. I became confident. I became me. Right? Isn’t that what I’ve been telling you all about? About finding me? Becoming the butterfly? I’ve been admiring my wings for weeks now. That part was over….wasn’t it? I’m confused. Why would I start crying today? Why would I feel nauseated, nervous, and small? Because someone I didn’t vote for was elected president? That happens all the time and I just roll with it…that’s how democracy goes…you can’t win them all. No, it’s not because my choice didn’t win. I knew my choice wouldn’t win. I voted 3rd party. What the hell was going on?
It started this morning, driving to work. My eyes started stinging and a few small tears rolled down my face. Where did that come from? I rubbed them away and went into the office. Coming home a few hours later, it happened again. I went inside and it just flowed. Sobbing, I started to release pain I thought I had already released. Wait…why is this still here? I already did this. I spent thousands of dollars on therapy this year. I’m better now….aren’t I? As I realized those emotions were real, and I was turning into an earlier version of me, I panicked and I stuffed them down. I stuffed those emotions back into that box that held on to them for so many years. I had to sit on the lid to make them fit, but I did it. Snap out of it, Jami. Stop being such a baby. You’re acting like a drama queen. I scolded myself, which I’m not supposed to be doing anymore, but it worked. I proudly pulled myself together, pulled up my big girl panties, stopped crying and went back to work.
As I went about the rest of my morning, I held the lid to the box down pretty good. I could tell it was trying to open, so I had to be vigilant. I kept busy with work…my go-to distraction. Still, in between those distracting work thoughts and chores, I did my “other” work. You know, the thinking work. The work you do during therapy to process everything that’s happening. The work you don’t really want to do, but you have to do. The work that comes with the package of opening up that damn box. I kept thinking about why I was so tearful. What was it, exactly, that was making me so….so what? I couldn’t even come up with a word for it. Sad? Angry? Scared? Disappointed? Sort of. I did feel a little bit of all of those things, but that wasn’t “it”. I started to judge myself. I mean really, how would I feel if she had won, instead? I know I wouldn’t be happy then, either. I hate what happened in Benghazi. She’s politics as usual, and I hate politics as usual. So, what the hell is wrong with me? I thought of all my friends who voted for him, along with half of the country. Oh. Wait a minute. I think I’m on to something. As soon as I started to think of his supporters, I started crying again. Weird. What is it? What is THIS feeling? Oh, I’ve got it….abandonment. Of course! This is triggering feelings of abandonment in me. That’s why I was feeling so small, so invisible, so…unlovable. So similar to the feelings I had when I was being abused and the people who were supposed to support me, supposed to nurture me…looked the other way. I know, I know…the people who voted for him weren’t knowingly telling me my feelings don’t matter, they weren’t intentionally telling me I’m not worthy, but that’s how it felt. Intent or no intent, feelings are feelings. Ha! And here I was, all cocky, saying things like, “Back when I had PTSD”. I just figured I had conquered PTSD because I went to intense, frequent therapy. I worked at therapy like it was a full-time job, and I was successful. I crawled out of that hole and the PTSD was gone. Poof! So easy, really. All you have to do is put in the work. Symptom free for months now. Ha ha. So not true. I haven’t been having any PTSD symptoms because I had removed the triggers. I removed my husband, I removed my toxic family members, I spoke up for myself, I gained confidence, I spoke up against misogyny …all was well. But only because I removed my triggers, and I never even realized that was what I was doing. Then, the election neared. Yes, he was a giant trigger. But somehow, he seemed so distant, and by speaking up against sexual assault, I felt powerful. No way would America choose someone like this, someone who likes to intimidate people, speak down to people, mock people…just because of their race, gender, religion, disability or country of origin. No way would they choose him, especially with Republican women like me speaking up. No way.
