As I write this, the sun is just coming up over the horizon. My coffee is brewing, my pets are having breakfast, and I’m wide-awake and writing this. I did the doom-scroll on my phone and saw the President acting like the tin-pot dictator that he wants to be. And I saw that it looks like the Senate won’t flip. I know there are many more votes to be counted but my hope isn’t being dashed in a dramatic sweep like 2000 or into a shell-shocked silence like 2016.
No, after all the anger burned off last night followed by a few moments of grief and loss, I packed it in and went to bed. Because I knew the next day was coming like it always does. I was always told that from as far back as I can remember and now having taking forty-six trips around the sun each with three-hundred and sixty-five days and an extra day every four years I can say this: the sun does come up and the world keeps turning.
Four years ago, just around the time of another Presidential Election, I began a journey that would change my life. It was a journey started by asking myself one simple question: why do I think and feel the way I do? My plan then was to use writing to figure that out. I wrote a lot of stuff that never saw the light of day but that’s just fine. Writing can be a form of therapy and using it work things out on paper is a good thing. After four years, I reached what I call the ‘Recovery’ stage. This is where I could see where I’ve been, and where I needed to go. But now I will move to the next stage: Forward.
As I turned out the lights and crawled under the covers, I realized how and truly alone I am in this world, and that no one is coming to save me. But instead of that thought making me want to curl up and fight like hell not to cry, I felt calm. My mind slowed down to one thought: I know what to do now.
Forward, onward. Up with the dawn, hands on the keyboard, make sure to eat, earn money, and make things happen for me. Yes, it’s a shit-show out there at times but I ask myself here: when hasn’t it been a shit-show of some kind?
In the past few months, I’ve begun to get a hold on my writing projects. In the last few weeks, that hold has been beginning to firm. Now it’s starting to lock on. And that is because whenever I hear some naysaying-negative asshole voice in my head I know now it’s just an echo from the past. That echo doesn’t control me anymore, and I don’t back away in fear from it. I tell myself if someone ever does come at me that I’m ready to stand and face them. I have finally begun to truly understand and accept that I have the strength to stand up for myself when I haven’t done anything wrong.
Two days ago, I published a piece ‘When It Feels Like Hate’. It was a thought that has taken me four years to put into words and trust me, it wasn’t easy to write. I know it’s a good piece but there was a nagging thought it was also pretty hard to read. But as I woke up this morning to the electoral shit-show, I told myself I was totally right in what I said. I have taken a stand on that piece and drawn a line in the sand in front of me like Colonel Travis did at the Alamo all those years ago. And like those brave defenders at the Alamo, including the women who made a hard run to get help, I won’t give up. And I won’t stop writing. Because if I feel fear want to ramp up inside me because of old feelings like feeling like a worthless sack of shit just for being who I am, I’m not going to let that happen. I will fight like those men under Colonel Travis did, and like those women did across Texas (read the book ‘True Women’ for a vivid account of those women who trekked hard across the cold hard ground of East Texas to reach Sam Houston).
To anyone reading this, move forward. One step at a time, no matter how hard it feels to do so. Keep moving away from the voices and echoes that will hold you back if you let them. Move past the voices and echoes that come before you. Remember, you are so much stronger than you will ever know. And that although silence can be crushing at times, you can break it in your own way.
And a final thought on the Election: what we’re seeing on a national scale here is dysfunction that’s been there all along. For as Maya Angelou said so well, “When people show you what they’re like, believe them.” And as my mother used to say, “People like that very rarely, if ever, change.”
When you move forward, you change for the better. You bring the light. Whether it’s moving forward despite the national shit-show, or moving forward despite assholes behind you saying you can’t, keep moving.
From therapy, to recovery, and now, forward. Or as the Chicks sing so well now, “March, march to my own drum/ Hey hey I’m an army of one” (Songwriters: Dan Wilson / Emily Strayer / Ian Kirkpatrick / Jack Antonoff / Martie Maguire / Natalie Maines / Ross Golan)