Two generations of abortion

by Anonymous

May 31, 2022

I was 21 when I had an abortion. My parents don’t know. My friends don’t know. All these years, I still believe now what I believed then: The story, like my body, is only mine.

My daughters, however, now know that when I was in college, I met a guy who was about to graduate. He was a year ahead of me, charming, a little on the wild side. I’d just experienced the ugly breakup of my first serious relationship, and this Big City Boy offered home-cooked lobster at his ratty college apartment, breezy parties, no-strings fun. I’d always been careful about birth control, getting my pills refilled cheap at the college pharmacy, but I ditched them after the breakup. I was a full-time student with a full-time job; why would I need them anymore?

We used protection. And yet, I found out I was pregnant right after he’d settled back into his childhood bedroom for the summer. He had no job, no savings, no plans to get his first professional job any time soon.

I told him when he came back a few weekends later. In the middle of the night as he slung an arm around me for comfort, I’ll never forget what he said: “Well, I don’t know how you feel about abortion, but…”

My tears were of relief and only relief. Turns out, he wasn’t the man for me, but he was the man I needed at that time. He fully supported my decision, went to the clinic with me and was waiting outside when I came out. At the time, you had to go in alone. And when I puked on the sidewalk next to his dad’s sports car, he got me napkins and water, then took me to that childhood bed and tucked me in.

I didn’t tell anyone. Some of it was my own shame; I didn’t know anyone else who’d had an abortion, and I felt like shit under my shoes when I thought about it. But I knew no matter how rotten I felt about myself sometimes that the decision had been right. I still know that.

I have two daughters, both older now than I was then. As they were growing up, I confided in my husband and pondered whether they should know. I don’t know if I ever would’ve told them. Turns out, it didn’t matter what I thought.

My now ex-husband told them soon after we divorced. Without my consent. Without my input. Without my choice. And he proved without a doubt that I’d been right to lock the words “I had an abortion” behind a door I never intended to open.

My abortion became a weapon he wielded like a filthy secret he’d dug up from the grave. He wanted my daughters to be ashamed of their mother. He wanted to prove that I wasn’t a good person. He drove a dagger into the wound that he knew would hurt the most.

My girls were smarter than that. They’d been out in the world, known people who’d had abortions and were sexually active themselves. They got it. And when my youngest became pregnant last year and started thinking of ways to kill herself because she had to stop taking her medication for depression, she made the same decision I had. Despite her immature boyfriend and his horrible sister who tried to guilt-trip her. Despite her own yearning to be a mother. She knew she wasn’t in the mindset to be a responsible parent. That she had a choice. That I would support her.  But some things don’t change. People knew she was pregnant, but she’s uncomfortable telling most she had an abortion. She confided in her best friend, but not her sister. For most of the world, she goes with miscarriage. No one judges that. I understand.

With everything that’s happening around abortion in this country – never did I think I’d see this type of oppression in the U.S. – I’ve wanted to speak out so many times. And yet this is the first time I’ve written about my experience. I’m not ashamed. But I’m also not ready to put my name on it, in my small town where I grew up and still live, with parents I’ve tried so hard to make proud. But I will be someday.

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