Why this conservative woman won’t vote for Trump

This is a hard one for me to write. These are things I don’t talk about. Not with friends. Not with family. Not at all.

And these  things that I don’t discuss are things I don’t really want people to know about me.

But there are times when buried secrets are unearthed in a flood. Right now, this election is my flood, and Trump is the name of the storm causing the flood.

Through my tears, I think it’s time to tell you some truths about me.

A few months ago I wrote a blog post about politics on social media. Specifically, don’t try to tell me what to do — because you’re not going to change my thoughts.

And you’re still not going to change my mind, and I’m not going to try to change yours. But I am going to try to explain mine. I’ve been wrestling with this since last spring, when Trump sewed up the Republican nomination. Before that, I was sure he couldn’t be the guy.

I watched people laugh and joke about how great he is, about how he speaks his mind and how refreshing that was for a politician. But I was despondent when he got that magic number.

(I’ve come to appreciate some political polish, by the way.)

This was the year; Clinton has so much baggage, and there were a lot of people in the running for that nomination who would have been good opponents for her, that would have had a chance of winning.

These last few days have solidified what I’ve been feeling in my heart. Actually, all the way down to my toes.

As a conservative, I believe the women who came forward with allegations against Bill Clinton . As a woman, I believe those women who came forward with allegations against Bill Cosby. As the mother of girls who are almost women, I believe the stories coming out concerning Donald Trump, whether they come from his own mouth or from the women who lived through it.

I believe them because I’ve been there. No, not with Donald Trump, but I’ve been that woman. I’ve had my butt pinched for no reason. I had strange men touch my boobs. And I then I did nothing. Because I wasn’t supposed to. I smiled. Because that was what was expected of me.

As a young woman, I let happen because I was supposed to be all about my looks and my body. I purposely forgot that I had a brain. Because it was what I believed people wanted from me. I didn’t believe I was worth enough to have thoughts that people wanted to hear. (Note for the fathers out there: listen to your daughters. Make them know their minds and their thoughts are gold. And thank goodness for wonderful mothers.)

I flirted. I smiled. That was all okay. I liked boys, and I liked the attention I got when they liked me.

And then, one night, that attention turned sour. I was raped. I didn’t say yes, I didn’t want it. I found myself alone, crying, vulnerable, broken. I broke. And I didn’t think I deserved to be fixed.

I don’t know if I was believed by everyone when I told my story. I didn’t press charges. I didn’t press the issue, because part of me, a large part of me, thought that I deserved it. I had flirted. I had liked the attention I got from boys, even from that boy. So why wouldn’t I have deserved it?

After that I ran wild. I went out all the time; I didn’t like to be alone with my thoughts. I got lost for a good portion of my 20’s, running wild to keep myself from thinking too much. From feeling too much. I didn’t get too close to people, even when we were good friends (I still have problems with that, truth be told). I did stupid things for reasons I still don’t understand.

During those wild days I was touched inappropriately quite often. It was the late 80’s, and then it was the 90’s. I thought that’s was a byproduct of having fun, and I let myself get numb to the manhandling. I laughed it off, even though I hated having strangers grab me. Most of the touches and grabs were tentative, unsure, not fun or invited, but harmless to my body even as they softly crushed my soul.

Some were horribly aggressive. One I remember in shuddering clarity, brought to the forefront of my memory when a similar act was described by Trump on the infamous video with Billy Bush. It was humiliating and degrading, especially because it was in a public place.

Somehow I lived, surviving my 20’s. There were times I wasn’t sure I would, or if I wanted to.

At some point I slowed down; I put that past in a closet in the back of my brain and attempted to forget that room was there. To my horror, the room wouldn’t be forgotten, but I found I could keep the door closed most of the time.

Slowly I started to find other parts of myself–those forgotten rooms of my heart. A large piece was found when I met my husband, a man willing to give me space when I need it and to push me when I need to be pushed. A man who teaches his daughters the value of hard work and talking through every problem. He’ll make sure they can wire a lamp, change a tire and make a mean pot of green chili.

I found even more of myself when I gave birth to first one girl, whom I loved beyond belief, and then another who showed me that a heart has infinite room for love.

That second daughter, I believe, has been God’s way of helping me find those tricky corners of my heart, the ones that I thought might be lost forever. Those nooks and crannies God knew I needed to be whole again.

Those two girls — the world I want them to experience — that’s why I’m spilling my secrets. I never want my older daughter to go through what I did; I want her to be proud of her brain and her strength and to not question either one. I want her to be sure of who she is, to know she’s loved, and to not worry about what boys are saying about her in the locker room. I want her NEVER to think that she deserves to be grabbed and mauled without her consent.

