Getting into the Lifeboat One Leg at a Time

It is with much relief that I write this post but not for the reasons you think. Relief from the visceral undertones of political ads on TV. Relief that soon my Facebook feed will once again be filled with cute cat memes, happy baby pictures and bitching about Timeline’s suckage. Relief that my Twitter feed will scroll happily with food, liquor and debates on Facebook’s relevancy. In short, this election cycle has plum worn me out.

Last night’s election could not have put the period at the end of a declarative sentence better, stating clearly how divided this country is at the moment. In the end, the popular vote proved that we are a country struggling to find its voice again. The mud-slinging politicians, the name calling on social media, the mainstream media…oh the humanity! You couldn’t escape it no matter how hard you tried to unplug yourself. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. This election, simply put, broke my heart. I was called ignorant, entitled, a moocher, self-serving and un-American by family and friends alike. This without provocation. This without saying a word about how I feel politically. This without saying how I feel about them politically. This while being quiet and trying to ignore, remembering the words my parents taught me, “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” There were times when I wanted to lash out, stand up for myself. I would write it out, read it and throw it away. I knew my words would serve no purpose but rather continue the viciousness. The buck stopped with me. I hoped people would catch on that I wasn’t interested. Yet it continued. The most hurtful comments came from people I love dearly. They weren’t talking directly to me but what they said was unknowingly directed at people like me.

I am not affiliated with a party but I lean in one direction more often than not. I don’t partake in food stamps but I (or rather my children) receive government assistance. I didn’t have healthcare at one point in my life (pre-2009) and put my children on public healthcare in order for them to have what they needed. I had to take handouts from strangers, live with my parents at 36 years old after my house was foreclosed on, declare bankruptcy, suffer the loss of my self-respect. My water and electricity have been turned off many times. I’ve lived on the edge of disaster. But I did what I had to do to survive, to protect my children. The government’s “handouts” kept me and my children from spiraling further into the abyss of financial ruin.  Much of the credit goes to my family and friends for their love and generosity of spirit during a very difficult period in my life. I had it lucky. Many others are not as fortunate. For those of us who have lived on the edge or continue to do so, it is usually not our choice. Tools, education, family, friends, upbringing, yes, even religion all factor into the equation of how we come out on the other side.

I am by no means all the way in the life boat, but I’ve got one leg in now, slowly rebuilding my life, excited for the directions it’s taking me.  My beautiful husband, Paul, the greatest gift in the story that is my new life. Just as it does in our personal lives, it is going to take time to rebuild our country. This process may be long and arduous but we can do it. We are all Americans. We’ve been through tougher times than this in our history. We are survivors. Getting into the life boat will take time so we must learn to put aside our differences and realize our goal is the same, opportunity for all. The methods and political trappings of the past are not working in our 21st century, 24/7 world.  Agreements and solutions will have to be reconfigured to fit our future not our past. I have hope. That is something no one can take away from me. I spread hope, I teach hope, I live hope. I want to be an example my children can be proud of not shrink from in embarrassment. Practice what we preach to our children, kindness, generosity, fairness toward others. Teamwork. My simplistic view of the world is something I most love about myself. It is something my parents instilled in me from the earliest days of my life.  I don’t like being called names for believing in hope.  So remember, friends, take heed in what you say because you never know who you are hurting. Today is a day of celebration for some and mourning for others. I’ll give you today, but tomorrow it is finished and we must move on…together.

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