My thoughts are still pretty jumbled from pain and lack of sleep (aka painsomnia), but this is inside me and needs to come out.
I was arrested yesterday, and spent the day with the United States Capital Police and nearly 100 other activists who put their bodies on the line to demand that our representatives stop the health care bill that will harm millions to give tax cuts to the wealthiest among us.
To be clear, I don't know exactly how many of us were arrested. The statement released by the USCP said 80 protesters were arrested in 13 different locations throughout the Senate and Congressional Offices. But while in custody, I caught a glimpse of the handwritten notes detailing the full protest that officers were using for reference while processing us, and it read "Total Arrests: 93."
I do not know if everyone is out yet.
So why was I there?
Because I can do no less.
I am 29 years old and I live with 3 autoimmune diseases. My normal is not easily understood by most, even people I consider friends.
My twenties have been spent in doctors offices and hospitals and waiting at pharmacies. Sometimes for my own care, often for my husband's. He is an insulin dependent diabetic, and in 2015 when he was dying, I gave him my left kidney.
He is alive because the Affordable Care Act allowed us to purchase insurance despite our pre-existing conditions. He is alive because of the ACA, the Tampa General Hospital Transplant Center, and my left kidney.
Before the ACA, we went bankrupt and lost our home in Pennsylvania, while spending every dollar we had saving his vision from diabetic retinopathy. The ACA allowed us to build our lives back up, to afford insurance that keeps us from going broke at any moment.
During the years my husband was sickest, I cared for him. And that whole time, my very own father argued with me ceaselessly and shamelessly ranted his Fox News inspired hatred of the bill at me. He protested the ACA and urged the Tea Party candidates he supported to repeal the bill. All the while, he knew that it would devastate his own daughter, as well as the nameless faceless masses of Americans who rely on the bill for it's protections of those with pre-existing conditions and Medicaid expansion.
There are many reasons I ended my relationship with my parents two years ago. That is one of the most painful ones.
I look at the faces of people who do not care about the lives of others, and I feel shame, because I come from those people.
And then I use the tools I've learned to squash that needless shame, and use it to fuel my persistence. I fight back against the evil they bring.
We cannot choose who we are born to. But we can choose with whom to share our time, affection, attention, respect.
We can choose to use our bodies for good, and stand up for those who are being harmed.
And yes, people are already being harmed. This fight is a struggle. It takes so much energy and focus to spend the day in police custody, hands cuffed, when you are ill or in pain. It is an emotional drain to be worried about the very real possibility of losing care when you have a medical condition. Stress makes chronic illness worse. They make us sicker just by their attempt. But they also make us stronger, more resilient, more ready to do what is necessary.
I have so much love and gratitude for the team of Floridians (and 2 NYers supporting!) who got arrested outside Congressman Curbelo's office yesterday, for all those who were there to support us, to the 15 other teams targeting other locations, and to Housing Works for organizing the day.
Please keep calling your senators, spreading the word, sharing the stories you hear. We will #killthebill together, but we cannot quit.