Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Story So Far

My name is Baby Girl Williams/Hernandez. That’s the name that appears on the previously public California Birth Index, reflecting my original birth certificate. Actually, there are 2 separate entries for me; Baby Girl Williams AND Baby Girl Hernandez. The search angels that have helped me with this are all assuming they’re the same because the coincidence of another female child born in Sacramento County at exactly the same time and placed for adoption is slim to none.

So, I go off an assumption that’s who I am. The odds are pretty good, in my favor, so to speak, that those ARE the names of my birth/first parents, but you must admit that trying to search based solely off of an assumption is just a bit scary. However, as the odds are in my favor, that’s the assumption that I have to go off of because if I don’t, then there’s really no search at all.

I’ve also been known as Margot; the name my foster parents called me during my brief, three week stay in their home. But that’s a detail for further on in the story.

The name that my adoptive parents gave to me is Dana Marie Lowrey (my middle name would always be Marie, but my mother has told me that she wanted to call me Paige; however, my brother and father kept calling me Dana. Guess it stuck). I’ve always known I’m adopted. I can’t recall a time I didn’t know. I’m grateful to my parents for never trying to hide that fact from me. I don’t know why they chose to tell me, but I don’t think that really matters. They did and that’s what counts. I’ve known too many adoptees that have discovered the fact of their adoption late in life, and the sense of betrayal leaves an indelible mark upon them that nothing can erase.

I grew up in the Greater Sacramento area in California, and at least on the surface I had a good upbringing. Money was never a problem, and although I didn’t have the latest designer jeans, I was always well fed and clothed. My parents loved me. I knew that. But I’m not sure that they ever really understood me, as I’m not sure they understand me still. I don’t know if that’s because there was a more significant gap in age between me and them, or if it was because I wasn’t biologically their child; most likely a combination of both and more, since we are more than just the sum of our parts.

Underneath was where the turmoil lay. I had a significant lack of self confidence, and still struggle with it to this day. My parents separated when I was 3 ½. My brother and I went with my mother to live at her parent’s house for one summer in a small town north of Palm Springs called Yucca Valley. When it became apparent that my brother was too much for my mother to handle, he went to live with my father. After that summer, my mother moved us to the city of Orange. We lived there while my mother received her real estate license. During this time I recall visiting my father on at least one occasion. I recall the day care my mother had for me. I even recall the view out of my bedroom window and generally what the apartment looked like. What I don’t recall, but was later told, was that my father was making concerted efforts to win my mother back after she’d gotten fed up with his philandering. I remember, however, when they got back together and we moved back in with my father. I was barely 5 years old by this time.

I was painfully unpopular in school. I had very few friends, and the ones I did have weren’t the true blue, dyed in the wool friends you’ll have til the end of time. My friends were a temporary thing, and to this day I’m not really close to that many people. In addition, I was an easy target in school for the teasers and the bullies. I wore my emotions on my sleeve, and could cry at the drop of a hat. This wasn’t something that started in kindergarten; the day care I mentioned is my first memory of social out-casting. The details are fuzzy, but I do remember sitting alone on the play ground, in the sand box and watching everyone play. I remember feeling like I didn’t belong, I didn’t fit it, and I had no idea why. Why didn’t these kids like me? Was it because I was new? Did they somehow know I was flawed in some way because my parents weren’t together? Or did they see a flaw in me that was so fundamental that I could never fathom it? No, I wasn’t a prodigy, I didn’t think in these terms, exactly, but the feelings and sensations are still very clear to me, still very painful. I was only four years old.

And I always seemed to be more susceptible to the teasing of my peers. I never really saw other kids breaking down on the playground crying. Maybe if there was a skinned knee from the blacktop, or a bumped head from the monkey bars, sure. But I was one of the rare breeds of children that all the other children seemed to instinctively know about; this one will respond the way we want to, this one is entertaining. I liken it to sharks and the smell of blood in the water; they’ll come from vastly great distances just for that smell, and if they can get a taste, even better.

