People have speculated that Speaker Pelosi or the party leadership asked me to resign because of the photos and the allegations about me. That could not be further from the truth. In fact, one of the most difficult moments during my resignation process was my phone call to the Speaker, a woman I admire more than anyone and whom I had come to love. She told me I didn’t have to do this, that the country needed me and that she wished I hadn’t made this decision, but she respected me and what I felt I needed to do. I told her what I told everyone else when I announced my resignation: that it was the right thing to do.
I knew it was the best decision for me, my family, my staff, my colleagues, my community. But that didn’t make it any easier, and in the days that followed, I was overwhelmed by everything — by how many people had seen my naked body, by the comments, the articles, the millions of opinions, the texts, the calls. I would start shaking, crying, throwing up. It was hard to talk to my family because I knew they were going through so much, too. I didn’t want to talk to my friends because I was humiliated and didn’t want to hear more pity and didn’t know what to say. Many of my staff members had been with me for years, and we were, for better or worse, very close; now I feared that they all hated me.
I didn’t leave my apartment. I felt so alone and didn’t know what to do.
It was two days after I announced my resignation. I don’t even know how I spent the day. I was probably reading articles about myself that I shouldn’t have been reading, ignoring more text messages and calls, falling in and out of restless sleep. But when it got dark I drew a bath, lit candles and brought over a bottle of wine.
I laid there and thought about what I’d lost. The people on my team and in my life who had been hurt and had done nothing wrong. Everyone I’d let down, everyone who worked for me, who campaigned for me, who believed in me. The future I thought was in store for me that was instantly and irrevocably gone. My own mistakes had led me there, but there were other things at play. And those pictures — no one should have ever seen them.
How could I ever face anyone again knowing what they’d seen? Knowing what they knew?
The bath water had gone cold. The wine bottle was empty. Suddenly and with total clarity, I just wanted it all to be over. I got up and looked for the box cutter. I couldn’t find it. A part of my brain was saying: “Stop it, this is stupid. You’re not going to do it. Go drain the bathtub and get yourself together.” But I felt like I was out of my body, like it was moving without me, and I got the paring knife and got back into the cold bath.
I stared at the veins in my wrists. They were so thin. They were green in the candlelight. I started tracing them with the edge of the knife, lightly at first, then pushing harder and harder. The knife was duller than I thought. It surprised me how hard I had to push simply to scratch the surface. Fine red lines started to appear, and I knew that if I pushed just a tiny bit harder I would start to bleed. I thought about the people I had already let down so much. What would this do to my parents? To my brother and sister?
And then I thought about my supporters. I thought about the high school students who had told me how I inspired them. I thought about the Girl Scouts whose troops I’d visited who told me they wanted to grow up to be like me, and how their parents would explain this to them, and what it would do to them. And I realized I couldn’t do it. I ran the campaign knowing it was bigger than me and what I wanted, and it still is. I don’t get to quit. I have to keep going forward, and be part of the fight to create the change that those young girls are counting on. [Continue reading…]