“The heart is capable of sacrifice. So is the vagina. The heart is able to forgive and repair. It can change its shape to let us in. It can expand to let us out. So can the vagina. It can ache for us and stretch for us, die for us and bleed us into this difficult, wondrous world.”
-Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues
I do not remember the exact day but I do remember the moment: and I just knew. I was sick with fear and concern. I didn’t even have a real relationship with this guy and couldn’t even figure out how to communicate with him with confidence, let alone communicate to him that I was pregnant by him.
I spent 3 months contemplating my life; countless nights awake, weeping, holding my belly and talking to my unborn fetus. I remember being pulled into the idea of being a mom; after all, he was an attractive, adventurous and smart medical student; but I was both scared of having a child and being a single parent almost as much as I was afraid to have an abortion. I had hoped that if I had the child that he’d eventually change his mind about wanting to be a part of it’s life; but I didn’t know if I could bare being with someone that didn’t want to be a part of mine as well.
I fantasized about taking her in the stroller for a walk, holding her at night when she cried and her and I having a sweet little life together. At the same time I didn’t want to be a single parent, dependent on welfare services or church support. I pondered keeping the would have been child, looked into adoption but ultimately knew that if I had carried the baby to full term there would have been no chance of me giving it away to someone else. It was an excruciating decision.
I attempted an abortion three times that fall. The first I drove, alone, midday to an abortion center in Robbinsdale, Minnesota; leaves were changing color and the sky was a gloomy grey. There were protesters holding signs over the fence; one told me that I didn’t have to go through with it. I was angry with them for being there, angry with myself for being in this situation and angry that they were trying to speculate what was best for me without knowing me. I even allowed myself to be in conversation with them, while teary-eyed and vulnerable, but finally decided to go in and confront my situation. I was angry that a 13 year old girl was in the room with her pregnant self, the would have been father to her unborn child and his mother. I thought she was too young to have to go through all of this. I sat there in self-disgust and fear; tears welling up in my eyes uncontrollably and couldn’t let myself go through with it. I called my friend Anna, who thankfully, although a Christian, came to my rescue and said she’d stay there and be with me through whatever decision I made. I went home. She held me as I wept, uncertain of what to do and whether I’d be able to stomach either choice.
The second time he picked me up at my apartment in Uptown, Minneapolis; he was wearing scrubs because he was a medical student and I remember being mad at him for being so casual. (As if his outfit really mattered?) But I think I was really mad at him for being so casual and nonchalant about the whole thing. I wanted it to matter to him and have an impact on him like it did on me. He simply wanted completion. As we approached the Robbinsdale clinic, we again faced protestors, but at least this time I wasn’t alone. I waited for the clinician to call my name and bring me to the back room for the procedure. To my disappointment he wasn’t allowed to come into the room while the procedure was taking place. I was PISSED. I called the nurses and doctors names and yelled about how much of a hypocrisy the place was for supposedly standing for women’s rights. I wanted him to be there in that room with me. I wanted him to witness and experience the pain. I felt that if I had to go through with it then he should have to watch. They unfortunately didn’t allow anyone other than the patient in the room; they said they needed to keep their attention on me in case anything happened; in case he possibly passed out. I thought they were supposed to be on my team but they didn’t seem to buy into punishing him like I wanted them to. They sat me down with a counselor and my anger and frustration led me out of the clinic, yet again. I told them I would find someplace that would make him watch. (But I didn’t) As we left the clinic he became angry with me; up until that moment he had been holding it all together, being patient, passive and kind- trying to play by my rules in hopes that I’d go through with the abortion, as he desired. As we pulled away, he stopped his car and yelled at me for the first time. He said it would wreck him and the hard work he’d put into attending medical school, it would wreck his dream and he didn’t want an illegitimate child. He was in med school and in the phase of delivering babies; I secretly hoped he’d be tortured into changing his mind. (But he wasn’t)
Again, I went home and cried. I spent days at friends; weeping, being held, contemplating a seemingly impossible and painful decision. Would I become a mom at the young age of 21 when I could barely even take care of myself? Would I have to do the 9 month or longer ‘Walk of Shame’ and explain to everyone that I was having a child out of wedlock? My christian friends played christian songs for me in hopes that I’d be inspired into keeping it and that God would give me the strength. But the only God I knew in my life until that point was one that could leave me parentless at an early age and feeling equally unloved, unworthy and unsupported. God was no one to me except another form of human hypocrisy and all I knew was that waiting for the so-called-God hadn’t saved me in the past, so why would it now? My mom and her husband even offered to take the child and raise it, but given the way I had turned out, I thought it was a horrible idea; at the time, I felt she failed as a parent and that if I had a child, I’d make sure it was raised better than I was; that it would knew it was loved and supported, without a doubt. And I also thought it was odd of me to think that if I was going to go through with the abortion. I lay in bed, day in, day out, listening to Breathe Me, Just for Now & Hide and Seek. I stopped drinking for that period of time. I went to the bar a few times but was watching myself and still contemplating what I’d do. I wanted nothing more than to numb and hide. I wanted love, but again, knew nothing but to search for it in all the wrong places. In fact, it’s how I found myself in this situation in the first place.
