As a disabled woman in this political climate, my animals help me stay hopeful
In light of the inauguration of President Donald Trump and the discriminatory legislation that has followed — despite Hillary Clinton having won the popular vote by nearly three million votes — I should be feeling anything but hopeful.
And the truth is, I’m devastated. In between empowering conversations while wearing my “Women’s rights are human rights” Tory Burch tee or my “Nasty Woman” shirt that supports Planned Parenthood, I’m angry, scared, and in mourning.
I’m disabled from a rare combination of extremely painful autoimmune diseases, and every day is a struggle.
I’m disgusted that I can’t go online without being inundated with a sickening concoction of hateful bigotry and ignorant attempts to normalize abuse.
And as the daughter of a journalist (aka my mom who tells me I learned to read by peering over her shoulder at the Detroit Free Press and New York Times), I’m horrified to feel I can no longer trust the news.
But then my sweet Pit Bull, Ivy, crawls up on the couch with me.
She nuzzles me until she dries my tears and snuggles her velvety body against me, until my pulse slows to match her peaceful, gentle snores. And my heart feels warm.
Ivy gives my life purpose.
I couldn’t love her any more had I carried her in my own womb. Taking care of her and making her feel as happy and loved as she makes me feel — every second of every day — propels me to wake up each morning.
Which means I can’t give in to apocalyptic fears. The world is still good because Ivy is in it.
That doesn’t mean being complacent.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop speaking out against abuse or fighting for equality.
Women’s rights didn’t end with this election. Feminism is needed now more than ever — and for anyone who hasn’t gotten over thinking it’s a dirty word, I suggest you meet up with the folks who believed Trump’s graphic description of sexual assault was just “locker room talk.” Perhaps you could form some sort of twelve-step program on ethics and linguistics.
And while we’re being blunt, hate and bigotry — which had somewhat hid for decades in the shadows of political correctness — is now front and center. And it’s terrifying as hell.
But I know that “we can make the impossible possible,” as Hillary Clinton so eloquently said post-election while being honored by the Children’s Defense Fund.
I know this because the day after Trump’s inauguration, the Women’s March (and oh-so-many pussyhats!) spread like powerful beads of pink mercury across all 50 states and all seven continents.
I know this because the Women’s March in Washington alone attracted at least three times more attendees than Trump’s inauguration.
I know this because hours after Trump ordered his unconscionable Muslim ban, protesters began showing up in droves at airports all over the country — along with ACLU lawyers — to defend the rights of immigrants and refugees.
And I know this because my mom, sister, and I have made a lot of impossibles possible, including finding hope and happiness after fleeing my abusive father, who used every arsenal available to him to terrorize us and elude any kind of retribution. (The last straw was when he hired a reputed hit man who showed up at my middle school in New York — and prompted us to go into hiding — yes, it sounds like a Lifetime movie, and in fact became one!)
But the good news is we found our happily ever after and frequently help other abused women find theirs.
Feeling hopeful doesn’t always come easy in life. Not much worthwhile does.
As Michelle Obama said in her farewell interview with Oprah Winfrey, America is now feeling what it’s like not to have hope.
But she also said that without hope, we have nothing.
And I’m here to tell you we still have a lot of somethings.
My Pit Bull’s bestie (aka my sweet adopted Poodle Doodle, LuLu!) waited 11 years to find her perfect life with my family after having survived years of neglect at her former residence. We officially adopted her two and a half years ago, and have watched her transform into a puppy again, tap dancing around our home in excitement and running with unbridled glee on our daily walks. She gives off the most soothing and comforting energy, allowing me to sleep peacefully despite any fears or worries in my head.
And she reminds me to live in the moment. When she doesn’t bemoan her neglectful past, it’s not as easy for me to feel hopeless.
I’m surrounded by love and laughter, but I don’t live in a bubble of optimism. But I believe that speaking out is not only necessary for fighting inequities; it’s also empowering and freeing.
So when I’m sad I’ll cry. When I’m in too much pain to function, I’ll welcome my kitten to lie upon my chest, purring until my circulation improves, and I once again feel like I’ll be OK.
Love still does and always will trump hate. I’m focusing on the loves of my life — my three adopted animals — who make every moment good and inspire me to keep fighting the good fight, hopeful as ever.