Friday, June 24, 2022

A Personal Plea Following the 6/24 SCOTUS Decision

Have you ever felt like your body was an enemy? Like it was working against you and you had no control over it? 

I have.

As someone who's struggled to get to and stay at a healthy weight, my body doesn't seem to appreciate my efforts to take care of it. It fights back when I try to keep it active, and it doesn't respond to the sacrifices I make to try and get healthier. I don't feel at home in my skin.

As someone with Fibromyalgia, my body won't let me do all the things I want to do - sometimes, it won't even let me do the bare minimum of what society expects from me. There are days that my body hurts so much that I can't sit or stand in one place for any length of time. I often sleep for 9 or 10 hours and I still can't make it through the day without a nap. If I do too much one one day, my body makes me pay for it the next day and I'm not able to do anything that I had planned or wanted to do. 

As someone with depression and anxiety, my body doesn't respond appropriately to everyday situations. My heart races, I cry uncontrollably, I can't move. I'm incapacitated by things that a mature, healthy adult should be able to deal with. The only way I can be functional is by carefully taking medications every day, and even that's not a guarantee. After a while, my body decides that those medications aren't good enough anymore, the depression and anxiety return, and I have to figure out a new combination of pills that will work by trial and error.

As someone in her late 30s who's been unable to have children so far for a variety of reasons, I feel like my body has betrayed me. I don't like to talk about it, but  I feel like it's stealing something from me that it has no right to. 

I know I'm not alone in any of this. And I know that there are a million other ways that people can feel like their bodies have betrayed them: being born in a body whose sex doesn't match the way they feel inside, having bodies that literally attack themselves with autoimmune diseases, having bodies that spontaneously grow malignant cells, having bodies that don't allow them to do things that many of us take for granted, like walking up a flight of stairs. 

There are so many ways that our bodies can and do betray us. And even when it happens so regularly that you become used to it, it is psychologically devastating. Your body is supposed to be part of YOU, but it acts and feels like an enemy. The only control you have left, then, is your decision on how to deal with it. 

I am livid that anyone would think that they have the right to tell someone else what they can and cannot do in order to deal with the ways that their body has let them down. Whether it has conceived in spite of birth control, or outside of the womb, or as a result of a traumatic sexual experience. Whether it has been unable to carry a child to term, or miscarried, or neglected to provide the conditions or nourishment that a child needs to develop in the womb, or passed along a fatal genetic condition. 

I am terrified that if, God willing, I am able to have a child one day, my body will betray me again, and I will have to travel miles away from home to undergo a procedure that is necessary to save me or my unborn child unnecessary suffering. That whatever psychological burden I will carry from my choice will be compounded by the government's refusal to let me make my choice in my own town, with my own doctor.

If you've never felt betrayed by your body, I'm glad for you, and I envy you. I also beg you not to make my and many others' experiences more difficult than it already is. I beg you to let me maintain what little control I do have. I beg you to trust me to know my body far better than you ever could. I beg you to have empathy that extends beyond the limited scenarios you can imagine in your mind. Please.

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