Sigh…here we go…
My first abortion was when I was an 18 year-old college freshman. I was with a boy that had had a crush on me since we were in junior high. He was nervous, I was uninterested, it was awkward, it lasted less than five minutes and the condom broke.
I found out when I suddenly became nauseous during one of my classes, and realized it had been awhile since my last period. When the test read “positive,” I was devastated because it felt like everything I was working for to finally have a better life was in jeopardy. I began to think of all the trauma I’d previously endured: The sexual abuse by my cousin when I was four, by my neighbor when I was eight, and by the cousin of a school friend — who my father had taken under his wing because he and his brothers were “at-risk” — when I was ten. Then I cursed my parents and god for their collective lack of protection, and told my adopted mom — a devout christian whose first instinct was to tell me I had to have it — that I was either having an abortion or I was going to kill myself. Once she got on the page, she called my father, who was informed in a single day that his daughter was pregnant, previously abused by multiple boys he trusted and suicidal.
My relationship with my father changed exponentially that day. From then on, we were no longer estranged, although it would take years to repair the damage.
The second time I had an abortion, I was a 20 year-old junior still living at home, and stupidly relented when he protested the use of a condom because “it doesn’t feel the same.” I was still in my people-pleasing phase, and still operated in relationships with a mix of fear and desperation that made me less inclined to set boundaries or factor my own wellbeing and protection. So that night I got pregnant…and chlamydia. I was so riddled with shame I only shared the ordeal with my two closest sister-girlfriends, who helped me take care of both without me ever telling my family (at the time).
The third and final abortion I had was when I was 27 years old and living with a roommate who nearly got us evicted for submitting bounced checks for her portion of the rent. The guy had already been in the proverbial doghouse for trying to coerce me into having a threesome with another girl that also didn’t get previous notice of his plan or give consent.
That last word is important.
After not speaking for months, and definitely because I was single and craving human contact, I agreed to meet with him, and in the midst of “doing the deed”…he removed the condom without my knowledge or…here’s that word again…consent. This time I considered keeping it because I felt guilty going through it again, but he insisted on terminating it and paying for it. I bled all over his bedsheets, ran into him a year later one morning on my way to work when he shouted my name on a crowded subway train, and years later discovered he was friends with one of my cousins on Facebook when we both responded to one of her posts.
It took nearly two decades before I found out there was a name for what he did. It’s called “stealthing,” and it’s a form of sexual assault. I couldn’t catch a break. I’ve only just started telling people that story because it’s my truth and it’s a fucking horrifying cautionary tale.
But back to the subject at hand.
In a perfect word, I never would’ve had them. It was always my intention to never bring a child into the world if I wasn’t married, and the only exception would be if I were rich and able to give that child everything my parents didn’t give me. Those were the only conditions.
I thanked god for every year of the nearly six I spent with a man who physically, emotionally and financially broke me, that mercifully didn’t result in carrying his child. Even though by then I didn’t believe god existed.
Years later I would take my chances again with birth control, after a disastrous first attempt following my first pregnancy led to a hormonal imbalance that resulted in a epic meltdown in a math class. It didn’t prevent me from being assaulted by a partner again, but it did put my mind slightly at ease knowing I wouldn’t have a physical human reminder of that trauma calling me “mom” and expecting me to sacrifice everything to keep them from the same fates.
In the years that I’ve been single and abstinent, I’ve taken it mostly because I still fear being raped again.
And not just by some rando on the street.
Not too long ago, a former colleague joked about slipping me a “roofie.” And although he was reprimanded in real time by our “boss,” that same boss made comments about my breasts, told me once he’d “gotten me a big, Black, African man” (referring to an actor invited to one of our events), and literally said to me after I was pushed out of my job full-time and shifted to a contract role making significantly less money “If you’d just done what we wanted you to do, eventually we would’ve let you do what you wanted.” (He’s since been fired for whatever other nonsense he’s done.)
I had to turn down a job offer because the contract had a clause that said I would have no legal recourse if I were to be physically, mentally and/or emotionally harmed while on the job. I was once told by a coworker I had “child bearing hips.” I was once stalked by a former coworker I went on one date with after I’d gone to work for another company. After telling him I wasn’t interested in another date, he called my house to the point where my family went from screaming at him to stop calling to disconnecting the phone, and then waited outside the front of my office building for seven hours — prompting security to escort me through a private entrance for months after.
I’ve had to rebuild my life and shake off these things…Every. Single. Time.
But I can never fully do that, when time and again, the world…and especially the fucking country I was born in…shows me and the millions of other people who’ve been through their own traumas…that we just aren’t protected. Insisting we acquiesce to the needs, desires and whims of men (and women who enable them) who wish to break us for their pleasure. Because their repressive beliefs dictate they have complete control over everyone and everything. No matter what and who says they don’t.
The only thing I hate more than having experienced the things I have in this lifetime…is the constant trigger of knowing there are people actively making sure I and countless others never have the peace of confidently knowing it can’t and won’t happen again.
With that, it goes without saying that right now I just wanna burn everything to the ground…and rise like a phoenix from the ashes in a world where I can just breathe easy. A world where Clarence Thomas and his seditious wife are serving jail time, instead of him serving on the bench of the highest court in the land.
A world where I can afford to be an ex-pat and live happily ever after.