A Heartbreak Like No Other: One Year Into Trump's America

There comes a point after every heartbreak when you realize that even though you remember not feeling strong enough, you’ve somehow gotten through. You are, in fact, strong enough.

It’s been one year since my heart was broken.

When it happened, I was ignorant and so wildly hopeful for a woman-led future. I knew it would be hard. (A woman mustn’t be too aggressive or smart or loud, and we should smile, but not too much, and be sensitive, but strong, but not too strong). I was eager, excited, and downright giddy.

I miss feeling giddy.

My heart broke slowly. For hours, I felt my hope and optimism be squashed - vote by vote, state by state. When it was over, I felt hollow. As if someone scooped out my imagination and spirit, leaving me in a shell of my old self.

It was the kind of heartbreak that leaves you sobbing on a bathroom floor. The kind of heartbreak that you cannot imagine surviving. The kind where all you can do is lay in bed in the dark, hiding yourself from the world, distracting yourself with sitcoms that depict life with a laugh track.

It’s been one year since my heart was broken.

And while it still feels overwhelmingly too hard at times, I am here, charging forward. Somehow, despite all my disbelief, I was strong enough to get here. What’s more, I am finding moments to smile, laugh, and dream again.

This past year, I marched besides millions for women’s rights. I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with members of my community to advocate for immigration rights, LGBTQIA rights, and reproductive rights. I rallied against racial discrimination, police brutality and sexual assault. I resisted.

I have witnessed bright spots in the dismal political landscape that now consumes my existence. Attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have been derailed. North Carolina now has its first female African-American mayor. The Republican who introduced the “bathroom bill” prohibiting transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice was unseated in Virginia by the first openly transgender state lawmaker. Seattle voted for the city’s first lesbian mayor. And Maine approved a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare to nearly 70,000 more people across the state.

It’s been one year since my heart was broken.

Sometimes, I find it difficult to remind myself that I’m still standing. There is no formula to heal this kind of heartbreak. It’s reached into every aspect of my life ― from job security, to family dynamics, to health ― altering in ways I could have never predicted. I have felt frightened, helpless and depressed. I’ve lost confidence and hope for the future I freely dreamed as a kid. I have felt shame for the times I was too weak to fight back. I have felt guilty for the moments I danced, laughed or allowed myself to be happy. But I am still here. And I am giving myself permission for whatever comes next.

Navigating my emotions and actions this past year continues to perplex me. I find it consistently challenging to strike a balance of political resistance and feeling emotionally stable and alive. In any given week, my feelings can range from anger and sorrow, to outspoken and bold. I am largely unready for the unpredictable news that strikes daily, bruising my mending heart. And I am not alone.

To those on this roller coaster with me, I am here for you. When you don’t think you are strong enough to keep moving forward, I will tell you that we are still here. If you feel disheartened or have lost hope, I will remind you that we have made it this far. Should you feel confused or scared, know that I can be a sounding board, giving to you whatever optimism and fight in me I have.

I am unsure I will ever be able to put into words my gratitude for the fierce activists and influencers leading the charge. To my friends and colleagues who have consoled my own anxiety, dried my tears, and lifted me when I felt weak, I am unsure how to ever truly thank you. Please know that if I forget to say it, I hold you close to my heart. We are still here. And we will continue to get stronger.

It’s been one year since my heart was broken. I am not giving up.