I won't lie. Today has been very difficult for me. I cannot quite find the words to describe how I feel: disappointed, disheartened, stunned, sickened, scared. I am even more shocked at how this is affecting me emotionally. It is almost like the bits of hope and promise to which I was clinging simply dissolved. I have never ever felt this way after an election. Normally, I would just shrug my shoulders and move on with life. This time it is different, and it aches.
I am not interested in trying to dissect the exit polls, demographic data, campaign strategies, and voter turnout. I am not interested in hearing conspiracy theories, stories of illegal voting and "missing" ballots, and what-ifs. I do not want to hear rallying cries or victory speeches from either side. I do not care about who controls what house and who did or didn't do what. I just do not want to hear any more politics, propaganda, or lies. I have had enough.
While I can understand, respect, and even appreciate the celebrations of those who support President Obama and voted for him, I cannot stomach the blatantly racist tweets and comments pouring forth from the ignorant and illiterate. They are probably the same ones who threatened riots and violence if Obama lost or posted hateful comments about voting white or black. They are the ones tweeting, posting, and shouting," 'obamas president!' 'yeah fuck white people!' hahaha" -Danni@SugarGummy. (Don't believe me? Look it up on Google. "Fuck White People" actually trended.) I know that type of people have always been out there, but thanks to social media, I get to see it up close and personal. I will never find it cute, funny, or in the slightest way acceptable to talk, write, sing, or act in that way. For me it shows the erosion of polite and intelligent society.
For some, yesterday was unimportant. Some argued that things would not change with either candidate, so they did not vote. Or if they did, they did so without any real thought and scrutiny. There are those who voted solely based on color. There are those who fell prey to negative campaign ads. There are those who so strongly believe in the party line that they gave up all independent thought. What most don't understand is that this was not about winning or losing, republican or democrat, white or black, rich or poor. If things had been that clear, it would be much easier for me to reconcile. This election was not about uteruses, gay marriage, or immigration. This election was not even really about the economy. This election was about a fundamental way of life, a guiding philosophy for our country. It was about choosing a path for the future of the country- choosing an ideology. Anyone who has been paying attention closely understands that. Now, it is clear that Americans have chosen one.
Unfortunately, for me, the president that the voters chose is not the one that I support. I am not upset for the reasons some would argue. It is not because he is black or a democrat or liberal. It's because the direction in which he wants to lead this country is so opposite of what I believe. I won't belabor the talking points and arguments. They have already been made, and we heard them all. I will even admit I did not agree with Romney on several things. However, I don't believe that Obama ever cared one percent about me and my family or our values and quality of life. I do believe that Romney was America's best chance to move forward in a way that is true to what our founding fathers and the Constitution intended. I do believe that Romney could have gotten the job done, helped heal the economy, worked in a bipartisan fashion. I believed in America, that was until last night.
Now that is all gone. If anyone thinks that Obama and his supporters care about the 100%, they are sadly mistaken. It only took 50% to win, and the rest of us are irrelevant. Yes, they intend to move the country forward but on a path that is very different from what many think. A path where self-reliance is seen as selfishness and weakness. One where those who work hard will be forced to compromise their own values and hard-earned livelihoods in ways that they may not support or agree; they will have no choice. One where exceptionalism is not embraced, encouraged, or even tolerated; only celebrities and athletes receive a free pass. One where responsibility and accountability no longer exist; instead, excuses, lower standards, and entitlement dominate. One where lying, bullying others who believe differently, and division rules; racism, intolerance, and violent threats prosper. This is the vision I have for Obama's America.
So, now I have to come to terms with the results of the election. Obama will be president for another four years, at least. How much or how little damage there will be to what I thought was my country I do not know. How much will change I do not know. Nevertheless, I do know this: I accept the fact that the American people voted for Obama. I accept the fact that he will remain president. I accept that my values and beliefs are now part of the minority. However, I do not have to hide or control the revulsion I feel inside whenever I hear either of the Obamas or Biden speak, especially when it is about compromise or American spirit. I do not have to pretend to "respect the office." I do not have to play the good little American and feign support for a president for which I did not vote. As long as there is free speech, I do not have to keep my opinions to myself. I do not have to agree, smile, or accede nor do I have to argue, fight, or blame. I do not have to change or sacrifice my principles. I do not have to change who I am.
My sense of charity, my sense of national pride, and my belief in real hope and change have all vanished for now. I will mourn the loss of America's greatest qualities and move on. I will continue to teach my children about personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, and true freedom. I will continue to be a good person, but on my terms for what I believe is right, not what someone else tells me I am supposed to believe. I will focus only on those who are closest to me and hold on dearly to who I am. I will find a way for my family to survive the ensuing mess. Moreover, for those who voted for and support Obama, I will pray that you are right and I am wrong. It is done, and now we all will reap whatever consequences YOUR choice has brought.
