My Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood is me

My Planned Parenthood: raise your voice. tell your story. July 7.

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My story is different. At least, that’s what I tell myself, because I don’t know if I could deal with it otherwise.

[Trigger Warning for following content: rape, sexual assault, “pro-life” protesters]

I started going to Planned Parenthood when I moved to Washington, had no insurance, and needed birth control for my horrible periods and because I wanted to have safe sex with my boyfriend. The providers at my local clinic were, and have always been, professional, helpful, informative, and trustworthy. That last part is key.

It was key because I could trust them. I could trust them to insert my IUD properly, and help me deal with the aftermath of an expulsion. Another IUD insert, and the aftermath of a contaminated insertion leading to PID. They helped me understand that PID is not just from STIs, and that there was no shame in it, no matter how you got it. They helped me heal the infection that would have killed me had it stayed untreated.

And during that treatment, my life changed. I walked through the gantlet of protesters, eyes hidden behind sunglasses yet body language betraying my fear and anxiety. I was not there to get an abortion, yet they treated me as if I were – offering pamphlets, little baby dolls, prayers, “help.” I was called a baby killer. I was treated as a murderer. I was none of these things: I was trying to save my life, Planned Parenthood was helping me, and because I could not go to a “regular” doctor, I was the target of harassment.

That experience galvanized me, gave me purpose. When I was recovered enough, I contacted the clinic and told them that I wanted to volunteer, to escort. Thrilled, they got me in touch with the coordinator, I went through training, and found myself on the sidewalk wearing a garish orange vest and terrified out of my mind. The protesters know when “abortion days” are [our system is so underfunded and understaffed that the team rotates through the state at different clinics] and show up in force. Most of them are middle-class soccer moms, with some older men as well. 99% of them were white, while the clientele was not.

I helped so many people during my time escorting, before I had to “retire” due to medical problems. I shielded them from the scorn, the hatred, the accusations and pointing fingers. I watched so many people walk in those doors, uncomfortable with the protesters but with their minds made up.

I wonder how many lives I helped to save or turn around. I don’t think I’ll ever know, really, but that’s ok.

What most people don’t know is that Planned Parenthood helped me in ways beyond gynecological care. At a time when I was struggling to come to terms with my worsening disabilities, with my assaults, with my sexuality, purpose in the world, and other things, they gave me a chance to help others. They trusted me to help them help others. In so doing, they helped to pull me out of the increasing depression I was in, gave me something to focus my nervous energy on.

Now, I’m still a volunteer with them. I staff the table at local fairs – if you go to a fair in upper Washington state and see a Planned Parenthood table, there’s a good likelihood I know the people there. Tabling is a different sort of thing. Instead of protecting patients from potentially violent protesters, I help spread the word about Planned Parenthood and our campaigns. Right now we’re trying to get “crisis pregnancy centers” regulated under HIPPA, and that involves getting the signatures of voters.

Being able to see people change their minds, to sign the petition, and walk away proudly wearing a Planned Parenthood button or sticker, is an amazing feeling. Seeing parents encourage their children to talk to us, to get swag, is so encouraging.

Sometimes I think about where I would have been if there were not a Planned Parenthood in my area, and I cringe at the thought. They have helped me grow, change, and heal from the abuse, assaults, and the rape. They’ve let me help others who desperately needed it, and in so doing they helped me when I most desperately needed it, although I didn’t realize it at the time.

My Planned Parenthood is me.

on family and home

there’s a lot of stuff rumbling around in my head right now, but the main one is on “real” family vs “chosen” family, and “going home for the holidays.”

Some people well, actually, most people assume that when I talk about how I’m having fun with “my family” that I’m referring specifically to my blood family. I have no reason to do this, unless I’m talking about the rare get-together-things with my extended family that lives up here — and I refer to those as “a party with the cousins” or whatever.

It seems, some days, that it’s impossible to have a “chosen family” that is closer and more awesome than your blood family, just because that’s the impression that one can get from society and how family is portrayed in the media. Family is valued above all else, and I’ve even been told that I need to just “get over” my “angst” so that I can be a good daughter and honor my parents and blah blah blah. Seriously. The same person said that the abuse doesn’t matter, because the family is the most important thing.

I have a family. My family is my boyfriend. My family is my best friend in New York. My family is my mentor in Colorado, my previous play partner in Colorado, my friends in Oklahoma and California and New Jersey and Kansas. My family is my friend in Olympia who has saved my life in so many ways it’s impossible to list them all. My family is Shakesville, and Fugitivus, and Polimicks, and Shapely Prose [which is now sadly closed], and Two Whole Cakes [used to be Fatshionista].

A family is not always connected by blood. Experiences, friendship, trust, honesty, respect, and love are what holds a family together, and if a person’s blood family violates any of those it is a person’s right to break off and isolate from their relatives.

It is not wrong for any person to separate from anyone, even their blood family.

In that same vein, “home” for me is nowhere near my parents. Home is with my boyfriend, or my flat at school. I will be going home for the holidays, but I won’t be seeing my parents. “Going home” is not synonymous with “going to your parent’s home” and I’m tired of the two being conflated. I’m tired of correcting, time and again, that I don’t see, speak, hear from, or care about my parents.

Open your minds, people. There are those of us who were irreparably damaged by our “family” and we’re tired of hearing the push that family [meaning our blood family] is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OF THE HOLIDAYS, GOD. It’s triggering, it hurts, and it’s not necessary.

Facebook and PostSecret: saving lives, one at a time

I couldn’t sleep tonight.  And … tonight, perhaps… perhaps it’s a good thing. It’s an inspiring story … of readers of a semi-obscure-ish blog banding together to help save someone’s life.

Trigger warning: suicide, lots and lots of talk about prevention, mental illnesses… yeah, it’s pretty much all here.
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