I have said repeatedly that I don’t want this to become a diary, but I also have discovered that what I create (whether it’s art or writing) is not created in a vacuum. I held my tongue for too long, and now, my silence doesn’t feel noble. It feels like cowardice.
A mentor once told me that I need to write about the world around me because it’s such a wild time to be alive. He talked about the juxtaposition between the mundane, typical teenage angst – am I going to ask So&So to the dance? what am I doing this weekend? do they like me? et cetera – with the global stage of terrorism and a failing economy and polar partisanship in government.
Now, I’m in my thirties, and too often, I feel like life is being written by an author of dystopian fiction – a pandemic, murder hornets, a former President who was a failing businessman and a reality television star, politicians and nobodies instigating violence and hatred of anyone deemed the Other – people with a different skin color, people with a different gender identity, people who are attracted to those I’m not attracted to, those with a different set of political ideals, et cetera. I have always been tolerant of those who are different from me. I strive to be accepting of most. I claim I am open-minded.
But when I see bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, and fear as well as hatred of the Other dominating the world I inhabit, that doesn’t seem like something I can accept or tolerate.
I have long ago learned the importance of protesting. My mom took me to a protest when I was young, and when I was in my early twenties, my best friend and I created our own protest signs and went down to the historic courthouse in downtown St. Louis. We fought for gay marriage at a time when it wasn’t legal. I wrote persuasive essays to members of Congress. I have made my voice heard outside of the bubble that my pseudonym creates.
My silence now feels complicit with evil, and I don’t feel comfortable with that. I tried to avoid making waves. I didn’t want to spark debate or cause controversy, but now, after so many years, I’m tired of biting my tongue.
Naturally, people are entitled to their opinions. I grew up in a strongly religious household, which has greatly colored my own life. Instead of seeing the beauty of religion, I was exposed to its hypocrisy and its dark underside. I was taught in school to hate the Other. I actually had a teacher who encouraged my classmates and me to not be friends with people who have a different religious upbringing than us. Luckily, I’ve always been a rebel and thought for myself.
My mentor when I was fifteen taught me to question everything, and that has stuck with me for almost twenty years. I never accept anything at face value. Why do we hate? Why do people fear others? What is so wrong about being different? Being an outcast from an early age taught me a lot about peering inside at people from an objective stance. I remember at twelve writing about how I felt a distance from everyone – as though they were in a frosted glass box and I could make out their shapes and muffled sounds but little else.
In school, we were taught so many false things about the female body and sex – if you have an abortion, you’re more susceptible to breast cancer; abstinence works; if you’re raped, your body will go into fight or flight mode and shut down so you cannot get pregnant; life starts at conception.
Reread that last one: life starts at conception. This was presented as fact. I went to a private school where Catholicism was expected of us. I pushed back so frequently on things, but my teachers were adamant that life began at the moment we were conceived. Now, it is sinking in that these very people who believe life beginning at conception are fighting harder for the rights of a bundle of cells than living, breathing children. Yes, I’m aware I’m generalizing, but I’m striking out because my heart hurts.
Why are we taking away bodily autonomy from women? Why are we moving closer to theocracy and taking steps backward? Why does this country demonize pro-choice people, yet gun lobbyists repeatedly push our government around?
I have never believed that you should get an abortion if it is something you personally believe is wrong. But the option should be there. According to NPR, my home state was the first one to ban abortions after Roe v. Wade was overturned yesterday. Abortion is a fundamental right. It is a medical procedure and if we do not allow legal abortions, we are also forcing children upon people. There is a huge host of problems with this, but even just going back to the illegalization of abortion, the safety of women is compromised with this.
We’re stepping backwards in our history books and for what? to satisfy the beliefs of religious extremists and zealots? No. I’m tired of being silent.
Expect me to be loud and brash and make my opinions known. I’m tired of silencing myself out of fear of being “cancelled”. My opinions need to be heard. When I was 24, I had an abortion. I know why I made this decision, and I don’t have to justify it or explain it to anyone. Only my boyfriend and a couple of close friends knew at the time.
It was a logical, well-thought-out decision. I did not behave rashly. Less than a week later, my boyfriend broke up with me. I watched our relationship dissolve and knew I did not have the skills or the support system I needed to be a single mother. No one forced me to come to this conclusion, but I had the option for a safe and legal abortion.
That opportunity won’t be available to women in my home state anymore.
Yet we send children to schools where people can burst in with guns and kill them. Where is the justice?
2 thoughts on “Breaking my Silence”
Such a well articulated reflection, which I support wholeheartedly. Thanks for sharing your personal story.
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I’ve always worried about sharing my own stories except through the lens of poetry. This Supreme Court ruling has stripped me bare. I feel compelled to share the truth in whatever form calls to me.