Election Day Part 2 A Good Day for Dragons
This Year of Flossing Regularly, where I hope to arrive at my 50th birthday happier, stronger, smarter, wiser, healthier, and braver, has resulted in all sorts of thought-provoking discoveries. Things are burbling up all the time and causing me to think about my reactions, and to consider my habitual thought process and behaviors. It’s been a revelatory month. Since my eyes are wide open and looking for the fucks, I see them when they emerge, I tag them in my mind, and I think about them long and hard. Sharing them here with you is keeping me honest and vigilant.
One by one, here are my thoughts on the fucks that emerged on Election Day. We will discuss, then they get burnt. A lot surfaced, like worms on a rainy day, except worms are heroes and these are fucks, meaning they’re good for nothing and must go. If you haven’t read the events of Election Day and you find you don’t know what I’m talking about and you want to know, you can read that post here.
Facts: At 6am, I was alone at my table, waiting in the dark. The other table had a whole host of people and they were laughing and having a ball, as they should, because Election Day is fun. One of them called out to me, “Are you alone today?” I called back, “No, I have people coming.” They laughed.
My Reaction: His calling that out and all of them then laughing made me nervous. I felt afraid, awkward, and alone. And because I am in a process of noticing when things feel uncomfortable, I put a pin in the emotion to examine later. What I realized upon review was that this was not an unfamiliar feeling, though it has been a long while since. It’s a feeling from way, way back. I felt like a child who didn’t fit in. Sort of like I felt in Mrs. McCarthy’s abusive preschool .
Facts: Then that one man came over, and with a big smile on his face asked for one of my Resistance stickers and I thought he was a Democrat and that his request was sincere. Instead, I discover that he was pretending to be “on my team” to snag a sticker, but then he went over to “the other team,” and mocked me. They passed my sticker around and laughed, and when other voters and volunteers came up, they showed it to that newcomer and laughed.
My Reaction: There I was, a grown woman feeling intimidated. It felt like my neighbors were ganging up and laughing at me. Well, because my neighbors were ganging up and laughing at me. But, here’s the thing: I took it personally. Have you heard about The Four Agreements? One of them says not to take things personally. The way people behave has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with them. I felt mocked when they laughingly called out asking if I was alone. I felt mocked when they passed my sticker around and laughed at me. But I was nice to him, and I really and truly believe in the sentiment expressed on the sticker. They were laughing and mocking but it had nothing to do with me, it had everything to do with them. They like the President and they believe in what he stands for, and they can’t stand that Democrats don’t, and that we are resisting, and that we’ve made swag. It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with what they think, both ideologically and with regard to how they treat other people. It’s not me, it’s them.
This hasn’t happened in years. When I worked my last office job, there were two people who, during big meetings, would take a legal pad to cover their mouths and whisper to each other when I spoke. One of them was a notorious office bully who routinely went to great lengths to make my job harder, and he was a very powerful person there. I have often wished I could go back to those meetings, so I could stop mid-sentence, look them dead in the eye and say, “Is there something you’d like to share with the group?” Election Day wasn’t even the same as this. Lighthearted precinct bullying does not impact my ability to do my job, so it is interesting and irrational that I felt intimidated, awkward, alone and unnerved.
So here’s fuck #1 to burn: I will stop feeling things like a 3-year old girl locked in her daycare provider’s bathroom or in the back of her station wagon being mocked and excluded because the red-headed boy called her a nigger. That had nothing to do with me either. And I’m grown now, and next time I feel this way, I will remember that it has nothing to do with me and I won’t instinctively feel afraid and alone, and I won’t take it personally. I will remember that all is well and that fuck is burnt.
Facts: At 6:30am, Ben whose name is not Ben ambled over and picked up my entire stack of stickers and walked away with them, declaring them “un-American” and “unpatriotic,” and issuing a unilateral edict that they were not worthy of being displayed on Election Day.
My Reaction: Immediately upon his taking my stickers, I felt like when that kid stole my bike!! Clearly, my feeling of intimidation that morning was rooted in very old, deeply rooted fears that go way back of feeling unsafe and of having no agency, and therefore needing backup and protection, which is why I begged Wes to stay and then texted Craig to hurry up. I am astonished and embarrassed to realize this is how I felt, because it is absurd and irrational. When I told the story to Kiran that night, he said something interesting. “People are really lucky when they do stuff like that and they run into the right person.” He is right. I am the right person to mistreat and to blithely take advantage of. I tend not to want any sort of confrontation. I would rather just give in than have a big fight. I don’t hold a grudge. I am quick to forgive. I am happy to talk it out. And all I ever need is a sincere apology and it’s like nothing ever happened. I like this about myself, and therefore have never cultivated the personality trait that allows me to defend against people being mean to me or in this case, taking my stuff. But that is something I need to learn.
