Trying to find balance in the era of Trump and Kavanaugh

(By Kathryn)

The day of the hearing, I watched. 

I watched,  I sent Jamie to Trader Joe’s for groceries… and I cooked. 

I watched and I cooked. I cooked meatballs, sausages, red sauce. I cooked lasagna. I watched and I cooked all day because I simply could not sit down.

I watched and I felt like I had to be up and moving constantly to keep the emotions from overtaking me completely. So next I made cookies (and watched). Pumpkin chocolate chip.  I couldn’t eat any of it. I was still watching.

I watched, and I drank (not beer). I watched and I cried and I yelled. I watched with that pit in my stomach knowing none of it would matter.

I watched, and in his face I saw my rapist.

I saw the abusive boyfriend who would alternately berate me and cry that he needed me. Cry with rage that I would actually accuse him of being the kind of guy that would hurt me, even when he had just put the bat down. I saw the face of the angry, entitled, rich white boy who treated me exactly the same way.

I watched and I cried for Christine. I felt her pain. We all did. I cried with joy at her bravery one minute, and then with anger for what’s happened to her the next. I cried for what happened to me, what happened to women I know, and what I fear could happen to my 15 year old daughter. May the odds be ever in her favor.

I watched and I cried for our country, that we are allowing this to happen. That the cynicism and mistrust has grown so great that we can’t even agree not to put an obvious sexual predator on the Supreme Court. I cried because our president is such a brute himself that he seems to enjoy our pain.

I crawled into bed that night unable to let my sweet, supportive husband hold me. Unable to be touched. I had all the usual nightmares.

The next day, I didn’t watch. I tried, but I couldn’t look at their faces. I went to bed. I cried. I ate candy. I watched mindless rom-coms. Occasionally I looked at Twitter, then thought better of it.

Jamie came in from time to time, gently asking what I needed. Water. A kiss on the forehead. And, of course, updates. Flake pretending at playing the hero. The vote that happened anyway.

Bullshit, I said. The FBI won’t find anything and and those Senators will have their justification.

It’s a stall. A few days or a week for the emotion to die down. To find a justification for what they’ve already decided; that her eyewitness account is not enough. That boys will be boys, and this boy is already on the path. He was designated long ago.

(side note: why do we believe women when they give eyewitness accounts of being robbed, but not raped? Because rich men don’t usually rob? Not at gunpoint anyway..)

So I stayed in bed. I tried not to overreact when my sweet Ella left with her friend for the homecoming game, face painted and smiling with all her youthful innocence. I resisted the urge to tell her to be careful, to warn her. She knows. She’ll do her best. Despite what they say, it’s not really in her, or my, control.

I finally ate some lasagna. Too much, probably.

This is Instagram footage of last year’s Christmas lasagna, but you get the idea.

On the third day I made it to the couch. I spent some time with our son Jack before he went off to volunteer at the humane society. I smiled that I know I’m raising him to be different, that he is different. I watched some college football. I felt less dissociated. Jamie and I started talking about the podcast again.

From now until the election, we’re talking about electing women (hopefully, the candidates will do most of the talking). It’s a step we can take to change things. More women in power. More women sitting in that senate chamber someday. It’s a step.

Today, I woke up ready to write. To fight.

If you’re still in bed, that’s ok. You’ll know when you’re ready. When you are, here are some thoughts on what we can do.

Call your Senators.

Thankfully in Washington we have two Senators who get it. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have both been vocally against Kavanaugh. Call them anyway.

Do you have friends or family in other states? Particularly Maine, Alaska, Arizona, West Virginia, and North Dakota? Urge them to call their Senators too. Everyday, at least. Don’t let the pressure drop. Emails are fine, they get counted, but making the actual call is the best way to effect the energy in that Senator’s office.

Senate switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Consider a donation, or volunteering.

If you have the means, donate to a Senator’s campaign. Or, reach out to the campaign to let them know your donation depends on their “no” vote. Donate to Patty and Maria’s campaign funds and make it clear it’s to thank them for their leadership on Kavanaugh. Maria is up for re- election this year so if you don’t have the funds to donate, consider volunteering with her campaign!

Campaign websites:

Maria Cantwell

Patty Murray

Heidi Heitkamp

(I’m pretty annoyed with her on this issue, and I get it if you want to wait and see how she votes, but let’s also not forget that her opponent is this gem of an entitled white man, and that alone may be worth a donation)

Joe Manchin

(Another Dem running in a Trump state. Reach out to his campaign. Let them know you’d like to support him, but..)

