It was one week ago today that a family member told me that they were "too angry with [me] for words" over my choosing my own name. The ensuing argument of words led to my finally, after years of carrying their secrets, confronting this person on harms they had caused to me and others in my family. Two days and a few emails later I was told I was banned from ever entering their home again.
When I got the news I sat on my back stairs and I cried those deep awful sobs that shake your whole body and leave you unable to breathe. Despite how awful I felt though I did not lose myself in despair. First I had an appointment and had to pull myself together enough to get there, and when I shared the news I found myself surrounded by a supportive and wonderful community and most of all, I felt, perhaps for the first time in my life, strong in a decision I'd made. I was feeling heartbreak and deep sorrow, but I also felt strength.
Tuesday I cast my vote for several local candidates that I deeply supported and also for the woman who, though she was far from perfect, I thought would become the first female president of the United States. Instead as the night wore on I, and so many others, spent a sleepless night staring at our computer and television screens in disbelief. Instead of progress we were faced with a president elect who endorsed by the KKK and who had promised to create a registry of Muslims in the United States, build a wall along our southern border and roll back a health care law that has provided millions with affordable coverage. His running mate is adamantly against LGBTQ rights and wants to remove protections they have fought so hard for. His state has some of the most restrictive laws regarding women's right to control their own fertility.
Wednesday brought despair, fear and sense of hopelessness for so many of us. I felt adrift, not knowing what to do with myself. That evening I attended a gathering of several hundred people in my city. Again I felt surrounded and supported by a wide community. I felt connected, less alone and that maybe there was some hope.
Out of this came a desire to share space with those close to me and so a potluck is being hosted at my apartment over the weekend. I'm looking forward to sharing food, support and conversation with those in my life whom I love.
All of this has been a drain on me physically. My asthma has been acting up since late last week and, like many of us, I've not slept well since Tuesday night. I'm tired. I'm grieving. I sad and angry and scared. But I'm also realizing I'm not alone, none of are, and that has made all the difference.