Thursday, December 8, 2011

Protecting Secrets

I was going to write about something totally different this morning, but Daughter of Wands and Vegan Vagina have me thinking about secrets with the posts they've written this week. We live somewhat double-lives, as DoW mentioned: we give direct service to women seeking abortions, but we all have interests and lives outside abortion work. And like Vegan Vagina shared, we then write for this blog, which means we’re extra secretive because we have to protect our own anonymity from our employer (and co-workers) as well as our co-bloggers’ anonymity.

This blog began so we could discuss how amazing and challenging doing direct service abortion work is. We needed a safe outlet: a place where we could really vent and celebrate. Work isn’t always a safe place to do this, especially if we think improvements could be made in certain areas. There have been times I’ve definitely been nervous at work listening to people talk about our blog. I often worry about getting outted. Even last week, a co-worker talked about one of my own blog entries. I was incredibly scared that I may have blushed and made it obvious it was me who wrote what she was talking about. Why would we care? Because we don’t represent our employer when we write here, and we may not always agree with our employer and we may want to talk about it; some employers would not be happy with this at all. Mine is one of them. And to be totally honest, there are things I still haven’t written about because I’m so scared of being outted! (And this totally pisses me off.)

Being the keeper of secrets for clients, carrying them on our shoulders, in our hearts, will be a job that lasts a lifetime. Even beyond our work with abortion. We know things about some women that perhaps they’ve never told anyone else. We become woven into their stories: their abortion story. And we have a responsibility in that. It’s our responsibility to be kind and to make their stories – their experiences – just a little better. So we are present. We focus on the women. We care for them. We listen, and - hopefully - trust them. And yet, we must be separate and tip toe on this very fine balance…of being a protector: of patients and of self...without becoming cynical and burned-out. It's not always easy.

I try to keep my life outside abortion quiet and peaceful and not filled with abortion stuff…which, let’s face it: is usually not quiet or peaceful. I try to protect my family from my work and clients from the protesters and myself from my employers and you just end up with this spiral of protectiveness and secrecy which can be difficult to unravel.

So, to those who do know our secrets (our dearest of family and dearest of friends who know we write on this blog), we’ve entrusted you with our utmost confidence that you, too, will protect us. And…we thank you for that!


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.