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Saturday, April 11, 2009

I wrote this a while ago and kept it in a place where only my closest friends could see it. Because I felt ashamed and because there was no right place to make something like this public. But this, among other things, is what this blog is for. So now in the interest of being really honest, I will share the story of failing to help someone, and the privilege of going to bed with my life un-fucked afterward.


Friday turned out to be maybe my worst day in abortionland, ever. I was working with a woman who was traveling out of state to have an abortion, and she ran into problems at every turn (money, escort, gestational age, new escort, clinic staff, money again), and each time she and I would pull things together and get her out of her bind, and then at the last minute, just short of me being able to do anything to fix it, she got fucked over one last time. And now she needs to start getting prenatal care, because in a few months she is going to have twins.

Yes, I know there are a lot of reasons she was not able to have that abortion. I know that I couldn't have known, before all this stuff happened, how badly she needed me to break the rules for her, how badly things would go if we complied with the logic that a client should try all the most affordable options first, and waste precious time in the process. There are a lot of ways to absolve myself of all of this, none of them completely honest. Everyone is telling me these things: it wasn't your fault that x, y, z happened; you couldn't have known what would go wrong; you can't do everything for every client; you succeed at helping people more times than you fail.

All these people are both right and wrong. These are things that people in the social-service fields tell ourselves because we need to justify putting away the client files after a day of failures, and we need a reason to open them up again in the morning. They are true things to say, but they are also not enough sometimes. Around 7 I collected myself, left my office with a couple of colleagues, and proceeded to get drunk, meet up with several more people, have a fun and noisy time, and stumble into bed at several o'clock in the morning. Then I woke up and it was Saturday and I thought about the rest of my weekend and how Monday was after that and then I suddenly couldn't bear the thought of going back to work.

And Monday I did go to work, and I couldn't bear being there. I heard myself being a horrible person every time I picked up a patient's call, slumped low in my chair, thought about how soon I could drop this gig. Couldn't humor my coworker who makes terrible jokes that I usually laugh at. So I arranged to take the day off today. And my partner called in sick to stay home and take care of me: because I need taking care of, like I am sick or something. We spent all day in bed then went out to get a book my partner wanted, and now I'm making an apple pie. I know I am really lucky to be able to give myself a vacation for fucking up. Where me fucking up means a woman's life will be changed forever; she is barely getting by with just her own mouth to feed, and now she will have three. How do I reconcile these things and go back to my work?


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