Her name was Jen. She had brown eyes and long hair that always seemed to fly into her face as if she had a permanent breeze circling her head at all times. She would use her index and middle fingers to push it impatiently out of her eyes before continuing to tell whatever story she was sure to be illustrating at any given moment. She was sixteen, tall, athletic, and spoke about a mile a minute. After telling me her name, the first words she said to me were: “I’m a coke head.”
The misconception about post-traumatic stress is that it can be solved with a pill. The misconception about pills is that they cure. The misconception about cures is that they make something go away. The misconception about something that goes away is that it never comes back.
I understand that many of us are angry. Many of us feel abused and neglected by the government and the system. I do not think that everyone who supports Donald Trump believes in racism, sexism, fascism, Islamophobia, or homophobia. But I do believe that we have reached dangerous territories and the line between what is ethically decent and what is not has been blurred beyond recognition. I think this is not a direct result of just the new president, but a result of years and years of civil unrest. People who were too afraid to speak before are now speaking. But the angry momentum pushing them forward is perhaps pushing them a little too far. I see people saying things I never thought I would hear them say, things that I’m not sure they actually believe, but are simply saying because they are so ANGRY.
I’m talking about the showers I take when I have nowhere else to go. I’m talking about the showers where I cry against the wall, where I sit right down on the floor, defeated, and let the water run down my back. The showers where I try to make a decision, try to figure out what exactly is going on, where I went wrong, what I should do next. Some showers have given me the will to survive; some have convinced me it was time to give up.
When he says he doesn’t love you, keep your shoulders straight and your back upright. Don’t crumble at his feet, don’t beg him to stay, don’t plead with him to change his mind. Love is not ripped from someone desperately, it is given willingly. Don’t cover your face or lower your head. Let him look at you directly, despite your red-rimmed eyes and trembling lips. Let him see that you’re still standing, you haven’t broken or shattered or ceased to exist. When he says he doesn’t love you, let him feel your strength.