Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Ambivalence is hard. How many times have we all counseled someone who was ambivalent about her abortion decision? A lot of counselors I know get nervous when a woman shows up on the day of her abortion, when they're counseling several other people the same day, only to talk to someone who just-isn't-sure. The client can see the pros and cons of both having the abortion/not having the abortion. These aren't your average counseling sessions. This isn't to say each counseling session isn't unique; however, when you counsel several women a day, you do develop a 'spiel' which you become comfortable with, say, when describing the abortion procedure. Ambivalence, though, is a spiel-zero zone. They're just not going to work.
I'm generally uncomfortable with ambivalence in my own life, so I guess it makes sense that when I'm counseling someone unsure about her decision on the day of her abortion causes me to slow down. Pause. But recently, I've grown to have more understanding and compassion for those who are ambivalent. I've been ambivalent about quite a lot, just not sure what to do, waiting for my circumstances to provide an answer for me, rather than me providing the answer for me.
Maybe ambivalence keeps us safe for a bit. We're fluid and can easily move between decisions. We're in the middle place. On the fence. When a partner smiles lovingly and gives our child a big hug, we stop for a moment and think, "Maybe I can stick with this relationship a bit longer. Maybe he'll be a good dad after all." The next day, when our partner gives us the cold shoulder, says cruel things, dismisses us, we quickly change and think, "I don't know about this. Maybe abortion really is the best decision. Look at him. If he doesn't love me, how can he possibly love a new baby?" Our views shift with the wind, with our ever-changing circumstances, hoping to find an answer - any definitive answer - to our question, "What the hell am I supposed to do?" You just want someone to give you an answer. Tell you what the best thing is to do. Especially when you're just plain 'ol tired.
Tired of everything. Tired of trying to scrape every penny together to pay the bills. Tired of the kids being sick, of getting into trouble. Tired of trying to keep it all together. Tired of calling the clinic and getting directions/getting childcare/rescheduling appointment because "he" got his act together just long enough to make you think it will all be okay. The problem is, none of us know if it's going to be okay and we can't predict the outcome of our lives. All we can do is show up, be present, speak our truth, and let go of the outcome. (Apparently these are called the four truths. I'm sure there's more than four, though.)
Today something will shift in me. When a woman tells me her story, explains to me why she's having her abortion (though I don't need to know why and I don't need an explanation because I trust she knows what's best for her), I will understand, with true empathy, when she says, "I know I'm 16 weeks now. I thought things would be okay. But we split up. And so...well...I know I need to have this abortion now." I will be able to read between those lines. I will get she was waiting. To make sure. Because you need to be sure. As sure as possible, so the blurriness clears just enough so you can just make out something in the distance...and perhaps, just perhaps, it's your future winking at you.