I’ve posted about how I cope as a clinic escort with the stresses of Saturday Morning. That’s mostly internal. What about relating to others? What are the ways I show up externally?
First, a word about roles. There are very few things that are really clear to me in life. One of them is that if it weren’t for the anti-choice protestors, I would not be a escort. I might offer to be a chaplain or some other kind of spirit guide, but not an escort as I currently define it. Instead, because there are protestors, I offer to escort.
So, in that sense, it is “us” and “them.” The protestors define my reason for being there. My role. (Or, at least my principal reason for being there. While I like the fellowship and the feeling of being engaged I get from Saturday Morning, I get these other things elsewhere.)
Working on acceptance
Beyond this piece of clarity, I get less and less clear. My behavior reflects this. I’ve acted out in ALL of the ways I’ve seen and heard described by and about others. While I believe my ragings, rantings, bullyings and the like did little if anything to support clients, my angry and fearful actions were the best I could do at the time. So, I strive to cut myself (and others) a lot of slack.
I still feel. I still roil with anger, sadness, fear and joy…every Saturday morning.
Little by little, however, I have acted out less. Instead, I seek to engage clients, protestors and other escorts from a place less captive to whatever fear and anger I’m feeling at any given moment.
Things that help me
I’ve found some things that help me stay grounded, present and congruent with my reason for being there. For starters, it helps me to see protestors as obstacles. Some seem passive and benign. Others are a lot more aggressive and toxic.
Protestors are, however, all just obstacles. They are not my enemies–no matter how ugly they or their words appear to me. Moreover, many of my judgments of them are very likely the same judgments they have of me (provided they ever think about me).
Staying awake to my purpose
Next, I strive to stay awake to the question, “Why am I here?” I keep reminding myself that I am at the clinic to serve and support clients and others in a good way. I’m there to facilitate a client’s choice to get into the clinic for her appointment, provided she asks for or accepts my support.
That’s all for which I choose to sign up. The more of my energy and attention I give to anything or anyone else, the less able I am to facilitate and escort in that moment.
What this looks like for me
So, what do I do with these obstacles? Frankly, that depends on what’s going on at the time. I’ve noticed that I’m unlikely to say anything more to a protestor (despite the urge) than, “Move, please.” I am also unlikely to engage protestors physically by reacting to them.
I engage protestors nevertheless. My intention is to engage them by being present to whatever they’re dishing out and by not reacting. I engage them by being in their space, by quietly and (as best as I can) powerfully confronting them without confronting them. This feels best aligned with my purpose, my mission, my answer to Why am I here?
With clients, any dialogue we have will probably be focused on permission and logistics, such as “Walk this way.” Mostly, I listen attentively.
I demonstrate my willingness to stand with clients uncritically and unconditionally. I strive to do this in whatever way is asked of me by the client or, absent anything I might hear (spoken or unspoken), I use my best judgment.
I stay in integrity with my purpose by often staying quiet. By holding space for clients and for other escorts. My intention is to be a guide. I do this by recognizing the dangers and obstacles I sense around me, by not giving my power to them and by taking care of myself.
Anyway, that’s my two cents.
Nicely put, my friend, very nice. But if you keep this up, you’re gonna have to grow a beard, put on a hat, get a flashing flash light and direct traffic while inviting folks to the taping of front porch…
Two cents that is priceless.
forget the army, escorting is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever love. Why else spend Saturday mornings amongst the very people you avoid at all cost at any other time?
Because the clients need you there. They really do. The gratitude in their eyes after the fear tells you that.
It is why we never will quit.