I used to only talk about my abortion with very close friends, my sisters (only when I found out one of them had had an abortion too), or people my friends knew who needed abortions and wanted someone to talk to. I was ashamed that I was a statistic: pregnant in college, too young to be a mom, too selfish. I told my boyfriends, when we would talk about accidental pregnancies, “You only get one [abortion]. There are no do-overs. I used mine already.”
For years, I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t talk about it until I did, and then never without crying. I wasn’t crying over the loss, though I felt that too. I would have an 8 year old. His birthday (I was convinced I was pregnant with a boy) would be in late-October or November. His missed birthday is a milestone I’ll never forget I didn’t have. For years though, I cried because I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want my friends, coworkers, acquaintances, or family members to look at me differently. I felt that while my abortion was right for me, it wasn’t right for the people in my life to know about it.
Then I found the Abortiongang. I felt compelled to write about my experience. Writing was easy because I could be nameless, faceless, totally anonymous if I chose to be. But it was a step. I decided to use my first name to sign my posts. Another step. I met Steph, and Shelby, and some of the other bloggers in person. I found a community of women braver than me. Every day Steph reads threats of violence towards herself, towards us, towards women in our feminist community, towards women of every shape, color and identity. I don’t know how she does it. But Kaitlyn, and Sophia, and Nicole, and Peggy, and everyone who currently writes or has ever written for us, and especially Shelby and Steph, inspired me to be more forthcoming.
I started doing little things, like talking about abortion with my close female colleagues. More of us have had abortions than I thought would be possible. I attended rallies and abortion fund-raising events. This process took over two years.
Now, nine years after my abortion, after three years of writing for the blog, I finally talk openly, to strangers, to acquaintances, about my abortion.
Inevitably, when meeting someone new, my dog will come up in conversation. Coincidentally, he’s nearly 8 years old. Everyone is surprised that I got a dog in college; so much responsibility! Now, instead of shying away from explaining how and why I got him, I start my story with “so after I had an abortion in college, I wanted to get a dog.” Bailey is a huge part of my abortion story because he helped me heal. He’s also a great way to turn what could be a conversation that feels defensive and shameful for me into a positive, happy, constructive conversation.
Inevitably, some people will look at my differently when I mention my abortion. My hope though, in sharing my story so casually and with love, is that the people who are listening will reevaluate their opinions on abortion, the people who get abortions, and the people they think abortion-havers become. It’s also a huge relief for me that I don’t have to keep hiding. I think I never needed to hide, and I hope that my sharing will help others share casually and happily too.