Don’t Silence Us: I Was Triggered Over and Over

i-wish-i-could-shout-my-name

Photo credit Katie Tegtmeyer, cropped by me

The second story in my Don’t Silence Us series is from a woman who only wants to be identified as she described below. She wrote the piece below in its entirety, and I have not edited or changed a word. If you choose to share this story, and help amplify her voice, please use the hashtags #WereStillHere and #FixThisGOP

 
I’m 42 years old.
I have 3 daughters and 2 granddaughters.
I fear for them all.
I am a bisexual Native American and white woman. I was married to an abuser who voted for Trump. I was not suprised at all. Even though we are states apart, I swear I could see him sitting in a chair, nodding right along as Trump made comment after comment after derogatory comment about women. 
Watching that man on t.v. felt like watching my ex. The mood swings, the arrogence, the homophobia, the Islamaphobia, his hate for other cultures and colors was just…like…my ex.
I survived 4 horrific years being abused. I shouldn’t have to do that again. I did NOT consent to that from the ex or Trump. My ex raped me repeatedly.  He accepted money from men to allow them to rape me. He also beat the hell out of me. I feel that Trump will do the same things.
If we survive the next 4 years, maybe we can fix it, the broken system that allowed this election to happen.
I was triggered over and over by this male. I realize I’m nobody important but my vote should count!
#NotMyPresident

In light of the results of Election 2016, not just who was elected President but the hateful platform adopted by his party who now hold control of both Congress and the Senate, I’ll be featuring stories told by those who feel marginalized and/or voiceless in our country. You can email your story to authorallisonbedford@gmail.com. All stories are shared in complete anonymity, unless otherwise requested by the owner of the story. I encourage all who feel voiceless, or who work with those who need/want their voices amplified, to participate.

Don’t Silence Us: I Wish I Felt Able to Shout My Name

 

i-wish-i-could-shout-my-name
Photo credit Katie Tegtmeyer, cropped by me

The first story in my Don’t Silence Us series is from a woman who wants to be identified only as a 41 year old woman. She wrote the piece below in its entirety, and I have not edited or changed a word. If you choose to share this story, and help amplify her story, please use the hashtags #WereStillHere and #FixThisGOP


I wish I felt able to shout my name out loud and proud on this, but I don’t. As much of myself as I’ve laid bare, raw, open, bleeding, and vulnerable through my own writings, I just can’t right now.

I am terrified for our country and the world. Not just because of WHO we elected, but the fact that a majority of the people either felt his ideology was ok or that it was excusable enough to vote for him. I do not understand the level of hate and bigotry and entitlement that he embodies. I do not understand the ones who kept making it out that the fact he said “pussy” was the thing that riled people up and not the fact that he was leaving the concept of consent in a bloody heap on the ground. It’s not that he said pussy, it’s that he is totally cavalier about grabbing a woman without permission. It’s that we are condoning this to the younger generation. I don’t care if you say misogynistic attitudes are wrong. If you voted for him, you are telling boys that this is acceptable and the girls that it is to be expected. I don’t understand how we got to this place.

I could never vote for him. Not as a woman. And most especially, not as woman who has survived abuse, rape, and assault. I know what it’s like to have someone act as though I have no say as to what they do to my body, and to use violence to ensure I stay compliant. I could never vote for someone who embodies the morals, or lack thereof, of the ones who treated me this way.

I am horrified that someone like this was elected to be the face of our country. I’m gutted that people I know, respect, and love (and who say they love me) voted for him. I’m terrified for what this means for us all.

For several years, I lived (or actually just barely survived) in a situation where without food banks, bread ministries, and/or food stamps I would have starved. I know what it’s like to live with no air conditioning in the summer and no heat in the winter. I know what it’s like to live with no running water for months and to have to use precious food stamp money to buy jugs of water to bathe, eat, drink, and flush the toilet. I know what it is like to not have insurance and not be eligible for any kind of breaks or help. I know what it’s like to wait until I got sick enough I HAD to go to the ER because I could not afford a doctor that would make me pay upfront. I know what it’s like to feel ashamed of these things. Like they made me less than anyone else. And I know what it’s like to feel like I would never dig my way out of that pit.

Someone like him is from a totally different galaxy when it comes to things like that. That’s why it’s easy for him to want to cut programs even more. By doing so, how many more people will fall through the cracks like I did and so many others do?

It’s hard enough being in the LGBTQ community for me now. I cannot be openly so. Not with my family (who were all in the crowd that voted for him) and society in general around here. Maybe it’s cowardly on my part, but I’ve seen and heard too much hatred and violence towards anyone who is different. I don’t feel safe enough to be loud and proud. How much more will I have to conceal my identity? How much more will others feel smothered by the need to hide who they are just so they can stay alive or keep a roof over their heads or live without ConstAnt threats and judgment?

