a note:

I wish I had the words to describe the look that Kyle and I shared this morning.

He had gone to bed before me, as the results were still coming in but looking bleak, and I had stayed awake long into the night, refreshing the tabs of my browser in the increasingly vain hope that maybe, maybe, things would somehow still work out.

I didn't want to go to sleep not knowing what was going to happen.

I didn't want to wake up to a surprise.

It didn't feel any better, waking up and knowing.

My first instinct, when I woke up and could see through my window this city and county that voted Blue but surrounded by districts that were deep, evangelical Red, was to get in the car and drive. To see those places. To look those people in the eye. For them to see me. For them to know that I will not be intimidated, that I will not go away.

I told Kyle, "We're going for a drive."

But then, as I looked at my reflection while I was brushing my teeth, I lost my nerve.

I stepped out of the bathroom and looked at Kyle and without any words he knew that we wouldn't be going. I know that his expression was the exact reflection of my own feelings: Loss. Fear. Hopelessness. Love. Solidarity.

We woke up this morning to a country that sees us, our families, and the majority of our friends as less than. Second class citizens. Seen but not heard. Somehow less deserving of rights and dignity.

I'm not sitting here, fooling myself into believing that these problems didn't exist before, they did--of course they did--but the way the choice felt so obvious, that all we had to do was not choose racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, xenophobia--and that these ideologies won--is an astonishing and painful blow.

This is our America.

I keep thinking of how, time and again this year, my words have completely failed me. When faced with the outrageousness of Donald Trump's bigotry, the media frenzy, the shootings in Orlando, the pardoning of Brock Turner, the constant injustice of police killing men who look like the man I love--I allowed my fear of offending, of not saying the right thing, of potentially alienating readers or colleagues or friends and family members to get the better of me.

This year, I completely failed in my duty as a writer, to use my words and have the courage to speak up.

I am sorry.

I know that there is nothing I can do now to conjure up those tweets I should have sent, or the blogs I should have written, or the comments I should have challenged on Facebook. I can't go back and write any new articles for the Huffington Post. I can't add my voice to the people who had made phone calls for Hillary.

When I looked at my husband's eyes this morning, I knew I had hit bottom.

Even though I am sleep-deprived and struggling to find coherence with this blog post, I am sharing these thoughts with you.

I can no longer afford the luxury of struggling to find the right words.

I'm done with parsing my beliefs at the expense of other people's feelings.

I'm done with turning the other cheek, the benefit of the doubt, internet activism with memes and hashtags, and the flighty dismissal of Love Trumps Hate. 

I'm done with second-guessing whether or not I should comment or tweet or post something, or assuming that someone else has already said it--louder, better, or more articulate. 

I'm tired of resigning my voice to not mattering as much as someone else's--half of the country has made it clear that they aren't going to advocate for my voice. 

I'm going to start to use my less-than-perfect words--because the risk of losing my right to use my voice is higher now than it has ever been before.

I hope that you take care of yourself today. I hope that you know that you are loved. I hope you know that your life matters. I hope that you understand your vote counts. I hope that you know that your voice is important. I hope that you do what you can to take care of yourself, so we can be strong together for whatever comes next.

Please don't look away.

There is so much for us to do.