But choose him, they did. And that is hard for me to handle. They are just words to them. Words said 11 years ago. No matter that those words were him admitting he sexually assaulted women= No matter that those words were him admitting he entered the dressing rooms of 15-year-old girls= No matter= No matter that it bothers me= No matter that I’ve been sexually assaulted= I don’t matter. Intellectually, I know that is not true. I know I matter. But, that’s the thing with trauma. It doesn’t really give a shit about how intelligent you are or what you understand about trauma. It bypasses your intelligence and hits you where it counts…in your soul. You can’t just talk yourself out of that shit. You just can’t.
I emailed my therapist today. I had a check in with her a few weeks ago after my husband moved out. Nothing major, just checked in. I’ve been kind of proud for not needing to go there anymore. I’ve been feeling like the badass, appliance fixing, independent single mom that I became over the past few weeks. Today, while I was crying, and not crying, and stuffing emotions back into that horrible box inside my soul, I wasn’t badass anymore. I was ashamed. I felt ashamed for feeling so emotional about something as routine as an election. Do I need more therapy? I felt like a failure. How could I have gone through all of that intense therapy, done all of that work, felt so damn good…fixed my damn washing machine TWICE… and be right back where I started?! I sent her an email, just looking for validation, I guess. Honestly, I don’t really know what I was looking for. I asked her if I was normal. I asked her if this was what all women like me were going through today. I asked her, “It’s going to go away, right?” I figured I would get a response tomorrow morning, as that’s when she seems to check her emails. So, when she called me, I wasn’t ready. I already stuffed the damn feelings down, Susan…I can’t talk about them now! I stared at the phone, deciding to let it go to voicemail. I just couldn’t bring myself to answer. I felt ashamed for feeling ashamed. God, I hate this. At the last second, I answered. She asked me if I was OK. I started crying, but I didn’t want her to know I was crying, so I kept my answers short. I was embarrassed. I was driving and hoped the sound of the car would hide my cracking voice, but we both knew better. I said I was fine, just surprised at the emotions I was having. She let me know I was not the first one to call today, and that a lot of her clients were upset and crying. I said, “Oh good, that makes me feel better”. But I was lying. I’m sitting there crying, listening to her tell me that there’s other women doing the same thing, and a voice in my head is calling them whiners. And that voice was calling me a whiner, too. Jesus, what the hell is wrong with me? She asked again if I was ok, if I wanted to come in. I’m fine. Just surprised. I think I said that phrase 3 or 4 times, acting as though she’s the one who initiated contact, not me. We hung up. I went in my house, flopped on the bed, and let it out. I mean LET IT OUT… crying like it was last February and I just told her about my abuse for the first time. Crying like it was this summer and I was confronting my husband with things I can’t share with you right now. Crying like I hadn’t done a damn bit of therapy. Like I was still “damaged goods Jami”.
I posted a tweet on Facebook about asking people to be nice because many women are going through what I was going through today. The first comment was from an old coworker, saying something about the men that died in Benghazi. His comment totally dismissed what I said. I told him to “fuck off”. I never do that. I always try to be respectful, even when I disagree. But you know what? Today, I just did not have it in me to respect people who would cause me to feel this way, specifically after I asked them to be nice. I did not have it in me to be respectful to people who only respect things that are convenient or easy for them. I have no problem respecting people who vote for Trump, when they acknowledge how horrible his behavior is. I get it. We had two shitty major candidates to choose from, and you have to choose someone. I get it. What I don’t get is choosing one and not acknowledging the horrible things, and only acknowledging the horrible things the other candidate has done. Not fair. I told him that Benghazi has nothing to do with sexual assault. I am sick and tired of people justifying bad behavior simply because other people have demonstrated worse or equal bad behavior. Like saying Trump’s “words” are not as bad as Clinton’s “actions”. Bullshit. They are both bad. Both Trump and Bill Clinton sexually assaulted women. One is not worse than the other. Why can’t they both be denounced? Benghazi is bad. The emails are bad. It’s all bad. How can they decide which “bads” to dismiss, and which “bads” to be angry about? I don’t get it. I don’t want to get it.
So, that’s my vent today. I can’t be badass every day, you know.