Emily Dickinson advised, "Tell all the truth, but tell it slant." Tim O'Brien wrote an entire book that might be part fact, part fiction, part ambiguity, but none of it a lie. In my recent quest to speak my truth and speak it from my heart, I realized I was speaking my truth with hyperbole, sarcasm, and humor, but not with my heart.
When I write here, I employ humor to make things easier to me to say and for you to read. I meld my real life with a fake life so that you will know what I am without knowing who I am. I am unequivocally a pro-choice crusader, but my favorite color may or may not be purple.
When I tell client stories, I am well aware that they are not my stories to tell. HIPAA binds me to change details and nuances, and my own ethos binds me to relay the gist without relaying the experience that I may or may not interpret properly anyway.
The stories that clients tell us, anyway, are half truths. I may find out about the abusive boyfriend, and my co-worker may find out about the childhood molestation, and neither of us find out about the past abortion. "I'm fine" can mean both yes and no and maybe. "I'm killing my baby" can be internalized rhetoric or personal conviction or uncertainty about both or neither.
And when I tell clients that they will be OK, I can't guarantee that; I can only hope. When I call them from the waiting room Price is Right-style ("Jane McAbortionpants, come on doooown!"), the silliness covers my annoyance with a long day and my discomfort with clients' discomfort. And then I go home and say that my day was "good" because sometimes that's easier than reliving heartache and frustrations.
Thank you, readers, for hearing our abortion reality, however embellished, or minimized or raw. This is my heart.