Thursday, May 26, 2011
Don't Sweat It: Abortion and the Gym
Today, while in my gym's locker room, I saw the same group of women I always do. You know the type: working moms who are trying to get fit again after having babies and eager to have coveted "me time." We usually make small talk about such and such trainer, the workout, how we're losing/not losing weight, the weather, etc. A couple of them exchanged business cards. Then I got asked the question, "where do you work?" I'm ashamed to admit that I felt nervous. I wished I had Harry Potter's magic cape that makes him invisible. I didn't want to answer and I really had no idea what they'd think about it. (I de-stress at the gym. I don't want to talk about work!) I gave my standard,"Oh, a health clinic" answer. My elusiveness was not appreciated or respected. They waited for more. (Harry Potter, take me away!) After shifting, I added (a little too quietly), "like Planned Parenthood." Enter: uncomfortable silence. I was hoping they would just move the conversation onto other topics. No such luck. "Oh, no wonder you were vague. That could upset some people," was the response. Quickly, I was excluded from the continued chat...
...about how so and so is pregnant, when they're due, how far along they are, and so on. Sadly, one of these pregnant women had been trying in vitro with no success for years. Happy news: she's pregnant! The other had just graduated from dental school and didn't have plans to have a baby, but "you know, that's just life. And sometimes you just have to take what's given to you." (Sideways glance to me.)
Okay, so I'm on my period and a little emotional, but still: I don't know what happened to me! I got this terrible urge to make it very clear I'm not a baby hater, that I lurrrrrvvvv (not in a creepy way!) kids. I piped in. Loudly. I
acted SUPER (!) excited for these two pregnant women I don't even know. (I don't get excited for pregnant women I don't know.) "Oh, how EXCITING! That's GREAT!" I exclaimed. Silence. So I upped the ante. I asked about the one who "just managed" to graduate from dental school, "Has she been sick?" Quickly, I got a scowled face stating firmly, "She's happy. It wasn't in their plans, but they're VERY happy."
WTF?? Did she think I was soliciting abortion and about to offer a discount? Now hyper worried, I said, "You mentioned she 'just managed to graduate.' I wondered if she was really sick during her graduation." Scowl face said again, "No. She's NEVER been sick. They're VERY happy." Did I shut up? No. So eager to prove to them I'm a nice girl (even though I work at an abortion clinic - gasp!), and needing to prove to them I won't try to make every girl have an abortion, I got grossly gushy about how AMAZING motherhood is, how exciting it was these women were pregnant, and how my kids are the best thing that has everevereverever happened to me (True. But it doesn't mean it's always a walk in the park!).
What did I get for this? Silence. And scowls. It was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. Mostly, because I have no clue what came over me, making me feel like I had to validate myself in some way. I had this rushing feeling that they had liked me before, but now I was going to become the unlikable abortion girl who kills AND hates babies and is a fake mommy. I just fed into the whole stupid stigma thing about abortion and I know better. I felt like I was a teenager instead of a grown up.
I'm embarrassed to even write about it because now there may be the stigma that I'm not a good enough Abortioneer. Well, I am. And not all Abortioneers have to shout from the roof tops that they are Abortioneers. I'm not a shout-from-the-rooftops kinda girl. That, I'm not ashamed of. (And none of us need to judge others as being less down with the cause for not making public announcements about our Abortionhood.) Still, I was totally "out there" and weird about the whole situation. And do I want to see those scowl faced women tomorrow? No. (Gulp.)
I know what I need to do though: stand up tall and just be myself. They don't have to like the abortion girl...