Friday, October 14, 2016

National Anxiety

I went to bed Sunday night after the entire Presidential debate. That's fairly late for me since I usually get up at 5 a.m. But as I lay my head on my pillow, I felt a buzzing  in my chest, in my stomach. I couldn't settle the agitation. I turned on Pandora nature sounds, setting it to go off within half an hour, but I was still awake when it went off. What was going on with me? Why was I so unsettled?
My daughter called me for the third day in a row. She wanted to talk while she was driving. She felt on the edge of an anxiety attack. She couldn't understand why they were happening; she hadn't experienced them for awhile.
Then she stopped. "I think it was the tape that came out on Friday," she said, making a connection with her anxiousness and the bragging of a powerful man that he can force himself on women any time he wants.
That kick started the nausea that she feels, the racing of her heart, that feeling of metal in her mouth.
I don't think she and I are alone in this kick-in-the-gut feeling.
Women have known men like this all our lives. Sometimes we're strong enough to fight back, sometimes we wonder did we do something to lead them on, and sometimes we swallow the uncomfortableness and never tell anyone.
When I was a girl, 11 or so,  I went with my cousin to visit her grandparents on her father's side. They were a lovely old couple. I sat on the porch swing with the grandfather while my cousin went with her grandmother to the garden. The man's arm resting on the back swing reached over and snapped my bra strap.
Thwack. I felt the elastic and heard the twang.
I was shocked. I sat still, wondering what I should do. I let a minute go by before I slid off the swing, saying I was going to find my cousin. He laughed.
I never told anyone that happened. I felt ashamed that a nice old man would have done that to me. He obviously didn't see me as a little girl but as a sexual object, even at that age. I never went with my cousin to her grandparents' house again.
Of course, it's different when it was boys my age who would pull my bra strap. The power makes a huge disparity in how women feel -- like we have no way out. We only have to grit our teeth and take it.
So as we both dealt with uncomfortable sensations this week, I suggested to my daughter that she might  tamp down the anxiety if she stopped listening to political news and if she went to the early polling place to vote.
"Once you vote, maybe you'll feel some sense of resolution, knowing you've done what you can to prevent him from winning," I said.
She hasn't gone to vote yet and she called today after retching over the toilet at work. I don't think she'll be able to make it to early voting during the week since the polls are open 8-6 and she works 9-5. So she'll have to wait until Oct. 29 when the polls stay open on the weekends.
I hope both of us can turn our attention away from the ugliness that has invaded our society, until we can put it to rest on November 8.


Anonymous said...

When I was at one of my first jobs after college, I was warned on the first day by other women colleagues that one of our co-workers was dangerous. He had roving hands and made inappropriate comments. When they found out I lived near him, I was told to NEVER give him a ride home (he didn't drive--lost his license) or to be alone with him. He once had an "episode" where he locked himself in the glass-walled lunch room and stripped naked. Yet he wasn't fired. When he did harass me, I complained and was told that they couldn't fire him because he had a family to support. And my boss told me that I was what was wrong with America--a white, educated, married woman who refused to have kids and stay home.
That was possibly the most egregious case in my personal experience of the institution backing the guy. I'd been harassed before. My music teacher groped me and my mom wouldn't hear of it--what would people say!--so I got my brother to go with me to lessons and the teacher behaved, though he complained about my brother. There were cases after. When is it going to stop?
And have you seen the new thing about rescinding the 19th amendment?

our life in france said...

Poor Paulita, no one should have to go through anything like that especially when you are so young and impressionable, I have never experienced anything like it myself but I know there is so much of it going on, I am not American but I know if that vile man gets in there will be serious reprecussions all over the world, I am very fearful, our own political house isnt in good order at the moment, but it seems to be a global thing

Brenda in Texas said...

THANK YOU for this post. I saw the article about rescinding the 19th amendment. It is just an awful thought of taking women's voting rights away. It was started by Trump supporters after polling showed Trump would lose with women voters.

Paulita said...

Francetaste, Awful but unfortunately typical examples.

Paulita said...

Roz, Thanks. I agree that our politics hang in the balance

Paulita said...

Brenda, thanks. I'd love to see them try

Anonymous said...

I am asked so often here in The Netherlands " How in the world could a man as Donald Trump get so close to the office of President of the United States. The people here just cannot understand it at all. I listened to the 1st debate (0300 am CET). After that I decided these debates were just a shouting match between two old people for custody of the nation. Just depressing to watch.
For a change...I watched and listened to the French debates (le Droit: Sarkozy, Juppé, (front runners)Le Maire, Fillon and one lady Mme Kosciocko-Morizet. It was civilized, polite and a welcome change from the USA Las Vegas'boxing match'.
I can read French easily...but audio? That takes a lot of effort. I heard " que donc (therefore) and 'baisse des charges' (reduce costs) the most!
Just a few more weeks.....then it will be over....and probably the first woman President!

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