A Pro-choice Blog

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I’m pro-choice. I don’t believe in abortion for the sake of killing babies, and I can’t imagine anyone does. I believe in giving women a choice in whether or not to continue a pregnancy.

I sometimes support women who are considering abortion. I help them weigh the options by openly discussing the pros and cons of each choice. I offer feedback and an objective perspective to help them in making this difficult decision. I watch them agonize over this choice, I’ve never seen a woman who doesn’t struggle with this. Sometimes this ends in helping them access abortion services.

I don’t think many people understand the weight of this decision. Many women remember this choice for years or decades after making it. Some wonder what their child would have been like. Some experience a deep sense of grief and depression. Some even celebrate due dates as birthdays or anniversaries to cope with the loss. Some turn to alcohol or drugs. Please know, these desperate women who choose abortion are not “using it as birth control”. I’m not sure this is a decision someone takes lightly.

I read this article a few days ago:

Rivers of Babylon

It is a heartbreaking story of a woman who had a late term abortion due to health concerns/quality of life/viability of the baby. I cried. I cried so hard to read her words. I can’t imagine having a baby inside you, and then there’s nothing. I can’t imagine the hurt, the anger, the guilt, the brokenness these women experience. I can’t imagine how it feels to hear someone say they made the wrong choice. They made the choice that was right for them at the time. I don’t understand judging someone for making that choice when I know exactly how hard it probably was.

Recently I had a woman come to me. She was pregnant. She told me “My boyfriend will kill me if he finds out. I have no other choice.” I believed her, the man was incredibly violent. We talked about adoption, we talked about giving the baby to family, we talked about relocating and keeping the baby, and so many more options. In the end, she decided abortion was the right, but agonizing choice.

She contacted the clinic and started the process. I went with her to her doctor’s appointment to confirm her pregnancy. I saw the look of defeat when her doctor congratulated her, knowing her choice was already made. I saw the ultrasound, the tiny little tic tac that was growing inside her. She was 6 weeks along. “The baby looks healthy.” the doctor told her. She sobbed in my car on the way home. This wasn’t what she wanted.

She made her appointment at the clinic and asked me to drive her. I knew she’d be emotional. I knew this was the hardest choice she’s ever made.  It was important to her that I was there, so I went.

The clinic was an old, run down building. It didn’t look like much. Out front there were men with signs. When we went in, a man with a body camera strapped to his chest asked to talk to us.  When we refused to talk, he screamed at us “They’re killing babies in there! They’re killing innocent children in there!” I thought to myself that he’ll never know what this choice is like, he can’t get pregnant.

The wait in the lobby was forever long.  She filled out paperwork which asked “How are you feeling about your choice?” Anxious. Relieved. Conflicted. “How sure are you about this decision?” Sure. After an hour we went into a tiny room where a woman did an ultrasound. She showed us the baby. She said it wasn’t even big enough to be seen with the human eye at this point. The doctor explained the procedure. The look on my client’s eyes was fear, sadness,  and resolve. I knew this was hard for her.

While the doctor performed the procedure I held her hand. I rubbed her arm and forehead and reminded her to breathe. At times I felt like I was reminding myself too. It was chaos, fear and a bumble of activity in a tiny room. It was blood, sweat and tears. It was mental and physical pain. It was doctors, advocates and interns. It was crowded. It was personal, vulnerable, and exposing.

Once it was over she was given after care instructions and we left. She stared out at the road as I drove her home. I saw a silent tear roll down her cheek and she quickly brushed it away.

In that moment I was once again reminded why I’m pro choice. I’m pro choice because she has the right to decide what happens to her body. When someone has had every other right stripped from them at some point in their life, they need the control for their own body. I’m not pro choice because I want to “kill babies”. It’s not called “pro baby killing” for a reason, it’s called choice because it’s her decision.

What I know is that if I was put into a situation where I was considering abortion, I’m not sure what I’d decide. If I chose to have an abortion, it would be truly heartbreaking for me. I’ve waited my entire life to be a mom, there’s nothing more in this world that I want.  But even if I didn’t choose abortion, I’d want the option to choose, and others deserve that right as well. And that is why I’m pro choice, and I will fight for every woman alive to have that choice.

