The first moment I felt anything besides bracing fear or numbness was Wednesday afternoon, when Hillary gave her concession speech. The moment she mentioned girls and women, the reaction was immediate and visceral. The bone-deep grief that had been weighing down my limbs like lead finally began to melt, and I wept.
I cried for the uncertain future. The loss of innocence and progress. And I cried for myself, because I am human.
This is a grief I will never fully get over. It will be a lifelong companion, sometimes benevolently silent and sometimes barking at the door of my mind, not wanting in or out but wanting to be felt again. The election was deeply personal, an assault on half of America's values, and we were beaten. Not by better ideas, but by a cult of personality that admires dictators and the trappings of authoritarianism. A self-anointed billionaire messiah ready to singlehandedly "take back America" (from who?).
I am not hopeful. I do not believe the dignity of the office will suddenly transform a narcissist into an empathetic leader. I believe this election is bad for everyone, even his supporters. I believe that "I told you so" will be little comfort in the next four years. But I am still bitter and inclined to be petty because that is the lesson at hand: that people on both sides who wanted to burn it all down won. Spite won. Retaliation won. Fear of others won.
Right now is just the pain of realization. The abstract hurt of looking into an unknowable void. But soon the pain will have names we can say and touch, and we'll have ways to react that don't feel like flailing at an ominous sky. For now, though, this is grief, and there is no timeline.
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