I “counted sheep” as the wee hours of the morning drew near, but not intentionally and not in the typical meaning of the phrase.
First, there were my parents, then my maternal grandparents, then all the others whom I didn’t know yet cast their vote for Donald J. Trump. They were the sheep who had fallen for the empty promises and lies of the Republican candidate, and they were the reason I nearly fell hard from the emotional cliff called the verge of a breakup last night.
My boyfriend conflated the votes of my parents to my worth as a girlfriend on Sunday night. He irrationally transferred his strong discontent with my parents’ votes to his view of me.
He has been well aware of my anti-Trump position, my much more left-winged political views and my discomfort with all that Trump has done. I did not vote for Trump. He was well-aware of my personal mission for social justice that had led me to “do much good for the world” as he put it. However, he was not aware of the extent of stress and sleepless nights the election had brought me. Right now, my eyes burn from a sleepless yet teary night. Although I am open about nearly everything with my boyfriend, I chose to avoid that topic to keep peace with my family and with him, except when or if the discussion naturally evolved.
On Thanksgiving, he saw my sisters and I debate against my kind, gentle mother. Later that holiday, my extremely liberal sister finishing college pulled me aside and whispered that he, despite knowing about our Trump vote casting parents, was a “keeper.” I smiled, thinking that he, a prominent Silicon Valley software engineer with 4 years and a master’s degree on me, was correct when he said he was certain I was “it”, the one. I trusted his intellect, the very thing he said my parents (though graduates of world renown universities) lacked. He thought, and claims to still think, I am kind, intelligent and loveable.
My boyfriend had experienced me, a girl who had been called “sweet” her entire life, speak out somewhat disrespectfully against my mother on a holiday. He knew I stood for that which Trump was against, though he did not know that I often found comfort in the messages from Pope Francis responding to Trump. He knew that I donated to the refugees, but he was not aware of the extent of pain the current political agendas induced. This past year, I have emptied my empathy in trying to connect to those near me and those afar.
Perhaps the most interesting part to me is that in my boyfriend’s home country (a Western European country), a far-right party is rising in popularity as election date nears. While my boyfriend strongly disagrees with this candidate, he sees that the candidate’s brother speaks out. Furthermore, he not only acknowledges that this candidate’s brother openly opposes the far-right; he applauds these efforts and accordingly, distinguishes the two brothers as separate entities. He does not conflate their thoughts, actions or them.
I don’t know why this reasoning doesn’t follow in the case of my parents and I. I don’t know why he supports social justice but isn’t being just towards me. I don’t know why he says he likes so much about me and he loves me, but I am no longer worth pursuing. I don’t know why he insists all people are equal, even in the context of someone’s net worth, but maintains that I no longer make him feel like a power couple. I don’t know why he thinks racism poisons but approves his mother asking me within 6 minutes of first meeting if I was born near the border of California and Mexico. I don’t know why he bought tickets to take me to Vegas in a few weeks, and I don’t know why he liked me so quickly in the first place.
I just don’t know, but that’s okay. We don’t have to know; we only have to reason.