I have been thinking a lot about self- preservation recently. In fact, I am currently in the midst of making some big decisions in an attempt to improve the quality of life for my family and I.
Like many of us, I wear many hats. I am currently entering the third year of an intensive advanced degree program. I work several domestic type jobs in order to pay the bills and am involved in my community holding positions on the board of directors for Kentucky’s only abortion fund, I am a member of WENCH, I am a local birth doula and birth advocate. I am a long time clinic escort and have for years worked to combat all of the isms in my hometown.
And like many of us, I have found myself completely over extended in the last few months. I started avoiding my email, and refusing to answer the phone, wishing it would all resolve itself without my input.
But of course, resolution does not magically occur.
And life goes on with or without my personal struggles.
A reality working mothers and single women know all too well.
I have a lot of privilege. I am white, well educated. I have several jobs, I am not hungry at the end of the day. I do not lack the resources to clothe my family. I have a fantastic support network of like minded people who strive for a way of life that empowers us to succeed without defining success in terms of money or status.
I am not a parent, I can not even begin to imagine how hard it is to raise a child or children in this world. I can barely manage to make it from day to day loving and supporting myself and my beautiful partner.
I talk to women who are seeking finical assistance from the A-Fund. They come from all over Kentucky. Some have children and work hard and have strong families, some have lost their jobs and are living with friends, some are living in shelters or running from abusive relationships.
What we all have in common is an overwhelming biological urge towards self- preservation. We are all willing to make huge sacrifices to survive another day. We all find different things important but putting food on the table and having a safe place to sleep seem to be the common denominator.
But there is more to survival than simply living. A sense of self worth and value marks the difference between an empowered life and simple continuance. What good do we do our families and communities if we are beat down by misogyny and racism. Homophobia and classism bar us from reaching out to each other. We deny the ‘other’ trust simply to perpetuate the status quo of an imperfect ideal of the American dream.
My goal in life right now is to find some middle ground. And I do not mean a compromise with those who seek to determine my value. But instead, to find a way to keep moving forward with a little confidence and the goal to find more than just survival. This is what reproductive justice is all about. Finding value in the journey. How we get there does matter. I want there to be more networks to hold families up, not more laws to chastise and belittle. There are so many evils out in this world, there is no way to succeed without one another. Having a safe place to lay our heads begins with entrusting families with the autonomy to do more than just persevere.