I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m terrified. I’m obliterated emotionally. And I’m worried that all the progress we’ve made in human rights and equality just got completely derailed and will be sent back into the dark ages.

I also pray to every higher entity that I am wrong.


In light of the results of Election 2016, not just who was elected President but the hateful platform adopted by his party who now hold control of both Congress and the Senate, I’ll be featuring stories told by those who feel marginalized and/or voiceless in our country. You can email your story to authorallisonbedford@gmail.com. All stories are shared in complete anonymity, unless otherwise requested by the owner of the story.

 

Is Facebook a Train Wreck For You, Too? Here’s How I Handled It!

 

facebook
Image licensed under Creative Commons

Social media can be toxic nowadays. In the aftermath of this brutal election, I see people arguing, families splitting, insults flying everywhere.

It is partly what inspired me to write this and encourage those people who feel marginalized in today’s society to contact me directly to share their stories and make their voices heard in a safe, anonymous way.

Today I posted the following on my personal Facebook page and am sharing it here for anyone who would like to use it. Feel free to share this post.

Hi there! Please read carefully because your decision to stay Facebook friends with me is just that: yours, for now.
I would never normally post hate documents, but I’m awfully tired of comments like, “You need to stop reading the liberal media.” 
I spend, on average, 6 hours a day reading. Most of that is NOT from any media at all. It’s from real people sharing from their real lives.
THIS . . . is not from any media outlet. It is direct from the source. In their own words. This is the party and agenda elected to office. Here. In America, 2016. I will highlight for you a few particularly disturbing passages in a comment below this post.
This is about way more than some spray-tanned demagogue elected to the highest office in our nation. People chose to put this party into majority power in both houses. Essentially ratifying this document. This is what the Republican Party IN THEIR OWN WORDS ran on.
Since Election Day I’ve been horrified. To be clear, I have voted Republican in my lifetime. (I vote in every election, not just Presidential ones.) I’ve never before seen a party so openly discriminatory. This isn’t about Republican vs. Democrat for me.
It’s about hate vs. love.
Intolerance vs. acceptance.
But I will not be silent any longer. Not at all.
Right now, I need to use my voice and the privilege afforded me as a white, cisgender, heterosexual, married female to stand up for those who feel marginalized or voiceless or afraid. 
I need to do this for me because I can’t live with myself if I stay silent.
More importantly, I need to do this for my family and friends who are directly impacted in negative ways by this hateful rhetoric.
I will absolutely not stand by in silent witness.
So here are my FB rules:
1. I have no problem with you. Unless you post something racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-LGBTQ, or hateful towards any group or religion. Then I will absolutely call you out for doing so. Please feel free to unfriend, unfollow, and/or block me now.
2. I really want to keep loving so very many of you. So I promise here and now that if you do unfriend, unfollow, and/or block me, I will not notice and it will not change our relationship (if any) off of Facebook. Unless you speak to me the things I listed above in 1. But I’m super optimistic that will never happen!
3. Instagram is politics-free for me. Feel free to connect with me there, if you want, rather than here.
4. I will unfriend, unfollow, and/or block as I see fit to maintain the kind of positive environment I prefer and/or positive relationship that I want with you. I hope that you will extend to me the same courtesy I detailed in #2. If not, that’s your choice and I respect it.
5. This is non-negotiable. Any negative comments, on this or any other post, will be deleted and will also help me to pinpoint who I need to unfriend, unfollow, and/or block. Anything other than a “like” or “love” (especially a “ha-ha”) on this post will indicate to me the same. None of this amuses me.
I’m not debating anything about this post, but welcome respectful discourse going forward on my posts
6. I encourage you to take any anger or frustration this causes you and channel that into something productive for your family or society as a whole. That’s what I did and it feels great!
7. If you’re reading this and feel like you or someone you know would love to share their feelings/story in a safe, anonymous way, please click HERE.
I wish you all peace and love.
Highlights from the 2016 GOP Platform:
1. Overturn the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states. Marriage is between “one man and one woman” (pg. 31 of the GOP Platform), and Republicans “do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”

2. Discourage gay couples from adopting children.
“Every child deserves a married mom and dad,” the platform says (pg. 31 of the GOP Platform).

3. Make it legal to discriminate against LGBT people.
“We oppose government discrimination against businesses or entities which decline to sell items or services to individuals for activities that go against their religious views about such activities” (pg. 32 of the GOP platform). That includes adoption agencies, and doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals (pg. 37 of the GOP Platform) who “should not be forced to choose between following their faith and practicing their profession.”

