For the past 6 months or so I’ve been volunteering at Planned Parenthood. I am strongly pro-choice and I’ve wanted to be involved with them for years.
I’ve made the choice to not continue to do so, and it’s been one of the hardest decisions of my life. Not continuing to volunteer has made me feel like a failure, like I’m less dedicated to the cause, like I’m letting the right win.
As if I’m not who I thought I was.
Maybe I’m not.
I had been doing mundane stuff; filling and such. But I had started training to work a counseling line, which would include talking to women about the various abortion procedures offered by Planned Parenthood. I have always known what these procedures entailed. But talking them through now viscerally reminds me of the d&c I had…which was not an elective abortion of an unwanted pregnancy but an abortion following the fetal demise of a desperately wanted child. And while I thought I was ready to work that hotline and answer those questions, it turns out that I have not dealt with my grief to the point where standing up for Elanor’s and my own reproductive rights can outweigh the emotional pain of reliving that loss over and over.
I want to be strong enough to do it. But I’m not yet.
My best friend pointed out that it’s better for me to have realized this now rather than when I was on the phone with some poor lost girl looking for help that I was too broken to provide.
I believe in their mission. The women who work there are amazing. I admire them in their commitment, their ability to shrug off the protesters day after day, their passion for what they do. I would have felt honored to count myself among their number, and someday when I am stronger and more whole I hope to.
For now, I will choose not to volunteer there anymore, and look for other ways to help the cause. With my pen, with my wallet, and in small ways that I can do from my home. But for now, I will not volunteer until I have dealt with my grief and can offer them a whole person.