It seems most media outlets have been blowing up with discussion and debates about birth control lately. Ignorant people in influential positions have resorted to name calling. Still others have voiced their very strong opinions on the matter. It is undoubtedly a hot issue; however it is one that I didn't realize I felt strongly about---until last week. I am both Catholic and a registered Republican, but my personal beliefs really are not that cut and dry.
Last week, it came up in a conversation with someone that I was Catholic. Then, this happened:
"How can you call yourself Catholic? You don't have any children, so obviously you are using birth control."
I instantly became very angry. I explained that not only was my choice or lack of choice regarding birth control none of his business, but that if he had even taken just a few minutes of time to get to know me he would know that I cannot have children. He might know that I have finally come to terms with the fact that maybe--just maybe--God made me this way for a reason. Or, that there is nothing more painful or more taxing on my heart that my inability to have children.
What hurts the most is that no one ever considers childlessness to be a lack of choice rather than an actual choice. I cannot tell you how many people hear me say I have been married for (almost) five years and have no children and give me a look of pure disgust and shock. As though I'm a terrible person for choosing this life for myself.
But, that conversation feels like it has been sticking to my ribs all week long, like a heavy, filling meal that my body is trying to digest. I realized that I do have an opinion on birth control, afterall.
I am not so nieve to believe that infertility does not skew my view of the world. Most days, it is a heavy pair of glasses that shapes how I feel and think about a lot of things. In particular, it makes me think about the things in life we can choose---and the ones in which we have no choice whatsoever.
Most people can choose to have a child, or choose to add more children into their family. They sit down, make a decision and follow through with their choice. But, what if you had no choice? What if your inability to choose felt like you were drinking poison every day?
The thing that weighs heavily upon me today is not that I cannot have a child--that I have accepted--it's the fact that I have no control over anything when it comes to my body. I have no choice in the matter; I have no say in what I can or cannot do with my body.
So, what does this have to do with birth control? A lot, actually. I was on birth control for several years due to my major hormonal imbalance and medical issues, and birth control was the only thing that gave me relief from excrutiating pain and issues that incapacitated me for days every single month of my life. It was my savior from my own body.
It's none of your business, but I'm not on birth control. And, I'm still in pain every single month of every single year. Still. Even after two surgeries meant to fix whatever problems my body has created.
To imply that a woman who takes birth control does so because she's slutty is successfully slapping every woman in the face. It's not one size fits all. It's not always about making exceptions to your religious beliefs. It's not just for prostitutes and easy women, either.