BRATTLEBORO — When I was 16, I knew I was a woman.
This realization came from the core of my awareness. I felt an assuredness as solid and calm as a growing sapling. My feet were connected to the earth, and my spirit became attached to the wide forest of women in the world.
I was to become the attendant of women's power and presence. I looked out the window of my boarding school bedroom and felt at one with the trees that filled my view.
That stance of power began my feminist path. Roe v. Wade had already been decided, so the right to abortion was not something I had to fight for. But abortion stigma was.
People rampantly voiced damaging opinions expressing hate for those who were healing from having gone through such an ordeal. Even if having an abortion was not emotionally difficult, the religious hate was oppressive.
For those of who did have emotional and spiritual fallout run through their blood while still believing an abortion was the right choice, at least our having to fight for the right to have one was off the table.
But today, we have reset the table with the broken promise of the law.
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This is the milieu of the Supreme Court these days. Its admittedly imperfect rendition of social awareness and political function are juxtaposed with the fundamentalist agenda of the new majority that thrives on ignorance and lack of reasoned thought.
Cognitive dissonance is served up in a bowl with seemingly no bottom. It is surreal, familiar, and horrifying, starting with the fact that even though multiple Supreme Court justices lied in their confirmation hearings about their views on Roe v. Wade, they will remain in power.
One terrifying thought is that we have a justice who is bent on destroying more rights that are not compliant with his beliefs, although his marriage may be part of the collateral damage of his vile values.
* * *
I am searching for words. They are as elusive as the breath I am trying to take.
My body has stepped back from being able to take the deep inhales and exhales needed to regulate to this news. I feel the hands of women gasping for air and grasping to be lifted from this dire pit of pain. We are called, once again, to reach toward them and ferry them to safe harbor.
I am grieving. I am grieving the loss of power for self-determination that we fought for. I am grieving the young woman who named her power and walked with the stride of self-rule. I feel her look at today from her place in my past that has embellished my life with the spaciousness of her legacy. Her heart is as shorn as mine.
How can I put my spirit back together and make sense of this when it seems there is no sense left to hold?
* * *
Religion and politics are not bedmates. They are acquaintances who might share a few words at a party and read about each other in the news. They may confer on occasion, but that is mostly for show. The space between them is to be neutral.
However, that space has been breached, and we have fallen into the abyss between the two. We have been swallowed and maimed by this place of despair.
But maybe this will be the gust of my breath to push me forward. Despair is the sway of awakening from shock (even if expected) and anger that is too primal for anything but action.
At least it is for me.