Last Night, America Broke My Heart

Nicki Dugan Pogue
Nicki Dugan Pogue

I’ve learned something from every loss. There isn’t a bad day, a failed test, a failed relationship, a fruitless effort that hasn’t taught me something, hasn’t made me smarter, and stronger. I refuse to waste effort. I refuse to walk away from a disappointment with nothing. I am the living embodiment of my great-grandmother scraping the sides of a mixing bowl.

I have been demeaned, degraded, lied to, denied assistance, manipulated, thrown under the bus, dismissed, humiliated, puppeteered, and in general just been thrown away like garbage. And all that’s ever done is made me better. I am a better writer, a better friend, a better woman, a better colleague, a better manager, a better daughter, and all because of the bad things that have happened to me. I don’t learn much from sunny days, but I have a doctorate in bullshit.

I’m trying to make sense of this election, while every other blink of my eye reminds me I’m awake, that this is real, that this happened. I’m waiting for the disbelief to wear off. I woke up in mourning and that’s only ever happened when I’ve lost a person, not a dream.

I guess I loved what was at stake more than I realized.

I’ve got to find a lesson here, I have to learn something from this that will make me a better person because the only way I know how to cope with loss is through education. I don’t like what this election taught me. I don’t like that I now know there are more ignorant racists in this country than educated, welcoming patriots who know this country isn’t “ours,” it’s everyone’s — and was always intended to be. I don’t like the idea that your experience, preparedness, and dedication count for a fraction of what your gender does. I don’t like knowing that money and power matter more than essentially everything. I don’t like the cracked fault line currently dividing people so staunchly. I wonder if I’ll ever feel anything other than disgust for the people on the other side.

What I’m learning from this election is scarier than other things I’ve learned. It kind of feels like hitting bottom in my brain. But maybe once I get down there I can start climbing back up. Maybe we all can. I won’t spend the next four years sad. I won’t spend the next four years in fear. I will spend them taking every ounce of knowledge away from this unthinkable presidency that I can so that I can use it to make myself better, to make myself a positive, contributing member of my country. Even if I’m appalled by half of it.

I’ve learned that bad things happen to good people. I’ve learned sometimes my effort and experience don’t matter as much as the superficial aspects of a situation. I’ve learned I can’t always have what I want, especially when what I want is a big deal. I’ve learned that not giving up will test every ounce of my energy and patience, and that a very difficult test just began. And last night I learned a country can break your heart. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Shani Silver is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work currently focuses on essays in the dating/single life/women’s lifestyle sphere, but she’ll complain about anything, really.

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