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.