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.
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