I want my other daughter to grow up in a world that supports her and gives her time. A world that can accept her differences and know that she and others with special needs have a lot to offer this world. That she, like her sister, should not have to worry about what the bullies of the world are saying behind her back.

That’s why I can’t vote for Trump.

It’s been hard to accept that the person running against Clinton doesn’t deserve my vote.

In fact, I don’t think I can vote for president. I may vote third party, but we’ll see.

I’m a Republican. I’m (pretty much) a conservative — more fiscal than social, if that matters.

I believe that people in individual states should make decisions for their states, pretty much, because we’re such a big country, and it’s hard to say what’s good for those in Washington State is also good for people in Arkansas.

I believe the federal government should  protect us as a nation, and make sure that the playing field is even for all of us.

And I’m still a Republican and proud of it. I’m a conservative (pretty much) and proud of that. I believe in liberty and personal choices and The Constitution. But I know there are people who believe these things in the same way as me but that ALSO believe in things that are way out of my wheelhouse.

I know there are people that have views on these issues that differ from mine but with whom I share other core values, such as a love for family and community.

I know I cannot vote for Trump. I cannot vote for Clinton either (I think she’ll win, and I’m sad that she’ll be the first woman president because there are so many other good women out there who are more deserving).

I’m having a lot of trouble being a conservative woman right now. Not that I’m losing my faith in my conservatism. But that it is being invaded by so many who don’t respect me as a woman.

No book review right now. I may post one later. Right now I’m feeling a little raw and emotionally worn.

Be nice. Be kind. We all have to get through the next four years together. Vote your conscious and the let it go. Let’s do it being the best versions of ourselves.

Don’t loss those corners of your heart.

They’re hard to find again.

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Twelve Years Ago + CRM Review: “Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett

 

I came across this Facebook post from seven years ago, and it started me thinking:

Five years ago today I was staring at the doctor’s face, listening while she told me my daughter had Down syndrome and she needed a blood transfusion (sort of, easier to explain it that way). I was shocked and didn’t know if I was up to the job. I was not sure what it meant to be the parent of a child with Down syndrome, even though I knew what Down syndrome was and had worked with kids with DS for years. It was scary. Ted was home, showering, coming back in a few. I called him to tell him what the doctor had said. We cried (now, knowing Katy, I wondered why I cried. It was the unknown) and he told me we would handle it. He got off the phone with me and Googled and learned everything he could. When he came to the hospital he was my light, my rock. “did you know they have a hockey league for DS kids?” he said excited. “When we open our restaurant, we will always have a job for her,” he said.

Two days ago, Katy turned 12. So let me expound on those seven year old thoughts a bit.

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about one week old

 

The doctor told me my daughter had Down syndrome, while also explaining that she had polycythemia–too many red blood cells. Really, though, I barely remember that part. I mean, I knew something was up, because the doctor was talking. But the first part of the conversation was blocking all other words.

 

My daughter had Down syndrome.

(A couple months later I was reading all the discharge papers about Katy, and realized what they had done the first few hours of her life. The had taken her blood, washed it, and put it back –basically — to get rid of some of her red blood cells.)

We had no idea before birth that she had Down syndrome. All the blood tests had come back normal, and, although I was on the edge of the age bubble, I didn’t have an amniocentesis, because it didn’t seem necessary and it wouldn’t have changed anything. Everything seemed ‘normal.’

I went into labor early. When she was born, both Ted and I wondered — she seemed to have some features of a baby with Down syndrome — but we only got a quick glimpse before they rushed her out to get her on oxygen (they had done the same with Libby, so we weren’t too worried about the oxygen part), and newborns are just plain squishy. Besides, it was almost 3:00 in the morning, and no one said a thing. So we put that worry aside. (Note to all: don’t do this to parents. Don’t rush the baby away and get all silent. A baby with Down syndrome may not be what parents are expecting, but it’s not a bad thing. Seriously.)

It was about four hours later when a doctor from our pediatrician’s office stopped by to tell me. And I did cry. I didn’t want to, I wanted to be better than that. But it wasn’t what I expected. I was crying because suddenly this was all unknown, pretty much, and I had no idea what I had done wrong (nothing).

In all honesty, at that point I was also wondering what people would think.

But mostly I was worried about how I was going to do this. Because, although I had worked with some individuals with Down syndrome as a volunteer, I had no idea how to raise a daughter with Down syndrome.

(I had no idea how to raise a daughter at all, as I was learning and still continue to learn with my both girls, but this added another dimension to what I didn’t know.)

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Katy at 4 months

I think this was the scariest day of my life. As I have the luxury of hindsight, I can say my fears were mostly unfounded (there were a lot of things I had to learn, but they pros have heavily outweighed the cons), but that doesn’t change how utterly terrified I was on that early morning.

