Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A long time ago I was a different person...

Well to be honest, I was the same person but you wouldn't have recognized me. I think some of you will hate me after this but then omission can be a lie. And this blog isn't about lies. Besides, I respect you all too much to lie in any case.

14 years ago I moved from NJ to CA. It was the gutsiest thing I'd ever done -- so, of course, I panicked. I met a guy the first week. A strong, confident, opinionated guy that was from NJ too, but had been out here much longer so he really knew his way around LA.

To make a long story short in less than a month we became engaged and moved in together. My family was -- let's just say, "shocked." My friends were like, 'WTF?' It was not a pretty thing. I argued with everyone who loved me and alienated pretty much everybody.

Within 3 months I realized I'd made a HUGE mistake. It's not like I wasn't warned. His own sweet saintly mother told me in our very first phone conversation, "Don't let him RULE you." I laughed when she said it but it haunted me later. This guy was a controlling manipulative, bastard who battered my self-esteem at every turn. His lies and berating even caused me to stop writing; which is for me tantamount to suffocation. He monitored my every move, wanted a report on every phone call and didn"t like the fact that my mother calls me "daughter"when she leaves messages on my machine (why not, I don't have sisters so she doesn't have to specify a name.) He'd go through my things and read my journals. He'd lock the door and make me stand in the bathroom with him while he took a crap because he thought it was funny to make me smell it - "C'mon it smells like roses!" He'd actually lean his ass up against me and fart any time he felt gas coming on even if he had to run in from another room to do it. He said his father does it to his mother and it's sign of love (nevermind that his father used to beat his mother too, so for her that was probably an improvement). "There's so little love in the world, you shouldn't be picky about how it's expressed to you," were his exact words. (Which my therapist laughed at when I told her. That would be the therapist he sent me to near the end of our relationship because "I" had problems; and then told me to stop going to when I finally stopped taking his shit. But all that came too late. )

He "changed" my every opinion to match his own by manipulation, told me I'd be a bad mother because I was too "cold" and he was the "nurturing one", and badger me until I cried if I didn't want to do exactly what he wanted to do. He made me write lists of things to do to make me be a better girlfriend to him, post them on the fridge and read them every single morning. He made me buy most of the groceries even though he made more money. He did everything BUT hit me. In retrospect, I wish he HAD hit me, because that would have woke me up sooner and I could have avoided the path I ultimately took. To top it all off he was a bit... well I guess Sociopathic would be the word. To everyone else he was the sweetest, most generous , most romantic guy and I was "such a lucky girl". He put on a good face. So good I didn't think anyone would believe me if I told them how bad things really were. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I'd gotten myself into this and I made the fatal mistake of not running back to my family and friends for help. I thought they wouldn't take me back. I know now that they would have been my lifeline.

I kept trying to lay in the bed I'd made for 5 more months. Then about 8 months in I got pregnant. By this time I my growing hatred for him had taken root very strongly. But I still didn't admit that to anyone or ask for help. I did not think clearly. I know that. There was only one driving feeling. That I had to eventually get away from him. I could not allow any child of mine to have him as a father and I could not let myself be tied to him forever through my own child. I just refused to do it.

There you have it. My dark confession. The big issue of abortion that's raging all over the news and the blogosphere is my ugly past. But let me be clear. I am fully convinced that this is the single most horrible thing I've ever done. It haunts me. I sometimes wonder if the child I threw away was the only one I was meant to have. Maybe I threw away my only chance. Worse still I now realize I was a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for. I could have done it -- been a single mom. But I didn't even try and I hated myself for a very long time. In some ways I still have a lot of resentment.

I want you know that abortion is not just an "issue" it is an "experience." People don't talk about what it means to go through it. They talk about wrestling with making the choice beforehand and whether you have the "right" or not to do it. They talk about the feelings of loss, guilt and sadness that flood your being for years to come. But they don't tell you about the gripping fear that you suppress and go numb to while you're laying on a medical table fully conscious. They don't mention the sights, sounds and sensations that swirl about you. I guess, it's because so few people debating it have ever actually done it and those who have, really don't like talking about it.

