We didn’t talk much, at least not in the fun/deadening let’s-discuss-all-of-our-interlocking-relationship-dynamics poly way. After three hours of easy bliss, we lay in the afterglow. I was holding him tenderly as he started to talk, first about his day and then about the then-four-days-away Midterm Election:
“I want to believe there’s going to be this big, sweeping Blue Wave, but I just don’t think it’ll happen. I think we’ll pick up a few seats but…”
He went on to talk about how bleak things were going to be over the next few years. When he got to the part about how the Democrats didn’t have any strong candidates for 2020, my body went from being a sparkly cloud of bliss to being an angry spring. I disentangled from him as if I was disentangling from the entire last three years.
“Who do you want it to be then? BERNIE?!”
“No, actually I don’t really care for Senator Sanders…”
“WELL, you’ve got that going for you.” I hissed.
Part of my reaction, I have to admit, was good old-fashioned daddy issues. Gilmore Guy’s erasure of Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Corey Booker, et al felt too much like the anti-Gillibrand conversation I still felt trapped in with my dad. (OF COURSE dad didn’t acknowledge the letter I sent. OF COURSE he didn’t.)
It was also too much like the role-flipped therapy session I’d had earlier in the week, comforting a clearly-not-a-match therapist by trying to convince her that the Resistance does, in fact, exist and have an impact.
I’m so happy to have the election results to back me up as I continue to un-gaslight myself about this!
It frustrates me so much that they can’t see it, that they can’t see US or our work, even as it slowly but surely lifts the country out of our mess. I realize that as a member of the Resistance, it’s part of my task to HELP people see it, but having my own reality denied so often really hurts—it’s too much. The time theft is too much. The emotional labor is too much.
I’m not here to try and convince anybody of my existence, to convince anybody that the movements I love are not helpless or worthless or stupidly hysterical. (I’m all about reclaiming the word “hysterical” but that’s another post for another day.)
(My off-script textbanking exchanges with Republicans earlier in the Midterm process have really gotten to me as well, but the right is clearly not the only problem here.)
“I’m just worried about voter suppression,” He said. Of course! We all are. We were both up off the folded-out couch and I was angrily putting on my clothes.
“You’re DOING voter suppression when you tell us we can’t win!”
Concern-trolling is definitely not as evil or insidious as governors who purge voter rolls, exact-match laws, or Native Americans suddenly having to root out street addresses from obscure bureaucratic labyrinths, but it IS part of the problem and definitely should be voted most likely to keep me from snuggling.
I argued probably not very well. He said:
“Let me explain why Kamala Harris can’t…”
Perhaps realizing that I will be having some version of this conversation until she is elected, I fucking SNAPPED.
“I told you I don’t want to have this conversation. Do something about it or Shut. Up.”
(That may have been mostly for dad, sorry. But also yes, shut the fuck up.)
“Don’t scream at me in my own house.” He said, apparently out of arguments. My voice was raised, but screaming was an exaggeration.
The saddest thing about writing down that moment is realizing that he was happy to have me raise my voice in all of the sex-wails that I wanted, but not to stand up for myself, not even to defend my own worth.
“Have fun SITTING ON YOUR ASS and criticizing everybody who’s doing the WORK!” I hollered as I grabbed my purse and umbrella from the kitchen and headed for the door.
“Get. Out.” He said in that annoying I’m-the-reasonable-person tone that I know so well from back when I was married to Sweetie.
After I’d splashed through the rain to my car, the dash clock read 12:06. I’d aimed to turn myself into a pumpkin by midnight and he had (inadvertently, I hope) helped me along.
I wish I could say that I feel righteous and free after that, but I just miss him. I feel lonely about it, and sad. I’m glad I blocked his number and deleted his texts, because I keep wishing I could reach out, somehow repair the connection, somehow be in those arms again.
But even causally, I can’t be with someone who doesn’t live, at least mostly, in the same reality as I do. America has changed so deeply since 2016, and I’m one of the lucky many who can see the underlying positivity: The networks of activism, the interlocking movements full of loving, fiery momentum. Resistbot, Pantsuit Nation, Solidarity Sundays. THE MARCH FOR OUR LIVES KIDS, for god’s sake. The way PEOPLE ACTUALLY CARED about the Midterms!
I want a partner who, no matter how bleak and scary things get, can see the goodness and care that’s growing every day. I wish, in that afterglow moment, I’d mustered the empathy and strength to convince him, to bring him into that hopeful view and keep him safe there. I know I can’t keep him safe, can’t keep anyone safe no matter what. So I run when my body tells me to run, fight when it tells me to fight, and I hope for the best.