I have a great deal of shame around my lack of participation in this whole anti-Trump election revolution. Most of my friends are at rallies or protests. A vast majority organized gatherings that go along with these protests. They are making signs, and speaking up, and standing on the side of justice. I am sitting in my pajamas trying not to cry.
Let me try to explain.
I have always considered myself a fighter. I am a person who stands up for people. That is why I fell in love with Jesus in the first place. Jesus loved the underdog, the oppressed, the outcast. He loved them fiercely. He ate with them and talked to them and prayed with them. They were his people. That is the model I hold up for myself, and most days I think I do okay.
Except I have this huge cloud over me called PTSD… and it is making it really hard for me to even hear about Trump and his hatred, let alone do ANYTHING. A lot of people have a story about being hurt, mine just seems to be impacting me a lot with this giant trigger. When I feel unsafe… I can’t handle anything.
I have been in unsafe situations. I have had people call “faggot” out the window of cars at me. I have had death threats hung on my locker in high school saying “DIE DYKE.” I have had a teacher tell me she had graded my paper unfairly because she let her personal bias about gay people get in the way of objectively looking at my paper. I have had men say horrible sexualized things to me. I have been pushed up against a wall in a deserted office while an older larger man groped me and told me he loved me. And the list goes on and on… and in each of these situations I learned that nothing happens to those who do the hurting. Nothing.
In fact what happens is that I have to learn to move around them. I am inconvenienced because of their actions. I am told not to be so open about being gay. I am told to not hold my girlfriend’s hand. I am told to brush it off, or to educate people because they just don’t know any better. My hours are changed to not be in the office when the man is there. Whatever they did to me, was not their fault, but simply the response to something I did. That is the message, and I got it loud and clear. I didn’t like it, but I learned as so many have to go with it to make life easier. I would brush it off and move forward.
Then that night happened. March 6, 2013. That night is the night that changed every part of me. I was home after a really long day at work. I had a paper due for graduate school, like most nights. I walked through the door to my apartment and the guy I was dating was drunk. So drunk. He was an alcoholic, but he was in recovery. He had a bad day, and so he relapsed. He was following me around denying drinking, but he smelled like booze and he was slurring. I kept telling him I wouldn’t talk to him like this, and when he demanded I speak to him I shot out some kind of smart ass comment. I don’t even remember what it was, but I know it was the moment I broke my cool. He had been sitting on the floor, and he jumped up. He lunged at me while I sat in the rolling office chair. He pressed the chair against the desk. The chair tilted back and my feet no longer touched the floor. He wrapped his hands around my neck and started screaming in my face. He was screaming, “I want you to die bitch.” I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t feel the ground. I felt my vision closing in on his red face, and the screaming was causing my ears to ring. I kicked as hard as I could. He let go and jumped back. I darted out of the office. He grabbed me and dragged me into the bedroom. He threw me on the bed. The edge of the bed frame hit hard on my back. He jumped on top of me and took my phone from my hand. I knew I needed help, but I was pinned and stuck. I thought that I might be killed now, or raped. I did what I am trained to do in crisis. I got really still and quiet. I hugged him, and just started talking about needing to take the dog out to go to the bathroom because it had been a while. He was drunk so my quick calm fooled him. He just got up. I calmly walked and slipped my keys in my pocket without him seeing. I put the leash on the dog. He continued to follow me. I continued to pretend like everything was fine. Then at the bottom of the stairs he flung me against the wall. He made me swear that I was just taking the dog out. I pointed at the dog and told him that I needed to take him out before he peed on the floor. My back was aching and my throat swollen from being choked. My upper arm was throbbing from being thrown. He backed away and I took the dog. Once outside I jumped in my car with the dog and drove away. There were police and craziness and court trials and lawyer meetings after that. Oh and a doctor appointment in which I had to be photographed with my hand print marks on my neck and arm. You could see where his hands had been on me for days.
That was the night that safety became so important to me though. EVERY time I feel unsafe now I flash back to that night. It plays like a movie in my head. While some people were upset about the video of Trump talking about assaulting women while he was on the bus… I was reliving the moment I thought I might be raped while pinned to the bed. I heard the whisper of the man in the office telling me he “loved me too much.” While some people got upset as Trump encouraged his protesters to remove people using violence from protesting at his rallies… I was having trouble feeling the floor beneath my feet as I relived being in that chair with hands squeezing my airways. While some people are disgusted with Pence and his anti-glbtq record… I see the death threat on my locker and the hear the echo of “Faggot” called after me. See the really interesting thing about PTSD is that suddenly trauma in your life all piles together, and ANY time you are triggered you get to relive it all. ALL your trauma attacks you in a giant ball of anxiety if one thing happens to open that flood gate in your mind. You can’t stop it, you often can’t predict it, and while it gets manageable it isn’t always possible to keep from drowning in anxiety even years after you had the incident.
When I heard about all the marches I wanted to be there. I wanted to be part of this history. I wanted to stand up and fight. I wanted to so badly. But every time I tried to make plans I was thrown into images of my trauma. I wasn’t sure these rallies and protests would be safe, and if I don’t know if I will be safe then I am completely trapped by my anxiety. I just freeze.I will fight this new president and this horrible ideology. I wanted to hold signs that said BLACK LIVES MATTER and WOMEN DESERVE EQUAL RIGHTS and LGBT PEOPLE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD. I wanted to tell the world that this is unacceptable that this man who triggers my trauma so intensely is president of the USA.
I pledge to carry these messages the next four years. I promise to keep fighting for justice and what is good and right. I will fight hatred. I will fight oppression. I will fight to let people know God loves us all. I will find my voice in this revolution. Love will win. Today though I feel so unsettled and unsafe in this world, and all of that is too much. Today I am only able to fight my own trauma, and that is the best I can do.