I’m in a lot of psychology classes in college (and I love those classes, which is why I’m a psych major). For instance, taking social psychology led me to have a brand spankin new insight into escorting and the mentality that people get when they do things like go to the clinic and harass people.
Taking Adult Development led me to thinking about the 5 stages of grief proposed by Kubler-Ross (here at the end of the semester we’ve been talking about death and dying – a jolly way to kick off the holiday season). It came up at clinic, and I’ve been thinking about it since.
The five stages are:
Denial – I think in the case of the clinic, this is manifested in how some folks don’t think it’s a problem, choose to look the other way, or pretend that reproductive healthcare is doing just fine these days. But once people get past that denial they sometimes start to escort when they do recognize that a problem exists and that they can do something about it.
Anger – I see this a lot at the clinic (on both sides). I think escorts deal with anger in many different ways, but it definitely shows up. It’s interesting how people who seem incredibly calm and patient can lose it. I see myself lose my cool sometimes, because I get hot headed and upset and frustrated, and I think that I have grown a lot from trying to handle anger and learned about myself in the context of anger.
Bargaining – Sometimes we escorts try and reason with protesters. I think that sometimes we convince ourselves that conversation will work. Sometimes actual bargaining does go on – but the deals aren’t often seen though, just proposed. And maybe in some way showing the protesters that we are human, by having pleasant conversations with them, we are trying to bargain – if I’m human to you and don’t yell and swear at you, will you calm down too?
Depression – This is a tough one. It seems so overwhelming sometimes, to continue escorting. Or to escort on days when not many other escorts show up, to have your buttons pushed, or to see strangers cry because they’re being harassed. It’s hard not to feel helpless and insignificant. It is an awful feeling, thinking that we’re up against a brick wall – that the government isn’t going to change things for the better, that the police aren’t going to save the day and enforce laws, that the clinic won’t even work with us. It gets depressing. But I try to stay positive and look on the bright side, and recognize that what we do might mean the world to someone walking into the clinic. No, we might not get a bubble law on the books here in the great state of Kentucky, but to one person who walks in the clinic, we might be really helpful and give them the support they need. And that gives me a little bit of hope.
Acceptance – I guess that acceptance comes through a little bit in what I was saying about depression. We have to accept that what we do DOES make a difference, and that even though it might seem insignificant sometimes, it might mean the world to a client or their support person. And it is important to take a stand for what we believe in, to not let bullies run things, and to get people thinking and talking about important stuff (or hell, even the unimportant stuff – you just have to start thinking and talking about SOMEthing).
The thing about these 5 stages, at the clinic and in other situations, is that people experience them differently – in different orders, in different ways, and some people don’t experience certain stages at all. I think that I cycle through the stages over and over again – I go from feeling angry to depressed to acceptance and back around again as new things come up and as I change and learn.
I can get very college-student-ey about this stuff, and definitely tend to take things that I’m learning about and apply them to different areas of my life. But that’s one way that I deal with the things going on for me – it helps me sort through everything happening.
It helps me to get thoughts out – they stop swirling around in my brain so much. That’s part of why I love this blog and our wonderful clinic escorts. I love the conversations we have over breakfast, at the clinic, on the internet. I love the community that has formed, where I can verbalize stuff like this!
Because it’s late and I get goofy when it’s late, and because the Golden Girls have always helped me get through my sad days, this one goes out to all of the amazing escorts out there:
P.S. In case you were wondering, the Golden Girls were pro-choice – they even filmed a pro-choice ad in 1989 for Florida Voice for Choice while a columnist came to Florida to speak against abortion, right before the Florida governor began sessions to consider abortion restrictions. (Unfortunately I couldn’t find the ad on youtube.) They are the greatest, in my book.