For me it was this: A day or so before I went in. They had to put something into the opening of my cervix to make it dilate. The B-friend told me I was on my own for the procedure. Fine with me. But I had to talk him into picking me up afterward since they told me I'd be too groggy to drive. On the day of, I had to take some drugs ahead of time, I don't recall what for. I got there and they gave me more drugs.

It was a women's clinic so there were lots of women coming and going. I wondered if any of them knew why I was there? I wondered if any were there for the same reason. None of the staff looked me in the eye. (Or was it that I couldn't look them in the eye?)

They took me back to a room and left me alone to strip from the waist down and climb onto the crinkly white paper that lined the padded vynyl medical table. I laid there alone for an eternity of five minutes waiting. The stoic doctor came in and explained the procedure in sanitary monotone. Basically it was going to feel like I was having menstrual cramps and a machine was going to vacuum the "contents" of my uterus. I wasn't shaking. I was very still. It was a "get it over with" stillness. The machine started up and they began; the doctor invisible behind the sheet and two nurses on either side of me averting their eyes from mine as much as possible. (But I didn't want to look at them anyway, did I? Of course, I didn't.)

It was NOT cramps. At least not like any I'd ever had. It felt like my guts were being ripped out -- and mind you I was on a lot of drugs. A tall nurse with long dark brown hair took my hand and held it. I don't think anyone had touched me until that point (other than the obvious and that didn't count.) I just focused on her hair and tried to breathe. That nurse is burned in my memory, her impossibly straight dark brown hair cascading down her back past her waist, standing in the ammonia sterile room, holding my hand so very gently and whispering softly, "just squeeze as hard as you need to."

In less than 10 minutes it was over. Up until then a white sheet across my abdomen and legs had blocked my view. But it slipped down my thighs and I glanced down. I saw the doctor carrying what looked like a large glass mason jar out of the room. It was filled about 1/4 of the way with blood and tissue. That's when I died. Every little bit of feeling just shut down. I stayed like that for a few days. And when I started to feel again the first emotion was anger and the second was guilt.

Even though the b-friend knew EXACTLY when to pick me up he didn't show up on time. The nurses kept coming into the waiting room and asking if I was okay and if I wanted them to call me a cab. I refused. Even when the fucking drugs started to wear off and I thought I could risk driving myself, I just sat there and stared at the god-damned door. I was going to stay there until he came. Eventually he did... 3 1/2 hours later. He took me home and then got pissed when I asked him to make me some tea. He really wanted to go for a bike ride and I was slowing him down with my request - my selfishness always annoyed him.

Now it wasn't really over yet. You see they wanted me to come back in 3 days. Because, get this, they had to make sure they'd "got it all" in case there was like some random baby parts growing inside me. So I had to spend 3 days with the idea of a mutilated fetus in my belly. But my check-up showed everything was a-okay. Right, sure it was. The b-friend asked me 3 questions when I got home.
- "Are you okay?"
- "What did the doctor say?" and
- "Did she say how soon we can have sex again?"
Let's just say that even though it took me more than a year to get my self-esteem back to a level where I could get away from him, the sex was officially CUT OFF!

I could tell you about the aftermath in the sickening waves of alternating guilt and numbness. But I won't. I will tell you that I kept it from everyone for a very long time. Upon my conversion to Catholicism I did confess to a priest. His response was this: "God loves and forgives you. You owe no one any explanation nor does anyone have a right to pry. You've punished yourself enough. Your penance is to go and do a kindness for yourself. Buy yourself a gift, treat yourself to a bubble bath, something, anything. It doesn't have to be indulgent. Just be kind to yourself." Not at all what I expected him to say. But then again he was a Jesuit. While it did provide a certain level of relief, the only thing was, I can't really wash an abortion away with a bubble bath no matter how much God loves me. And even if I don't really owe anybody an explanation I feel like I'm hiding something whenever the subject comes up in conversation. I have some very close friends that are strongly against it and I just don't want think about what their reaction might be. I think they'd still love me, but I don't know if they'd still respect me.

