Wanting To Be Heard

It’s embarrassing to admit, but my husband and I have been fighting more since the results of the election came out. And not even because we disagree on who we wanted to win. We both voted for the same candidate, and similarly have very strong and sorrowful feelings about what the outcome means for our country.

But… something happened to me on Tuesday night. Something broke. And what I’ve realized from my arguments with my husband is this–I don’t know if it’s something I will be able to fully explain to anyone.

Similarly to many people in this country, my story is my story. The fear, hate, misogyny and racism that Donald Trump communicates and represents is terrifying… and the fact that our country chose him to lead is devastating for so many people on so many different levels. Of course, we are all different and each different group that Mr. Trump has marginalized and victimized has different reasons to be afraid and upset. But there is something that complicates our individual receptions even more.

We all carry things from our experiences that happened long before Trump stepped onto the political stage last year that deeply affect the way we are processing this news.

Nobody’s story is the same.

The conversations between my husband and me have become ever more complicated by something that has risen up in me since Tuesday night. I feel scared, vulnerable, unprotected. I feel unsafe. I feel defensive.

Personally, Trump’s impending presidency makes me feel scared and insecure for what it means to be a woman in a country where people accept and even elevate the way a man like Donald Trump talks about and treats women. But I haven’t been able to talk with my husband or with anyone else about that on a logical and pragmatic level. I get emotional, fearful and downright illogical.

Because this is not just about something that’s happening right now. Along with this week’s events comes 24 years worth of baggage… of the way I was treated as a little girl, of things said to me over and over again by people who did or didn’t know better, of things believed about the role of women in my young and innocent mind when I was too young to understand the repercussions of what I was internalizing. And along with that comes my own personal fight… all the things I’ve done to slam the door on the role of sexism in my life and of the ever-present voice telling me I’m not good enough.

It’s a longer story far too long for a blog. And I think it’s important to realize right now that when we talk about what’s happening right now for people, we need to recognize that each person brings to the table their own story of pain, of hardship, and of a lifelong fight. And right now, it feels as if that fight is being unvalidated.

Right now, I think the best thing we can do is listen to each other. Many of us have pain. And so many of us want to be heard.

Listen to people, not just for the political party or minority group they represent, but for their own struggle that is so personal to them. There’s no way you can fully know what they’ve been through or why this election is so painful to them. 

Be patient when your friends get defensive or lash out, because you don’t know where it’s coming from. You don’t know the memories of personal attack or injustice that come up for them when they hear Donald Trump speak. And you don’t know how hard they’ve fought to get to where they are now.

*  *  *  *  *

I’ll close with this… I don’t think any amount of explaining to anyone–even my extremely caring and understanding husband–would validate how much I desperately want to be heard right now. However, every so often I find a sense of peace in reading the Psalms and imagining and hoping that God hears me in a way that nobody else could.

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.”
-Psalm 139, v. 1-4
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