The friends I felt that I could count on, at least to a certain extent, were my friends who lived in my neighborhood. There weren’t that many. There was one time when I was probably 6 years old or so and my best friend, who lived across the street from me, and another friend and I were playing hide and go seek. My best friend, Kim was older than I by only a few months, but for some reason it was a point of contention between the two of us. And her friend, Julie, who lived down the hill from us, whom Kim had known longer, having lived in the neighborhood longer, was a year older than either of us. I suppose at that age, a year is a big deal, but I remember Julie lorded it over me like I was flawed or defective for being younger than she. I remember feeling a great deal of angst about this, but at least I can look back now with bemusement because it really doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps I was still the “new” kid, or she just needed something to feel superior about. If I recall correctly, she has a brand new baby brother and maybe she needed to feel important to someone, perhaps not receiving the kind of recognition at home that an older sibling sometimes feels when a new baby is brought home. Who knows? In any event, I doubt it is difficult to see who was “IT” in our little game of hide n seek; me. And this next part is probably really easy to guess. I counted to 100 dutifully (I was still playing fair at that age) and when I went to go seek they were no where to be found.

Now, in the everyday life of a child, of children, this really isn’t an extraordinary event. Being a mother, watching stupid things like that happen to my kids, I get it now. BUT, there was this…thing in me that said I was different, that I wasn’t like them, that I was flawed and defective because my real mother didn’t want me and I had to live with people that weren’t my blood relatives, people who would never really understand me. Sure, they loved me, and they told me I was chosen, that they chose me, and that I was special because of that, but I didn’t believe that for one second. Yes, I believe they loved me, but the rest was unadulterated lies. Everything in me KNEW that my real mother didn’t want me, so why would anyone else? So this episode has stuck with me my entire life, because just like the first rejection, to which they say newborns, babies can only, MAYBE be aware of, I was rejected again by someone who was supposed to stand by me, because she said she would.

Yes, I can see it for the stupid stunt that it was now, but it scarred me more deeply than I’ve ever let on to anyone else before now. And I really didn’t realize just how badly it did scar me until now, 34 years later.

By the time I was 7 years old, my brother began to repeatedly molest me. It didn’t stop until my mother walked through the door one afternoon and caught my brother touching me. After a family discussion consisting of “that’s not what family’s do to or with each other” talk, life got back to “normal” again. My brother stopped molesting me, at least until I was a teenager, and everything went on as though nothing had happened.

And when I say “normal”, I mean it was never mentioned again, never talked about again, I was never taken to any sort of therapy; it was, as Alanis Morriset put it, under rug swept. For a time I forgot about it, at least consciously. It was the only way I could deal with everything that had happened. It seemed that’s what my parents wanted, and like the dutiful child I was, I obliged. And perhaps it was the only way that I could deal with the rage that deep down was growing inside me; a rage that no child should have to experience or endure. A rage born of seeing my innocence stripped away with no seeming consequence. That this person that, until then, I adored, my brother, had taken away my innocence and nothing was done to correct this gross injustice. And only in later years did I learn that he was threatened with being sent away from the family with military school should his actions continue. I don’t really know what kind of difference this would have made to the 7 year old me; perhaps, like some victims, I would have balked at the absence of my molester, my brother. Perhaps I would have felt vindicated. There’s no way to know; however, a threat of being sent away from the family seems like such a pitiful consequence considering the action. Doesn’t Newton’s Third Law say that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? Where is the equality in this? Where is the justice? Don’t we teach our children that every action they take, good or bad, has its consequences? Where were his consequences? Does the self loathing I imagine him to have sometimes equal to the actions he took against me when I was so helpless against him? Or should I simply be grateful that perhaps in some afterlife, he’ll be punished?

There are no easy answers to these questions. Perhaps there are simply no answers, because, perhaps, we really don’t live in a just world.

By the time I was 8 years old, in third grade, I was a victim, yet again, of another molester; this time at school. And while technically, at least in the state of California, “sexual exploration” between children of the same ages isn’t considered molestation, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t. I don’t think I would know this person if I met him on the street today, but his face is blazoned upon my memory, and I could describe him in clear detail, if so required. And yes, I remember his name, but for privacy sake, it won’t be mentioned here.

And no, the story doesn’t end here. I don’t really remember when the boy down the street started to “play with me”; I think it was in this age range, 8 to 9 years old. This lasted until his parents divorced and he wasn’t around nearly as much. I do remember having the courage to stand up to him at one point when he brought a friend along and wanted me to...perform similar favors. Though I seem to remember that after I said no to that one incident, some rumors began to float around school that I was easy and would provide entertainment to any boy who asked. Around this same time, the daughter of a coworker of my mother’s thought it would be fun to strip naked when I was 11 years old and “explore”.

