More Anger

Saturday started out so beautifully.  i rounded the corner to the clinic and saw a sea of orange vests, and no protesters.  It was lovely.

Of course, i was there half an hour early, so it didn’t last.  But it was a moment.

There were parking issues.  Marathon season has started, so there were runners in their jogging outfits, numbers on their chests, often in groups.   All those runners have to park somewhere.  So a bunch of us got to the clinic early and took up almost all the on-the-street parking.   Then, when clients started coming, we moved our cars to let them park.  It was pretty effective.

It also kept the man with the anti-choice billboard on a trailer from parking right in front on the clinic.  He found two spots across the street, but it still felt good.

I was down at the far corner again, and we walked quite a few clients up from that end.  It was all going about as well as it can.  Then ~

I was approaching the clinic and I could hear someone yelling about halfway up the block. As I got closer, I could see him.

He was shaking a fist in the air and yelling, “DO YOU KNOW THEY’RE KILLING BABIES IN THERE??  THEY’RE KILLING BABIES IN THERE!!  DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?”

As we got closer, he turned and looked directly at me.  “AND YOU – YOU’RE WALKING HER IN THERE!!”  He turned away, as if disgusted, but continued to yell, pacing back and forth.

The woman and her companion made it onto the clinic property ~ which always feels like “home free.”  I paused a minute.

Another escort said something to the super angry man ~ i’ll call him Sam ~ I think something about it not actually being babies.  He responded with a roar, going off into another tirade.

He was yelling in my direction, gesticulating, fists clenched, face contorted.  He was a little scary.

In some foolish moment of wanting to see if I could de-escalate him a little, I said softly, “Gosh, you’re really angry.”  Believe it or not, sometimes that helps.

But not today.  In fact, it seemed to make it worse, so I backed off and headed back down the sidewalk.

A little time went by ~ we walked another client or two up the walk ~ Sam was still there, ranting and pacing.  He seemed so volatile, it made me really nervous.

“You know,” K said, “He’s the person that threatened the clinic before.  Said he was going to blow it up.”

I shook my head.  “I think we should call the police.  He seems awfullly angry, and a little out of control.”

“Well, he’s not supposed to be here,’ said K.

So ~ long story short ~ when an officer drove by, K waved her down.  She and some other officers talked to Sam, but apparently the restraining order the clinic had taken out against him had already expired.

Sam calmed down to talk to the police.  When the officers left, he started yelling and ranting again.  The other protesters were happily supporting him, giving him hi-fives and agreeing with him, glaring at us.

I had just left another client at the door and was heading down the sidewalk, through the gauntlet of Catholics reciting the rosary.  Sam was standing at the end of the rows, directly across from a woman and her children, yelling and ranting.

K was talking to him, trying to get him to stop, I suppose.

The woman started yelling too, yelling that Sam was right, that they were killing babies in there.  Her children listened, wide-eyed.   Her face was contorted and angry too. And suddenly ~

I don’t know if I can really describe it ~

suddenly, I felt a heaviness in the air around me, as if their anger had weight.  As if it were actually touching me.

I was shaken, and a little afraid.

Usually, I don’t feel afraid at the clinic.   Most of the protesters have lives that matter to them and family and friends.  I think most of them would not be willing to risk what they have to bomb a clinic or hurt an escort.

But Sam feels out of control, like he might act on all that rage.   Like it might be worth anything to save those babies.  AND ~

It felt like the protesters wanted him to.  Like they wanted him to act out his rage.  Like they wouldn’t do it themselves, but they kinda wanted him to hurt someone.

To hurt me, maybe.

And in that moment, i had a flash of knowing ~ some archetypal memory ~ or things I’ve read ~ a moment of sensing the force that led to witches burnt and sinners stoned.

A little afraid, I moved on down the sidewalk.  Moved away.

****************************

Back in the safety of my everyday, I ask myself if my anger rages like that, if the escorts share that kind of mob mentality.

Do we want someone else to act out our rage?  Do we secretly, points of unity cast aside, want to see a protester hurt?

I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t want to be part of a rosary wielding crowd, waiting for someone to throw the first stone.

And then I remember ~ with great relief ~ no, we’re not like that ~ we really don’t want anyone to get hurt.  We calm each other, try to calm companions when the anger starts to spill over, when violence threatens.   If one of us is in a rage, other escorts don’t cheer them on.  We don’t encourage them the way the protesters did with Sam.

For a moment Saturday, I felt the threat of a holy war.  The Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch hunts, or Jihad… they all end badly for the non-believer.  I don’t care what people believe, I just want women to be able to keep their doctor appointments.

14 thoughts on “More Anger

  1. What a powerful blog piece. I especially like that you raised the question re: how our anger and rage is expressed and released. I think this is an essential question to raise and perhaps to address in another blog as was suggested. I cannot help but recall a previous post where someone commented “M deserved to be punched and choked.” While this was not a call to violence by escorts, to me it certainly seems that this would be encouraging/supporting violence and rage. Servalbear, thank you for your honesty. I think FML’s quote says it all: “If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.”~~ C.G. Jung

    • Thanks for the feedback, Melissa ~ I’m glad you liked the post ~ or thought it was powerful anyhow.

      I totally agree with you. When we de-humanzie and disrespect the antis, it’s not helpful and puts us on the same level with them. That internal work of consistently looking at ourselves is essential if we’re to do this work without becoming like the protesters.