There are about 3 or 4 friends of mine who do know, Michael knows. And my mother knows now too. I didn't tell her for a very long time. And when I did I was terrified. But like the priest her response was wonderfully unexpected. "I love you. I love you more than anything," was what she said over and over as she held me while I sobbed. And I'm crying even as I write about it because I think that was the moment I really began to feel like I could eventually be healed. She said she didn't blame me for doing it, but I don't pretend it was the right thing to do.

Here is the thing. I am NOT the rape victim, the incest victim or the woman whose life hangs in the balance of her pregnancy. I am NOT any of those compassionate reasons why abortion should remain legal.

I AM one of the other ones. The ones they blow up clinics because of and shoot abortion doctors over. No I AM the one they scream "baby killer" at while waving signs of depicting the bodies of aborted fetuses (I'll pass on the souvenier t-shirts folks, I had a backstage pass to that show.) I AM one of those who made the CHOICE for entirely selfish reasons. I know that. I told you about my Ex-boyfriend only so you understand my mindset at the time, not so you would sympathize. I AM one who did it as a form of birth control so that I wouldn't have to deal with the consequences. Well guess what. I was wrong --I still had to deal with them. I still am dealing with it. I will until I am able to hold my first born child in my arms -- if God is willing. But I'd be lying if I said my life hasn't been easier because of it. I've traveled, I have a great job, live in a beautiful house and I'm marrying the most amazing man on the planet. Oh, yeah I've benefited, but that doesn't mean it was worth it. If I could do it over -- well I'd have a 12 year-old right now wouldn't I? But I don't. I wish I did though, even if he or she was being raised by somebody else, I sure wish it. I sometimes wonder if I'd had someone in there with me, someone who loved me, if maybe I would have had the courage to turn around. But "what if" is pretty sharp little knife and you can bleed yourself dry with it if you're not careful.

Abortion is the only sin besides Suicide that I believe is its own punishment. And yes I think it is a sin because it tears down the spirit and anything that does that has a very high "sin" potential. Whether it's a crime or not is up to the courts. For now they say not, and I agree. So here is my position: If a woman who was considering abortion came to me and asked my advice, I would do everything compassionately possible to change her mind (no bloody fetus photos allowed.) But if she still chose to do it I would go with her and hold her hand through it and tell her "Just squeeze as hard you have to." I would drive her home and make her tea or soup or whatever she wanted. I would check on her every day and make sure that she showed herself some kindness even as she dealt with her guilt. In short I would remind her that she is still worthy of love. Because quite frankly that is the first thing you forget.

But how can someone like me, who knows the cost of abortion, support the right to choose? And Catholic at that? Well, maybe I'll try to answer that in a future post if I can. It took me a while to summon the courage for this one.

I know some of you may be disgusted with me now. It's okay. I have days like that, too.


Sara said...

I am SO not disgusted with you. You are a strong person and you did what you thought was the right thing at the time. Only God knows what could have happened if you had kept your baby. Any number of things could have happened, especially considering that the father was abusive. I can't imagine what you went through and I am not judging you.
But forgive me for saying this but I don't believe that it will be over for you even after you hold your first baby in your arms, I believe this will be something that will be with you forever, even as you watch your child grow. I hope that doesn't sound insensitive, it isn't meant to be.
There have been times in my life where I was foolish and had I gotten pregnant, I would have at least considered that option. So I don't judge most people.
What is disgusting to me, is a woman who can go have MULTIPLE abortions. I know a few. That is truly using it as birth control.

gone said...

"God loves and forgives you. You owe no one any explanation nor does anyone have a right to pry. You've punished yourself enough."

I wouldn;t have expected that either, but he's right. But, he forgot one thing. You need to forgive yourself.

I am remembering my post about abortion NOT being wonderful, and to say that I think that you did the right thing here would be just as bad as saying you committed a sin. Why?

Both responses invalidate your feelings and reasons for doing what you did. Mine, and everyone's personal feelings have no place here. This was my intent behind that post. No one has a right to dictate what someone should feel about an abortion, not me, not prolifers, and not pinko feminists.

Only you can judge for yourself, but the fact that you were afforded the right to choose for yourself is so very important.

Here are the facts as I see them.

