This post IS NOT about judgement or defending my choices.  It’s about the complexity of a dilemma that comes every four years in this country.

Every four years, I face a dilemma.  Do I register to vote or not?  And if I register, do I vote or not?

Since I turned 18, I’ve voted 3-4 times in my life.  Election years always happened during times I was moving from one county to another and had to register again.  Or the voting booths were in locations I couldn’t get to without a car.

When I joined the address confidentiality program in 2014, I was told not to register my new address with the USPS or register to vote.

Not because they didn’t want me to vote or be able to get mail delivered to my home.

Because both registrations put my information on public record.  An official public record that can be accessed by anyone in the US or other foreign country by computer or a specific set of forms; shared or sold to other people for direct mail marketing and other purposes; and leaves me vulnerable to being found by the people I’m hiding from.

Yes, I said it.  I am hiding from my parents, my brother, my mother’s side of the family, people from that community I was raised with/went to school with, and many of the other predators/abusers in my past who I don’t remember or recognize, but who remember and recognize me.

Yes, I changed my name.  Yes, I joined a program that kept them from finding my address and location before.  That didn’t stop former classmates from high school and college from recognizing me and harassing me.  That didn’t stop my cousins and their friends from trying to verbally abuse me in public.  That didn’t stop my brother’s friends from doing all of the above before I moved.

I left the address confidentiality program when I moved across the country.  I did not register my new address with the USPS because this apartment is a “starter” place – i.e. not sure if I’m staying or not for the long term.

I planned on registering to vote.  I filled out the form and sealed it.  But then I stopped before applying the stamp.  And I hid the registration.

Because I got scared.  And I didn’t like any of the candidates.

In some of my Facebook and other groups, I nominally supported Hillary Clinton.  That came because I could not intentionally support a man who promotes and condones racism and abuse of any kind.

As I followed the campaign (sort of), the flashbacks got worse.  The fears increased.  My body reacted negatively to any thought of sending in that voter registration.

I couldn’t do it.

So here’s my dilemma: Do I be a responsible American citizen and vote?  Or do I keep myself safe and protected by not putting my name and information on public record?

And 4 years from now, I will face this moment again.  New candidates, same kind of attitudes.  Will I register or not?  I guess that depends on how safe I feel because self care is more important to me than upholding a country’s ideals right now.

Thanks for reading.

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