Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I need some information first.
Just the basic facts:
Can you show me where it hurts?

A bitch is longing to feel Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb right now.


I’ve tried to put it to the back of my mind and I’ve tried to write about something else but I keep ending up unable to do anything but keep it real.

Longtime readers know that this bitch does a lot of volunteer work with young women.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is that I can’t fix every wrong and I can’t live any life but my own.


A fifteen year old woman I know is pregnant.

She’s not the first young woman I’ve volunteered with to deal with an unplanned pregnancy.

But I am feeling a sense of failure…and I know that this isn’t about me and that my personalizing it doesn’t accomplish shit.

There is no pain, you are receding.

Yet the feeling that I should have done more…taken more time…built up more trust…been there more…that feeling has settled over me and taken root.

A distant ships smoke on the horizon.

And I can’t help feeling angry that she doesn’t have choices…her mother is anti-choice and this young woman is now a mother-to-be whether she wants to be or not.

You are only coming through in waves.

I can’t help but fret over her future, because I know that the same people who do not support reproductive choice will not support her in the life she will have to build absent choice.

Your lips move but I cant hear what you’re saying.

…and that she will have to balance school, work, working the system and parenting in a society that views that struggle as the wages of sin.

When I was a child I had a fever.

The reality is harsh...this economy will not smile upon poor teen mothers...and this young woman will not enjoy a Palin-esque outcome.

My hands felt just like two balloons.

And I wish.

Damn it.

I wish I could have done more.

Now I got that feeling once again.
I can't explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am.

The lack of options and the daunting challenge that is before her are running in a loop through my mind.

I have become comfortably numb.


And then that numbness is gone...not numb, not blind to reality...not ignorant of the role money and education and resources will play...not able to ignore the poverty she already lives in that thrives as a result of our apathy and cruel disregard.

Poverty...the only war America doesn't want to fight.

And oh, the burden of an enlightened mind.

Just a little pinprick. [ping]
Therell be no more --aaaaaahhhhh!
But you may feel a little sick.


This isn’t about me but the tragedy is that this isn’t even about her.

Can you stand up?
I do believe its working. good.
That'll keep you going for the show.
Come on its time to go.

No, this won’t be about her until she gives birth.

Then it will be all about her.

She who is seen as unfit to make decisions because she is fifteen will be charged with making all the decisions in nine short months.

There is no pain, you are receding.

And I wish I could be comfortably numb.

A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what you're saying.

Pause...gather self...continue.

When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.

Time to listen while everyone else comfort and assist when asked to.

I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.

We...must not become comfortably numb.


billie said...

i give you credit for continuing because i couldn't. i have no idea (but a sneaking suspicion) whether i made any differences at all when i worked with teenage girls. you are right though- we can't be numb because when it comes down to it- these young girls are going to be women and women really are the foundation of our world. i don't have any answers that's for sure. just thought you could use some solidarity- and could pass it on to your young lady.

Erica said...

You're right, we can't become comfortably numb anymore, with so many societal and political problems that have yet to be fixed. The biggest evil is only apathy. Its great that you're doing this volunteer work with young pregnant women, we can use more people like you!

Anonymous said...

I understand the desire to not feel anything. I see so many women in my line of work with nowhere to go and it's so hard when I see their name in the paper because they've overdosed or just gotten caught up in the circle again. But when you see how the system wants them to fail and will truly do little to help's more a wonder that some make it all.

Anonymous said...

You may already know about it, but Barnes has a teen pregnancy clinic. They do really great work there, getting the girls involved in their pregnancies and rewarding them for their efforts with children's books and 'coupons' they can earn to get free car seats, etc.

The phone number is 314-454-8259.

Anonymous said...

I understand about not having any choices. I was once a scared pregnant sixteen yr old with no choices. I got into a semi fight with someone about this on RH yesterday well I more got upset cause it was so personal but anyway I grew up with antichoicers in the family and had no choice. I can't stop and think sometimes how different my life would be if I had had the choice. I would be better educated now and better in my health. All I can say to you is that you're right we can't go numb and we have to keep fighting the good fight. That's why I do my best to volunteer in the community as well. By the way love your blog and you on RH!

Anonymous said...

Shark Fu, I have been there and I feel you. I mentored a girl, who, when I met her, at age 14 was pregnant with her first daughter. I watched her struggle, supported her, and was proud of her when I saw her working her butt off to raise her daughter and make something of herself despite having very little reliable support, financial or emotional. Last year, right before she was about to graduate and go off to college, she came to me and told me she was pregnant again. She wanted me to tell her what to do. I told her I couldn't tell her what to do. She really wanted me to tell her to go get an abortion and pressed me to say those very words, which I would not do. When she eventually did have one, I can't say I wasn't relieved. She's away at college now, and I wonder would that have happened had she had a second child. And I wonder what I could have done to prevent that second pregancy.

Anonymous said...

So her mother's anti-choice, but is the young woman's opinion? Does Missouri have parental consent rules, and if so, attorneys will often take pro-bono cases to go with the minor before the Court to do a Motion for Self-Consent for an Abortion by a Minor. Granted, I don't have a MO license but I've done several such motions in KY with great success. She would be required to undergo counseling with PP prior to such a motion, but it restores HER choice ins a culture that restricts both it and her access to comprehensive, factual sex ed and access to contraception.

This is only an option she may want to consider. If so, check to see if state statutes allow such a procedure. I wish her the best of luck.

Oh, and ABB? Don't beat yourself up. You are fantabulous, and as soon as I shut the office door tonight, I'll be raising a Cosmo in your honor!!

rainywalker said...

