Sunday, November 13, 2016

Election Night 2016: It's 2:30am and I Can't Sleep..

Because I knew that, regardless of the outcome, I was bound to be stressed by Election Day reporting, I purposely avoided all news, including my Facebook news feed until bedtime.

I fell asleep early but woke, stressed, 90 minutes later. Unable to get back to sleep, I broke my "news fast," hoping that good news would ease my anxiety. As you likely know by now, the news – at least as I saw it – was not good.

After obsessing online for an hour, I tried again to sleep. Again, I was unsuccessful. Finally, I did what I do best: I put what I was feeling into words and posted it on Facebook.

Some of those who read my words found them inspiring and comforting and encouraged me to share them here and in my newsletter


To be clear, this is not intended as an attack on anyone's voting choices. It is an expression of how I felt on election night and how I continue to feel days later.


inspirational quote
It's 2:30am, and as I lie in bed unable to sleep, I feel moved to set down my thoughts about tonight's election results – as much to put something into words for myself as to share those thoughts with you. Maybe thinking "aloud" will help still my mind and free me to sleep. Maybe it will help someone reading this to do likewise. I hope so, on both counts.

I will try, in the days ahead, to find some redemptive value in what has just happened, as I do my best to do with all perceived setbacks. I know that redemptive value is there because it is always there, somewhere in the "big picture," even if it is not always easily visible.

For right now, though, I'm just heartsick...
  • For my daughter, who will spend the next four years governed by men and, yes, women, who have demonstrated little respect for the wisdom I know she possesses to make wise and considered choices about her needs and about her body
  • For my lesbian and gay sisters and brothers, who will spend the next four years governed by men and women who have vowed to strip us of our human rights
  • For my Jewish coreligionists, who will spend the next four years governed by an administration endorsed by rabid antisemites
  • For the millions who, like me, are certain to lose our health insurance if, as promised, Obamacare is repealed 
  • For my black, Muslim, latino and other minority friends, who will likely continue to be insulted and disrespected, now at the highest levels of government
  • And for everyone of compassion in this country and beyond who respects human dignity and human rights. 
It is easy to be frightened and angry right now. I have been both over the past several hours and have yet to let it all go. It is easy, too, to demonize and blame. I have done those, too. It is also hard not to feel powerless. I have felt that as well.
inspirational quoteBut it is fear, anger, blame and feelings of impotence that created tonight's results, that got us into this situation. They cannot get us out of it. They will not get us out of it.

I wish I had an easy alternative to offer, for myself as much as for those of you who have been feeling as I do. Unfortunately, there are no simple solutions, no quick fixes, despite what some of those elected tonight might believe.

There is only the always difficult, moment-to-moment step of acknowledging our feelings, of not letting our fears and anger rule our words and actions, of not giving in to despair, of continuing to do our best to be the best we can be and of continuing to keep our hearts as open as we are able, as heartsick as we might feel in many of those same moments.

It is difficult for me to feel hopeful at 2:50am, when it seems as though this darkness I am experiencing will never lift. I don't imagine it will be a whole lot easier when light dawns in a few hours.

Yet in moments like these, hope is all I have. In moments like these, I have to push myself to remember that without hope, I have nothing.

Is that simplistic? Perhaps. But if it gets me to sleep tonight and, coupled with constructive word and action, gets me through the next days and months, it will be enough. It will have to be.

One final thought before I switch off the light and try again to sleep: I told a friend earlier today on a different topic that when times are tough, writing is the only thing that makes sense for me. Perhaps what I should have added is that when nothing else in my life seems to make any sense, writing is often the only thing that helps me to understand what I'm feeling and to find sense in the seemingly senseless. It has certainly begun to do that for me just now.

Perhaps my sentences are the seams that hold me together. Perhaps, that's the real reason I write. Perhaps, in the end, it's the only reason.

I invite you to share your feelings, experiences and comments. Please note, however, that insulting or inflammatory remarks will not be posted.


2 comments:

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Hi-ya. We just became friends on Facebook, thanks to Karen and her anthology on aging. I figured I'd check out your blog, too.

Wow. I read the most recent post first, and then this one caught my eye. I couldn't resist it, and can't believe there have been no other comments. You expressed exactly what I feel about the election and the state of the country. (I'll concede, you said it a heckuva lot better than I could.)

One difference for me, though, is that for quite a while after the election, I felt unable to create. I'm a pathological optimist by nature, but the election results stunned me into a near-stupor. I'm back to "normal" now, or at least as normal as I ever get, and my optimism has returned. Sure, there are still concerns over what might happen, but I have to believe our country's pendulum will swing back towards sanity again. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

Nice to meet you. I'm looking forward to reading your essay, and now that I've "met" you, I'll have to read some of your books, too. If your book-writing is anywhere near as good as this blog post, I'm in for a real treat.

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks so much for your comments, Susan. It has been a challenging time but I am resolved to keep going and to keep creating. At a time when nothing else seems to make a whole lot of sense, that's that only thing that does!

Nice to meet you, too. I've already had the privilege of reading (and loving) your essay; I'll look forward to your thoughts on mine when you see it.

I forgot to mention this in my group email, but I also have an e-newsletter (for the most part, these blog posts appear there first). You can subscribe at http://eepurl.com/bwsLb1.

/Mark David