Uncomfortable Read

First off, I’d like to apologize for taking such a long break.  The July 4th holiday really set me behind and I’m just now catching up in regards to school, household maintenance, ect…

I have a serious topic to talk about today.  I’m going to apologize here and now if anything said below is offensive in any way.  This is PURELY my opinion and a reaction to something I was reading on another blog, and not meant to come across as preachy or in any way as instruction for how others should think or live their lives.

Now that that’s said, I recently read a blog entry written by a woman who had gotten an abortion several months ago.  It took me two tries to read it all the way through, and I was struck by her tone in several places of the article.

I have a hard time defining my standpoint on abortion.  On an entirely personal level, I find that I have a hard time even considering the termination of a life that is growing inside of me.  Especially since losing my brother, the thought of ending a life I carry inside of my own body seems simply impossible.  HOWEVER, the fact that I can make a choice is extremely important.  I view a woman’s ability to choose whether or not to carry a baby to full-term as an inherent and important right.  That is a choice for her and her partner to make, completely independent of my thoughts and opinions.

There is a young woman I know who terminated her pregnancy.  She’s a good friend of mine, but knowing that she ended that life is a little difficult for me.  I have tried to understand why it’s such a hard concept for me to confront, and ended up down a moral rabbit-hole.  With so many ways to prevent conception in the first place, I find it even harder to reconcile myself to the thought of terminating an unwanted pregnancy.  However, I am aware that no form of birth control is perfect, and that there are people that are not ready or do not want to be a parent at all.  And though I instinctively find myself somewhat opposed to the idea, I don’t think that I have a right to decide what any other woman does with her body.  I don’t think that anyone has a right to tell a woman what she does with her body, beyond reasonable concerns for physical health.

So while I had a hard time with this article, it wasn’t because the woman had chosen to have an abortion.  What struck me so deeply was simply the way she talked about it.  From the beginning, it was breezy: a discussion of blame for the pregnancy, and admission that she sometimes went a couple weeks without being on birth control while waiting for a new prescription.  That she had forgotten to take the Plan B pill in time.  It was so very matter of fact…all these barriers to a pregnancy she and her at-the-time boyfriend breezed past, leaving her to decide ( alone, she didn’t tell him she was pregnant ) to terminate it.

She moves on to describe walking into the clinic, and she discusses the picketers outside.  She acknowledges their right to assemble and protest, and then tears them down in a cool and highly cynical fashion.  She utterly denounces their overly emotional response, and while I understand why she feels they should go home and mind their own business…I found the way she talked about them extremely disturbing as well.  Her cold and snobbish dismissal, the way she ridiculed their beliefs, was difficult for me.  They hold the belief that she was about to end a life as deeply as she holds the belief that she has the right to choose what is best for her, but though they have just as much of a right to their beliefs as she does, she calls them names like “fetus crusaders” in her narrative.

The article goes on to talk very briefly about the process of checking into the clinic and the steps there.  She talks about how non-judgmental the staff was, but also how disillusioned they are.  She called the process “an abortion assembly line, just waiting until the conveyer belt takes you to the vacuum room.”  That statement itself, with both its gruesome imagery and the almost clincal matter-of-factness, struck me as rather brutal.  And not just for me as a reader: maybe for the first time, reading that, did I understand how punishing the writer found this process as well.

I’m not trying to tear this woman down.  Her decision and her view about that decision are completely valid.  They baffle me a little, but they are 100% valid.  The article is certainly brave, and very unapologetic honest.  However, I found the rhetoric to be so cynical that it hurt to read it.  In a part where she describes a Pro-Life speaker ( this particular woman was a late-term abortion that was born alive and the doctor saved her ), she wonders if the woman appreciates the irony that her mother didn’t chose life but did “write her meal ticket.”

Perhaps this brutal outlook is how she’s armored herself in her approach to life.  I don’t know her personally.  What I do know is that reading it, I felt as though her outlook on life was sarcastic and in some ways, mean.  It hurt to read, not because of the subject matter, but because it represented ( to me, anyway ) how easily we tear down each others’ beliefs, and how punishing we can be to ourselves as well.  It came off as a very one-sided, “my way is the only way that makes sense,” kind of argument that I find so arrogant: her only argument was that everyone else was on a silly crusade, and that everyone else over generalized the arguments both for and against.

What was even harder to read was her thought process while she waited.  She admits to it being a day of self-loathing, and is equally brutally honest about herself and her view point as she was about the views of others.

It ends with her reflecting that she wished it was more of a mani, pedi, abortion experience and that the doctor said she had a tight vagina and that she hoped he told all girls that so they wouldn’t think they were worn and blown out.

Maybe I’m wrong to find that article so…very sad.  Sad, not because of the abortion parts, but because of how hard this outlook is.  How cold and lonely.  Perhaps it was just in these moments that she felt this way, and I could certainly understand that.  But there was a high-handedness, a sarcasm and defensiveness, that was in a small way crushing to read and think about.  Perhaps grieving a close member of my family has made it hard to think about the termination of life at all.  But I certainly hope that we are not so bleak and petty a society as that article seemed to suggest.

Honest Guilt

I’m a big girl.  I try to be okay with it, because apparently I don’t hate it enough to make the huge life-changes I would need to make in order for me not to be a big girl.  For me, it would be more than working out on a regular basis ( although that does make a big difference ).  My body needs more help than that, and I know — I worked out like crazy for a couple years.  For me, it would mean making huge changes to my diet.  And to be frank, I don’t want to do that.  Yet.

But there’s something new I’m discovering about my perception about myself.

I hate to eat.

I love food.  I really do. I like cooking it, I enjoy amazing meals just like everyone else.  But more and more often these days, I feel guilty every time I open my mouth.  I know where the guilt comes from: it comes from knowing what I could do, what I should do to be healthy…and then not doing it.

I know I’m supposed to love my body.  I know it’s within my power to change it if I really don’t.  I’ve been told all the do’s and dont’s of eating, exercising, and body image, told them over and over until I could probably hold a very educated dialogue with health professionals.

Women are told so much about how to feel about themselves, about how to take care of their bodies.  But in my case, it simply comes down to two factors: a stubborn laziness and a reluctance to change my diet and cut out some of the things that I really love.

I don’t have an out-of-control weight problem, but I do suffer from self-esteem issues.  I am beginning to make changes to keep myself under control.  But I want to be honest with those other girls out there like me, the ones who feel a little like a bad person every time they eat something other than an apple: I know how you feel.  We’ve got to get past that — the guilt, the poor body image, and the laziness.  It’s hard…all three of those things require changes to the way we think.  I know, I understand, I’m going to try harder too.

If we want to slim down, we know how to do it.  There is so much information about healthy living out there, adapted for almost every lifestyle.  And if we want to be happy with our bodies as they are, than we need to embrace ourselves, truly focus on things that we love about our bodies.  I usually start with my eyes.

But no matter what, it is time to let go of that guilt.

I am really interested in hearing stories from other women who might be reading this, but please be sensitive and encouraging.  I know I don’t always make the best food choices: I’m a rational adult and I’ve heard it, just like a smoker as heard all the reasons why they shouldn’t smoke.  I’m trying to change.  But I am hoping to hear stories about courage and health.