“You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.”
– Superchicken, cartoon superhero
Everyone champions the cause of the minimum wage worker, saying you cannot survive and you can barely subsist on minimum wage.
Everyone champions the cause of the waitress who makes $2.13 an hour and relies on tips to barely make ends meet.
No one champions the cause of the disabled girl who has to work in the adult industry because she is not employable due to a psychotic break over a decade ago (making progress but still recovering) who makes $1.25 an hour with no possibility of tips.
A lot of people speak up for adult industry workers, saying they deserve the same rights and protections as any other workers do, and should never be exploited or put in a position they do not want to be in. A lot of people speak up for victims of sexual assault and assert they should be shielded from things that might be disturbing or unearth bad memories by the availability of ‘trigger warnings’ that will alert the reader or viewer that emotionally incendiary material looms ahead.
And yet, interestingly, no one speaks up for the disabled girl triggered daily by the exploitative nature of her adult industry work, the stigma that she experiences because of it, the painful and destructive cross-pollination of it with her traumatic history, and the despair that comes from finding no hope that anything other than her present reality will ever be possible. No one attempts to shield her from the psychological damage. There are no trigger warnings. The entirety of existence could be called a trigger.
These conditions have the ability to quite fluidly draw one to the presumptive conclusion that only a certain kind of victim matters, and only a certain kind of victim is eligible to receive assistance or compassion. This train of thought goes mag-lev when the effects of continual abuse come into play. Surety in the belief that one is defective and legitimately despicable soon follows – or more accurately, is reawakened, since that is the message that lifelong abuse has already emblazoned upon the abused’s brain.
Despite herself, despite some days when every fiber of her being rebels or threatens to implode or otherwise self-destruct, this disabled girl persists. She endures. She pushes on and survives, and does not even understand, sometimes, why she does it. The only reason she can find is that she does it for the people she loves. She doesn’t want anyone she holds in her heart to carry the grief that she does. She doesn’t want to leave anyone broken. And she wants to give others the benefit of whatever meager lessons she may have learned along the way. She wants to do something to redeem the pain and the regret and the shame and the darkness. She wants to help others in those ways that she wishes she would have – could have – been helped.
It’s rough going sometimes, this silk-purse-from-a-sow’s-ear vision. And frankly, some days it’s difficult and overwhelming and it seems quite fruitless. But these feelings, this hopelessness, it’s all part of the Business of Survival when you carry a certain set of bags. It’s the landscape you have to traverse sometimes when you choose The Long Journey over The Quick Exit.
So, on those days when it seems useless, when it seems an impossible task to continue, she digs in with her fingernails and hangs on. Because she knows that nothing lasts forever. This, too, shall pass. Not the conditions of her existence, no: not the crushing despair, nor the shit job, nor the feeling like no one cares – and don’t even think that the poisoned roots of the past will miraculously release themselves from their purchases deep beneath the Earth’s surface without considerable effort and heavy machinery. These things won’t just magically disappear into the ether. They will still exist. But they will be Over There. Out of focus, not today’s issue, that’s Future Chick’s problem, dude. And what will also happen is that easier times will return. It may not seem like it at that low moment, but the sun will break through the dark clouds once again and she will feel its warmth. She’s seen this happen too many times not to have faith in that. That she lives and breathes is proof of it.
So, in the meantime – see, there’s a reason why they call it meantime, yeah? – she sits down with another coffee, because she read somewhere that it only takes a single cup of coffee to keep you from killing yourself, and she’s found this to be true. (Not that she feels like killing herself today. It’s just a good fact to know, man. It’s News You Can Use.) She channels the troubling shit out thru her fingers and onto the keyboard, trying not to sound too dramatic (trying, though probably not succeeding) because at this point in her life trotting out the Grand Guignol when it’s not an emergency feels tedious, unnecessary, and a bit too Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf. She does, however, allow herself the hideous indulgence of writing about herself in the third person. Because EMOTIONS.
She lets out a big sigh. Takes a swig of Diet Pepsi to chase the coffee. Lights up a cigarette (tsk tsk), and selects a podcast from one of the comedians she loves because comedy can save – it’s saved her more times than she can count – and the conversation will steer her thoughts away from the detritus of which they are currently composed.
And then damned if that crazy bitch doesn’t get on with her day.