A Girl and Her Teddy Bear
I was twenty-two and into the third week of my first job after college. My supervisor was convinced I was able to start seeing people on my own without her there as a safety net. I, too, was pretty confident that I was ready, but never have I been more wrong in the self-awareness department. To this day, I cannot remember how the three of us got into the little, cold room but there we were. What I can recall is three metal, folding chairs - uncomfortable and cold as was the rest of the space. What I also remember is the mother, maybe in her mid to late 20s, with a distraught look on her face and a palpable heartache that filled the room and immediately chiseled away at any confidence I thought I had. And then there was the little girl, not even 12, grasping onto her teddy bear for dear life making her seem even younger. I, for some unfathomable reason, had not been given a heads up to the little girl's age so my first priority was to stifle the gasp that wanted to escape from my body. My face was not to show the horror I felt as I quickly discerned that it was the pigtail-wearing, teddy bear-clinging preteen who was to be seen as opposed to her mother. She looked at me, forcing a strained smile as I smiled back trying to make us all feel better about where we were and the inevitable conversation that was about to begin. I was failing. I wasn't ready. A lump grew in the back of my throat and I fought back tears like I never had before finally excusing myself to get my supervisor. "I can't do this," I said. "She's just a baby." I wasn't ready. I was incensed. Some man had forced himself on this little girl. He had stolen her innocence. He had hijacked her childhood. He had released himself into her and left her to wonder what she had done to deserve something so awful. With current circumstances as they are, I have thought about that little girl, who wasn't forced to deliver a rapist's baby. I was an options counselor with Planned Parenthood, in case you haven't figured it out and for whatever judgment someone may have about that, know that I am wrought with judgment and disappointment that we, as a nation, have landed here. We have empowered men over our bodies. We have supported the absurdity of laws with no reasonable exceptions. We have lost our way. We have foresaken our humanity. Shame on us.