On Saturday, I went to teach at the Prostitution Offender Program. I have, for the last 7 or so years, gone to teach about once every quarter, about the effects the street level sex trade has on my community.
I talk about fear, about how the street level sex trade causes crime and vandalism and general debris and disrespect. I talk about the bad things that John’s make happen, by their presence as consumers in my neighbourhood.
It, rather unsurprisingly, isn’t an enormous amount of fun and the men in the room aren’t always happy to see me.
At the end of it, one of the women who had been listening to me talk about the struggles grabbed my hand. She sat and held it, and talked to me about how hard it was to present – that she could see it took a toll on me. It was hard last week. I have been doing this for seven years, and sometimes it feels like an uphill battle.
And I put this in the context of trying to be kinder to myself. I’m not going to stop presenting, I think the work is important, but I did realize this – this thing I do is not easy and it is not fun. Just because I am the sort of person who volunteers and recognizes the importance and wants to be part of the solution doesn’t mean that it is easy or fun.
My normal response would have been to shrug and say it was ok. And on Saturday, when she said that this was hard for me, I stopped. I said it was.
Maybe the roots of being kind to myself are somewhere in here – acknowledging that I do things, but they have a cost to me.