I think saying no to the threesome that was proposed finally gave me some strength to stop the abuse cycle, at least for a little while.

Between the ages of 11 to 16 were relatively “normal” for me; if you can call a girl entering puberty, who is sexually hyperaware, normal. I always considered myself “boy crazy”. I liked boys. I didn’t, and still don’t, think there was anything wrong with liking boys. I was always aware of the boys in school, though, and I don’t know if that is normal. I always had a crush on someone, and can still name just about every boy I did have a crush on. I never really thought boys liked me, though. Or if they did, they only wanted one thing. And since I was so horribly screwed up, why not give it to them? I’m not sure if I understood the significance of virginity when I was 7 years old, but by the time I was 13 years old, I knew I was damaged goods, in so many ways. And by the time I was 13, I finally allowed myself to remember what my brother had done to me. I know it might sound odd that throughout the time from when I was 8 years old to the time I was 13 years old I “forgot” my brother had molested me, but I did.

I can recall clearly the moment I actually allowed myself to remember. I was sitting on the floor in the cafeteria with two friends during lunch. Lunch itself was over, and the rest of the kids were outside letting off steam when my friends and I were sitting there. I remember haltingly relating minor details to them, my mind not allowing me to dig deeper yet. From then on, I never forgot again, and I’ve never been shy about sharing that information. What was done to me was wrong, and I was in no way to be ashamed of it. I guess I think that if I tell enough people, I will finally, someday, believe that.

I never told my parents that I had forgotten, or that I’d remembered. I had a whole world to make sure didn’t come crashing down, didn’t I? My family’s happiness was paramount, and if I said anything, the family wouldn’t be happy anymore. So much responsibility for a child to bear, but I did it. I took the weight and responsibility of four people onto my shoulders, because I alone had the secret that would destroy everything and since I am adopted, and my real mother didn’t want me, where else could I go?

So? Does being adopted lend you to molestation, incestuous or otherwise? Probably not. There are far too many cases of both types to point the finger at merely being adopted. Does my father’s philandering ways have any part in my molestation? Perhaps; perhaps my brother’s witness to the significant male role model in the home having sexual contact with an inappropriate female might have had an impact on a quickly maturing young boy. (I do not believe that my brother witnessed any sexual act by my father, merely the knowledge that daddy wasn’t living with mommy anymore and was with this other woman.) I believed that particular theory for a very long time; basically blaming my father for my brother’s behavior. What I think more likely, however, is what I’ve learned though the years; that children who molest have been molested themselves and are merely acting out their own trauma in the only way they can. And while I was never truly close to my other molesters, never close enough to speculate, I can only assume that they had been similarly molested themselves.

I can happily say that, while tempted at one very specific point in my life to continue the cycle and abuse another child, I never did. I can look back in my memory and see a little boy, perhaps 7 or 8, and have the feeling of gut wrenching relief that I did nothing to spoil this child. That is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever communicated with anyone; there’s only one other person in this world that I’ve told that particular dirty little secret to. And to this day, this very minute, I can only feel revulsion and nausea at myself for even contemplating it.

This incident happened when I was about 18. I don’t know if those horrible, molester thoughts would have occurred to me if my brother hadn’t taken up molesting me again when I was 16. I won’t go into detail what he did, but I can at least say that it wasn’t to the extreme that it was when I was 7. However, I have dealt with deep, nauseating self loathing ever since because I wasn’t strong enough to say no to what he wanted to do. The time frame is significantly smaller than when I was a small child. My brother was off to college already, and the molesting started to take place when he was home for the summer. The only thing I can say that was fortunate was that during the summer, he worked a job that kept him away from the house for 4 days out of 7. My birthday is in July, and he’d begun shortly after my 16th birthday. I don’t think most teenagers look forward to the beginning of school, but that summer, I did because that would mean that HE would be gone.

I never told anyone about it that year. I tried desperately to forget it. I had a boyfriend by the time homecoming came around. I had a best friend that was loyal and wonderful. I had a margin of freedom that I’d never experienced before. Life seemed to be looking up for me. Why ruin it with thoughts of the previous summer when there was nothing I could do about it?

