If Your Heart Is Breaking by Anna Kunnecke
My loves. Our hearts are breaking. I am mourning the country I have loved: a country, it turned out, that was a fantasy.
Tomorrow, we will begin working. But today, I must mourn.
We are a house divided, and I cannot speak to the other half. Many leaders are stretching to find unity, to find compassion. I am not there yet. We have given a generation permission to treat women like trash. We have given the nod of approval to the kind of blatant hate-mongering that calls to mind another blustering leader, Hitler. So I can’t speak to that half of my country. I don’t understand them. I am too angry right now. I know many of you are too.
Ironically, as you sit in your grief and betrayal and horror and terror, you will be told that you are not being very nice. That you are not being very kind to those poor ignorant people who just have some different little opinions than you. This might make you feel a little bit crazy. But my darlings, you are NOT crazy.
You are not overreacting. People will tell you that you are being insensitive by implying that a vote for a racist misogynist implies support for racism and misogyny. You cannot try to reason with these people right now. It is not your job to make them feel better about their choices. (The fact that they’re so defensive about it maybe indicates a prickle of apprehension deep down where they can still pretend they don’t feel it.) I can disagree with someone without wanting to strip their rights from them or condoning violence against them. These are not the same things.
They have brought unspeakable tragedy upon themselves and their children, and they don’t even know it yet. They might not know it until it’s their own daughter who gets assaulted, or their own son-in-law gets shot. Maybe some day, we will find our way back to each other. But for right now it is okay to pull a curtain around yourself and acknowledge that this feels like an assault. That’s because it is. The craziest we can make ourselves is when we pretend that a bad thing isn’t happening even as it’s happening. And it definitely is not your job to make the assaulter feel better about things.
It is our job to tell the truth and not quit. Tomorrow, I will get back to work. Today my truth is that I am in deep anguish and the only good work I can do is to love my people and cry at my kids’ Remembrance Day choir concert.
So I speak to you kindred spirits who, like me, feel shattered and broken and full of despair today.
So many of us are asking, How do we tell our children? And I think we can only give them our truth: that a mean man was elected, and that this breaks our hearts. That we are going to require them to behave better than their president. And that it likely will mean that the world is a more dangerous place for many of our most vulnerable beloveds. But we can also tell them that in a dangerous world, they can be the heroes– and that in fact now is exactly the time when our world needs heroes, and we believe in them because they are kind and brave. We can tell them that they’re going to have to trust their own sense of right and wrong more than what the grownups say, and empower them to steer by their OWN moral compass and question authority. Right now questioning authority is the only sanity there is. We can stop trying to make them pliant or obedient, but realize that they are the next generation of freedom fighters. We can tell them that we are scared, and we can tell them that being brave is when you feel scared and you decide to go ahead and do the right thing anyway.
And you and I, my love. How do we heal our broken hearts? How do we go on when it all feels hopeless? How do we stand up straight in a world that tells us that we are less than?
We relinquish all hope that the leaders and institutions and rules can keep us safe. We give up hoping that someone ‘out there’ will give us permission to claim our full humanity. We commit to claiming it for ourselves. For our children. For our sisters. For all of us who are ‘other’ in some way. We have no choice. We did not get a leader who will take care of us; we got one who might very well harm us. It’s important to tell the truth about that. If you’re in a cage with a rabid dog, it would be foolish to pretend that it’s friendly. You can love people and still refuse to let them bite you.
I believe that love wins. But today, it lost. And so today, we mourn. And we breathe, and we cry, and we rest oh so briefly, so that we can be strong enough to rise again.
Because make no mistake, we WILL rise again. We will never stop. The light in our eyes is flickering today. But be certain of this: we are not candles that can be so easily snuffed out. WE ARE FUCKING FLAMETHROWERS. And we will light up the world.
Anna Kunnecke is a writer and coach who helps women declare dominion over their lives. You’ll find free resources, including the five key phrases you can incorporate into your speech right away to help you be more powerful, more gracious, and get the respect you deserve, at her website DeclareDominion.com