My first college experience was over twenty years ago. I was 15 and had just finished my sophomore year of high school. Even though I had not yet graduated, I was fortunate enough to be part of a program for high school students who had been recommended by their English teachers. The class was a fiction writing course of approximately twenty students. We stayed in the dorms and attended class during the week, returning to the safety of our homes and parents on the weekend. We did have a list of policies to follow but outside of class very little supervision. The only exception was a midnight curfew in the dorm, which my roommate and I managed to violate one time within the first two weeks which resulted in almost being kicked out of the program in the first two weeks after a verbal lashing by our professor. Nevertheless, he cut us a break, and we behaved better. I finished the course earning a B and three credit hours. This was probably the closest I ever came to having a "typical" college experience.
My next venture into college life was the summer after I graduated. I had not been a stellar high school student, so part of the condition for my acceptance was taking a summer course to prove that I could handle it. This time I took a philosophy course and once again managed to pass the class with a B. However, I realized that my focus really wasn't on academics and that it would be a struggle to prioritize. Whether it was selfishness or maturity that motivated me, I had a long discussion with my parents and decided to delay pursuing a college education until I was ready.
By the time I returned, I was no longer a traditional student. It had been nearly three years since I graduated high school, and in that time I had managed to get married and give birth to a son. It was his birth, the ups and down of a rocky marriage, and a dim future that led me to the conclusion that I would need to go back in order to be able to give him or myself any sort of meaningful life. I jumped in full time taking 5 courses. I still had not decided on a major, but I knew that it was the right time. Despite no support from my husband, I was able to take care of my 1-year-old son and be a successful student, earning A's and B's. For the first term, my mother would watch my son while I was in class. About halfway through the term, he had to have a major orthopedic surgery, and I completed much of my studying by his bedside while he recovered. The second term I had to put him in daycare three days a week. I spent many late nights typing out papers on an old typewriter. I wasn't able to engage in any social activities or empathize with my fellow students. I felt very alone as I navigated the academic rigors of college, but I never thought about just how different I was.
I had planned on returning the next semester, but my parents had moved over a thousand miles away. My marriage continued to disintegrate, and when my husband was laid off, I felt that it would be nearly impossible for us to survive or for me to continue my classes unless I had more support. We moved to Florida, and I waited for over a year to return to school. Nevertheless, I was more determined than ever to succeed, so when I did return, I jumped in full time. Now, not only was I married and a mother, but also a good 5-6 years older than my fellow students. My life experiences had forced me to mature quickly, and I didn't have the same distractions as those who shared the classroom with me. My second full year of college was filled with 5-6 classes per term, a full time job at McDonald's, and the emotional turmoil of a broken marriage and subsequent separation. I moved back in with my parents for help. I kept my job for two reasons: first because I had no financial support from my estranged husband and two because I wanted a real reminder of why college was so important. Every day as I would look at my 4-year-old or work the drive-thru, I was reminded that I did not want the rest of our lives to be a struggle. That was perhaps my best year in terms of grades. I earned nearly a perfect 4.0, with the exception of one horrible physical science class where I earned a B.
After completing enough coursework to earn and A. A., I transferred to a university. At that point I had decided that I wanted to become an English teacher. The transition between majors and schools created a slight problems as I had not completed some of the coursework I would need. This required me to continue my enrollment of 5 classes per term in addition to some summer classes. Before it all began, I had taken leave from work to spend the summer with my son; I decided not to return knowing that the demands were too much. Nevertheless, with persistence and determination, and the support of my mother who cared for my son while I was in class, I was able to complete the rest of my degree in two years. During that time I sat by my son's bedside after more surgeries and divorced my husband. Although there were a few students in the program like me, I was very much alone. I spent little time on the bustling campus and never had the time or ability to participate in any of the activities. I did not share the dating woes and gossip of many of my peers nor attended the parties. It wasn't that I was not invited, I just had other commitments at home. Many of my peers could not understand that or step into my mindset. Although it was lonely at times, it was also good that I did not have the distractions that other college students face. I had a much more tangible goal than many of them- to be able to graduate and support myself and my son. That is probably one of the many reasons I was so successful as a college student. I earned all A's and B's (with the exception of one C). I completed my degree in 4 years total, and I knew what I was doing after graduation.
