In 2016, I wrote too much about baseball, left my husband, and became an alcoholic. Apparently, drinking 32 oz of whiskey a week is too much. I’m a nurse. Trust me.
I once wrote a lot about baseball. Too much about baseball considering I wasn’t paid and the people I wrote for were ungrateful, sexist, and racist. In spite of that, I’m not bitter at all. What I am is embarrassed. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of myself for being such a trusting fool. Forty-one years old and it took me that long to learn that women sleep with the boss to get favored status, fat white women from trailer parks don’t trust better looking highly educated Latinas, and white men don’t like Latinas with strong political opinions, but will tolerate old white men with similar strong political opinions. Shocking, I know. This was somehow all news to me. For someone who was highly educated, I was shockingly naive and kind of stupid about people.
I could succumb to hate for these people. I almost did. It would have been easy to do. The anger was there. The anger is still there. However, it’s not directed at the people themselves. The anger is directed at a society that perpetuates stupid stereotypes, some of which I refused to accept, but have basis in reality. I didn’t want to believe that a woman from a trailer park would be cruel to me because she was fat, insecure, from a trailer park, married to a gay man who didn’t love her (her words), and didn’t graduate college. However, it’s either that, or she’s evil. I don’t believe in people being intrinsically evil. I think there is usually a reason for people behaving the way they behave. Women acting poorly towards one another for no reason infuriates me. I believe in sisterhood, and supporting one another. We are stronger together. I teach my daughter to support other girls in their endeavors. Sadly, this support is not frequently returned. What I am observing is that other girls are cruel to her, mocking her for her love of cats and that she still loved Frozen. Sadly, she stopped liking Frozen. Her love of cats remains.
The other component of this website was my anger towards the sexism and racism displayed by the creator of this website, who autocratically ran it. He had indicated racist points of view in the past, as in his poor understanding as to why black people rioted in Baltimore. I tried giving him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that maybe his suburban upbringing blinded him to the realities of urban struggles. That should have been a warning to me. However, the web site gave me an outlet to write, and I ignored my gut. I sacrificed my ethics. I was wrong to do this. He was fine with me so long as I was subservient Aunt Tomasina but as soon as I started expressing strong opinions, he cursed me out. I was not given the same courtesy he gave a white female writer who regularly threw temper tantrums and threatened to leave the web site almost weekly if she didn’t get her way. Instead of taking me seriously, he blamed my reaction on my “personal issues”–at the time, I was struggling with alcoholism, something I did not try to hide from anyone. However, I was very sober when I left the web site. I knew exactly what I was doing. I was done sacrificing my soul to a racist and sexist man.
(I quit drinking completely 8 months ago. One of the few benefits of our new President is that I find I don’t need to drink to feel like I’m drunk. All I have to do is open the newspaper. Literally, nothing makes sense. President Donald Trump? I must be drunk.)
All of this was election year. Donald Trump was on the air making insane statements about Mexicans, people of color, disabled people, gay people, women etc. I thought no way. There is no way the good people of America would vote for this man. Have faith.
At the same time at work, my British boss wrote me up for something that white co-workers were doing. I was accused of being excessively on my phone by a white co-worker who was constantly on her phone. I counted her being on her phone 6 times in one hour. I was not the “snitch” type. When I finally told my boss because it was so unfair, she said, “Betty does it discreetly.” Uh, bullshit. Betty did it in the open, where I escorted patients out to the lobby. The white nurses I worked with started reporting every thing I did. I was confused. I worked harder than all of them put together. Yes, when I went home, I drank hard, but my drinking never affected my job–they had no idea how heavily I drank, and that the reason I was drinking was because I was depressed that I was telling patients over and over: “You have cancer. Congratulations. You have cancer. Congratulations. You’re about to become a horrific science experiment. Your life is about to be hell.” I left out the congratulations part. We diagnosed colon cancers at our surgery center. People would come in thinking they were going to get a clean bill of health. We told a 37 year old woman with a 4 year old baby, “You have colon cancer. I’m so sorry.” I couldn’t take the pain. My own dad had died of cancer, and it was like relieving the moment he was diagnosed over and over again.
I finally stopped self-medicating myself and dealt with my grief. I became the best hospice nurse ever. I understand pain and maladjusted grieving like no one you have ever met. When I did the training videos, it was as if I was born knowing hospice knowledge. I lived it. I know pain of death like no one else. I’ve been around many deaths. I am not afraid to touch death and feel it and know: it’s going to be ok. The worst happened. You will live. It will hurt, but you will live. I got you.
Again, this was election year. I thought I was losing my mind. Is everyone racist around me? No. It’s not possible. Bernie Sanders supporters were even calling me racist names too for supporting Hillary Clinton. No, this is wrong. Even them? What the hell?
Then the worst happen.
Donald Trump was elected President.
It hurt, but we will live.
I hadn’t lost my mind. America did. In an odd way, I felt better. I wasn’t insane. Everything that happened to me in 2016 all of a sudden made sense. You were all crazy.
I was fine.
And now I can fight.