Friday as I read the news about Roe vs Wade, I felt tears stream down my face.
I was angry.
Usually I avoid speaking about anything overly political or controversial for fear of turning people away or attracting unwanted ‘haters’.
But I feel called to speak up.
To share my story.
Because it’s important…and it wants to be told.
The year was 2001. I was 18 years old. A freshman in college.
Excited about my new freedom, I decided to go to school out of state because I wanted a new experience. I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. Force myself to make new friends and adapt to living in a totally new spot.
It was challenging…and fun.
The first few weeks were filled with meeting new people and parties.
And for me trauma.
Within the first month of school I was raped.
I still remember bits and pieces of the night…but don’t have a full picture of what happened.
The night started at a frat party and ended outside in a field with some guy forcing himself on me.
The next morning, I woke up and tried to piece together the events of the night before…I felt ashamed and confused…and wondered if it was all my fault. Was I not clear in my ‘No’? Was I too intoxicated? Had I been drugged?
I immediately went to the student health clinic and told them what happened and got an exam.
With little memory of the night or who I was with, there was not much else I could do.
Plus, I just wanted to put this all behind me and get on with being a ‘normal’ college freshman.
Luckily I wasn’t pregnant.
But what if I had been?
What if getting an abortion wasn’t an option? What if I had to prove that I was raped to get one? What if no one believed me and I was forced to carry a child and give birth?
What about the man who raped me? I have no idea who he was. Should I be responsible to raise this child on my own while he gets to go on living his life like it never happened?
What if I did know who he was? Should I be forced to raise and carry a child with the man who raped me?
These thoughts are incredibly upsetting to me.
According to rainn.org, 1 in 6 American women has been victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. This means that likely a number of the women you know (yourself, your mom, your daughter, your sister, your friend) will have experienced rape.
Would you want them to be forced to give birth to the child of their abuser?
We can argue that there are exceptions for rape in abortion laws…
But once again, what if the rapist isn’t caught? What if no one sees it happen? What if there is no way to prove it?
Is a woman’s word enough?
Let me continue a bit with my story.
I made it through my freshman year.
That summer, I had an abnormal pap exam and was told I needed a LEEP procedure.
I was traumatized.
I developed an eating disorder. I was depressed.
I went back to Colorado for school in the fall and only made it to October before having a meltdown and dropping out of school.
I spent the next decade trying to pull my shit together.
What if I had been forced to raise a child during this time?
I can’t even fathom. I could barely take care of myself.
When it comes to life, nothing is black and white.
And yes, this includes beliefs and morals.
Even beliefs (morals) around life and death.
Keep in mind that your beliefs are NOT facts…even if you would like to think they are.
There is a difference between ‘the world is round’ (FACT) and murder is wrong (BELIEF that has been accepted by society in order to prevent chaos).
In fact, at one time, we did believe so strongly that the world was flat that people were scared of sailing off the end of it!
Please recognize that ‘life begins at conception or fertilization’ is a BELIEF, not a fact. And as a society, we have different beliefs around this idea.
There are places in society where we are all on the same page (or at least the vast majority of us are) such as the fact that murder is wrong.
But even this is not always black and white.
For example, it is wrong to kill someone, but not if it’s an accident or in self-defense…
How will we decide when it’s okay to terminate a pregnancy?
When the mother is 50% likely to have major complications or die? 75% likely? 25% likely?
What if there are different opinions? Who gets to decide who’s life is more important? A judge? A doctor? Which doctor?
What about IVF?
Should women be forced to birth all embryos? Even if they are likely to have birth defects or are not viable?
What if that woman only has a small percent chance of the pregnancy being successful after implantation? Should she be restricted from trying IVF?
The purpose of me sharing this is not about rape…or abortion…or IFV…or murder…
It’s about the importance of us letting go of dogmatic thinking that has been adopted from religion, society, family, etc. and instead thinking freely.
It’s about the importance of REALLY recognizing the difference between FACT and BELIEF.
And letting go of thinking that YOUR BELIEFS are FACTS. They are not, no matter how much you want them to be.
It’s much easier to believe that we live in a world that is black and white, that is split into right and wrong.
But we don’t, we live in an imperfect world where most things aren’t black and white…they are grey.
As a coach, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is to let go of judgment. To be open minded. To recognize the difference between facts and beliefs.
To not pretend that I know what is best for someone else.
Unless you’ve truly walked in someone else’s shoes (which you haven’t), you don’t know what is best for them or what the ‘morally right’ decision is based on their unique situation and experience.
There is not one right religion.
There is not one right political system.
There is not one right moral system.
If there was, we’d all be on the same page.
We’ve never been.
And that is okay.
Life is not black and white…it’s grey, and often complicated and messy.
So this is your reminder to be open minded. To let go of thinking you know best.
To thinking that YOUR beliefs and morals are facts (they are not)…this way of thinking is what leads to war and terrorism.
If you want to be a powerful coach/teacher/healer/person in society, this is one of the most important things you could ever do.