You are a brave woman.
You have come so very far.
You did what was best for you at the time.
You escaped a brutal bastard.
You have found your shining knight.

I am proud to call you a friend, albeit an internet friend.

Oh, when is the wedding? I'm in San Diego for the labor day weekend to see a friend who is in the Navy.

Mindwyrm said...

I think you'll find that disgust is not going to be headed your way. Being a guy I can't truly understand what you went/are going through. I was in the situation you described at the end of your post a couple of times. I know how hard it can be on a woman to go through that situation. The fact that you did it almost completely alone is a testament to the strength that it sounds like you're discovering. If you continue down the path you're on I think you'll find one day that you've been able to get to the point where you're able to let the guilt go and move on. Forgiving yourself doesn't mean forgetting the lessons you take away with you, but it does mean that you move forward with your life.

If anyone does decide to read you the riot act then listen to the priest and cannot be trusted as they're both dead on. You owe no one any explanation/justification for your actions. This is especially true when it pertains to people who are more concerned with pointing and yelling as opposed to listening to the person involved.

Girl With An Alibi said...

thanks so much. It's funny but I do know deep down it will always be there. But I think having a family will... I don't know... redeem the mother in me. Honestly I don't really separate myself from the women who've had multiple abortions, though I know I could never do it again myself. Cause the thing is I was actaully on the pill when I got pregnant and pretty religious about taking it, I might add. But my doctor said that stress can really muck with your hormones and make the pill ineffective (Gee, REALLY? Stress, huh?) So I guess I could understand how a woman in a really bad situation could get herself in that position more than once even with birth control.

Jacob- Yes forgiving myself is an ongoing process. 6 years ago when my cousin James was born I held him when he was just minutes old. That was when I knew I could be a good mother. Because he was my cousin and we bonded instantly and I love that little boy today with every fiber of my being; so I know my Ex was a fool to tell me I'd be a bad mother. It's scary to think I still held on to the fear that he was right about that for years after the relationship was over. But's wonderful to know that a 7 lb little boy just 15 minutes into the world can grab your finger and instantly make a poisonous lie disappear from your heart forever.

Friends and co-workers often wonder why I go all out to plan the baby showers of others (even people I'm not that close to). In fact, friends will ask me to help them plan showers because they know I'm going to come up with something special for the new mom and baby. I find an incredible amount of healing and redemtion in celebrating new life. It helps me forgive myself a little more each time.

MindWyrm: You know the people who yell and point fingers are not as hurtful as the friends of mine who don't know about it, but are strongly anti-abortion. I have two close Catholic friends (both males, though I think that has less to do with it than their spiritual convictions) who I have discussed abortion rights with. And both have looked me in the eye and shared some pretty heartless ideas of what should happen to ANY WOMAN who's had an abortion. Ranging from taking away their right to EVER have a child through forced hysterectomies, to the biblically inspired "tie a rock around her and throw her in the ocean." And let me stress that they are both otherwise extremely compassionate, sensitive men who I believe are really trying to live their faith and who I respect deeply (even I don't agree with them.) But when it comes to abortion they throw compassion out the door. Not HAVING to answer to them doesn't make me feel better. Ironically both these guys are new dads and I planned baby showers for both of them and their wives that moved them both deeply... one of them even to the point of tears. Ahh... well, that's what Christ wants me to do anyway, right? Do good to those who abuse me. It's not always easy but it is easier than throwing my past in their faces I guess.

The Unseen One said...

You know me, and you know my position on such things, but also know that I am not disgusted with you in the least. We all sin. And while a bubble bath can't wash it away remember that the God already has.

I'm glad you learned from your experiences. I hope and pray that you will some day be able to forgive yourself.

It was very brave of you to post that.

Girl With An Alibi said...

Hidden One: I thought of you when I wrote this post. Because I could sense the pain in you when you wrote how your own mother did not have the option of aborting you pre-Roe. I thought, what a cool person you are and that you clearly add something good to the world by being in it. I was glad too that she didn't have that option. As much as I needed to write this post, I was hoping that it wouldn't hurt you in some way.

Thanks for your comments.

