Waking Up From History

Yesterday was the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the forty-sixth President of the United States along with Kamala Harris as Vice-President. It was a beautiful, hopeful, and moving ceremony. It was a true, peaceful transition of power in front of a place that just two weeks before was the site of the first, and hopefully last, attempted coup in the United States.

My first thought yesterday was that hope had come back to that city on the Potomac River, and to a nation. Yet I know there are people who don’t feel this way. They say we’re in for Hell, that cities will burn, and everything will be destroyed. In the past, I wouldn’t have responded to that at all. Now… I’m beginning my journey to respond to that in my own way.

For so long, I’ve felt like I’ve been on the verge of tears, of just breaking down and letting myself shatter into a million pieces. This was a thought I had yesterday as an emotional wave swept through me. I told myself it might be too much for me to watch the Inauguration. But once that wave receded, I sat down and watched the Inauguration. Yes, I shed a few tears but I also sang along to the songs I’d thought I’d forgotten as the words came back to me loud and clear. For a brief moment, I even felt like I was back in elementary school singing ‘This Land Is Your Land’ feeling like I could walk from one of America to the other and see all the wonders of our great country and meet people from all walks of life.

I’ve had people tell me you can’t live on hope and joy forever. Trust me, I know that all too well as do millions of other people. But the last four years felt like an all-out assault on hope and joy, not to mention truth and justice. In the last four years, I seriously wondered if I was wrong to believe in the good in this world, to believe that change could happen for the better. I seriously wondered if I had to give in to the cynicism and bitterness I have felt more often than I ever should have. And worst of all, I wonder if I should just shatter into a million pieces once and for all.

Thankfully, hope and joy never left me. And I have no need to let myself shatter into a million pieces and give in to cynicism and bitterness, or pain and despair. It’s hard as hell sometimes to hold myself together but it can be done. And I know it can be done without ripping my beating heart out of my chest, and I know it can be done while feeling emotions both good and bad.

Sometimes waking up is hard for me. I wake up with the sheets and blankets tangled all around me, or kicked off altogether. Sometimes I can feel the dampness on my pillow from sweat or drool. Worst of all, I can wake up feeling like I haven’t slept at all. My head may be stopped up, muscles cramped up, and sometimes my heart racing pretty hard. Sometimes my body just shuts down for six hours or so and I feel rested and calm. More often than not, I wake up the other way. And not just in the last four years, but for most of my adult life.

But we all have to wake up and face the day, and decide how we’re going to do that. For me, it means dealing with fact that I am truly ready to begin writing the story I set out to find four years ago. My story, the story of how and why I think and feel the way I do in relation to myself and the world around me. This realization makes me feel scared and anxious, yet also hopeful. It’s a culmination of four years of digging through the deepest and sometimes incredibly painful emotions and memories to find my truth. And it’s also been my way of learning how to deal with all that once and for all.

So as I felt like I was waking up to history, to quote the line from the song ‘Right Here, Right Now’ by Jesus Jones, I feel like I am waking up to my own life. Not in a peaceful and restful way, but in a tangled and restless way. It’s not an easy thing to deal with, but then I was always told by my parents that nothing was really easy. I’m forever grateful to my parents for that honesty, and for their love and acceptance of me.

Honesty, love and acceptance: three things I really need, and have had before, and can have again. That’s what I’m beginning to wake up to now.

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