So here is fuck #2 to burn: I am not here to be abused by anyone. You cannot take my stuff. You cannot bully me. You do not have moral and ethical superiority over me just because you say so. I don’t need to consider your feelings as more worthy of consideration than my own. I am entitled to protect myself, my stuff, my feelings, my time, my dreams, my passions, my integrity. In other words, next time, I will remember how my dad got up, went to the boy’s house, and got my bike back without a second thought. Boy took my bike. Bike was not his. Daddy took the bike back. I am not 4-years old now. Ben took my stickers. Stickers were not his. I can take the stickers back. Next time, I have my own back.
Facts: The same Ben whose name is not Ben, who is is 80 years old if he is a day, who took the stickers, later came over and was rubbing my hands and my arms and calling me honey. Suddenly he’s super sweet.
My Reaction: This is one that all women understand. So again, many layers. 1. I don’t want to make him mad, because he’s already tried to take my stickers and I am now all alone. 2. I don’t want to make any sort of a scene at the tables. 3. He is very old and I know he comes from the era of Mad Men, and I believe he has no idea that what he is doing is unwanted and unwarranted. And bizarrely, I think he really thinks he is being nice to me and keeping me warm. I know I have some residual Pollyanna glitter that has survived this Trumpian nightmare, but I think he truly might not have realized.
But here’s the fuck #3 that must be burnt: it doesn’t matter what he thinks; all that matters is that I am not enjoying his ministrations. I owe him exactly nothing. If I don’t like what he is doing I can remove my hands and myself. I don’t even have to say a word. I am allowed to protect my own bodily boundaries without explanation. I often don’t do it because I don’t want to be rude and again, I always consider other people’s feelings over my own. I don’t want to embarrass him, or cause a scene or have any conflict. But this is the same guy who stole my stickers and pronounced them un-American and unpatriotic, and declared that they “should not be out on Election Day.” Why do I think I have to protect his feelings when he had no consideration for mine, especially when we are talking about him touching me when I don’t want to be touched? It’s a bad habit of mine and it needs to go. My feelings come first. I am an extremely kind person by nature. A decision to put my own feelings first will not impact my natural inclinations to be kind. So, me first.
Facts: The people at this other station who began the day with the sticker pass-around laugh party came over to my tent when I wasn’t there and declared to my volunteer-friends that the tent likely belonged to them because they were supposed to have a tent. Their tent arrived shortly after their declaration and yet no one apologized.
My Reaction: What I want to explore within myself is why I feel so affronted by their lack of ownership for their mistake and their lack of apology. The world is full of people like this, who wrong you and yet when their mistake becomes clear, don’t even think to own that mistake and apologize for it. I need to consider my own reaction to this reality, perhaps in light of The Four Agreements, specifically that one about not taking it personally. I need to really think about that. It doesn’t matter if they own or don’t own their error, does it? It only makes me feel better if I care. I need to work on emotional detachment from things like this. That’s what not taking it personally would afford me, detachment from acts, actions, and events that belong to others. They attempted to take my tent because they had convinced themselves that if they were supposed to have something and they don’t have that thing, but I have that thing, then my thing must be their thing. It is quintessential entitlement. It’s ugly, but it has nothing to do with me. Their failure to apologize for it reflects what they are and has nothing to do with me.
So fuck #4 to burn is this: I will detach any emotional reaction to the revelatory behaviors of others: no frustration, affront outrage, anger, none of it. If they had taken my tent, then I remember that I have already burnt fuck #2 above. If they take the tent, I take the tent back. But in this case, I will remember that I don’t need an apology, I just want an apology, because I prefer to like everyone. An apology would allow me to trust them and forgive them for having made a mistake. The fact that they offered no apology is information for me to keep. No emotional response is necessary. They gave me the great gift of knowing them better so I can trust them less.
And that was Election Day! So much valuable information for my quest, a win for my candidates, and so much proof of kindness (all the wonderful people who came by to chat and make merry in the rain, Usha and Jose slogging over in the rain to bring hot drinks, volunteers who stepped up out of nowhere, Craig coming all the way back to the precinct to help me break it down in the rain), so many people who signed up to band together and fight for our country against dark forces that threaten us from within. There is one more interesting story to tell, but it belongs in an other post, so I will share that then, but remember that I told you there was one more story from Election Day. That one is about Nikki and her adventures at Great Falls Precinct.
It was a good day for the dragon who had her fill of delicious, long-marinated fucks. She burnt them to a crisp and gobbled them down in one single gulp. It is a good year for dragons, so many fucks on the field and so many more on the horizon.