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Ultimate Betrayal

Since the overturning of R v W, a palpable sense of collective disbelief, fear, grief, and rage has been in the air.

Impossible to escape.

The day after the SCOTUS announcement, I found myself at a coffee shop. I was surrounded mostly by women and children. I could hear the whispers. Every woman was talking about it. One even started to cry. My own perceptions of what it means to be a woman in the United States have gradually changed in the 35 years since I immigrated here, but this felt like the ultimate betrayal.

I have two countries: the one I was born into and the one I pledged allegiance to when I became a citizen. I did not run away from my birth country, Turkey. I moved because of one of those "girl meets boy, and they fell in love, and he happens to be an American" stories.

When I left Turkey to come to the U.S. in 1987, what I didn’t expect was to lose rights I had as a woman, such as earning the same amount as a man and not experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. Turkey was a secular country at the time with a clear separation of church and state. That all started to change when Erdogan, a very right-wing, religious zealot was elected president. Over the last 35 years, he almost burned my beautiful country of origin to the ground. It is now a shell of what it used to be. I used to stay awake at night wondering if my sister and niece would be forced to wear burkas. I never imagined that my own adopted country would become just as repressive.

Now, I lie awake at night terrified about the far-reaching consequences of this inhumane ruling to prevent American women from having control over their bodies and reproductive system. As I write this, my logical mind screams, "it can't be true."

Incomprehensible, but it is a fact. Our hearts are tired. My heart is tired.

My body and heart are screaming to slow down and breathe. I am learning to do small things slowly. I am taking smaller steps, driving more slowly, working more slowly, and walking more slowly through the grocery store isles. Everything my eyes land on is the same, but nothing is the same. Grief permeates from our pores.

A primal scream is caught in our throats, like in those nightmares when you dream the boogeyman is coming for you. You open your mouth to scream, but no sound comes out. You wake up in a cold sweat, and your first thought is, "Oh ... my ... GOD! it is not a dream."

There is no solace.

So I slow down. Breathe a bit deeper and slower. I let my tired heart rest a bit to get my bearings back. I lean into my people for love and friendship. I scream and rage, but I will eventually rise from the ashes and keep moving forward, slowly but steadily. Every tiny step counts. Every scream counts. I won’t dare stay silent.

How are you doing? Tell me everything you want me to know.

Nukhet H.


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