I’m going to tell the story of how Trump’s election has affected me. It’s sort of a long story, but I think it needs told in its entirety, for purposes of education, to provoke thought, and to perhaps provide comfort to others who have gone through similar things. I also want to talk about it just to get myself organized.
Some of you know part of this story from my social media feeds, so here are the full details, if you want them.
On the Sunday prior to the election, I was back in my old town of Shandon, California. I’d spent all day with my soon-to-be ex-husband, packing up the remnants of my old life and saying goodbye to my old friends. It was a difficult procedure to say the least. At the end of the day, my ex left to his new home. I was alone, stressed out and emotionally exhausted.
I took my dog for a walk in the twilight, and went to the park. I’m not a smoker, per se, but I really wanted a cigarette, so I asked a guy sitting at one of the tables if he had one.
He did, so I sat down to smoke it and talk to him. Shandon is a very small community—just a few hundred people, not even a gas station or stoplight—so, although I didn’t know this guy (or the friend he was with), he knew of me, and some things about me. I felt comfortable enough talking to him, because everyone knows everyone in Shandon.
He hit on me, but that’s a given. A certain kind of man seems to think they’re expected to hit on you—that if they don’t, it’s an insult. I politely told him I was not only going through a divorce, but that I was in love with someone and didn’t want anyone else.
He offered me a beer…I declined, but he talked me into it. I told him I was going to take it and go home when I got done with my cigarette, and he said that was fine. He opened the beer for me. I watched him open the beer for me. I thought it was weird, but figured he was just being chivalrous.
This is where a lot of you are thinking what comes next was my fault, that I should have known better, and that perhaps my mental illness and/or addiction problems were leading me into risky behavior which made it inevitable. Please tell those thoughts and opinions to go to hell where they belong.
I took a few drinks and quickly forgot I had planned on leaving. I got really giggly and talkative. It didn’t even occur to me that I was pretty messed up considering the small amount of alcohol I’d consumed.
Then my dog, the fabulous beast, started pulling at his leash, and I heard an inviting sound—my friend Phoenix, playing his guitar in that special style only he has. Phoenix is the aforementioned person I’m in love with. I jumped up and said, “It’s Phoenix! Let’s go talk to him!” then followed my dog over to where he was.
The guy didn’t follow me, but he sat at his table and watched. I remember sitting down with Phoenix, but I don’t remember a hell of a lot after that. That stranger at the table had drugged me.
I’m incredibly lucky. Phoenix took care of me. I woke up fully clothed (in different clothes from the night before) and wrapped in his arms. I had apparently puked on myself, wet my pants, and been unable to walk…none of which are things that have ever happened to me when I was drunk, nor have I ever blacked out to the extent I did. It was incredibly frightening to wake up like that. I figured out what happened right away.
I had to go back to the old house that morning to meet the movers, and after that, I was afraid to leave again. My ex had left me no food, but I didn’t want to go to the mini mart. What if I saw that guy again? What if he saw me?
Eventually Phoenix came over. He took me back to his house and made me eat fish sticks and tater tots.
The next day was election day. I was still drugged-up-feeling. I kept dozing off that night and waking up to check the results on my phone. When they finally came in, I thought I had either died or gone into a coma from the drugs that guy had given me. This was my personal hell: that the nation would elect a man who was an admitted sexual predator. They were saying that what that guy in the park had done to me was okay (this wasn’t my first experience with sexual assault or even full-on rape, so my fear runs even deeper than what was caused by this incident). Not only that, but the things he’d said about disabled people had hit home, because of the fact I’m neurodiverse. I was going to lose my insurance, my ability to afford my medication, and Phoenix would probably get his SSI benefits cut. Plus I’m “out” as a bisexual person, and my daughter and her best friends are also vocal members of the LGBTQ community. Would we face violence?
Though I can only be a staunch ally in racial/cultural matters being myself a white Christian, his treatment of minorities, immigrants, and Muslims makes me sick and scared, as well. I was unable to comprehend how my own countrymen and women could elect someone so hateful, divisive, and ugly.
It couldn’t be real.
I had an overwhelming compulsion to take all my triazolam and Seroquel. In my mind, it would take me out of this horrible unreality I’d gotten stuck in, and bring me back to the real world.
(As an aside here, a lot of people don’t understand that, a lot of times, suicide is more like this incident than a scenario where someone wants to die. I didn’t want to die at that point, I just didn’t entirely understand what was happening. My last brush with suicide, the day my husband served me with divorce papers, I took a huge handful of sleeping pills not because I wanted to die, but because I have horrible insomnia and wanted to be asleep and apart from the world for a while. And Phoenix, when his schizophrenia first started to set in, hung himself because he just wanted to know what it was like. We’re not seeking attention or trying to emotionally blackmail people. We just have different sorts of minds.)
Luckily I had enough wherewithal to NOT take all my pills, because I wasn’t in full psychosis. Eventually, I was able to talk myself into my car and drive the eighteen hours back home.
I’m still stuck in this world, though, in this country, where we’ve elected a man who seeks to divide us along racial, cultural, gender, and other lines. His ideology is causing attacks on minorities, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, women, and probably the neurodiverse as well. A lot of us have good reason to be frightened and angry. I can’t post on the internet some of the thoughts that anger has put into my head about what I’d like to do to Trump and his supporters, because I’d get in trouble. But I haven’t acted on these thoughts; I’ve just tried to speak out as honestly as I can.
I’m really outspoken about the fact that, if you voted for Trump (or yes, even if you didn’t vote at all), I consider you a racist, misogynist, and bigot. No matter why you voted for him or didn’t vote, you didn’t care enough about the people Trump vilified, disparaged, made fun of, or outright threatened in order to vote against him. You didn’t care about us, and you didn’t listen to us: you dismissed or tried to explain away our very real concerns and feelings about him—which is the driving force of prejudice, injustice, and oppression to begin with.
However, despite my opinions and feelings on the matter, I don’t hate anyone for how they cast their vote. I’ll say that again: I don’t hate anyone for how they cast their vote. Now is not the time for hate, because hate is what we’re speaking out against. Now is not the time for divisiveness, because we can only show our strength in unity. We can grow out of this experience. We can open up this dialogue. We should thank Trump, because he’s going to bring about the most glorious, beautiful revolution of all, which will be a true EVOLUTION of the human species, into one that understands and accepts itself more than ever.
This revolution has to be peaceful, because revolutions that are violent just revolve back to the bottom again. This revolution has to be peaceful, because if we act out of hate and anger, we’re sinking to their level. This revolution has to be peaceful, because otherwise we’re feeding into the bigots’ narrative about us: that we’re unstable, criminal-minded, violent, stupid, emotional, and that we just naturally don’t know what’s good for us. These are the reasons they think we need a forceful leader like Trump, who will put dangerous people like us in our place.
If we’re violent, it will give Trump the leverage he needs to crack down on us. It could turn into civil war.
Please, we should also stop with the accusations and name-calling within our own communities. Nobody is a special snowflake for being scared and hurt by Trump’s election, and this isn’t a contest about who will hurt worse. Discussion is fine—expressing our opinions and our hurt and anger are fine—but I think we should try not to alienate people. We need to let love win, not hate or anger.
And, everyone: keep up the activism. Keep speaking up for yourselves and others. It gives you something positive to concentrate on, so you don’t lose faith in humanity. I’m sitting on a NAMI panel tomorrow about transitioning back into the community after institutionalization, and I’m so glad to be able to channel my energies into that.
Love and peace to you all. We will win.
Elizabeth Roderick is an author who writes about neurodiversity, addiction, love, death, gang warfare and madness. Find her on Amazon.