Trigger warning: abortion
People in the United States really romanticize this 20’s-vagabond lifestyle. They really want you to believe that moving around and “seeing the world” is going to change your life for the better. They think it really benefits young people to not be in one place for longer than 2 years. To me, this is telling of how much masculinity, classism, and consumerism is rooted in “American” culture (quotation marks used intentionally to question the authenticity of what we consider to be “American”). It’s easy to move around when you’ve been socialized to deny your own feelings and thereby not develop an emotional connection to anyone or anything. It’s easy to move around when you have money. It’s easy to move around when you’re bombarded with images that other people’s cultures and lifestyles are consumable, and consumption is “good for the economy”, therefore the world is one giant meal or conquest after another.
About 2 months ago, I got an abortion. The people I went to at the clinic gave me a lot of literature that said most women feel relief after they go through with the procedure. In “rare cases”, some women feel deeper, more distressful emotions. This might be because they have pre-existing mental health conditions.
This was all they told me.
I went through with the procedure and waited to feel relief. I waited for days, which turned to weeks and then a month. I felt nothing. I threw people out of my life and dragged other people into it. I felt no remorse. My mother forced me to go back to graduate school. I have been here ever since, going through the motions and pretending that I give a fuck.
Still, I felt nothing.
Finally last night, I was watching an episode of a popular television show. It was the one where we find out the dead girl was 6 weeks pregnant.
That was how far along I was when I ended the pregnancy. I took out some paper and started writing all these thoughts, the same ones I have been writing in my journal for weeks. I wrote about the baby.
I went to Google and, out of curiosity, typed in “abortion support groups”. The first page to pop up was the Project Rachel page. I clicked through the website and found this page that really surprised me. I have been raised Hindu and pro-choice all my life, yet this organization founded by Catholics and very pro-life knew my heart better than anyone I have talked to in the past month.
And I was filled with a rage and sadness and confusion. I understand now that my gut really is the only thing worth listening to. I remember feeling, while I was pregnant, that if this society actually gave a shit about women, every pregnancy would be celebrated because the ability to give life is precious. And that’s basically what the Project Rachel page said, in a somewhat roundabout way. This quote from the website brought me to tears:
Many people close to a women in a crisis pregnancy don’t feel comfortable with the decision to abort, but they don’t know what to say. They want to be supportive and non-judgmental, so they say something like, ‘You’re really in a bad situation and I’ll support whatever you decide.’ The helpful response, the right response should be, ‘Don’t have an abortion. I will not abandon you. Together we will find a way for you to have your baby.’
On some rational level, I know it’s not true. Pregnancy is not some fairy tale, and we don’t live in a society where a community would come together just to help out a pregnant woman. I know I don’t have the money to raise a child, and it’s not fair of me to put that burden on my parents. I know that baby would not have had a father. And even if it did, I’m not sure I would want that father to be around so much.
But it is not reason that rules my thoughts right now. It is grief. And in the depths of my heart, I wanted my baby. I apologized to her every day for 6 weeks. I told her I was sorry that I could not be her mother. I told her I was sorry for abandoning her in this way.
In the end, though, she is gone. I’m supposed to just get on with life. I try not to tell people about the abortion. The few people I have told have no idea what to say other than “I’m sorry”. They continue to act the way they always have around me, to treat me like there’s nothing wrong with me. They fall unimaginably short.
I’m supposed to just believe that there’s some other “time and place” for this to happen. Some situation where there is some man who will be a husband or whatever. Some situation where I can afford a real living space and diapers. Some situation where I can afford stuff like prenatal pills.
In that sense, I guess I made the right decision. The one where I can still survive in this world. The one where it is more acceptable to be a single woman than a single, unmarried mother of a child.
There is no doubt in my mind, though, that the world was not built for women. Not for women, not love, not community, not happiness. Not for children. Not for growth.
And the sad truth is, I don’t want to fall in love any more. I hate that I am still able to. I hate that I can give something as precious as love to adults who don’t deserve it instead of to my child who will never be born.
I keep myself busy by applying to jobs in places where I think maybe, just maybe, I can put down roots and stay for a long time. I pray that I can build a robust community. I pray that I will not be so alone because I cannot continue with this 20’s-vagabond lifestyle. I have had my fill. I need elders and youngers and good people to come back to me. I need to be in a place long enough to know its secrets.
I need to mourn my child.