Last week I went to see Stacey Dooley with a friend of mine. It was fascinating listening to her talk so passionately about her work, and about some of the more harrowing things that she has witnessed and reported on.
There were a number of clips shown, and one of them in particular really hit me. It was of a woman being arrested in the Philippines, and her young children begging the Police not to take their mother away. What the children didn’t know was that their mother was being arrested because she was planning on allowing Western men to have sex with her children for money.
Now, as a human being I find that appalling, and as a mother that simply makes me feel sick.
Stacey was visibly upset during this clip, but when the clip ended and she was talking about it live she said that she was always, always on the side of the victim. But, that it is ‘a privilege to be able to have a set of morals’. Just think about that for a minute.
How true that is.
We live in a world that is rife with judgements, we judge ourselves, and we all judge others, this doesn’t mean that its borne out of malice, quite often we judge because it gives us a bit of breathing space for how we feel about ourselves.
For instance “well I might be this, but at least I’m not as bad as her”. We justify things to ourselves to keep on track, and not derail. Its easier that way right?
When its all going well in our lives, its almost a reflex to assess how others are doing and focus on how we would “do better” if it were happening to us.
When I was 13 (ish), boys started to appear on the radar, we had regular sex ed classes at school by then, but a couple of girls in my year got pregnant and left to have their babies. Now, I didn’t have a problem with that, but I remember having a conversation with some friends and one of them said “they could have had abortions”. I remember the anger I felt in that moment, how dare they suggest such a thing? “Abortion is murder, only someone evil would do that” was my well considered response.
Five years later, when I was 18, I had an abortion. Was I an evil person? No. I was a terrified young girl, who had got herself into a situation and had no idea what to do. The consequences of either path would be deeply felt, and follow me forever.
I wont go into the details of what led me to my decision, but I know 100% that I made the right choice. I stand by that, and really have no care of anyone that judges me for it.
What I do sometimes think about though, is how in that moment, when I was staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, I made a different choice to that of my ever so naive 13 year old self.
It taught me a huge lesson in how judgements can really hurt. How someone might make a different life choice to the one they believe is right because they fear the reaction they will get from others, and the huge ramifications of that.
Every time I have been faced with a harsh choice, my compassion for others has soared. I think its partly what has led me here. Empathy, its a wonderful gift. Now, when I sense judgement trying to make an entrance, I get curious about it. What is it about what I am hearing / seeing that is triggering me? From there I will unpick that knot.
Its 22 years since I had my termination, and ever since then I have tried my best to see the many shades of grey that surround a situation, to know that its not just right and wrong, black and white. There is a heart involved, a soul thats in pain. We are here to live and not just exist, and that means fucking up. It means being unsure and second guessing, doing something before you are 100% ready (because you never will be) Its human, its messy, its life.