A couple weeks ago, I had a dream that I was out to dinner with several of my female friends and colleagues. We were sitting at this circular table, when in walks Hillary Clinton in this beautiful white pantsuit. Each of us stood up and greeted her, almost as if we were expecting her to meet us there. When she got to me, I couldn’t hold it in, I just looked at her, started to cry, and gave her a hug. She held me in her arms and I just kept sobbing. My heart had burst open and all my fears melted away.
Now, you should know, I wasn’t the biggest Hillary supporter out there prior to the election. So my dream wasn’t anything relating entirely to my political beliefs. I think bell hooks said it best in a recent interview with BUST: “It’s absolutely evident that so much of the anti-Hillary Clinton campaign was rooted in misogyny and woman hating, and that in many ways she became a symbolic representation of feminism.” Whether or not you agree that Hillary was a symbol of feminism, since the day after the election, none of us have been the same after the results came in. But since we’re all going through our individual experiences, I don’t want to assume I know how you feel. What I can do is share my own story with you.
Among the vivid dreams and nightmares I’ve been having, I’ve also been waking up with anxiety at all hours of the night. I make sure our doors are locked about three times more than I used to. I’ve convinced myself of there being ghosts haunting me, a stranger dwelling in the attic, auto shops and other companies making copies of my house key to break in later. I’ve started crying much more frequently for no reason at all. I’ve questioned my identity as a straight, white, privileged, feminist woman and questioned my place in society. I’ve beaten myself up for focusing on me, when there are bigger issues at hand. I’ve read article after article, trying to gain understanding, knowing what I’m feeling isn’t new to some people. I haven’t struggled very much in life, and if I have, my parents have usually been able to help me out. We’re very fortunate with our life circumstances for the most part.
I grew up fairly sheltered, in a smallish, predominantly white town, in a community where everyone knew your name. It was safe growing up in that atmosphere, but I never wanted to stay put very long. I wanted to travel and see more of the world, so I went to summer camp by myself without knowing anyone, I went to Prague when I was in college with a group of strangers from other schools, I moved to Connecticut and New York by myself. And looking back at all those instances, my backbone looks a lot stronger. Nowadays, I find myself leaning in, and not the way Sheryl Sandberg was referring to. I feel weaker and scared to leave my apartment, unsure what obstacles might face me outside. I don’t like to be left alone anymore, afraid that I can’t defend myself from danger. My heart rate picks up if I’m in the elevator with one or more men. I second-guess myself all the flipping time. Doubt seems to be what I’m fluent in, and it breaks my heart. I know how strong I can be. I know I’m brave and can take on the world if I put my mind to it. But I also know I’m human and allowed to feel what I’m feeling.
As I said before, I wasn’t the biggest Hillary supporter leading up to the election, but if I could live in that dream where I’m hugging her, I would. It was safe, warm, secure, and full of love. I felt her strength radiate through me and even though I was crying, it was okay. She didn’t judge me for the tears, she just held me close so I could eventually let go of the monsters haunting me and greet the real beasts head on.