My January 6 PTSD

I don’t have a schedule for these blog posts. But sometimes, I just feel one boiling up in me, rising to the top of my consciousness, demanding to be let out. It’s like therapy. This morning, I was watching a video by Josiah Colt, one of the newly charged insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol building on January 6, 2021…a date that is now the day of infamy in our nation’s history.

Here he is, on the dais:

In the half-assed apology video I watched, Colt was coherent, clean-cut, handsome, doing his best to apologize without actually admitting that Trump lost the election. He just got “caught up in the moment,” he said, like he’s not a grown-ass man who should be able to control himself and have a little common sense. (Wow, have we heard that excuse before! Like that’s a legitimate excuse for rape, or murder, or treason.)

I didn’t buy it.

I’d like to tell Mr. Colt and every Trump supporter who showed up at the Capitol that day, my version of events, what happened to me on that day as I sat in my living room watching television. For four years, as a liberal lesbian, I had watched in dismay as the Trump administration worked hard to divide the country I love. Each day included new atrocities, hatred, actions to undermine democracy, damage our environment, and hurt non-white Americans. I underestimated the amount of anxiety I had amassed in those four years.

The election of November 2020 brought some relief, some hope but that was quickly replaced with more anxiety as Trump continued to lie and lie and lie, and incredibly, his supporters believed him, still couldn’t see through the con job.

January 5 brought new hope as a years-long effort in Georgia resulted in the election of two– not one, but two–Democratic senators. Perhaps the country was tilting toward a normal axis, at last! So the morning of January 6 was hopeful. By this date, I had been trapped alone in my home for nearly a year because of the pandemic. My anxiety, and fear, and doubt about the future, not just for America but for the world, was at the top of my scale. The television was on as I watched the electoral proceedings, just waiting for it to all be over and for Joe Biden to finally be confirmed as our new President. I switched between CNN and MSNBC, my chosen news outlets, ready to celebrate.

I was horrified by the crowd of people who actually showed up at that awful rally on the ellipse, where Trump and Guiliani, Mike Flynn and other Republicans spoke. I was horrified at the things they said, the violence they supported, the anger they stoked. I had to mute the television. I was horrified as they marched zombie-like toward the Capitol. And then…I was horrified as they turned into an ugly mob, broke through the metal barriers, and overwhelmed Capitol police. A swarm of slimy insurrectionists crawling up the sacred steps to overtake the global citadel of democracy.

I had to sit down. I felt sick. It was unbelievable. Who were these people? Surely not Americans. Katy Tur said, “Oh my god,” as a woman covered in blood was wheeled out a side door on a gurney. News announcers stuttered for words, not knowing what was happening. For hours, I switched between the two channels, watching the unimaginable, Americans attacking our Capitol, anger, hatred, silly flags, a scaffold hacked together to hang Mike Pence.

For hours I watched. I saw it in real time. I couldn’t take my eyes away despite the horror and nausea I felt.

Where was the National Guard? Where was police backup? Where was the fucking military? Was it really so easy to topple America? Just assemble a hateful mob and tell them to march to the Capitol and take it over? I’ve never felt so ashamed of our country. Friends from the UK were texting me, friends from other parts of America were texting me. We were all horrified.

Unprepared.

Unable to stop an insurrection.

Unable to defend our nation’s Capitol.

Unwilling to believe the truth when they didn’t like it.

And when it was finally over, when the insurrectionists were ALLOWED to leave, I had a few drinks to calm my anxiety. And I don’t drink. But was it over? Massive ugly fences were erected around the Capitol, concrete barriers and National Guard put in place. But could they protect it? Now I wasn’t sure, didn’t trust it. If we couldn’t protect our Capitol building from a pack of rag-tag domestic terrorists, how could we protect our country from foreign attacks? Could we trust our National Guard, our military? Who let those insurrectionists into the Capitol? Was it part of the Capitol police? Republican congressmen?

Could we have a safe inauguration?

It’s been six months. We still don’t know all the answers and Republicans want to deny it ever happened. No one who really caused this horror has been held accountable. Only a few who got “caught up in the moment.”

Here’s what I think: If you were anywhere on the Capitol grounds that day, you’re a traitor to America. A hundred years ago, you would be hung by the neck on the National Mall as an example to other traitors and as a sign to the world that America is strong and does not tolerate treason.

I’m not buying any lukewarm apologies for this. The only thing I ever want to hear from any Republican is, “We’re sorry. We were wrong. How can we help fix this so that it never happens again?”

But I guess that’s wishful thinking.

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