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Dear Abuser

Dear Abuser,

I don’t think you understand the pain and suffering you’ve caused your victim. I’m the one they tell about your hurtful ways with tears in their eyes. I’m the one they turn to for support and affirmation that they aren’t the one to blame. I’m the one that tells them it was your choice and not theirs.

Dear Abuser,

I don’t think you know how scared they are of you. You don’t see them trembling on the stand when they testify. I’m the one that’s there to support them. You don’t see them unable to sleep or eat because they are fearful for their safety. I’m the one they call in the middle of the night in panic. You don’t know the extra measures they take to keep themself and their children safe. You don’t know how many locks it takes to allow them to feel safe.

Dear Abuser,

You don’t understand all the changes your victim has made to move on. I’m the one who helps pack up their belongings and move to a different house or a different town. You don’t have to change your phone number 5 times ion 6 months because you’re being stalked and harassed. You don’t have to stay with a friend because you’re scared to be home alone. I’m the one they call when they need to go to a shelter to protect themself. I’m the one that safety plans with them. You don’t have to calculate the risk in a trip to the grocery store or to drive farther to another one just to keep safe.

Dear Abuser,

You can’t imagine loving someone but being scared of them at the same time. It’s a conflicting feeling that causes so much guilt. I’m the one that helps them process these feelings. I’m the one that they share that they want to go back because I’m the only person who understands. You don’t understand how much it hurts and the anguish it causes to feel this way.

Dear Abuser,

Your victim can’t fix you. You might think that they can help you change. You might think they can help you stay sober, or keep your job, or keep your housing, but you’re wrong. They can’t stop your actions. They can’t change who you are as much as they try or fix the trauma you’ve endured. They can’t cure your mental health issues. I’m the one that talks about making changes for their own benefit or focusing on themself.

Dear Abuser,

I don’t think you know what it’s like to live in poverty because of the loss of your partner. You don’t have to reach out to agencies for help only to be turned down. You don’t have to tell your landlord that you aren’t going to be able to pay the full amount and pray that he will accept a partial payment. I’m the one that helps them make a script for what to say. You won’t live in a house without electricity because the bill was too high. I’m the one that calls the power company with them. You don’t have to consider sleeping in your car, but worrying it won’t protect you from your hurtful partner. I’m the one that helps them access shelter. You don’t have to hear the frustration, fear and anxiety when they realize there’s no one else they can call. I’m the one that has to talk them through this tough time.

 

Dear Abuser,

It’s not fair that you don’t have to move back in with your parents or in with a friend. You don’t have to keep 3 kids plus yourself in one room. You don’t have to share a bed with your children. You don’t have to hear about how you “should have left earlier” or what kind of person you are for staying, or shames you for going back. I’m the one who tells them it’s not their fault. You don’t have to face this judgement.

Dear Abuser,

You don’t have to see them cry. You don’t have to feel the intense emotions of loving your partner who has hurt you and still wanting to be with them regardless of how bad things were. I’m the one that supports them and helps them weigh their options. I’m the one that hands them tissues when the tears fall. I’m the one that’s there when they go back, even when their own family abandons them because of you. You don’t have to feel ashamed of your relationship or the feelings you now feel. You don’t hold the guilt from the assaults.

Dear Abuser,

I don’t think you will ever take accountability for your actions and that’s what will hurt your victim the most. They will try to rationalize your behavior, but it will be confusing and frustrating that you told them you loved them and then hurt them. I’m the one that talks with them about what your motivation may have been or talks about reframing the blame. You aren’t required to admit you’ve done anything wrong. You don’t feel the weight of those actions.

Dear Abuser,

I don’t think you understand that the pain you caused can hurt your victim for years. The cut that you made on the soul of your victim may take years to heal or may never fully heal. I don’t think you understand how hard it is when a victim asks how long it will be before they are healed and I don’t have an answer. I’m the one that connects them to other victims to share their story which can help their healing. I don’t think you comprehend how you’ve hurt them or what the long lasting effects are. I don’t think you understand that it’s not just the victim who needs healing, but their children, friends and family.

