Submitted by: G
Nearly a year out from my abortion and I have cycled through many emotions: relief, sadness, guilt, fear, anger, shame, and sometimes peace.
I am 26, in a humanities grad program with no savings, and habits of self-neglect. I realize now that I could have raised my baby, though it would not have been easy. After spending time with my parents during quarantine, I realize why people want children. I am an only child, raised in a house with poor emotional boundaries. I felt my parents pain from a young age, but I have also felt their love and joy.
As a child I felt that my life was not my own, but that of my parents. I was alive to help them – sometimes in healthy ways, like chores and laughter, but other times in very unhealthy ways, like feeling very responsible for their happiness. I know that a child would have meant the world to them, just as I brightened their world, so too would a grandchild have brightened their lives.
I realize that I have a support system full of SO many people who could have helped me raise my baby – even if the father did not stay in the picture. But my life is my own, not the life of my parents, and not the life of my child. I look at social media, and I see young people, the future generations posting against the injustices of the world, protesting against racism and hatred, and a pang of guilt washes over me because I worry of who I deprived the world from. Who would the baby grow up to be?
I know that this abortion was a form of suicide for myself. As a child, I learned unhealthy ways to take out my boredom and frustration on myself by self-harming. In the last years, I realize that these self-harming behaviors had bled into my everyday life, whether through professional self-sabotage, interpersonal conflicts, constant negative thoughts and feelings. I had a constant need to punish and berate myself.
By the time I became pregnant I had been engaging in these behaviors so routinely, I was ashamed of my own wants and needs. When I found out I was pregnant I knew it all had to stop. I could not bring another person into the dysfunctional inner world I created for myself and those closest to me. I did not harm others, but I continuously refused to choose myself or my own happiness. I was with a partner who was amazing, loving, intelligent, and full of life but not considerate of me or my body. I acted out of fear that the pregnancy was his way of using me to gain residence into the US. But I also acted out of a primal need to put myself first. My body, which was on anti-depressants and stimulant medication for the first time, would have to become “clean” in order to sustain the growing life inside me. My mind, which was polluted with negative thoughts, depression and anxiety, would have to do a 180 in 9 months in order to be ready to nurture the baby emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It all felt very black and white. And I made my decision.
I realize now that I was not putting myself first, I was putting my fears first. But now that this irreparable action has been taken, where do I go from here? This was like suicide of part of my soul. This was a wakeup call to me. While I remain on this planet, my job is to nurture myself. If I had given myself the space, love, compassion, and courage when I needed it I would not have taken that decision. The lack of love, courage, and compassion I had for myself then was only a continuation of a pattern that I learned early as a child. If I don’t want to pass this to my children, I will have to work to find new patterns of living by choosing myself everyday.
I don’t believe a life filled with shame and guilt is not what I was meant for. I made a painful decision, but that does not excuse me from continuing to live. I can never “make it up” to anyone – my baby, my ex, my God, my family, or myself. But I can learn from this.
“The purpose of my life is not to live in shame for the next decade or decades, but it’s, how can I take this experience and turn it into empathy for other people?” This is another human experience that we can each learn from, heal through, and use to understand each other better.
I will still have nights where I deeply regret my choice. I will still have nights where I remember the nausea and constant disappointment in myself I felt during my pregnancy that led me to that choice. But come morning, I must always try to be thankful that I didn’t hurt myself or anyone around me further, recognizing and seizing the opportunities that this choice has offered me. Thank you to all of you who have shared your stories. I feel seen and understood, and I hope my story can bring you some peace.