And I was all alone. I don’t want you all to think that Ted (my husband) abandoned his wife who had just given birth. I SENT him home after I was settled in my room, before the doctor came to see me. He needed to shower and to get a few hours of sleep. And, in all honesty, I knew this was the quietest my life would be for awhile, the last few minutes of calm before we had two children under the age of two, and I wanted quiet. And I wanted to sleep. So I sent him home and was thankful for those few hours.

Until I needed him there.

But I called him, breaking the news quickly while I was crying. Bawling. He told me we could handle it (he was right). I called my mom. And then I let them make calls to others.

Ted came back to the hospital a couple of hours later and was full of information. Thank you, Google. He knew who to call and what was coming. He knew the good and the bad, thanks to Google. He was my strength and my calm.

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Katy at about 10 months

 

Those first couple of months were a whirlwind. She was healthy, and easy, and slept through the night at a pretty early age (I think about six weeks? Libby slept through the night after 2 weeks. We were lucky). She was a little fussier than Libby, but she was also easy to calm (hugs and love did it every time). She looked at her family (especially her sister!) with wonder and love.

And I remember looking at her when she was about three months old and thinking, “Huh. What was I so worried about? What was I upset about? I cannot imagine this girl any different. This is Katy, this is who she is. And she’s perfect.”

So, those are my thoughts two days after my daughter’s 12 birthday. She still amazes me everyday with her joy, her understanding of the others, her need to know and learn. She’s amazing, and she’s Katy. She’s our girl.

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12th birthday!!!!

 

Now, a review of the beautiful Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.


“Bad habits were all a matter of perspective, and as long as the present was viewed through the lens of the past, anyone would say he was doing a spectacular job.”
― Ann Patchett, Commonwealth

The Premise

This is the story of two families interminably intertwined through divorce, remarriage, and loss.

Fix and Beverly Keating are celebrating their  christening of their younger daughter, Franny, on a hot summer day in Southern California. Their small house is overflowing with people when Burt Cousins shows up uninvited. See Burt, a DA, needed to get out of his own house on a hot Sunday, away from his three kids and his pregnant wife. He remembers a fellow DA (as a former cop, his connection to the new father, also a cop, is as real his invitation to the party) mentioning the christening party, and he decides to drop in on the fun.

Unwilling to show up empty-handed, Burt grabbed an unopened bottle of gin, which he presents to the host upon arrival. The quiet party of overheated guests suddenly has a spark, as oranges begin to be juiced from the tree outback, and the gin seems to flow like water. Neighbors bring their own oranges as well as their alcohol, and the party slips into legendary status.

It is during that unlikely, legendary afternoon that Burt Cousins kisses beautiful Beverly Cousins, changing the life of everyone involved.

A few years later Burt and Beverly marry, and he takes her back across the country to settle near his family in Virginia, bringing the Keating girls, Caroline and Franny, with them. Fix is left behind in California, along with Burt’s ex-wife, Teresa, and his four children; Cal, Holly, Jeanette, and Albie.

During most of the summer, all six kids are left to their own devices in Virginia (which isn’t that different than the rest of the year for the Cousins kids, with a single mother forced to work long hours as a paralegal). This is the story of their triumphs and tragedies, their lives together and apart.

It’s years later, when Franny is lost without direction in her twenties, and she meets the famous author Leon Posen. The two begin an affair and she becomes his ‘muse.’ But, after years of not writing, the book Posen he finally publishes is based on the stories Franny tells him of her childhood, of her sibling and step-siblings, “ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another” (from the back cover).

My Thoughts

Oh. My. Goodness. I love this book.

Ann Patchett tells the story of the Keatings and the Cousins with honesty, grace and truth.

Told in shifting timelines and perspectives, Commonwealth is a very character-driven story. There are a few core stories and hidden truths that are shared between the characters, but much of is told through differing characters’ memories. The publishing of Posen’s novel, thinly disguised as their lives, doesn’t come until later in the book, but it is a catalyst making them all realize how much they all meant to each other.

Each of these characters is so alive and real, so well drawn and fleshed out, creating a bond between the reader and each character. Or at least for this reader.

Even the most minor of the characters seems real. That’s a feat.

This easily could have been a story of siblings and step-siblings that hate each other and fall into dysfunction. And I’m not saying that they don’t grow up with their issues, each living an adult life that is, in part, a reaction to their childhoods.

But they aren’t hateful about each other, at least not mostly. Observing kids and steps and halfs and all sorts of siblings, it seems that’s mostly the way it goes. Kids bond together, making their own sort of society, no matter what, in some way, shape, or form.

Commonwealth stunned me emotionally. Heart-wrenching, stunning, poignant, and eloquent.

Thank you Ann Patchett. Thank you. I needed that.

5 stars. And then 5 more stars. And then a few more. It’s that beautiful.