This is an emergency broadcast from Sugar.
You’ll see what I mean presently.
I’m 22. Yesterday I moved 5,000 miles away to start a new job. My boyfriend didn’t take kindly to the decision, and we broke up two days ago. I’m in a town precariously close to Sarah Palin’s residence, where I’ll stay for two weeks of intensive job training before being sent out into the wilderness. My company gave me a stipend check to spend on necessities – there won’t be stores where I’m moving. I don’t know what they use for female products up there (some device made of whale blubber?) so I decided to stock up on tampons. Since my period is a week late, I threw in a pregnancy test on the company’s dime.
It was positive. It’s positive. I’m positively pregnant, according to these two urine-soaked plastic things hidden in a Ziploc bag in my suitcase, which is hidden under the bunk bed in a room I’m sharing with three new co-workers who are watching Labyrinth in the living room. I called the boyfriend who dumped me two days ago, and he’s flying here. I contacted my boss, and there’s going to be a meeting. I went to the clinic, and Sarah Palin was not picketing outside, and has yet to come to force me to have this child and marry me off to a “fucking redneck.”
My new boss has informed me that he can’t send someone “in my condition” to a town without a doctor, and who’s nearest doctor is only reachable by bush plane. When I said I was – I’m not going through with it – he said he has a daughter my age and he can’t send someone who’s in my “emotional condition.”
My question is: is it acceptable to punch this man in the face? I’m having a pretty rough day, and this guy is telling me I can’t have my dream position because he finds my soon-to-be abortion too emotionally devastating. Shouldn’t that be my moral call to make? There’s basically no way he’s letting me keep this job – so how far can I go in showing my dissatisfaction without getting arrested?
I’m going to assume your visit to the clinic means that you’ve gotten a blood test to confirm the home pregnancy positives. I say this because you are (apparently) less than two weeks late.
There is certainly a time for punching bosses, but now is not it. You’re in a world of hurt here, a very complicated place, and though lashing out at big, daddy-like target might feel gratifying, in the long-term it solves nothing. You’ve got bigger fish to fry.
I won’t bore you with a story about how dumb and reckless I was at 22. It will be enough to say that I spent a small amount of time in jail and acquired a terribly unnecessary knife wound, and managed to disrupt and/or ruin the lives of those who loved me, a small group that did not include me. I spent a lot of time praying for my periods and weeping. I knew very little of my own heart, and what I did know seemed pretty disappointing. I hope you have more poise and courage than I did.
Let me say something about the decision you have to make. You are certainly right that every woman judges this for herself. We live in an unprecedented era, where that right has been recognized and legalized. God bless America for that. But the psychological and physical burdens of that decision can’t be legislated away. Nor should they be ignored. It’s the stuff we ignore that haunts us further on. Please believe Sugar on this.
I’m not sure what your prospective wilderness-based job is. (Hopefully, it involves shooting fucking rednecks from planes.) Whatever it is, you’re absolutely right that your boss probably doesn’t have the legal right to discriminate against you based on an elective medical procedure you intend to undergo.
But here’s my question: why did you tell your boss in the first place? And how did you expect him to react?
There may be some tricky logistics here, owing to your location, but surely someone as smart as you could have found a way to get an abortion without informing your boss. The fact that you decided to tell him suggests to me that – on some level – you wanted him to know. I suspect that some part of you knew he might forbid you from heading out into the wilderness. And that this same part of you wanted to be forbidden, because you’re sad and freaked out and scared and the prospect of heading off into the wilderness in this state, essentially alone, at age 22, fresh from the clinic, is terrifying. It is terrifying. I’m terrified on your behalf, darling, and I’m a menopausal ex-con.
By telling your boss you’ve managed to externalize that decision, and convert your insoluble feelings of fear and shame into rage. It’s a pretty common ploy, and it’s what made Sarah Palin such a hit at the Republican National Convention.
I realize you now want to punch me. And I wish I was up there, wherever you are, so you could take a few swings at my fat sack. But I’m not. So please – I’m actually begging now – don’t hide from the pain and confusion of what’s happening in your life. It’s not the end of the world. You’ll get through it. But you need to seek the support of the people who love you, who were put on this earth to love you. Sorry if that sounds sentimental, but I’ve tried to go it alone enough times to know it’s a sure path to despair.
I don’t pray anymore, babylove. It strikes me as a lousy way of asking for what you want. But I’m thinking about you, right now, as you shadow box up there in the Yukon. If we were in the same room I’d hug your sorry ass for about an hour.
Do what you can, forgive yourself the rest.