4. Force everyone to use the bathroom of their biological sex at birth.
Barack Obama and bureaucrats are trying to “impose a social and cultural revolution upon the American people by wrongly redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories” (pg. 35 of the GOP platform). Their “edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues.”

5. Make “conversion therapy” legal for minors.
“We support the right of parents to consent to medical treatment for their minor children,” (page 37) of the GOP platform says. That’s “an endorsement of the debunked psychological practice of ‘pray the gay away,’

I’ll Be Brave On the Page 

Photo credit Chris Wightman

I am the quintessential Trump supporter.

I am a white, middle-aged, cisgender, straight woman.

My husband is a white, middle-aged, cisgender, straight male.

We live in a rural area. I attended college but do not hold a degree. My husband completed high school.

We are both descended from blue collar workers for as long as back as we can trace, with the exception of my paternal grandfather who had a college degree and was employed as a social worker.

The two of us are worse off than our parents were at our ages. They were worse off than their parents were before them.

My husband faced a serious injury that threatened his livelihood, required several surgeries, and left him unemployed and relying on workers compensation for years. He took advantage of a training program offered to him through workers comp to get certified in a new field since it would be difficult, if not impossible, for him to work in his former field.

It pays thousands of dollars less than his potential to earn had been prior to the injury.

I have been unable to find a job since we moved to a more affordable state three years ago. I also have untreated mental illness.

We earn too much to qualify for any assistance aside from a Medicaid sponsored, state administered, health insurance plan for our children, yet too little to be able to get by without fear. The two of us have gone without health insurance for over three years. We cannot afford the insurance offered through his employer. In fact, were we to sign up for it, he would end up owing his employer money each pay period.

Over a year ago my husband’s employer gave him another $.75 per hour. That raise, which barely registered as a blip in his paycheck, but for which we are thankful nonetheless, made our children no longer eligible for free lunch at school. So that extra $6 per day, less taxes of course, was immediately spent already to feed the kids.

We play a monthly utility game, juggling electric, water, and gas. We don’t have cable, only internet, which we need because I can sometimes earn money helping people with their websites or writing. Unfortunately, that work is sporadic since most area businesses are small and don’t really see the value in paying someone to help with social media and other new-fangled crap their parents never had to deal with.

Sometimes, our gambling with the bills pays off. Other times, nothing seems to align, and something gets shut off.

This week, it was our water.

If our car breaks down, we face homelessness.

If our landlord gets sick of us always paying our rent late, we face homelessness.

If something happens to my husband and he can’t work, we face homelessness.

If one of us gets ill or injured and requires medical care, we face homelessness.

None of those statements are exaggerations. We have no savings. No cushion.

We operate, perpetually, in the red.

I go to a food pantry once per month to feed my children. I find I can’t look them in the eye when one or more of them says, “I’m hungry,” . . . and my hands are empty.

I once bragged to my mother, with genuine pride, that I managed to go food shopping and purchase everything I needed to feed our family of five for two whole weeks after meticulous meal planning, and spent just $88.

Next to a definition of Trump Supporter in the dictionary, should be my image.

However, my husband and I are NOT Trump supporters. In fact, his 100 day plan, the only concrete policy plan I’ve seen from him (but feel free to correct me if I’ve missed some other comprehensive plan), stands to directly impact my family in negative ways which I won’t enumerate here.

I already feel shaky revealing all of this.  At this point, I think I’d rather delete all of this and post a picture of my vagina.

But I will say this . . .

The biggest reason I am not a Trump supporter . . .

I do not feel that bettering myself and my family should come at the expense of so many others. Nor do I feel that it is necessary.

If he wants to create energy jobs, do it through improving renewable energy sources rather than destroying the earth through coal (seriously wtf are we in the 1800’s again?), fracking, and other dangerous practices.

I don’t feel the jobs I’m vying for are being taken by immigrants, legal or otherwise.

I don’t agree that things like prohibiting women from getting abortions, or forcing children to pray in school. or forcing people to salute a symbolic piece of cloth will do anything to better me or my family.

These are the things I hear from a lot of his supporters though. That there’s a breakdown in society that is somehow causing them to not be able to find work that allows them to support their families. That somehow, if two dudes are banging their penises together in their bedroom somewhere, or a person born a woman identifies instead as a man, this means that an invisible, omnipotent force shall smite thee and thee shall ne’er find work again.