Dear Abuser,

STOP. I don’t know if you can, but stop hurting your partners. Stop treating victims the way that you do. Stop minimizing your involvement, denying that you hurt your partner and blaming your victim. Stop making them feel crazy. Stop calling them names. Stop putting your children in the middle of this. Stop stalking, harassing and bothering them. Just stop. I would love for my job to not be necessary. I would love to have no clients. The world will be a better place if you stop.

But until you stop, I will be there. I will work as hard as I can with as many victims as I can until this ends.

Life of an Advocate

I wake up. I try to come to grips with the fact this today will be busy, but I will make it through – I have a 100% statistic so far in my life of getting through the day.

I slept like garbage last night, I’m exhausted and I no longer own a coffee pot. I also don’t have the money to buy coffee or the time to make an extra stop on my way to the courthouse.

I throw myself together in 5 minutes and hope that I look presentable enough for court. (Hey, I showered and brushed my teeth, I’m wearing clean and professional clothes, so that’s great, right?)

I arrive at the courthouse and drive around for 10 minutes before finding a space 2 blocks away.

I run to the courthouse so as to avoid being late and accompany my client. Things go smoothly.

Finish my first appointment at late 10am and my next one starts at 10am… across town. I’m definitely going to be late.

Run to my car and try to obey the speed limits as I’m driving, but it’s so tempting. I think to myself “Getting a ticket will make you later and broke.”

Client doesn’t show after all that rushing. Oh well, on to the next. I shake it off.

I return to the office and it’s an absolute mess from yesterday and all the work I did. I clear enough space to start working.

My phone is ringing off the hook and I have 8 phone calls to return already.

I have 3 clients with financial needs waiting for an answer and my director has still not responded.

I have 12 emails in my inbox and most of them require a response today.

I shove a snack into my face as I try to call back a client, no answer. I leave a message. I pray to God my garbled message is understandable. I make a mental note not to eat when I’m calling a client, but who knows when I will be able to get lunch?!

I have a client at the front desk wanting to speak to me and an appointment in 5 minutes.

I’m stressed out to the max and my stomach is growling so much I’m worried someone would be able to hear it through the phone.

I needed to pee at 9 am and still haven’t gone, it’s now 1pm… my bladder may explode.

I’m sitting in a meeting when I get an email from the accounting department about a client financial item. They are issuing checks today… right this minute…and if I don’t get my request in now it won’t get paid for another 3 days.

I leave the meeting and run to my desk and then downstairs to accounting. I run back up to the meeting and try to regain focus.

I shove some food in my face between phone calls. My phone continues to ring off the hook as I’m on the phone and trying to eat.

I have an appointment in another hour. I’m sure she has a lot which needs to be addressed and I know my workload will get worse before it gets better.

I suddenly wonder what it would be like to work in the corporate world again. It would be so nice to have predictable hours, predictable needs and predictable workloads. I can picture my life as boring and average. I wouldn’t be helping people in need, but my skills would still be in high demand. My day would be filled with , human resource functions such as staff trainings, creating documents, running reports, employee files, background checks and interviews.

I’m bored at the simple thought.

Would my life be easier doing many other jobs? Of course it would! But I wouldn’t ever want them. As stressful as my life is, it an be very rewarding. As hectic as it can be, it can be filled with client victories and progress towards risk reduction. As ever-changing as it is, it can sometimes be boring and mundane still. As much as I may travel and it annoys me to “waste my time” on the road, it’s not wasted because it’s bringing vital services to clients who need it. I’m making outreach in rural areas which need me. I’m assisting some of the most vulnerable people on this planet with vital services. Is it sometimes challenging? Absolutely. Is it sometimes very sad and hard to listen to the stores I’m told? Hell yes. There are days where I wonder how someone could hurt another human being like that. But as hard as it is, it’s important to listen to victims. It’s crucial to their story and it’s a huge first step to getting their needs met.

Being an advocate can be hard as fuck.

