This work has had a profound impact on me. Sometimes that impact has been like the sun stretching its rays into my heart; other times, it's been more like smashing head-on, full-force into a brick wall. I suppose, like love, or relationships in general, it takes work. You go through phases: the passionate awakening (I've found my calling!); the honeymoon (this is such a great organization!); the growing apart a bit...the stretching (well, there are some things that aren't perfect about my employer and sometimes I'm uncomfortable with xyz). Sometimes that stretching bends you, makes you flex between two worlds: abortioneering and "home." You may feel you can't keep stretching without something having to give. You may feel you don't belong fully in either world. You might leave said organization. Leave abortion work. Separate yourself more from "home"/non-AB work. If you can find a balance - one foot in each world - it's cool. Feels good. Real nice.
This work has stretched me. I'm more compassionate. Less judgmental. More open to life's experiences in general. I have a core belief that as women, we know what's best for ourselves. We could do with a bit of self-gentleness: we don't have to be perfect. And through this realization, I've learned the virtue of being kind to strangers. The power of just listening. Of just being present. And simply: kind. I learn from our women. I've watched many of them find their own Spring through abortion: they are reminded of who they are. What they want out of life. What they want from themselves. And from others. My own abortion was a lot like a wake-up call ("this man in my life is not someone I should be a parent with. Maybe he isn't someone I should be a partner with, either").
These lessons and values helped me decide what kind of people I want in - or out - of my life. I try to parent this way, too. I want my child to be compassionate, kind, and to care. I hope my child will respect women and not be super judgmental. If I manage to bring these concepts into parenting, I will forever thank my abortion relationship. My beautiful, romantic, warm-fuzzy abortion story. The one with the sun inside me.
Moving onto "I'm in it for the long-haul/totally committed to you, dear abortion," has long-term impacts that aren't always positive. I try not to stress too much, because I don't want the tender balance between abortion and my personal world to snap. I don't want to bring my work fears home. I don't want them literally on my doorstep with my child fearful of personal safety. I want to feel confident in developing relationships within my community without being the abortiongirl. I don't want to get outted to my neighbors or my child's teachers. I fear kids at school/teachers/parents will say mean things about abortion, about my work, about me as a parent, inevitably hurting my child. This balance between abortion and home becomes more tenuous.
Nothing's perfect. More compassionate, yes; but I'm more anxious, too. Granted, I can calmly handle an emergency. I know what to do if there's a bomb threat; but I'm the type that gets silently worried, waiting for the "next bad thing" to happen. Basically, I'm the victim of the type of relationship where abortion threatens to leave me. Shakes me up so I don't get comfortable in my job for too long. Insecurities abound: will abortion stay legal? can we keep doing abortions in the second trimester? oh, shit! parental consent! oh, shit! mandatory waiting period! oh, god, insurance might not cover anymore. am i going to lose my job? will those fucking protesters just stop their stupid 40daysoflife? will our business be the next to go under in this bad economy? It's like whiplash: Stop.Go.Stop.Go. Now: FIGHT!FIGHT!FIGHT! Stop.Breathe.ItWillBeOK. FIGHT!FIGHT!GO!GO! Exhausting.
When you're tired, you make compromises. Something has to give. How to give all the light I've learned from this work, while protecting those I love from the dark parts? I struggle. And I don't know what this phase in my relationship with abortion is called. We're not as close as we used to be. For better or for worse.