In the middle of the woods

by Julia

March 28, 2023

When I was 23, I had an abortion. I was states away from home, away from my partner, and living in the middle of the woods. I never thought I would be in such a position but I was.

At the time I was in my first relationship, one I would eventually realize was an unhealthy one. I did a lot of things I didn’t want to do, rushed into things I wasn’t ready for. I wasn’t in the best mental health state. Mixing anxiety and depression with an abusive relationship gave me an uncomfortable and unpleasant time.

I knew I was pregnant. I knew because I felt different even before we found out the condom broke. I knew I couldn’t keep it. I knew I wasn’t ready to be a parent, let alone my partner being one. As much as I tried to envision that possibility it just wouldn’t work. One morning I got up early, took a test, cried, and went to work. I called him later as he no longer lived nearby. During a gloomy lunch break I called a place in Seattle and booked an appointment weeks away. Much of that summer is a haze to me. I was confused. I was lonely. A while passed. Eventually I found myself riding shotgun in a car packed with his family, traveling West. I was fighting off carsickness only he and I knew the true cause of.

The next day, he dropped me off. It was over in a few hours. The nurse, I wish I remembered her name, was the kindest human and treated me with such care. The whole time I was confused and dazed but she was there for me. I knew I had to do it. I had to do it for myself.

I woke up, was led into another room, and was given a juice box. I began to cry. One of the nurses consoled me and told me crying was normal. I told her I wasn’t sure why I was crying. I wasn’t sad. I did feel disoriented, a little foggy. But I felt relieved. I had a chance to be myself again. I finished the apple juice and waited. My ride was late and I was the last one there that day. He picked me up and we left.

That night he went out with his friends. I stayed in bed, watched Big Hero 6, and ate a tub of chocolate frosting.

The next day, we went to his family’s beach house. I watched more movies – American Psycho, 9 to 5 – watched a few baseball games, and stared out at the water. I sent an email to a college geology professor. I called a college roommate. I didn’t tell anyone what happened. It helped being able to talk to someone about something. He was around a bit but made himself busy by visiting friends.

A few days later, I returned East. I got off the bus and walked down the road, away from the friends and strangers lining the street. They had no idea what had happened and what I was going through. Only he, I, and the people at the clinic knew. I walked until, for the first time in months, I felt alone. I sat by the river and cried.

It would be almost a year to the day before I shared my experience with anyone. I shared it with that roommate I called the year before, at a beach I had visited while in college when I needed comfort. By then, I had broken up with him and realized that I had been in an abusive relationship.

I had worked my way through poetry books and the book from Shout Your Abortion. They helped me realize that when I had done was powerful. Having that abortion was ultimately the first step in taking myself back.

It led me to who I am today, where I am today. It has led me to people who have shown me what love truly is, what support truly is, and the good that being vulnerable can bring. It has shown me what sticking up for yourself is worth. I am happy I made the decision I did and that I have the courage to share it, to shout it with you all today.

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