Bitterness does more harm

by S.

February 26, 2019

Bitterness does more harm to the vessel in which it is stored … than the vessel on which it is poured.



Why am I writing this?

Perhaps to help heal the bitterness, the anger and the rage I still feel and which very recently keeps making itself known. Things I’ve tried to lay to rest, to forgive.  Am still.  I’ve had two abortions. They are years past now, but like any loss, it can be readily called back. I am dealing now with never having children- a great regret- and one that is colored all the more by having had two abortions in my life.  They were the right choices.  That is very clear, but as expressed elsewhere in this important movement I deeply wish I had not been in the position to have to make them.  I wish I’d stood up for myself.  I wish I’d chose for myself and responsibility instead of the pleasure of the moment or the guys- I wish I hadn’t been taken in so readily by ‘what I was supposed to be- sexy, smart, together- the whole ‘bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan’ lunacy of 90’s feminism.  I wish this so that I wouldn’t have gotten myself into these choices.   I wish I’d understood better that men will not look after you when it comes to this kind of stuff. You have to do that yourself.

My first abortion occurred in my mid-20s. in the 90’s- Well enough to know better, struggling with the birth control issue and the condom use.  I was still stupid enough to put my partner before me and in a split second- it all changed.  We weren’t living together.  I had in fact moved back home after a job change .  My partner lived in the city. He held me as I cried the news that I was pregnant.  Weeping in fear, knowing it was not the right time, knowing I couldn’t have a child then.  We were engaged but I struggled in doubt over a future he wanted for himself but that didn’t mesh with dreams of my own.  I remember having to face the consequences of telling my mother and father because of this, whereas my partner never faced them. He did not even accompany me to the clinic where the cluster of protesters was mercifully small.  One called to my mother (bless her) – who took m e- and said ‘You don’t have to go with that woman’ to me. I kept my head down.  I wept as they put me under. Threw up when I woke.  Mom and I drove home in silence- but that was me, not her.  I was so full of emotion and pain I didn’t know how to express it.  Numb. I believe my partner and I talked about it in subsequent months and remember clearly one time he shook his head and the statement ‘it’s just a few cells’- said I think in exasperation about why I struggled.  It was as if it couldn’t be talked about after that. I’d never thought about abortion before this. Then it was all I could think about. I bought him a playstation- in part because I couldn’t pretend and wanted him occupied. I remember anger later with him, fury much later… so much later.  That he hadn’t accompanied me to the clinic, nor cared for me afterwards, nor ever faced my parents.  To this day I don’t know why I hadn’t demanded that care, nor why he didn’t try at all to give it.  It took me several years more to leave that relationship.

My second abortion was even dumber.  I hadn’t learned the lesson of the first-that only I was going to be responsible. My dumb people pleasing urge.  So when my partner could not have sex with a condom what did I do?  Yep- you bet.  Luckily this one was easier in the sense that it was medical, no clinic, no nausea from being put under, no protesters-  just a forced look at an ultrasound-(state requirements) the questions mandatory about ‘are you sure’ and ‘did you consider other options’. This partner stayed with me that night did his best to be solicitous.  I could not face what had taken years to walk myself out of before- so I tried to pretend it hadn’t happened. We’d only been together a few months, didn’t know each other- so we didn’t talk about it. Ultimately we didn’t last but as before it was a few years before we decided we couldn’t make it work.

Fast forward years- married much later in life- running out of time to have kids.Trying and failing due to circumstance to do so.  Being told there are age limits on any alternatives where I am, IVF too expensive.  Also due to my age, insurance would not cover anything.  Between 10 and 40,000 minimum for anything-  plus an international trip to do it legally. Ran the odds of success-combined with circumstance- New job, living in a foreign country- different rules.  A older male obstetrician telling me my early menopause was ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ as I tried to discuss what options I might have available to me.

I am bitter as I see the pictures of their kids- these old partners of mine. They were never called sluts online or in person. They never seemed to suffer any consequences, at least to my knowledge. I keep my distance because I don’t want my anger and bitterness to infect them- I prefer to wish them well and be glad for them. But god.  Oh god.  I would just appreciate an apology, an acknowledgement- freely given of what the abortions wrought to my self-identity, their role in it, how they behaved, and what they should have been -which was much better men than they were. I hope they are better men now and think of their wives more than themselves.  Just as I also should have been a better woman to myself and for myself back then.  Not because this was a sin, not because I’m going to burn in some special hell, and not because these weren’t smart and responsible choices.  They were.  Both of them.  But because I was so eager to please and put myself in this situation twice.

I am not so eager to please anymore.  I am striving to work myself out of bitterness- because it is harmful- all this shame.  The rhetoric.  The anti-choicers and the cruelty they hurl. The fact that we still have to debate this right and protect it.  Driving down a sunny field somewhere and suddenly a billboard of dead baby parts with the words murder and baby-killer hurling at you at 40 mph- realizing- that billboard- that one you just passed- it was talking about you.This is stigma, and this is what it’s like to have to live with it.

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