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How I went from running on Kailua Beach to marching in D.C. with my therapist…

From the first moment I read of the Women’s March on Washington, I knew I would go. There was no question. When I consider why, I come up with similar reasons to the many who now find themselves following every detail of our nation’s politics for the first time in their lives. 

It’s a horrifying lack of trust.  The kind that comes from knowing your breath can be sucker punched out of you at any given moment, just like election night. It’s the same feeling that comes when you find your spouse or partner is having an affair with someone you know right under your nose. When you find that they’ve committed their heinous acts in your home, in your own bed, on their lunch hour.  It’s just too much to comprehend.

I feel like many people in my country have betrayed me. They found the attention they wanted, from a cunning, lewd lover, when I wasn’t watching. Nasty surprises like this tend to make you stop and take stock of everything in your life. They are followed by days, or even weeks, filled with waves of alternating shock, shame, and denial. One repeatedly asks themselves, “How could this be? How could I have not noticed? Why was I so distracted? Can I fix this? Will I survive?” But, no matter the decision in moving forward – to take back your cheating spouse of a country or to cut ties and run for the Dolomites – you are forever changed. There is an ever-present fear, which makes you so anxious that you become hyper aware of everything. The kind that makes you wake up from a dead sleep at 2:30 am and go through wallets in the dark, checking receipts without a thought of whether or not it’s right to do so. 

Kailua Beach

Sunrise on Kailua Beach

Given everything that I feel about the recent happenings in our country, I think it’s ridiculously appropriate that I am going to attend the march with my therapist. Or, I should say, my very good girlfriend, who started off as my therapist. When I moved to Kailua, Hawaii, two years ago, it was at one of those very bumpy times in life. I was a recent empty-nester and things certainly weren’t going as smoothly as I had always planned. I knew I needed to find someone to talk to, but to be honest, the thought of sitting inside an office for hours each week wasn’t appealing. I was already working long days and the last thing I needed was to be sitting indoors a single minute more than I absolutely had to. It was by chance that I was referred to Brenda, a gorgeous soul, inside and out, who also prefers to be outdoors every moment that she can.  As an added bonus, she’s an ultra-marathon runner.  After only two appointments, we hatched a plan for sunset running-therapy sessions on Kailua beach.

We quickly figured out that we were aligned in our thinking on many topics, to include parenting, education and politics. It’s astounding how much you can get sorted out while running miles of beautiful beach with someone you respect and trust. After about six months, at the end of one of our runs, she let me down easy by saying with a gentle smile, “I think you’re in a very good place now…but we can still run together anytime you like.” We honestly haven’t run together since. Both of our professional lives got even busier and it was just too hard to make the time. But we have been fortunate enough to work together, as she graciously mentored one of my students, and outside of therapy, we easily formed a great friendship.

Brenda and I on the way to the Women’s March in D.C.

Since the election, we have found solace in each other when we needed even more than Pantsuit Nation or SNL could offer. As the nasty blows come via appointment decisions, executive orders or reports published, we have been able to find confirmation in each other that the fear we feel is justified and that there truly is reason to be terrified about the direction our nation is heading.

Still, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little nervous about how the Women’s March will all go down. While I am comfortable with travel, even going alone to most places, I abhor large crowds. I do everything in my power to avoid being in locations that are heavily populated, and because of this, I purposely live and travel in out-of-the-way areas. There is also the issue of safety and whether all the attendees of the inauguration and of the March will choose to remain peaceful. Yet, even with all this, it was still a complete given to go, and an easy decision to be travel companions with Brenda.

I mean honestly, when I stop for a minute and to think of how perfect this is I’m just astounded by it. I’ve recently decided to leave my job and become a nomadic travel blogger on the heels of a year which brought thrilling opportunity followed by major crash and burn, countless times. I honestly feel as if Brene Brown’s book titles are the booming voice narrating my life — in the exact order of their release, no less. 

It has been another hard pill to swallow, but I realize that I’ve been taking the civil liberties that others worked hard to secure for me and my loved ones, completely for granted. Yes, I’ve shown up to vote when it was time to and honestly thought that by voting I was doing my part, and that it was enough. I’ve been falsely confident because there has been steady forward progress my entire life and I just assumed that there would continue to be. To be completely honest, my whole world is blue. In every place I go and everything I do I am surrounded by liberal people and I have almost no exposure to people who hold other opinions. I think this played a part in the utopian world in which I was living.

Sure, I had discussions about the possibility of Trump winning the election but then quickly passed it off as ludicrous. I was confident. I was not worried. I honestly never considered that something might happen to threaten all the things that I hold dear about this country, the progress that we have made and the beautifully diverse people in it whom I love. But it did, and now here I am, heading off to D.C. with my dear friend and former therapist by my side, which is honestly just the perfect situation. I know somewhere my wise, yet quick witted and slightly sarcastic, God is watching with a cool nod and a wink saying, “Don’t worry, I Got Chu!”

 

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