I’ve been trying to figure out my emotions for a couple of days now. Intellectually, I know what happened. I know that Trump was elected. I could tell you by how many electoral votes and what states he upset in. I could give you facts and figures about turnouts and campaign stops that Trump scheduled and Clinton skipped. I could give you all kinds of information about different events that have happened globally that pointed in the direction of a Trump presidency. But none of these things makes me believe that it happened.
I sat in the newsroom until the early hours on that Election Night, watching the results of the first Presidential Election in which I could vote roll in. I watched as states were called and I watched as my vote was counted. At that time, I was a journalist. Trump winning was just another headline that I had to write. It was just another prompt for a front page story, an editorial, a column. Just another day in the office.
But it wasn’t just another day. I have spent the past two days trying to process what happened, yet somehow I can’t. I try to put on a brave face. I talk strictly in facts and figures to my friends and family, trying to seem impartial. I make a Spotify playlist. I try to encourage unity.
When I try to think of the next four years, I have a really hard time picturing what will happen. I know how my government works and political science, so I know that the president has a lot less power than people think he does. But I still don’t know what is going to happen.
Trump was elected because democracy was doing its job. I respect democracy, so I have to respect the result. And I respect the Office of the President of the United States, but I cannot respect the man that will hold it as of January 20, 2017.
So, how can I separate the man from the office? Is it possible?
I have never had to deal with grief before, but for some reason I feel like I am going through the five stages of it. I am still in disbelief. I have been angry. Angry at people who voted for Trump. Angry at my age group for not having a higher turnout. Angry at the people who voted for a third party, even though that is there constitutional right.
On Election Night, I tried to bargain with God. I asked Him to please stop Trump from winning. I asked Him to stop a result when I should have been asking Him for peace.
Right now, I feel like I am in the depression stage. As I sit and listen to my new Spotify playlist here in the dark, it feels like there is a raincloud in my chest. There is no thunder or lightening; I am no longer angry. However, it is the type of raincloud that turns everything gray. It’s a weird sensation for me, for someone who always tries to look on the bright side, to feel like everything has lost color.
I know that was super melodramatic, but it’s the only way I can describe how I feel.
I don’t even know for what I am grieving. I was not “all in” on Clinton, so I’m not mourning her political career. I’m not mourning America, because the America I know has not died. So what am I grieving for? The America that existed under President Obama? The laughter of some friends who are taking this particularly hard, and can’t seem to see past it? Or the time where the prejudices that appears to live in a large part of Americans was hidden?
However, going through these steps means that I am working my way towards acceptance. I don’t know when I will get there, but I know I will get there eventually. And while I may not like or respect our new president-elect, I will do everything in my power to help this country along, whether that means standing by him or gritting my teeth and baring it for four years.
I won’t lie and say that I wish this was all a dream. But I need to wake up and face the reality that God has given me. History will look back on these next four years, and someday my children will ask me what it was like. Time goes on, and only time will tell what just happened. I will be okay, just as the nation will be okay. I just need time to grieve.