To Dan, I lost my virginity; not my real virginity, because that had been stripped away from me at 7 years old. But he was my first sexual partner that I count, my first love, the first person that I wanted to have sex with. With Dan, I felt that I could be myself for the first time, no hiding, no obfuscation. I was caught up in the rush and glow of first love. I could be reckless, carefree and feel like who I always thought I should be, someone my parents didn’t understand or want me to be. For me, it seemed like I finally found someone that wanted to know ME. In reality, he was probably mostly just looking to get into my pants, but it didn’t matter at the time. Did I delude myself into thinking that I was worth something if someone wanted to have sex with me? Did I realize it at the time that that’s exactly what I was doing to myself? Resoundingly NO! But then, most teens aren’t as self aware as they profess to be, either. Did I realize that with Dan I would start a long string of boys, guys, men that I would give my body to in order to self validate? Of course not, because this was (say it with me) true love.

I can take two views of my relationship with Dan; the jaundiced and the candy coated. The jaundiced view is the older, cynical me realizing that we were just two kids playing at grown up games. We were playing with fire, and didn’t care if we got burned. Dan IS the person who introduced to me the movie Highlander, and (I think deliberately) instilled in me the belief of the line, “it’s better to burn out than fade away”.

The older, romantic me can take the long view, the candy coated view that it was a time of innocence, of exploration, of giving into those incredible hormonal urges that Mother Nature pours into us in the middle of puberty in order to procreate. That with Dan, I had no cares, I could laugh freely, and he would laugh with me. We could scorn our parents and find a confidante in one another that neither had ever had.

The reality is that my relationship with my first boyfriend was probably all this and more. While Dan wasn’t who I would have chosen as my first love, and the relationship wasn’t an after school special of romance, it was what it was, and has helped to shape who I am today.

Our anniversary was December 19th. He officially asked me to be his girlfriend the last day of school before Christmas vacation. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget that date; I was an all powerful junior, I didn’t have the responsibility of a senior, I was able to get out from under my parents watchful eye for what seemed the first time ever, and I had a boyfriend! Not only that, but it turned my prospect of a dull 2 weeks from school, with only Christmas day and sleeping in to look forward to, to something thrilling and exciting. Part of Dan’s attraction was the fact that he had older friends; yes, friends who were over 21 years old, friends with access to alcohol and parent free places, and some even had cool cars.
We were together before then, “hanging out” in today’s parlance, but it wasn’t official yet. I even still have the bracelet that he gave me that day.

Christmas was fun that year, again. We went to some parties, made out in the backseat of the car, unbuckled with me sitting across his lap as our friends drove from one event to the next. We exchanged kisses under the mistletoe and gifts and vows of undying love.

Back at school, we held hands in the halls and exchanged public kisses between periods. We were totally wrapped up in each other, oblivious to the world. We made plans for weekends, for after school, for whenever we could get a chance to get away from parents; mostly mine, though his father was, according to Dan at the time, a hardcase. I only found him to be rather stoic and self contained, but then again, I didn’t live with the man, either.

Valentine’s Day was celebrated, though I don’t remember now, how.

And then the Sadie Hawkin’s Dance rolled around.

I don’t know if I’m the best judge of popularity in this instance, but I wonder how many people knew that I was leading the committee our junior year for the Sadie Hawkin’s Dance, for both my junior and senior year. At the time, I probably would have just said the people in our journalism class (the class responsible for putting on that particular dance), but judging from recent events on an international networking site, I’m beginning to think that more and more people knew who I was in high school than I thought at the time. I would never say I was popular, however, more people remember me than I thought ever would. That’s rather gratifying, and alters how I look back on my high school years. So, I owe a thank you to those people who have spoken well of me recently. It means far more than I can say. Thank you.

In any event, my boyfriend and I attended the Sadie Hawkins dance that year. I can’t remember much about the dance specifically, but since I’d always loved to dance, I do remember that I had a good time. Almost too good a time. After the dance, Dan and I walked to the football field and there conceived my first child. I was young, and stupid, and immortal (aren’t we all at 16?) and nothing bad could happen to me. That wasn’t the first time I’d had sex (willingly), and I do remember that we sporadically used birth control. On this night we didn’t.

