This morning I cussed out a bill collector who has repeatedly called my new number asking for Sean, who evidently owes money on a Ford F150. The calls come daily, and I usually tolerate them like a pesky flies, swatting at the off button on my phone. Today I was filled with outrage. This person keeps calling my phone against my will—yet another of those aggressive, intrusive people who seeks to control, another man trying to invade my space and my boundaries.
“I don’t know who the fuck this Sean person is,” I told the collector. “Quit calling my phone, asshole.”
Not two hours later, he called again. Sometimes, it seems, the world is just full of Donald Trumps.
My therapist suggested I stay off CNN, and NPR, and unplug from the political podcasts. I have been on a nonstop news vigil since the story broke about Donald Trump’s habit of sexually assaulting women, and she could see in my face the toll it was taking on me. At this point, she said, I’m just retraumatizing myself.
Yet, I’m finding it impossible to stay away from the stories. I wondered if maybe I was attracted to the drama of it, the distraction from my own life. But after my uncharacteristic meltdown with that bill collector, it occurred to me that maybe it’s more than that.
I want to see Donald Trump destroyed. I want him ridiculed, humiliated, and abandoned by anyone who ever believed in him. I’m angry at him and every man who’s ever acted like him. I want the entire Rape Culture to be told: It’s over. And, fuck you.
When the story about the 2005 Trump Tape first broke, I didn’t imagine that anything would come of it. I know from personal experience that this is how a lot of men behave, like they have the right to do what they want with a woman’s body; I assumed everyone else already knew this. I was pleasantly surprised by the outrage. I could barely sleep, I was so filled with hopeful excitement. The political pundits on CNN predicted a total collapse of Donald Trump’s campaign for president. “It’s over,” they declared. “He can’t recover from this.” I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t realized that the world had changed, that it was becoming safe place to be a woman. I hadn’t noticed that happening at all.
I was starting to feel validated. Government leaders who had supported Trump repudiated his campaign and withdrew their endorsements. The said what had happened to me was wrong and should never have happened. My country would have no part in condoning such behavior.
And then…well, nothing really happened.
Donald Trump participated in a debate in which he was said to have “held it together,” and now it seemed this whole mess would blow over. There was still outrage and calls for Trump to step down, but these voices fell into the background, even as more and more women came forward speaking their truth. I was harmed, they said. This is how I was harmed.
Even louder voices responded back: Well, aren’t you overdramatic (just like a woman to overreact). Shame on you for distracting us from what really matters, from the issues. This is a world where the men make the rules and we aren’t changing things for your comfort. You should be ashamed of yourself for even asking.
I heard: It was your fault, anyway.
I heard: And it’s a lie. You aren’t even pretty enough to assault.
Today, I am full of shame. I feel shame for having gotten my hopes up, shame for having joined the voices of protest. I’m back in the silly fringe camp, whining and shrill and oversensitive. Once again, I’ve asked for too much, needed too much, and hoped for too much–for far more than I deserve.
And yet I don’t turn off my TV, and I don’t turn off my phone. I remain at my vigil: watching, hoping, and needing.