Brookelina said...

This was incredibly brave of you to post. I hope that you can let this go someday. You did what was best for you then - it's always important to follow your instincts. You don't know what might have happened if you had not had the abortion. Your boyfriend might have started physically abusing you. The stress could have been so much that you might have miscarried. A million different scenarios could have occurred.

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. Maybe the pregnancy saved your life by getting you away from him once and for all. To make you appreciate life and how good it really can be.

Foreverdad said...

CA, You are a brave soul in whom I have much respect. I do not believe in the right to choose. However, I only wish the best for your future. I know healing is a process and I know God knows your heart and cares deeply for you. While your child may not have shared this life, be comforted that he/she does live on. This life is but a spec in time and yours is paved with courage and grace. Don't know you but believe you'll make a magnificent mom. Here is a big hug from a dad Uhhhhhhhhhh!

Sheryl said...

I'm sorry. I just stumbled into this post.

I only wanted to say that you really never know what would have happened had you kept the child. It's entirely possible that your ex-boyfriend would have decided it was his right to do whatever he wanted to with the child once it was born. In that case, he might have been psychology abusive to the child as well. Farting in the kid's face. Or perhaps hurting the child to get back at you for leaving him.

Some people kidnap their offspring PURELY to hurt the other parent, so you can't assume it would just be a matter of taking the child off and being a single parent and living happily ever after.

I think you probably made a better decision than you realize you did.

The Unseen One said...

Thanks for the kind words. I've given that over to God and I only bring it up these days as an explaination as to why I am pro-life.

All I can say is don't try to rationalize it in your mind as to how bad it could have been. That only drags out the process and it will cause it to resurface again and again. Give it to God. You are a Christian, and you know that Christ paid for your sins on the cross. All of our sins are now His, so give it over.

To anyone else who finds themselves in that situation, I have two sets of friends who have been waiting years to adopt a baby. There are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of other couples in the same situation. As someone who was adopted (I was conceived pre-Roe v Wade), I can tell you that it is a much better choice. Just remember to fill out the concent to contact form if you want them to contact you when they are older. ;)

And your two friends who call themselves Christians need a basic lesson in forgiveness. Those kinds of attitudes really make me sick and give the rest of us a bad name.

John said...

Thank you for sharing, girl. Life is NOT black and white as some would want us to believe.

Just my perspective, you were a good mom to make such a hard decision and will be a good mom again. Truely strength come from adversity. And from the number of posts here, there is WAY too many friends (myself included) who are here for you to offer support and love.


Girl With An Alibi said...

Wow you guys! I'm really overwhelmed. Thank you all very much. It's great to know that no matter what people feel about abortion, that there are a lot of compassionate forgiving hearts out there.

Brooke: thanks for your kind words. Sarah's right you are a kind and wonderful person. :)

ForeverDad: You know I think I could actually feel that hug. I needed that!

Sheryl: Welcome and thank you. That was really sweet.

Hidden One: Thanks again. Don't worry I don't rationalize it one bit. Ironically, the first person I told was one of my best friends who is adopted. She was the key force in helping to get out of that relationship. God blesses you in the strangest of ways. We actually hope to adopt a child one day as well as have one of our own.

John: Thank you so much. I love all you guys too. You all really amaze me with your kindness.

Princess Steph said...

I've been mulling over what to say, hoping that the right words will come to me - your post made me cry with its brutal honesty, and there are no 'right' words to express how very sorry I am that someone like you has to carry around this guilt.

of course there are people who will disagree with what you chose to do, but in the end there is only one opinion that matters and your priest said it best. You are forgiven in God's eyes, surely that brings some comfort.

Your Michael is one lucky man....

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Matt said...

I'm one of the people who talk about this issue but have no idea what I'm really talking about. I've always been pro-choice, but in a very lazy, idiotic way, talking about things without truly considering the consequences. I really appreciate your post here because it helps me think more seriously about the consequences of my own words and positions. If I could act in my life with a fraction of the bravery you've just shown (in this post alone), then I know I'll be moving in the right direction.

Anyway, thanks again, this is a powerful post here.

loren said...