I read plenty of articles about his supporters that feel marginalized and I agree with helping these people to feel heard and supported. I do hear them and support them in terms of sympathizing with the disappearing middle class. America doesn’t manufacture anymore. We, collectively, decided that things like fair wages, safe work conditions, and our children getting educations rather than toiling the day away in factories, mattered to all of us. So companies take advantage of less expensive manufacturing in countries that don’t care about those same things.

I understand how frustrating it is to feel always at the mercy of luck. To feel always as if some hammer is about to drop and everything you’ve been juggling will crash down on you.

But I draw the line once I hear those people, people like me in so very many ways, start blaming others. Especially since the others all tend to be people from other countries, with different skin colors, with a different sexuality, with differing genders, with a different (or no) religion, etc.

That is why I don’t identify with many of his supporters. Because I draw a hard fucking line. It’s not in the sand. It’s un-erasable. In fucking Sharpie marker.

There is a way to make things better without oppressing others.

You won’t ever get me to bend on that.

I’ll even go a step further.

As upset as I am by the election results, (I’ve been crying for two days now and really need to get a grip) I still recognize that as shitty as my position is . . . it’s better than others.

Because I’m still a white, middle-aged, cisgender, straight woman married to a white, middle-aged, cisgender, straight male.

I absolutely recognize the privilege all of that allows us.

I have my children who love me in ways I cannot put into words. The love I feel from them, unconditional and pure and beautiful, keeps me aloft no matter how low I sink.

So I’ve cried for two days and I’m genuinely concerned about what this presidency means for me and my precious family who I feel I disappoint and fail almost every day but for whom I keep struggling because it has to get better some day.

But I’m even more concerned about what it means for YOU.

I had a stranger reach out to me yesterday and tell me a heartbreaking, uplifting story of such peril it absolutely floored me. It involved another country, a child-bride, a child-mother, escape from peril, and ultimately a love story forged here in America.

This stranger now lives with a deep, genuine fear of the way she’s being treated despite living here for over twenty years, having raised children who are successful and contribute to our country in deeply meaningful ways, and having mostly, in the past, felt the respect of those in her community.

I wept as I read what she shared with me:

Rabindranath Tagore was the first man who won Noble Literature prize outside of Europe in 1905. After Jallianwala Bagh massacre he returned his British knighthood. Tagore dedicated a poem to Gandhi. I am passing it to you.

If they answer not to thy call walk alone,

If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,

O thou of evil luck,

open thy mind and speak out alone.

If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness,

O thou of evil luck,

trample the thorns under thy tread,

and along the blood-lined track travel alone.

If they do not hold up the light

when the night is troubled with storm,

O thou of evil luck,

with the thunder flame of pain ignite thine own heart

and let it burn alone.

I don’t consider myself a brave person. Except here.

And by here I don’t mean WordPress, or even the internet.

I feel brave on the page. I feel confident here on the page. I do this writing thing fairly well, and I enjoy doing it.

I don’t know if I can make a difference. But I can certainly fucking write.

So that’s what I’ll do.

I’ll write your story. I have my voice, but maybe you don’t.

You can message me at authorallisonbedford@gmail.com. You can keep yourself anonymous or reveal yourself. That’s your choice and I will always respect it.

If you feel afraid, or marginalized, or want to share your story, or work for a non-profit that needs highlighting. If you want to fight against oppression. If you want someone to listen.

If you just want for something you can’t put into words.

Feel free to message me and we’ll discuss making your voice heard. 

I’m holding space for you at my blog.

And in my heart.

I Cried in an Election Booth Today

Image credit @curiousquail on Twitter 

I cried in an election booth today.

Because when I was a little girl I used to say I wanted to grow up to be President of the United States. Except somewhere along the way, I stopped believing it possible in my lifetime

I cried in an election booth today.

Because I wrote a letter to the editor this week about some racist bullshit going down at my son’s school and when I posted it online, my cousin called me upset.

Do you want the KKK burning crosses on your lawn? You need to think about these things before you do them! I keep picturing bricks being thrown through your windows.

Something else I believed impossible in my lifetime.

I cried in an election booth today.

Because my friend’s husband is Muslim and she’s scared for her kids. They are born here in America but she’s afraid we’re fast approaching a day when that won’t matter anymore because their names don’t sound American enough.

I cried in an election booth today.

Because a presidential candidate’s cavalier attitude towards the sexual assault of women, after he’d claimed Mexicans are rapists, prompted me to write about why what he said was so deeply offensive and upsetting. 

Still, I have to watch people comment and post on social media about how overly sensitive I am about his use of the word pussy.

As if that’s what I took issue with.

I cried in an election booth today.

Because it’s fucking tiring having man babies explain my emotions. 

