Post-Inauguration Fatigue Is A Thing, And It Has Hit Us Full-Force

by Rachel Garlinghouse
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Last Wednesday was an incredible day. My kiddos who are remote learning, my husband, and I sat watching the inauguration, our eyes glued to the screen. Each moment was more magical than the next. I found myself tearing up and cheering aloud. My preschooler and I wore our faux pearls in support of Kamala Harris, and my son stood on the furniture and gave President Biden a thumbs up.

We’ve been waiting for this day for four very (very, very, very) long years—a day we weren’t sure would come. The presidential race was too close for comfort. When Biden and Harris came out victorious, we were relieved and hopeful. Inauguration day dawned, rendering us energetic and transfixed by the events. However, now that the inauguration is over and the Biden-Harris team’s work has begun, we are just so damn tired.

As a multiracial family, when I reflect on the long-ass four years of 45’s torture, all I can think of are the horrible ways he treated people of color. From throwing paper towels at hurricane victims, to calling Mexicans “rapists,” to being dead-set on building a wall, to separating Mexican families and losing children, to calling African nations and Haiti “shithole countries,” to referring to Black Lives Matter protestors as thugs and demanding they needed some law and order, he was nothing but poison.

His hatred went beyond the headlines and into our homes. My friend confessed that her children, both of whom are Mexican-American, were taunted on the school bus. Kids chanted at them to “go back to Mexico.” Others pledged their allegiance to the police when the video of Floyd’s murder went viral, changing their profile pictures to blue and black stripes. I can’t tell you the number of people I encountered who clung to “black on black crime,” “reverse racism,” and “all lives matter.”

Trump riled up racists to an all-new boldness level. He denied the harsh realities of the coronavirus, which disproportionally impacted (and still impacts) people of color. Remember when he tried to scare “suburban housewives” into voting for him, stating he could protect them from those trying to “invade” the suburbs? (Dude, you weren’t fooling anyone. You were talking in not-so-secret code, referring to Black and brown people.) The icing on the cake was when he encouraged his beloved white nationalists (ahem, cult followers) to take democracy back. Then as a nation, we collectively watched them, some of whom were carrying Confederate flags, attack the Capitol.


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He was relentless, unapologetic, unstable, and temperamental. He was the polar opposite of the beloved Obamas. Frankly, he reminds me of a toddler. When his pet Pence (who denied that systemic racism during the VP debate) walked down the steps of the Capitol after attending Biden-Harris’ inauguration, we cheered. Bye. Go.

I had a really hard time sleeping the night before the inauguration. Part of this is because I live with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and I am naturally nervous about…well, just about everything. I also felt like the Biden-Harris inauguration was a mirage, a too-good-to-be-true promise that would somehow be taken from us by morning.

But it happened, and it happened beautifully. When JLo stepped out into the sun and made the short walk to the microphone to sing, I sensed her emotions. You could tell she was trying not to lose it in that moment—a moment we all know we could have missed had there been too-few more votes for the other candidate.

In the days that have followed the inauguration, I’ve had moments of outright grief for what was. 400,000 lives lost to the coronavirus and over 24,000,000 cases. A country that shouldn’t have been divided over the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. 45 fanned the flames of hatred so much, that those who were already hateful felt a call to action, one that would empower them to rise up.

I’m angry that there weren’t more votes for a clearly stable, smart, and humble power-duo. However, I’m trying to push this behind me, knowing that now, for the next four years at least, we have sound leadership who are going to work to clean up the mess Trump and Pence left behind. It’s a big mess, too. This won’t be an easy job, but I think they’re up for the task.

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The past four years have been like a roller coaster, one that never ends. We just couldn’t get off the damn ride, no matter how many social media and news breaks we took in the name of mental health. None of us are the same from day after day political-turned-personal hell. The decisions, the nightmare-ish tweets, and uprising of hatred leaked into every area of life, having the greatest impact on BIPOCs, including my children, who were already subject to systemic racism.

I’m not naïve. There will be no single politician or event that will unite our country and heal our wounds. No matter how magical the inauguration was—fromAmanda Gorman’s poem recitation, to watching Madam Vice President Harris make history, to listening to President Biden’s hope-and-healing speech—we aren’t redeemed. Our division is deeper than ever before, no thanks to the person who was supposed to be the president of us all. However, we’re on a new path, on the start square, poised and ready for newness.

I don’t know about you, but I’m scared to feel hopeful right now. I want to believe that new leadership can help steer our country in the right direction, one of racial equity, one of ending the pandemic, one of uplifting each other. I also know there are a lot of people–who despite a president who bragged about sexually assaulting women, who relentlessly went after people of color, and who allowed a virus to get completely out of control–still voted for him.

These past four years have been traumatizing, leaving many of us numb, skeptical, and confused. We lost family members and friends. People we loved and trusted turned out to be traitors, their allegiance to a man who bred hatred for amusement and personal gain. I also recognize that if I, as a white, middle-class, woman am left with post-inauguration weariness, how much more difficult were these past four years on BIPOCs?

We’ve been holding our breath for four infuriating years, and we’re learning to gradually let it out. But there’s still so much work to be done, and those who voted for hate are still among us, in our workplaces, at our kids’ schools, in our houses of worship, and even in our own families and circles of friends. New leadership can certainly set the tone for change, but it’s going to be up to each person to make the necessary changes within themselves.