But I wouldn’t want anything else right now.

“Mumbo Jumbo” Healing Works For Me

So I went today for a Shamanic healing. What is Shamanic healing you may ask? It’s a alternative therapy which is thousands of years old intended to heal the wounds of the soul, remove ties from negative energies and sever soul contracts.

Basically to some people it’s mumbo jumbo.

But I read about it and I decided it would be helpful given my traumatic past, given all the hurts I’ve endured in my life. What could it hurt?! So I went, I was skeptical, but I did believe that this was something I needed. I need my soul to be healed. I need closure from those who have hurt me. I need a deep and meaningful spiritual healing of my soul. Ever since my breakup in September I’ve not felt like myself. I’ve felt somehow altered, but unable to determine why or how to fix things.

So I went.

The experience was incredible. It was very hard mental work for as much physical activity as it was (I basically just sat and later lay there). It was incredibly emotional for me. It brought up feelings I thought were too far buried to reach. It drug them all out into the light, and once I could see them, I could deal with them. I cried. Oh my god did I cry so hard. I lay on the table sobbing as I reached deep into my soul and cut the ties I had to my ex. I love my ex. He’s an amazing person, and he deserves all the wonderful things in the world, but he and I are not meant to be. I needed to cut that cord, and I did.

It was a strange experience to describe to someone who has never felt their soul so deeply. I’ve never been that deep into my subconscious. I actually felt like I had moved out of my body and my soul was still connected to my body, but was in a completely different place. I could still feel my body, but I couldn’t move it. It was just a body, no beautiful spirit within it at that moment.

And in that moment where I was so far from my body, I saw it, a glimmer of white light, my soul. My tender, vulnerable and raw soul. It was connected to Matt. He was connected to me by a silver cord. Together we were dragging each other down under the water of all the emotions we had once felt together and I knew what I had to do.

I wasn’t prepared for how much it would hurt. I wasn’t prepared for the wound I would feel open when I cut that connection. I wasn’t prepared for the fear that came. But I let myself feel it. As I lay there I felt the hurt, the fear and the pain wash over me. I felt that fire of emotion consume that connection and burn it all away. I felt the tears rushing down my face as I watched the wound heal up. I poured my healing light on that wound and watched as it faded away. And even the very second I did it, I knew what I was doing was a good thing. I knew it was what was best for me. And as much as it hurt, as much as I was scared, I did not hesitate.

In some part of my mind I wondered if he felt anything as I did it. I wondered if he felt a nudge of the pain I felt as I cut that connection. In my mind he felt his burden lift too. As I watched myself cut the ties that bound us together I felt him sigh a sigh of relief too.

Afterwards I said intentions to have a healthy life and to keep moving forward. I said aloud what my heart wants so badly. I have never meant words so deeply as those words. I finally understood what I want in this life and I have conviction that I will achieve it.

As we finished, the practitioner asked how I was feeling, and I didn’t feel any different. I felt emotionally drained. I felt like I’d just experienced a loss, but the same as I had when I arrived this morning. Then I stood up to leave and I realized that I felt like I weighed about 50 pounds lighter.

For so long I had been carrying this burden on my shoulders. I had been trying to hold Matt together when I was falling apart myself. All of a sudden that weight was lifted and I was free. The pure joy which came over me next far exceeded anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.

I just felt more “me” than ever before.

I describe it in this way: I was a candle with a glass hurricane, but the hurricane was all covered with soot and ash. It was blackened and dark. The hurricane was there to protect the flame from going out, but the light also was affected. The light was very dim. The room was dark and no one could see. After I felt like that hurricane had been removed. I was exposed, but I was so much brighter. I lit up the entire room with a beautiful golden flame. Finally everyone in the room could see my light. Finally I was exactly who I am, no more and no less, no occlusion. No darkness could touch the light I was providing.

I continued to feel this way for the rest of the day. When I got home there was a letter from Matt. Before this would have sent me into tears. Before this healing it would have triggered a trauma, the wound would be reopened and I would have hurt. I read the letter, it made me laugh instead. Did I miss Matt? Of course I did. But the emotional ties which had previously been there were gone. I missed him but the hurt wasn’t deep like it had previously been. I got a little choked up at the fact that he used our nickname for me, but all in all I considered my reaction about 120% better than the last time.