To me.

I cried in an election booth today.

Because my husband, who isn’t politically active but who finally gave in to my pleading and registered to vote a few years ago then voted in one presidential election and has refused to vote ever since, texted me this morning.

Him: I’m still registered to vote, right?

Me: Yeah. Why?

Him: Because I can’t live with myself if that asshat wins and I didn’t vote. Wait for me.

I cried in an election booth today.

Because I was so relieved he wanted to come with me. I was ashamed to admit that I was afraid to vote alone this time. I’ve voted in every election I’ve been eligible to vote in, minus maybe one or two shortly after delivering a child, since I turned 18. I’ve brought my children with me every time I’ve voted since becoming a mother.

And today I was afraid.

But outside my polling place stood a group of people with signs that read Free Hugs.

I cried in an election booth today.

Because of making history.

Because of fearing the outcome.

Because of very personal reasons.

I cried in an election booth today.

But not because I regretted my vote.

Not even a little bit.

The Improbable, Possible Things I Seek

512px-xmas_lights_dc

By Jonathan McIntosh (Own work) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

As a child I curled up under the Christmas tree to read. Every year I received books as gifts, in addition to some toys. While the shine and glitz of a new toy tended to wear off quickly, the books were forever.

The stories never ended.

I’d hide under the lowest branches of the fake tree my family put up year after year. My grandmother had crocheted a large tree skirt that wrapped around the base and splayed out in a circle on the floor beneath. I’d lay upon it, my book in hand, and read my way to someplace else.

Somewhere quiet and less chaotic than the world I inhabited.

There were moments though when I’d look up, through the branches twinkling with light and adorned with tiny whimsical figures and shiny, gleaming globes, and I’d stare.

Up through those branches I found silence. It waited for me in every tiny nook. I’d hear nothing but the sound of my own breathing and the faint whisper of a magic that only exists in timeless moments. In moments where the real world falls away and one can believe with absolute certainty that something fantastic can happen.

I stared up through the galaxy of stars that blinked through the branches andfelt them upon me. Shifting shades of red and green and blue and gold. Nothing else existed for me then except the lights that danced across my skin and a tree that breathed with possibility.

I curled up, small and silent, with stories dancing through my head and it was a tiny thing, that moment. A young girl in the corner of a silent living room in a small house that stood in a small town on a tiny plot of the earth.

But it was big enough for me. Big enough to transport me. Enormous enough for me to believe that maybe something existed in that tree that I couldn’t see. It felt so magical, like a place where fairies could be found fluttering or tiny mice in clothes bustling about their errands.

There was silence enough beneath the Christmas tree that it became sacred.

Now I wonder if that’s what I’m seeking. Moments, where I believe in something. Something outside of myself and my experience.

A silence. A connection to something that feels big to me.

A something that leaves me believing in the magic of how improbable, yet possible, everything is in this world.

If someone lets go of all else, and believes.

I’ve Only Got Two Words For This

no-silence

 

“You have a chip on your shoulder as big as Texas, and just daring someone to knock it off.”

That’s a comment someone left on my writing (on Medium.com). A writing I did on what it felt like to be grabbed by the pussy. To be backed into a corner and forcibly grabbed.

The random male stranger who left it first made sure to explain to me that it’s not possible to be grabbed there.

“You would stand a better chance of grabbing belly fat on someone, than you would of being able to grab a woman’s genitalia. When I say grab, I mean to be able to take something in your hand and hold it, such as a broomstick. Be pretty hard to grab something down there, and hold it, like that.”

But it’s that one comment I can’t get out of my mind. It feels like an itchy wool sweater I can’t take off.

It feels like a white hot fury. Like astonishment that leaves you at a loss for words, when words are what typically flood your existence.

I’m not a person who argues. Especially on my writing. My words are so endemic to me, stitched into my very being. I put my writing out into the world and let it go. I don’t tell people what to take from it, or how to experience it.

It’s mine no matter what I do with it, where I put it, or what others filter from it.

I don’t generally argue with commenters. I can’t let one writing take up that much space in my life. I need room to let all my other words spill forth.

But that comment . . .

It feels like being backed into a corner again.

Like I’m taking up too much space in the world.

Like I should be quiet and keep my eyes down.

It feels like now my words are being grabbed, choked off. As if I don’t have the right to be me, or share my story, or speak a very personal truth.

I feel startled. Shaken.

I’ll never let my words be silenced. To do so would be to curl up into a ball and give up.

Yet I can’t right now find the words for that comment.

Other than fuck off. Which might just be the “chip on my shoulder” speaking. But that’s ok.

I refuse to silence any part of me.