Kyrsten Sinema

(She is the Dem running for Jeff Flake’s seat and is correct on this issue)

Beto O’Rourke

(Ted Cruz voted for Kavanaugh in committee and, you know, is Ted Cruz. Beto is a great candidate and actually has a chance to unseat that troll.)

Also, consider donating to, or volunteering with, any of these organizations that are working to stop Kavanaugh, support women’s health and survivors of sexual violence and harassment, and elect female candidate. (Please feel free to share the ones I missed in the comments!)

Planned Parenthood Votes

Planned Parenthood Action Fund

Naral Pro Choice America

Emily’s list

RAINN

Crystal Judson Family Resource Center

Win With Women PAC

YWCA – Pierce County

Please see Jamie’s post about all the amazing women running for office in the south sound, and consider donating to us at the OPP to keep progressive voices in the conversation. (I hate the shameless self promotion, but there you have it.)

OMG, call the DNC.

Then there’s this. Tom Perez is the worst.

If you’re a member or donor, let the DNC know that there is no room in the party for Senators who vote for hyper partisan, unstable sexual predators. While I can stomach (barely) their votes for Gorsuch in the name of politics, this is different. Let them know your money might just dry up. Tell them your story if you want, or don’t. Do what feels safe for you, always. Either way, tell Tom Perez how wrong he is.

DNC main number: (202) 863-8000

Or, if you tweet, let Tom hear about it (@TomPerez )

Talk to your kids.

And I don’t mean talk to your daughters about not wearing short skirts. But do talk to them about basic safety. Never drink the punch (I mean, don’t drink at all. But if you do open your own can of something and don’t leave it unattended) you know, stuff like that. Let them know there is a risk, but the odds are still against it. Let her know if she does drink the punch, and something happens, it still isn’t her fault. Maybe show her this handy chart:

Take a reputable self defense course together if you think it will help (Seattle Children’s has an excellent one, I’m guessing Mary Bridge might also).

I chose to open up to my daughter, without going into specifics, about what happened to me. I did this is in the hope we can foster open communication about these things, and if something does happen to her maybe she’ll come to me. Maybe she’ll feel safe if she knows it happened to me. That’s a very personal choice though. Do what feels right for you and your family.

Mostly, talk to your sons. Never talk even in general terms about bad behavior being just something boys do. Actively talk to them about respecting the agency of others, girls and boys. Don’t laugh it off if he pulls his sister’s hair. Teach him to ask before he hugs. Use every opportunity you can to talk about, and role model, consent. (I’m looking at you, Dads.) Here are some links to helpful reading on talking to your kids:

How to talk to young people about the Kavanaugh Story (NPR)

The consent talk we need to have with our kids, in light of Kavanaugh and Cosby. (Chicago Tribune)

Talking to your kids about sexual assault (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network; RAINN)

Men, step up.

More links to the great work of others on this topic, I’m too exhausted to explain this to you guys right now.

How to talk to the women in your life right now (GQ)

Dear men who wish to be allies to women: 12 Things you need to know (EverydayFeminisim.com)   

Most of all, educate yourselves. Read feminist literature and blogs. It’s not our job to do it for you. (Stanford University)

And remember, if your wife or girlfriend can’t be touched by you right now, or is otherwise skittish or emotional, it’s not about you. Let go of your ego and just listen.

Finally, if you are struggling and need help:

24 hour National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE

(or go to RAINN.org to chat online with a trained support specialist)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800- 273-8255

The NAMI support line can help you find local support groups and therapists, and otherwise offer advice for any symptoms you may be dealing with : 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Reach out to those you trust during this time. Be honest about how you are feeling and allow them to support you if you can. Practice the self care that works for you. Eat ice cream in bed, scroll though cat memes, go for a long walk in the woods, play with your pets, or your kids. Call your mom or whoever makes you feel safe. Print out a picture of Kavanaugh, tape it to a pillow (or better yet a punching bag), and throttle him in his stupid face. Whatever works.

I personally like to walk the beach at Chambers Bay or Titlow and throw rocks into the water. Hard.

If you’re still in bed, that’s ok. If you watched, or if you didn’t, that’s ok too. If you aren’t ready to laugh at SNL skits (like me) that’s ok, it’s also ok if you are. (I’m not mad about it though – Kate Mckinnon is a national treasure, and Rachel Dratch is always freaking hilarious in everything she’s in.)

If you can do some of the things I listed above (most of which can be done from bed, without watching a damn thing..) that’s ok, and if you can’t that’s ok too. Find the balance that works for you. Take care of yourselves, sisters (and all survivors), this is a hell of a thing we’re living through.

-k

Have more thoughts on how we can channel all this hurt and rage into real change? Share them with us in the comments, on our Facebook page, or tweet at us!