I know that this healing will be a process for me. I know that just because I feel this way now doesn’t mean the hurt is completely gone. I know that part of me will always love Matt, but that it’s in a friendship. I know that the work I’ve done on my soul today isn’t going to make my life completely changed, but it has completely changed me. It’s completely changed the way that I look at the world.

Moving on… literally

It’s day 14 after my big breakup and things are slowly getting back to ok. My ex and I are now able to talk without me bursting into tears. I’m able to eat and function normally for the most part. We’re able to see one another without awkwardness too much. Tomorrow I’m moving into a new apartment.

Now I’ve lived in this apartment for 2 years, 8 months and 26 days. That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere since before I left home. This apartment was the first apartment which was MINE and mine alone. I learned how to be single in this apartment. It was my rock for the past few years.

I’ve loved here. I’ve cried here. I’ve heard good news, great news and bad news. I’ve been angry here and I’ve yelled here. I’ve cried tears of joy. I’ve made new friends and lost old ones here. I’ve made love here. I’ve fought here. I’ve studied my ass off the night before an exam here. I’ve graduated here. I’ve created beautiful works of art here. I’ve lost dreams here. I’ve made dreams here. I’ve made dreams come true here. I’ve aged here from my youthful twenties to my wisdom-filled thirties. I’ve made mistakes here and I’ve accomplished goals.

A lot has happened in the past 2 years, 8 months and 26 days and there’s no good way to sum up everything other than I’ve made memories here. This apartment has been the one stable thing in my life despite all the ups and downs I’ve had in the past 2 years, 8 months and 26 days; and now I’m moving out tomorrow.

I’m terrified.

I’m moving to a new town where new neighbors live. I’m moving farther away from my friends, my family and my support system. I’m moving to a town where the only person I really give two shakes about is now my ex, and we’re no longer together. This move is suddenly terrifying.

Up to this point I’ve been excited. As I boxed things up I anticipated leaving this place with joy, excitement, happiness. I lovingly packed my things in paper and in boxes and I thought about my new apartment and all the memories I’d make there, but now I don’t want to leave the memories I already have.

I’m terrified to be alone…really alone. I’m scared to move away because I’m worried that my bipolar will make me sick… again, like the last time I lived away from my support system. I’m scared that I won’t like the landlord there. I’m scared that I’ll lose my job in that town and be stuck commuting to a job in a different town again; wasting my time, energy and money on the drive every damn day.

This feeling came over me as I was driving home from work today. I realized that it was the last time I’d drive “home” to this town, at least for a while. Next time I drove “home” it would be to my new apartment in my new town. I’m realizing that the reason I took the job I have now was to be closer to him, to be with him, to rationalize moving closer to him and eventually moving in with him; and now I want to be farther away from him, but I can’t run away. Even “home” will only be a few blocks away from him starting tomorrow and it breaks my heart that I’ll be so close and yet unable to have him.

And so here I sit surrounded by my life packed in boxes. All my memories packed up in neat little cubes waiting to move to a new place. Waiting to be unpacked in their new place in my new apartment.

And I’m terrified.

But sometimes you need to pack up your life, your doodads and your clothes and your knickknacks and move on…literally. Sometimes you need that push in order to do something great. So that’s what I plan to do; do something great in this next chapter of my life.

It’s been 2 years, 8 months and 26 days… it’s time to move on.

The Deer in my Path

So I’m on day 8 post-breakup and things are still about the same. I still hate most everything and everyone, especially people who have good news or have moved on with their lives. So many people I know are coming out with big news of weddings and babies, and I’m so happy for them… but so sad for myself.

In other news, every morning I’ve been seeing a deer. I’m not sure if it’s the same deer, but it’s in the same spot every day rain or shine. Now I’m all for symbolism, so I looked it up, and here’s what it said about the symbolism of deer:

“A deer is often a sign not to be too hard on yourself. Still the voice of the self critic and treat yourself with gentleness and understanding, be yourself and continue along your path. Seek out your inner treasures and use them generously to help those around you. Trust that kindness and graciousness will be well received.