Hi girl with an alibi,

I thought this whole account was riveting. It reminds me of an abortion debate I once saw on television, in which people had been invited from all points of view. But there was one woman, not an 'expert' by any means, who really stole the show just by being herself. She'd had an abortion years ago, and her particular view was that no told her what to expect in the aftermath, when she had to live with her decision. Her voice was quiet but passionate, and every so-called expert, from every other view point, could only fall silent to her words. I think you're the same as her. It was brave to post this article, and I think your voice is the one people will respect.

Champaign Common Sense said...

You do not disgust me, you are a strong, tough person. Your experience is so sad, and it is sad that others share it. I have perhaps an unusual view. I am personally against abortion but I support a woman's right to choose. You were neither wrong nor right, you were you.

I am glad your eyes are opened about that guy. Run, don't walk, from guys like that. I just wish, if I could turn back the clock for you, that weeks, or days into that relationship, rather than months, had only passed.

I'm a guy. Married 25 years, 3 kids.

Emily said...

I'm happy to have come across your blog as it is very well written and more importantly, very honest.

It doesn't really matter what my opinion is on abortion or anyone else's. Whether or not people agree or disagree with your decisions, it is not their place to judge the choices you've made.

Judging others has always (and unfortunately probably always will be) one of my pet peeves with so many people who call themselves "Christians". No matter if we agree or disagree with someone's choices, it is not up to us to judge them - EVER.

It sounds like you have a lot of true Christians in your life. People that are able to help you forgive yourself and reassure you of your worth. From one short blog post even I can see there is a lot there.

gone said...

You are truly amazing.
Your heart is too big for this life and I can't wait to see what kind of angel's in heaven will become weed in your hair. When the day comes where we as believers, fellow bloggers, and fallible people of this world, will hug and sing and enjoy eternity...
right along side your baby.

You will get the chance to see your child, girl. And your child will be perfect and is perfect awaiting in heaven for your arms. And God will be there smiling. What a wonderful thought.
I cannot imagine how you must feel and I can only let you know that I will make a commitment of prayer to you and your regrets. Every day.

Sending you all the love and comfort a computer can hold.

Girl With An Alibi said...

Steph- Thanks and believe me I'm a lucky and blessed woman to have Michael in my life.

Anon- uh, okay... thanks. (I think)

loren: I really wish that more of us who have gone through it would speak up. But I can attest that that is easier said than done. I think people would be less inclined to make generalized statements about "the kinds of women" who do it if they realized how many woman they know who've had them.

Champagne: Thank you, I wish I'd gotten out sooner too. But I have to admit I became a much stronger person as a result. Well, that which does not kill us as they say...

Emily: I really am blessed, I have incredible people in my life. Whenever I'm feeling down about anything it seams that someone arrives to make me feel loved. And that includes all my blogging friends too.

Sarah- Thank you. Believe me the knowledge that my child is in heaven is a huge comfort to me. I think about that alot.

JJ said...

Before Roe vs. Wade, women who wanted a legal abortion had to go before a panel of male doctors and beg for their permission.

It was like Queen for a Day in Hell. Which lucky woman will humiliate herself enough to move on to the next round of punishment?

I fear the government that has that much power over any of its citizens.

Personally, I believe you chose the best option among many awful alternatives.

Truecraig said...

That was quite possibly the most introspective and yet totally objective self-description I have ever read. I am beside myself in awe. Honestly.

I'm not much of a cryer, but shit. This is an amazing display of well thought-out emotion. Absolutely brilliant, absolutely.

Girl With An Alibi said...

JJ: I can't even imagine having to stand in front of a panel like that. I hope that not what we're headed back to.

Craig: Thank you. Coming from a great writer like you I am very flattered. If only I could get my fictional writing up to that level.

Pink Lemonade Diva said...

Disgusted? How wrong -this is my first time reading you and you brought me to tears with this open, honest confession and I'm so glad that the people who matter to you most know the truth and support your decision. Isn't that what matters?

Pink Lemonade Diva said...

Oh, and, if you don't read it already, you may like this blog. She talks very candidly about her abortion.


(If I got it wrong, just google thename)