The night before the final moment was spent at his house. I was scared to be alone. I knew I would be alone if I chose to have the child. I knew I would change my mind if I had to stay awake all night by myself; I needed him to remind me that there would be no happy ending. The third time, they say, is a charm. My third attempt was more of a follow through than a charm, though. It had been three months. Time was up. I would either have to choose to have this child or immediately choose to have an abortion.
Abortion I chose. This time, we went into a different clinic; it felt cleaner, safer and more private. No protestors allowed and I could read magazines in the waiting room; it was the very weak distraction I needed to get through the 30 minutes. As they called my name, I knew I’d follow through. I had played out every scenario in my head and this was it. As I lay with my legs open, my heart deeply wounded inside of me; I watched the butterflies on the ceiling while they terminated my pregnancy. It was over.
How could I have walked out only 20 minutes later after my heart had just been broken? I don’t know. But I did. When I walked out of that room I was faced with pain, fear, shame and sorrow. Him, with relief. Weeks after, I learned from my ‘boss’ at the time, that he had gone to Florida and escaped with a woman. I was again, heartbroken. I didn’t expect him to love me; I just wanted him to care. One of the worst parts of that experience was having this ‘boss’ exclaim, inappropriately, how her mother said she would’ve hooked up with him too – (hello, weird??). That experience was followed by a company holiday party that led to a stranger coming up to me, in the bathroom, telling me she heard I had an abortion and thought we could “be friends.” Now, I had dealt with the cattiness and competition of that workplace but I certainly wasn’t about to let myself be walked all over in the face of that pain. With very little planning and an immense amount of pain; I packed all I could fit into my car, quit my job, and drove by myself, cross country to California. Man, it has been a journey. I am grateful for the courage to leave and learn and grateful that where we’ve come from doesn’t have to determine where we are going. But it can. And, if it does, may it be something that brings peace and healing to your heart. I am slowly learning to love myself. It is one muther f**ki* challenge. My life, thankfully, is becoming better than it has ever been and my commitment is to the heart and wholeness of all women.
My personal mission is this: That all women may know themselves as worthy; that all women may know themselves in a way they never thought was possible and that we may keeping pushing the envelope until we do so.
My own answer to my fears and concerns about myself and the ability for women to have authentic, caring and safe relationships is creating Women Enough. Women Enough will revolutionize the way that women are connected and supported; through celebration, collaboration and sisterhood. This is the place you can come to when you’ve been burned by other women; when you know that what happened in the past, doesn’t have to happen in the future. WE all long to be loved, understood, listened to and honored.
“The heart is capable of sacrifice. So is the vagina.
The heart is able to forgive and repair. It can change its shape to let us in. It can expand to let us out. So can the vagina.
It can ache for us and stretch for us, die for us
and bleed us into this difficult, wondrous world.” -Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues
Disclaimer: (I struggled with whether or not to share my own experiences as it’s a very controversial and personal topic. I, however, believe that there is a world of women hurting that also need to know they are not alone. I ask for your grace and humanity in your listening. I respect your choice and thank you for being a part of this forum and discussion)