So here I am again, 13 years after earning a bachelor's degree, returning to the same university in order to earn a second. It won't take much time as I only need 8 classes, and technology has advanced so much that I will be able to complete most of the coursework online. I am a different person now. Not only do I have ambition, but I also have the real-life experience of teaching for nearly a decade. I am re-married, and my son is almost 20, pursuing his own college degree. One thing that is similar is that I have a 3-year-old at home, a little girl. My perspective has changed in so many ways from being a parent and a professional, and I will be 40 in less 17 days. I am a non-traditional student once again, but this time so are many of the students in my online classes. There are people who work jobs and raise children. One is a single mom of three kids with a 9-7 job. Another is a married father with two young children who lives hours away. The online courses are filled with non-traditional students who each have different stories. Most are trying to balance a life of family and work with the demands of school in the hope that when they finish they will be in a better place.
I don't mind being a non-traditional student. Sometimes it can be lonely, and it is difficult to empathize with the needs and concerns of the more traditional- this makes group work a special challenge. Honestly, it is all I have known really. And I attribute a large part of my success to my circumstances in life that made me non-traditional.
Ok, so I have finally set myself to writing the first post. I'm not quite sure why it has taken me weeks except that I often feel too distracted or tired. All excuses aside, I am now committing myself to this venture. It is about time I get off my lazy arse and begin to tap out my thoughts somewhere besides the deep recesses of my mind. I'm tired of listening to the voice in my head.
One of the reasons for my delay was in trying to figure out what I would write about. In an effort to make it easy for myself, and in the process just get the job done, I have decided to elaborate on the title I created for this little piece of heaven. It does have a purpose, and I did spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about it. Basically, A Long, Loud Sigh is something that I find escaping from my own lips more and more often the older I grow. I know this is true of many women; therefore, I am not unique. Nevertheless, the reasons are not quite so simplistic.
According to an article posted on Discovery News, there is a scientific basis for sighing. It is a part of a necessary biological process that keeps our breathing in check. " 'So in times of stress, when breathing is less variable, a sigh can reset the respiratory system and loosen the lung's air sacs, or alveoli, which may be accompanied by a sensation of relief, Vlemincx said' " (O'Hanlon). http://news.discovery.com/human/why-we-sigh-breathing.html
Lori P. writes about how sighing is a language that has different meanings for men and women. In her humorous article she states, "Why do women sigh when humans invented words and verbal language? Maybe because we know that some feelings can’t be expressed—or shouldn’t have to be expressed—in words... Women sigh out of irritation, resignation, sadness, fatigue, relief, contentment, and sexual fulfillment. To tell where on this spectrum a particular sigh comes from, one must be keyed into the situation at hand, the sigh tonality, and the sigher’s body language that accompanies the sigh. It sounds far more complicated than it is. You simply have to be able to read a woman’s mind. " http://www.divinecaroline.com/22072/76375-language-sighs#ixzz1vWyamux6
Peter Dewolf even goes so far as to define "11 Different Ways Your Girlfriend Will Sigh at You." http://thoughtcatalog.com/2011/the-11-different-ways-your-girlfriend-will-sigh-at-you/
If one were to perform a Google search using the keywords "women sighing," one would find about 2,930,000 results varying from humorous tidbits to questions posted on Yahoo and varying sound bites and song lyrics. I must admit that I did not go beyond the first page in my scholarly research. I already know the reasons behind my sighs.
I must openly admit that my sighs are usually the product of some frustration deep inside me. They signal that I have had enough of whatever is stressing me out. Whether it is my husband reclining on the couch reading a book while it is obvious that the carpet needs vacuumed and dishes are stacking up (and I am running back and forth scrubbing toilets, mopping floors, and dusting around him) or it is my son who is once again focusing more energy on his computer games and programs than his college classes and personal hygiene, does not matter. The sigh is the same. And they both know that a sigh from me signals trouble ahead.
On the other hand, there are also those rare occasions when I sigh simply because I am content. The world is perfect that particular moment, and I have to release the warm fuzzies building inside before I explode. I don't mean to imply that I am this over-stressed woman working myself to the bone every day, nor am I insinuating that I am rarely happy or content. Quite the opposite is true actually. And there are times when a sigh is simply a sigh. Maybe I am tired or bored or who knows what. Most of the time I do not even realize that I am sighing, that is unless my husband points it out by asking me what is wrong or informing me that he knows I think he is an idiot.
A sigh that escapes from my lips embodies so many things. It may be frustration, fatigue, annoyance, or pleasure. I can't explain why or how or when. I just know that it happens, and often. Therefore, I am going to try to embrace the sigh and write about those things that create these feelings within me. Maybe I will learn something about the language of my sighs.
For another person's introspection into sighing, visit Laura's blog, Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman http://www.rebelliousthoughtsofawoman.com/rebellious_thoughts_of_a_/2009/02/the-art-of-sighing-.html
. I found it enlightening.