Respect, strength and courage

2 Apr

“Life’s most difficult choices don’t always have easy answers. There are no free passes, no tap outs, and no do-overs. One thing’s for sure, the answers you’re looking for start with asking the tough questions. And you’re stronger than you think you are.” – From DifficultChoices.org

Though powerful, a quick dig into DifficultChoices.org reveals itself to be the work of a Colorado Springs based Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC).  The twist is it is couched as a forum for young people to share their reproductive health stories.  Now, the stories posted may indeed be real, but they most certainly don’t capture the scope of a young perople’s experiences, as in the land of CPC sponsored  adolescent abortion stories, no one actually has an abortion.

The site frames the stories through labels of respect, strength, or courage.  It’s not often such empowered language is used in respect to young people’s reproductive decisionmaking.  I liked it so much I thought that what they really needed was to expand the vision to the full true scope, including the respect, strength and courage it takes to have an abortion.  As such, I reached out to the Women’s Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder to see if they would put me in-touch with any young people willing to share their abortion stories, so that Colorado could be more adequately represented. Below are two abortion stories written by folks from Colorado who graciously shared a small part of themselves with us.  One older, one younger, both so incredibly honest and brave, perhaps Difficult Choices would like to recognize their strength and courage and add these stories to their website?

Strength

Dear Baby,

This is the week I gave you up. It’s been two years. You would have been a year and four months old. You would have been walking. You might even be calling me “Mom”. But Baby, as much as I yearn for those memories, I am so glad that I don’t have them. Rather I will have the memory of deciding to apply to the London School of Economics. Baby, if you had been here, I don’t think graduate school would have even crossed my mind. I probably would not be graduating in May. Yes, it is selfish to have let you go, but as I have told you many times, I have all the right to be selfish. If not now, when?

I am listening to the song that reminds me of you. “Las Simples Cosas” by Martirio. The singer says that one always says goodbye without much feeling to simple things. I want you to know that it hurt me to let you go. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life. This year I decided to stop loving who would have been your father. That was harder. Baby, he would have loved you so much. He is a great man. Unfortunately, he was not a great man to me. I always think of what could have been if you had been here. Maybe he wouldn’t have betrayed me like he did. Maybe he would have hurt me even more. I’m afraid he has forgotten about you. But that’s ok. You’ll always have me. I will always talk to you, even when I start to have…I guess, real children. You will hold a special place in my heart forever.

On Friday, I am going up to the mountains, where we buried what could have been. It’s beautiful and Orion is always so spectacular up there. I’ve told you before, but I think that’s where I fell in love with him. Last year, we went up there. We weren’t together, yet he took me up there, held me while I cried for you. I am so sorry Baby. I wish life had been different. I wish I could have been strong enough to have carried you and raised you. But Baby, you are in a wonderful place now. You are so much better there than here.

Baby, my world is crumbling around me. I feel so alone. I wouldn’t have wanted you to see me this way. I am trying so hard to keep it all together Baby. And it kills me to say this, but because you aren’t here I know I will be able to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Because you aren’t here, I have the courage and strength to strive for more. Because you aren’t here, I will overcome.

I let go of you, and you will never know how much pain that caused me. Be assured that I will never forget you. I keep telling myself that I never loved you, but a bit of me did. I loved you enough to let you go. You were not a simple thing Baby, no you made me love life more, you allowed me to choose what I wanted and respect who I am, you gave me the power to see how valuable I am. I hope you understand that you gave me so much more than I lost. Baby, do me a favor, look at the star he gave me, the one left of Orion’s belt and ask it to twinkle a little brighter on Friday. Baby, I hope you are happy up there with all those magnificent lights and I hope one day you can forgive me. Know that instead of giving you life, I gave you an eternity up in the skies.

Courage

My name is Katherine and I am 41 years old. A year and a half ago, newly married, I had an abortion. It would have been a shot gun wedding, had I known I was pregnant, but because I was unaware it was a simple elopement in a junkyard.

I believe strongly in adoption and my first husband had a vasectomy during a time when I was angered by life and by myself. The idea of creating more children angered me. Many children of divorce don’t want the burden of creating a healthy outcome. But what is healthy? I was not ashamed of my abortion nor do I now feel the need to keep it private, a dirty secret. Let us call out the stigma that damages women in an irrevocable way.

I was 10 weeks pregnant when I was finally able to make it to the clinic. My breasts were magnificent, my belly plump and my alcohol consumption continued at a steady pace, an attempt at killing whatever joy could have come from this growing baby. My husband and I were married just four months after meeting, and along with my husband came a lovely 7 year old boy. Knowing that we were going to be caring for this child with the help of his mother for the rest our lives is the harsh reality we live with everyday. My stepson’s autism paired with our cynicism left no room for a new child, and I had accepted this.

I never wanted to be 40 and pregnant. However, as a caregiver of children, I was saddened to miss this opportunity to have my own child because in the face of a fucked up world there stares back the faces of justice. I often thought of my mother, long deceased and yet I ached for her and I to care for this baby together.

On the day of the procedure, I cried uncontrollably because my husband could not be there to support me. He had to care for his son at a time when no one else could be there, and so I pushed away everyone’s offers to take his place and went alone. I chose to rely on memories, the stories of close friends rowing the same boat, and the gracious, utterly kind women at the clinic.

What I had needed most was to cease being pregnant and return to my life again. As I write this, the beautiful 4 month old baby girl of my dearest friend plays next to me. I held her legs during the birth and have started working as her child’s caregiver giving her much needed support and friendship at a wonderful and challenging time in her life. This child makes me calm and insanely happy.

As women, it can still feel as if we are alone, certainly we are still victimized and subjugated, but as women we are fierce and capable as well. I do not shy away from the choice I made to be a mother to others peoples children, to help mother my stepson and to now love and help care for the child next to me. I fight everyday to be as strong as my mother and to keep strong the women in my life through honesty and compassion. And I am fortunate to have men in my life who give me hope and who fight for us, for a healthy future. Erasing the stigma of abortion or any of the choices we make as women is a healthy beginning.

______________________________

Clearly evidenced from these powerful stories, emotional resilience among people who have abortions is no small feat. In fact, I would go so far to say that these women display respect AND courage AND strength.

One Response to “Respect, strength and courage”

  1. odile April 3, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    wow. there is a stark difference between the stories at difficultchoices.org and the ones you posted, Nicole. Thanks for pointing it out so well.

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