      That’s a great Jung quote too, isn’t it?

      Thanks again…

  2. Wonderfully written. I only wish it were not so true. There IS danger when that type of situation is happening, and your instincts are sound. Do you have anyone videoing the antis? The FBI does want to know about these people, and also putting their antics on YouTube (without filming the clients), will help, also.

    I salute you, and I hope you stay safe. We have armed security now to keep them out of the parking lot, but it still is frightening when a pastor with his congregation behind him across the chain link fence says, “sometimes it takes terror to stop evil”. And when your protester was ranting and raving, railing and getting egged on with the mob mentality, you were all in danger. You still are, because he is unstable. I would report him every time he shows up and rants.

    LOVE to you all.

    • Thanks, Kittybrat!

      We do have some video, and are doing the things we can do, I think. Thanks for the suggestions.

      It would be nice if we had some security, or if there had to be a buffer between the clients and the protesters…. maybe someday. You’re right though ~ it’s the “sometimes it takes terror to stop evil” attitude that is so frightening. Doesn’t matter if there’s a fence there or not.

      You take care of yourself too, be careful, ok? And thanks for the “LOVE!”

      🙂

  3. I would be going back to court to get this guy’s restraining back into effect. You guys shouldn’t have to tolerate such a hate filled, hostile environment, neither should the patients. At what point does this become inciting, hate speech? The same kind of thing often precedes real violence against clinics, doctors and patients.

    Also snag a video of this crazy man and post it, I don’t most people understand this is what goes on at clinics across the US. I would take a video of this guy and title it something evocative like ‘How Clinic Violence Happens’. Put it on Youtube for the world to see.

    I’ve read blog posts like this and it spurs me to find practical ways to prevent it, yes it may be free speech but doesn’t the right to this kind of speech stop when you know there are lone crazies that don’t mind giving up their lives to shot the gynecologist who does abortions?

    LOL, then again I am the kind of person who would call the local branch of the FBI to report a this as terrorist activity . . .

    • Thanks for reading, and for commenting!

      Without going into a lot of detail, we are doing some of the things that we can do to increase the safety of the clients, the escorts and staff. We have some video, for example. The restraining order was initially taken out by the clinic ~ in retrospect, if we could call a “do-over” on this day, we might have advised the clinic immediately that “Sam” was there.

      It is difficult sometimes seeing the balance between free speech and inciting violence, and yeah, for sure it would be nice if people didn’t have to wade through this on the way to the doctor!

      Thanks again for the support!

  4. Be there for each other
    and listen to those instincts
    they won’t fail you

    and if it’s ok — I’m adding you all to my prayers.
    this is important work
    but you all need to be safe too.

    gf

  5. I am so glad you wrote this. That was a horrible, terrifying day and I haven’t found the resolve to revisit it yet. Thank you.

    I have not been that scared at the clinic ever. “Sam” is unstable. longing for acceptance and malleable with very little encouragement. But he wasn’t even the most terrorizing thing that morning – that crowd around him, egging him on, lashing out at us for trying to calm him down, agitating, aggravating and advocating chaos. And I could find no quarter from it all. Everywhere, one of them was in my ear and on my ass. I have never felt that I needed, NEEDED, to escape that scene for my own safety like I did that morning.

    But then you, fml, were there. And P. And K. And D. And P. And P. And A. And a rare but always welcome visit from D. And L. And I felt safer.

    We are markedly different from them in every important way.

    Would we lose a Holy War?

    Nope. We’d pack our shit and run like banshees. You may miss 100 percent of the shots you do not take, but you also never bruise from 100 percent of the punches that miss your face.

    • Thanks for the support, Kescort, It was a particularly difficult day for you, I know. It think that’s partly because you kept trying to manage it somehow, and it really wasn’t a manageable situation. If that makes sense.

      I gotta say though ~ I don’t think we’re “markedly different from them in every important way.” I think for the most part we’re very much alike. But there are key places where our paths separate, and I think it’s super important that whatever we see in them that we think is a flaw, we check ourselves to see if it applies to us too.

      But that’s probably a whole different blog post, right? Sorry… I really appreciate you taking the time to comment!

      • That is a whole post in it’s own. Shooo, it might become it’s own blog. We are very similar, escorts and antis, just like nitrous and nitric oxide are very similar…

        Yeah, I did try to manage that situation for far too long, but even when I tried to stop and walk away, they wouldn’t let me. That’s why I seriously considered leaving before we were finished, for the first time ever. And why I came to yet another whole new level of love for my escort family when y’all stood with me and supported me.

      • “But there are key places where our paths separate, and I think it’s super important that whatever we see in them that we think is a flaw, we check ourselves to see if it applies to us too.”

        Yes. This. Guilty. I admit at times a certain satisfaction when clients or companions say to the antis what we cannot say. A giggle or head nod in confirmation. This is the same as the support Sam received from the antis, although not as loud and angry, isn’t it? It is a constant check I have to do with myself. Bullying should not be met with bullying; hurtful words should not be met with equally hurtful words. Always I have to remind myself we are there for the clients and not to be in any effort to “prove” we are right or even pay attention to the antis. I have to remind myself often.

        This was a scary day. Like Kescort, I love and am grateful for my escort family’s support on days like this.

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