I don’t think that I knew right away I was pregnant. I always was a little concerned when we had unprotected sex, and would keep an eye on the calendar, but it really didn’t dawn on me that I could get pregnant. As I said, young and stupid.

It didn’t take me long to find out I was pregnant, though. Dan wasn’t the first person I told; that would be Melisa. I told her at my locker just before first period. I don’t remember what she said, or what I said, but I knew that I had to have an abortion. Not only did I not want to be a teenage mother, I knew that it would have been one of the largest mistakes I could make if I kept that baby. It simply wasn’t an option to me to continue the pregnancy.

Dan found out from Melisa a day or so later. She knew Dan knew my locker combination, and asked if he would open it for her because she wanted to put something in there. Dan was suspicious and wore her down to the point of telling him. It never crossed my mind to not tell him. I was fully planning to tell him, but I think I wanted some information from Planned Parenthood, and Melisa, having a driver’s license while I didn’t, was able to pick up some information; and that’s what she was dropping off in my locker.

I don’t recall the inevitable “so, you’re pregnant” conversation, but it did happen. While I did tell Dan that I acknowledged his say in the situation, I also told him that I was planning on having an abortion. He agreed with me; at 16 pending parenthood is probably one of the most frightening prospects there is.

Now, prior to this, I was a very staunch Pro-Lifer. I firmly believed that it was WRONG to have an abortion. In my heart, I KNEW that the life inside was a person, and that abortion was murder, and in no circumstance should anyone get an abortion.

And then I got pregnant at 16 years old. Suddenly, everything in my world, and in my philosophy, changed. I wasn’t so self righteous anymore. I divorced myself from the idea that THIS life in me was a human being, only something “to be taken care of”. It was a self preservation mechanism in order to do what had to be done.

That time is a blur for me; I remember going to Planned Parenthood and finding the information I needed. I was offered the option of adoption, should I wish to carry the pregnancy to term, but I was horrified by that idea. Not because of adoption, but because I was not prepared to go to term with the pregnancy. I was told much information I already knew, such as abortions in the state of California would only be done up to 12 weeks (or in the first trimester). Should a woman choose to have an abortion after that first trimester she would need to go to a clinic in Oakland in order to obtain one. I knew I could get away from my parents for a day, but had no idea if I could even get to Oakland should the need arise. I knew that I could get out of the house for the duration of a day, but that’s about it.

I never told my parents about it; at least not at the time. Looking back, I think I probably could have told them, but I simply didn’t trust them. While I didn’t really believe that my parents would kill me for getting pregnant (and yes, that phrase did pop out of my mouth on more than one occasion), I’d talked myself into the mind frame that it was my responsibility to deal with the problem at hand, and that they should never know. Looking back, I think mostly I just wanted to avoid the repercussions of my actions. In short, I didn’t want to be put on restriction. I valued my freedom too much to confide to the people who I should have told first.

I also remember that I didn’t have the money to pay for an abortion. My parents believed that school was my job, and we didn’t need the extra income, so I didn’t work. By this time I didn’t have an allowance, either. If I needed money, I usually just asked my parents. Typically, I didn’t really need money. For the most part, if I was to go out, I was on a date, and Dan paid my way. Occasionally I would ask for money so that I could get something beyond what Dan could afford. I also didn’t want to have to rely on my boyfriend solely. I won’t go into detail as to how I paid for the abortion because it’s illegal what we ended up doing. Nevertheless, it WAS paid for in full. Though it took time, and I was running out of that.

Finally, I was able to make an appointment for the procedure. It had to be on a Saturday because there was no way that I could get out of school in order to do it.

When the day arrived, there was a perfect, sad excuse to use. It was Dan’s birthday. Naturally there would be some kind of celebration. I remember using the excuse that we were going to go miniature golfing, and that a whole big party was going to go on.

But when Dan was late in picking me up, I began to worry. He had a car of his own, though it wasn’t exactly reliable. And this is why he was late. I don’t know what was wrong, but the car konked out. Eventually, Dan showed up with his father driving. It was the plan for Dan’s parents to not know either, but when his car turned belly up, he had to tell his folks. I was horrified, but there was nothing I could do. I HAD to get to the clinic, and Dan’s father ended up driving us. Yes, us. Dan stayed by my side through the whole thing. He was honorable that way.

