Anonymous Abortion Story
I was 17 when I found out I was pregnant. ….
My parents had just finalized a divorce, that I had long wished for. My dad was, and still is to this day, an alcoholic and drug addict. His addictions permeated through my once happy family. Coming home and turning on the light switch, only to be greeted by the darkness of an unpaid electric bill, or missing valuables around the house followed by hours of unaccounted for benders. It was never certain what I would be coming home to, but I was always certain I would hide it. Push it away and pretend to be normal, pretend to have a regular home. I worked hard, got a good grade and had been babysitting since I myself no longer required one. At 15, I got a job in a grocery store getting carts and bagging. A year later, I begin working in a restaurant and in the summer or winter break, I would work both jobs.
I met my boyfriend at work. His family owned a small restaurant. He was much older than me, by 5 years. A vast world of experience between my 16 and his 21. He felt safe, familiar, but better off. His family, more stable than mine, but he was just complicated enough to feel like home to me. He suffered from clinical depression, which consumed most of his life. He was a daily pot smoker, a fact to which I was ill-informed and avidly opposed. Having a father like mine, I had sworn off drugs and we would bicker whenever I would smell pot on his breath. He lied to me, well and frequently. He had an ex-girlfriend he still loved who was hooked on drugs, and he would give her money. He often called me her name and on one occasion she called when we were together. I made him answer, he spoke to her through strained tones, all the while my heart broke. He was controlling, didn’t like any of my friends. He was failing his community college classes after being put on probation from his university for poor grades. He still lived at home, had no hope or plans for the future. We were on-again, off-again for the next year. Finally, in the winter of my senior year, I had enough. We broke up.
I found out I got into college at the same school my older brother was attending. Things finally felt like they were coming together; like maybe I could get out of this world I lived in with shame. I could make a better life for myself away from the poverty, drug use, and toxic cyclical relationships in my life.
That’s when I found out I was pregnant. I hurt, all over. I was sick, rotten. I slept in old baggy t-shirts and felt the presence, what felt like an alien.
I had wanted to be a mother for as long as I could remember. I love babies and children. I love taking care of things, I always wanted a family. I would lay in bed and dream of a perfect life with a child of my own. I mourned my situation and financial uncertainty. I, I, I. I started to think of you.
You would have a mother and father who weren’t in love, who were poison to each other. You would have a father like mine, substance-addicted and broken down. You would have no stable home, no assurance of basic essentials. A mother too young to know how to be better. A father too broken to be better. Adoption or abortion. My only options in the predicament I had placed myself. After finding out about you, I only told my mom. We had many tearful, fearful nights and talks. What to do. She told me, in a moment of raw honesty, she couldn’t handle if I gave you away. If I was to have you, I was having you. The words rolled in my head like boomerangs smacking the walls of my skull. Could I handle it? What if his family tried to intervene? Could I let you go? Could I keep living? What would I do without my mother’s support? Did I have the ability at 17 to find a way out of this?
I wasn’t strong enough to send you away. My dad was adopted and it had left scars in his life. My mom didn’t support it. I feared the man and life I wanted to keep you sheltered from, would intervene and take you. It felt unnatural to hand you off to a stranger, especially since I wanted to be your mother more than anything. So would I get rid of you?
Rid of you.
To save us. From a life seeded in pain and struggle. We found a clinic, borrowed money, and set a date. I fainted in the counseling session. Before I knew it you were gone. My mom was driving me away past the protesters and I was home.
Things felt heavy, I felt hollow.
Six years later, I sit in my home office with my 2 dogs, an engagement ring on my finger from a kind and strong man, a bachelor’s degree on my wall, working on my masters, financial security, and hope for a family in the future. Life has kept moving, but I feel a grip on my chest when I think of you and that girl. That girl who went through rough water and stayed together. As things settle in my life, I crumble. I am safe to grieve the loss. Loss of you. Loss of my chance to become a mother. Loss of my childhood, innocence, and reckless nature. I am grateful to you for pushing me to be better. Make it worth it, I always think. Make this worth something. Honor life by being better. By doing more. I don’t think I would have the strength to go through this again. If I had to do it over, I have wished a thousand times I would have gone another way. But you can’t change the past. I can’t change that I wasn’t careful or ready. I can’t change my former circumstances. I wish now that I could help someone else. Not as a cautionary tale, but as someone who has been through the pain. The pain does keep coming, gripping you and enveloping you when you let it. But life keeps moving. And sometimes you have to make a painful choice, in place of giving someone else a painful life. I have learned so much about life and being an adult that I was clueless to at 17. The saying, you don’t know what you don’t know, is a favorite in my family. Grief stays, loss stays, shame stays, as long as you keep them. The opportunity to better myself and change my circumstance is one for which I am grateful. I hope to be someone who would make you proud. I hope to let go of my shame. I hope I get the chance to be a mother again one day, when things are right and when I am ready.