December 18th

by KED

January 5, 2022

Content Warning: rape

My mother and I were sitting in our ‘84 Volvo, waiting to pick-up my baby brother from school when she decided it was time to have the “Sex Talk”. I was 13 years old and quite oblivious to anything sex related. After she quickly shared a high-level summary of the physical act of sex, she shifted her focus on abstinence. Hearing her speech on waiting until marriage did not surprise me as I was raised Catholic, so it was a constant theme. But what she shared next took me by surprise. My mother became visibly emotional as she told me that she had sex before she met my father, and she ended up having an abortion due to an accidental pregnancy with a man she was not serious with. Everyday she prays to God to have mercy on her soul, as abortion is considered a mortal sin in the Catholic church. The guilt and pain she was still feeling, roughly 15 years later, was suffocating. Her intent was clearly to stoke fear on pre-marital sex and abortion, but I remember feeling slightly relieved to know there was a safe solution available, should I ever get into trouble. I subconsciously had a premonition.

Fast-forward to seven years later. I am now a 20-something college student, dating a 20-something southern frat boy, Chad*. Chad* is equal parts life-of-the-party and equal parts a misogynistic-racist-sociopath. Why would I be with such a person, you ask? Well prior to meeting Chad*, I was a victim of sexual assault. And at that time in my life, I only blamed myself. I was ashamed and disgusted and fell into a deep, dark hole of self loathing. I hated myself and I did not think I was worthy of love. So when I met Chad*, and he “loved” me, I accepted his “love” including all of its ugliness and abuse.

Around Thanksgiving time, my period was late. I had some light spotting, which confused things for me until my best friend bought me a pregnancy test. I took them both, and both were positive. I felt a sense of deja-vu from my 13-year-old “Sex Talk”, and I knew I had to get an abortion. The thought of being stuck or connected to Chad* for the rest of my life made me panic. I was not sure I would survive or if I did, what that state of “survival” would look like. I knew if I wanted a child, which I did not, I would not want them to grow up with a father like him. And I knew if I wanted a child, I would not be able to be a suitable mother, with a partner like him.

Chad* was furious that I got pregnant. And he was even more furious that I wanted an abortion. We fought, cried and he shared threats with me on damnation and hellfire. He refused to come to the clinic or to provide any financial support. If abortion was my final decision, then I was on my own.

In 2003, abortion was still taboo, especially in the South. Luckily, the sorority rumor mill provided a helpful tip that one of the older girls in my house had an abortion. She gave me advice, shared the clinic’s information and was of constant support throughout my experience. My best friend loaned me the money needed for the procedure and took me to my appointments, she was my rock. When I look back, I am not sure what I would have done without her. I am not sure what my life would look like today, without her standing by my side.

After my abortion, my relationship with Chad* only got worse. He forced me to have sex with him against doctor’s orders, before I had properly healed, because he needed me to show him I was sorry. He needed me to comfort him. Anytime we would argue or fight, which was even more constant, he would hold my abortion over my head. We finally broke up months later, and I awoke one morning to signs posted all over the house calling me a “Baby Killer” by name.

December 18th will mark eighteen years since my abortion. Every year, a week before Christmas, I feel the gravity of the decision I made for myself and I feel grief for what I endured. But every year, and every day, I feel an immense abundance of gratitude for my support system and the options that were available to me, at that time in my life, that allowed me to safely protect myself, my body and my life. My decision to abort my pregnancy came from a place of self-love that I was able to find in the darkest of times.

Every woman who shared their story including my mother, albeit with slightly different intentions, I am forever indebted to as I would not know of this life I have today, without their courage and without their words.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!