We are also reminded that we cannot push towards change in others, rather we gently nudge them in the right direction with love and understanding. Lead by doing and showing the way.

Deer is a messenger of serenity, can see between shadows and hear what isn’t being said. Deer teach us to maintain our innocence and gentleness so we can share our open-heartedness with others.”

Now this says a lot to me. First, I’m being INCREDIBLY hard on myself relating to this breakup. I’m blaming myself for a lot of things which I’m not fully responsible for.

Second, I’d love for anything for my ex to change for the better. He’s an amazing person and I’d love nothing more than for him to be the man I see in him and live up to what he’s capable of, but I can’t force this. He has to make that choice for himself, and that’s a difficult reality for me to deal with. I’m trying as hard as I can to nudge him in the right direction, but we’ll see what happens.

Last I’d love a little more serenity. Right now I’m incredibly stressed out…

SERENITY NOW! SERENITY NOW!

Serenity now

I know that with time I will feel that peace, but I’m being a little impatient, ok? My heart is a big open wound and I’d like to have it heal just a little already.

For now every time I see my deer, I will think about being one minute closer to healed, one step closer to change, one tiny bit easier on myself and one nudge away from something amazing.

Dear Ex

Dear ex,

It’s been 5 days since our breakup. I hate the world less. I hate you less. But I’m starting to miss you. Given all that has happened I know that I should think that I’m better off without you, but I don’t feel that way. There’s so many reasons for me to not want you, but I still love you and none of those reasons will ever trump that one thing.

Each day when I wake up I want to text you first thing. It’s hard choosing to be without you. I miss talking to you, you’ve been my best friend for the past few years. I’ve shared things about my life that I’ve never shared with anyone else. You’re the first one I want to tell about my good news, and the first one I want to tell about my terrible day. You’re the last person I want to say goodnight to.

I didn’t cry today… until now.

That’s pretty good. Not great, but getting there.

I still remember the first time we met. Your hair was longer then. You looked like a wreck. You were wearing Birkenstocks, torn jeans and a yellow tee shirt. My friend told me you weren’t good enough for me, but I didn’t care what she said. I looked into those eyes, and I was hooked. I never wanted to look into anyone else’s eyes.

I already knew your heart by the time we met in person. I’d known you for months. You shared your dreams with me. You shared stories that you had never shared with anyone before you and I had ever met in person. You shared your heart with me before you even knew you’d done it, something which took you by surprise as well.

I don’t know why, but I could tell you anything and know that you wouldn’t treat me any differently regardless of how fucked up it seemed to me. You knew you were just as fucked up inside. We were both a little damaged around the edges, but we both accepted the flaws of the other, and together it worked.

For years we developed our relationship. We developed our own patterns, our own inside jokes, our own memories. We built a life together for these past few years. We shared laughter and we’ve shared tears. We’ve been afraid together. We’ve been excited together. I know every inch of your body and you know every inch of mine. We know what the other is thinking even before a word is said.

But now I don’t know where we stand.

I have news I want to share, but I can’t share it with you anymore.

I have struggles I want you to help me with, but I can’t share my burdens with you.

Most of all I just want to look into those eyes one more time and not see anger like what was there the night we broke up. I want to feel the way things used to feel. Not like the world is falling apart around me, but like it’s falling into place.

My friends are trying to help me get through this. They are saying terrible things about you, but they don’t really know you like I do. How can those things possibly be true? How could I have fallen in love with someone who my friends think isn’t worthy of my love? Why would I stay with someone who doesn’t appreciate me or deserve me?

I miss you.

I miss your smile and everything about you. I miss our inside jokes and our patterns. I miss our memories. I even miss things that once drove me crazy about you, like when you’d leave your socks on the floor.

Oh dear ex, where did things go so wrong? How can we fix them?

I don’t know if we can, but I want to try.

I still love you more than anything.

Maybe that’s enough.