I got pregnant a year and a half ago, when I was 22, and you know what, I wanted to have it. I wanted to have it but the “father” didn’t. He went through something of a four stage reaction. Stage one: block my number. Stage two: unblock it so he could send me texts threatening to hurt/kill me if I didn’t terminate. Stage three: Answer my calls just to say I was the last person he wanted to have a baby with, and stage four: promptly re-block my number. I wish I could have been a strong single mother, but I wasn’t even sure I could keep myself safe. How was I going to protect a baby?

I couldn’t turn to my family for help. My mother was still married to my father, who had molested me as a child, and who was also a strongly pro-life Catholic, go figure. I worked as a stripper (if you’re enjoying rolling your eyes at what a cliché I am, just wait, I promise there’s more) and the only other jobs I’d ever been able to get paid less than ten dollars an hour, so I doubted I’d be able to support myself once I could no longer dance. I started researching what help the county could offer me, only to find out the waiting list for Section 8 lottery wasn’t even open anymore. I could say something here about the politicians who are so-called pro-choice being the same ones who are anti-welfare, but you know what, I don’t even think I need to.

Long story short, I got the abortion at around 7 weeks. The actual procedure was pretty easy. There were protesters telling me I didn’t have to kill my baby and whatnot, but I’d heard worse. Everyone working in the clinic was incredibly skillful and kind. I got the surgical abortion with pain pills but no anesthesia and the physical discomfort was very minor. The morning sickness faded right away, which was beautiful. I went home, ate a sandwich, and went to sleep.

And slowly, my nightmare began. As my hormones dropped and my Catholic upbringing caught up to me, I slipped into a deep, dark, raving depression. I thought I had been through some things, but this hurt worse than being left, being broke, being a teenager having sex for money. I hate to say it, but this hurt even worse than losing a close friend to homicide had. This time, I felt like I was the murderer (NOTE: looking back with a rational mind, I know that having a zygote removed is NOT the same as shooting an actual person to death. Please don’t think it is the same.) I didn’t want to kill myself, but I was afraid that in a moment of impulsiveness, I would. I lived in a high rise apartment, and my bed was about three steps from the balcony. Ironically, sleeping pills kept me alive. I took just enough so that unconsciousness would render me unable to jump.

What I owe my life to, even more than that, are my friends. There are three girls (who have all also had abortions, and are all amazing, strong, beautiful women) and two guys that took the time to talk me through my feelings. God bless them! (Yes, I do believe in God.) One of the guys is someone I’d known for several years and always felt a certain attraction towards, but always kept a certain distance from. His kindness during my struggle brought us closer. To be a cliché girl who says cliché things, I stopped fighting my feelings.

And then he caught a case.

I want to clarify two things. The first is that, I hope I haven’t offended anyone with the somewhat sarcastic tone I’ve used to tell my story. I make light of this ordeal because that’s my way of dealing with the darkness. Second, I don’t think abortion is supposed to be dark. I don’t think it’s something you’re supposed to be sad about, or bound to be scarred by, or destined to regret. I’ve read that the overwhelming majority of women feel relief after terminating, and the ones who don’t are the ones who- like me- didn’t really want to do it in the first place. I hope no other woman goes through what I went through. I hope all women who get abortions are ones who truly choose to do so, but I’m not naïve. I know there will be others who do it because they have to. I wrote this for anyone who feels like I felt- like they’re a horrible person and nothing they do will ever matter. I wrote this to tell you it gets better.

I wish I had some grand happy ending to prove it gets better. Of course I don’t. Of course I’m still a stripper, but at least I’ll be 24 soon and able to get student aid without my parents’ tax information. My man got ten years, but he has an appeal, and for what it’s worth, he has a girl who loves him and has been faithful to him for almost a year now (a.k.a. me, a.k.a. a girl who’s got strangers rolling their eyes right now because of course the cliché train wreck girl ends up dating an inmate, to which I say, judge me to your heart’s content.) It scares and devastates me to think about the possibility of him actually doing all that time, and I won’t lie, a selfish part of me is scared and devastated at the possibility that I may never get to have his- or any- kids. And I do still feel sad about the abortion every once in a while. It remains a struggle. But you know what, I haven’t wanted to kill myself even once today, and that’s a start.