I am not a woman so I'm not able to feel what you are feeling, but I can understand. I work with around 120 homeless veterans and some are female. They don't want to move inside and that is hard for me to except, its a tuff life out in the bush, but your case is different. Its a question of her breaking out, having a life for her, her child and you being there for her.

Frogspond said...

Great song.

I am in recovery for alcoholism as well as having quit smoking 4 months ago. Because I abused the privilege I no longer have the option of a little bit of numb. *Sigh* Yeah, I miss it.

Far too many people are abusing the numb privilege. Not with substances but with purposeful and intentional ignorance. Thank you for doing your bit to enlighten us all on the real world.

SharkFu, please remember to take time for yourself. I need MotherEarth to rejuvenate me. I don't know what rejuvenates you but please remember to go to what does.

Go often.

As often as you can.

Because you are changing your slice of the world, just as I am, just as many of us here are.


If we allow ourselves to become too weary, we will no longer be able to be a force for change.

MomTFH said...

What a fantastic post, and very timely for me, since I took part in an Interfaith Council of Planned Parenthood meeting today, and I heard similar sentiments expressed by the faith leaders at the meeting.

Also, I love how you linked it to "Comfortably Numb". I will give you an antidote, from one Floyd fan to another:

On the Turning Away:

"No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It's not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?"

You know her situation better than mine. I can tell you that young women with anti choice parents can still terminate their pregnancies. Whether that is possible in her situation or in you state, that is the question.

Anonymous said...

Is the girl's mother likely to spend real time raising the infant?

Does the girl want to raise the child? If she doesn't want to raise a child, would she prefer abortion or adoption?

She does have the option of taking Metrolink across the river to avoid the parental consent requirement, but she has to cross the river by herself, since people who help her "get an abortion" in IL can be sued. I interpret this as meaning that the girl must make her own appointment, get herself on Metrolink and get a bus or hire a taxi to the clinic. Getting the money is tricky, but there are state abortion "scholarships" for needy women. Giving her money specifically for abortion would probably create liability, but money given without specification or for "health care" or "education" may be ok. Call Missouri NARAL Pro-choice America and ask for the executive director, who is a lawyer.

If she wants to adopt out the child, you may be able to get some information from Planned Parenthood on the law for minors, and specifically whether the girl can give up the child without interference from the girl's mother. PP may also have a list of names of organizations and lawyers.


SagaciousHillbilly said...

I feel your pain ABL.
I work with addicts and alcoholics on a daily basis. You can spend weeks and months working with someone trying to help them stay clean and sober. You'll go through their hell with them. You'll spend many long nights and days getting them through the pains of withdrawl both mental and physical.
99 out of 100 of them end up back out on the streets drunk or stoned. . . but every once-in-awhile, only rarely, one of them makes it. You get to see someone go from a hopeless pile of wasted humanity to a productive self supporting human being.

Unknown said...

(((((Shark Fu)))))

Thank you for being who you are and for doing what you do.

Anonymous said...

That was Beautiful!! Thank you for caring.....

The Lazy Iguana said...

You are already doing far more than most people. Take solace in that. Out of the tens or even hundreds of millions who simply do not give a shit - you stand out.

I would not call a 15 year old a "woman". She is just a girl. A girl who as you know is in no way ready for what lies before her.

It totally pisses me off when people who claim to be "pro life" bitch about the "welfare state". To them, it is all so simple - when in reality it is not.

I hope that the girl's mother will be there to raise that baby, while her daughter gets her life in order.

But as you know, it is going to be very hard. Not impossible, just very hard.

Unknown said...

…and that she will have to balance school, work, working the system and parenting in a society that views that struggle as the wages of sin. ~ I can only hope and pray that this will change with the people in charge who have the power to change it.

Power has to be used for good...I am so sick of it being used for evil.

Anonymous said...

First let me say that i love reading your blog. I have been a fan of your blog for a year now and although I never comment, I would really like for you to know that I admire you for everything you do everyday to try and make the world a better place for so many others. I am a high school teacher in a small, rural, southern town and I know exactly what you speak of in regards to trying to mentor young ladies and trying to help them make a better life for themselves. So I offer you prayer and encouragement, because it is more than a notion to keep fighting the fight everyday.

Kim said...

"the same people who do not support reproductive choice will not support her in the life she will have to build absent choice."

I was an unwed 18 year old when I got pregnant. The very people who would have stood in my way and called me a murderer for having an abortion were often the very same people who called me a whore for being pregnant (sometimes out loud).

I didn't have an abortion. I was one of the very fortunate in that I had support from my family, the father of the baby and his family. I wasn't incapable of caring for myself and a baby. The father of the baby and I eventually married, our daughter is now a freshman in college, doing well. My life is truly good.

I have had to answer Godly people's questions about my daughter's age being very close to my anniversary. The mental math I've seen them doing then realizing that I was unwed when she was concieved. I have yet to reconcile their attitude and actions in my mind.

The thing that REALLY pisses me off is that some of those same people have actually USED my story and our family's success to further or justify their anti-abortion stance. They don't count the sacrifice I and my husband have had to make. They don't see the struggle that we have both had. They don't see the sacrifices or the pain. They don't want to.

Would I make the same choice to continue the pregnancy if I could go back in time? Damn straight I would. BUT, I had the liberty to MAKE that choice. And I damned well want my only child to have that right should she find herself in my shoes.

I've walked 9 months in an unwed mother's shoes. To those who haven't, you have no business dictating or judging my or ANY woman's choices.

Unknown said...

I was an ignorant teen that got pregnant and I'm pretty sure it saved my life, so maybe this baby is a blessing in some well orchestrated and unknown plan.

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