Yesterday was a difficult day for me. Watching as much as I could of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s brave testimony before the Senate, overhearing insensitive comments from people at work, and making the cardinal mistake of the internet, reading the comments on literally anything controversial, had me feeling, well, triggered. I don’t talk about it much, but I have lived the same experience as many others all throughout society have.
The first time I was sexually assaulted, I was six years old, on the bus home from Kindergarten. The most recent time, I was wearing an Army uniform. I nearly lost count of how many times the exact sort of thing Brett Kavanaugh is accused of happened to me over the years between. I am not alone in this. I stand with millions of other people, of all genders, who were also experiencing huge emotions, and even reliving past trauma that many of us never fully processed, with yesterday’s testimony.
All day, I was glad for anything that distracted me from this. I’ve never been more grateful to work for the most demanding boss I’ve ever had. He kept my head in the game yesterday, and without knowing I was struggling, he did exactly what I needed him to do, and insisted that I practice engineering, which is one of the few things I’ve done in my life that’s consistently made me feel worthy. I’m glad my kids’ soccer schedule keeps me busy most nights of the week. I was able to be distracted for a while with passing drills and a really decent scrimmage in which my son played some of the best defense he’s ever played.
Then I came home, and I sat at my table with a glass of wine, and I felt the way I felt when Donald Trump won the election, and I had to truly accept for the first time that our country really, truly wasn’t doing well, and that we had a lot more work than I thought to fix that. Trump’s election is a story of its own, but I learned from it. The biggest lesson was that I actually had no idea how desperate a lot of people in my own country are, and that was surprising because I had considered myself aware. After all, I grew up pretty broke, in the Deep South no less! Yet, people are struggling a lot harder than I thought they were, and in much greater numbers. Since the election, there has been much greater focus on understanding what the poor and working class in our country are going through, not only by everyday people, but by non-governmental and governmental organizations alike, even the UN. We are learning from this. I have no doubt that the studies being conducted today will affect change in years to come.
The Kavanaugh hearings seem to shine a similar light on the country. I’m not even sure I’ve been able to fully process what the main lesson in this is, but I do think there’s something significant to be had here. Maybe it’s the fact that some really horrible behavior has been normalized in our culture for a long time, and we need to change that. Maybe it’s part of the general removal of straight, white, moneyed, Christian, man as the default setting of our government. Maybe it’s women standing up and demanding real equality rather than the theoretical “you can do anything” platitudes we’ve been given all our lives while old white men in the government debate which rights we should really have. Maybe it’s something I’ve completely missed.
All I know is that we are experiencing a recalibration. Trump is part of it. Kavanaugh is part of it. I don’t know who or what else will be, but I know it’s not over yet. Rome is not burning. We are not falling apart at the seams. We are a young country experiencing some nasty growing pains, and I am pretty confident that if we stick with it, we’re going to come out of all this better than we went in.
I say this as much for myself as for anyone else. As a person who spent yesterday reliving past trauma and feeling pretty terrified in general, keeping my head in the game is a constant battle. It’s not over. We’re fighting. We may just block Kavanaugh’s nomination. The American Bar Association is calling for a full FBI investigation, as Dr. Ford has. If the Senate complies with this, and the investigation finds questionable things, there is a very good chance this will set a significant precedent of people who do bad things to other people not being allowed to influence the laws of our country.
That’s been a long time coming. Our nation has a rich and lengthy history of being ruled by a long line of mostly academically brilliant and well-spoken scumbags. It’s not a partisan thing. I can name just as many Democrats as I can Republicans throughout history who fall into this category, and people of every party who don’t. I’m also not saying that the known philanderers, harassers, racists, and homophobes of our history never made any good leadership decisions. Sure they did. At the same time, I know we can do better, and maybe this epic battle over Kavanaugh is part and parcel of getting to that place where we demand our government consist of a diverse array of decent people who understand and honor the humanity of others.
These are difficult times we’re in, but I feel strongly that there’s a purpose for it all, that if we stick with it, and keep holding our government accountable, we’re going to rise from this place, and be better than we were before we went through these challenging times. People like Trump and Kavanaugh aren’t the problem. They’re symptoms of the problem, manifestations of what’s existed just below the surface for longer than any of us have been alive. They are showing us what’s wrong, and forcing us to fix it. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, of course.
Hang in there. We’re going to get through this together. As my Drill Sergeant used to say, courage isn’t a lack of fear. It’s acknowledging that you’re afraid, and pushing through anyway. We’re all afraid, for numerous reasons, but the only way out of this is straight through, so we have to keep pushing. I believe we will be glad we did.