I don’t remember when we left my house, or when we arrived at the clinic, but I do remember that I was there for 7 hours; and Dan’s father stayed in the car the entire time.

I checked in and was told that there were more women there than they originally had anticipated, and I was the last one on the list. So we waited.

The waiting room was a small affair, perhaps a dozen chairs, but I think it was less. The mood was subdued. No one addressed anyone else. No one spoke above a loud whisper. I don’t think there were any other men there, just a whole lot of resigned women and girls waiting their turn. I was very glad to have Dan’s support. I think that was the only thing that kept me sane that day. I felt so bad that it was his birthday and the most I could give him was the peace of mind that comes from not being a prospective father can give.

Occasionally someone would be called back and we wouldn’t see that person again for several hours. I do recall a few women walking out of the clinic, but not many. Not to say that they were killed or anything heinous, merely that the procedure and recovery time meant that by the time my name was called much time had passed and these other women must have left after I was called in.

Dan couldn’t come with me, so what little support I had was taken away. I was offered one last chance to change my mind before I signed the papers. Adoption was discussed, and I listened politely to the lady doing her job, but my mind was made up. There was no way I was going to have this baby. I wasn’t going to be a mother before I graduated high school.

I signed the papers authorizing the procedure, given a pregnancy test to verify that I was, indeed, pregnant, and was shown into an exam room. I was directed to remove my clothes and don the hospital gown that I was handed. I did as I was told, and sat on the examination table, and waited. And waited…and waited. There was no clock in the room, so I have no idea how long I waited. If I had to guess now, I’d say it was about an hour. When the doctor finally arrived he was cordial, introducing himself and told me what would happen.

Thinking back now, I may have been given something for the abortion to reduce pain, but I can’t recall. It would make sense, especially considering how long I ended up waiting.

I was instructed to lie back and place my feet in the stirrups. The doctor did a pelvic exam to further verify the pregnancy. A nurse was in the room and stayed with me through the procedure, the abortion. She stayed at the head of the exam table and held my hand while I stared fixedly, determinedly at the cute little rainbow decal stuck to the ceiling paneling directly above me. I can still recall the feeling of my cervix being forcibly opened and held in place. I can remember the tugging sensation inside of me, a pulling, pushing poking, and yanking feeling. And regardless of any medication I may have been given, I remember pain, horrible pain. Tears streamed out of my eyes and into my ears as I clutched the nurse’s hand. Shortly, I heard the sound of suction; it lasted what seemed an incredibly long time. Finally, the machine that made the suctioning sound stopped, the devise holding open my cervix was released and removed and a sense of relief filled my body; the pain was gone.

It was over.

I was told I could get dressed and leave when I was ready. I was told how long I should bleed, and to see a doctor if it didn’t stop in the proscribed time. Signs and symptoms of infection were provided and I was enjoined to seek medical attention should I experience any of these.

Eventually, I got dressed, slowly, painfully. I left the room and met up with Dan in the waiting room.

We walked quietly together to the car, his father still waiting. The drive was also silent. I shed no tears then, but my heart was heavy.

When we returned to Dan’s house, his mother hugged me and we both cried a little. She murmured words of understanding, making those gentle sounds women use for each other when comfort is needed, knowing that nothing could erase the pain of lost possibilities. What saddens me now, more than ever, was this was the only child that her only son would ever conceive. But there was no way to know at the time that Dan had less than 4 years of life left.

Ironically, there was cake waiting for us. It was Dan’s birthday, after all. While there was no celebration, we did eat the cake. I don’t remember now what kind it was, or if it was any good. I’m not sure why Dan’s mother had the cake ready. I think perhaps she needed some kind of reminder of the continuation of life, regardless of the day’s events. I never asked.

I think that for the most part, life went on as “normal”. I went home and lied to my parents about how good the party was, but then I’d been lying to my parents for years and was very good at it. It disconcerts my father that I can lie to him straight faced, looking him in the eye and he doesn’t know. He knows I’ve lied to him in the past, but I suspect that even to this day, he doesn’t really know what to believe from me.

I think I professed exhaustion from the birthday outing, and spent the rest of the evening in my room. Beyond that, I don’t remember much about that night.

As I said, life returned to its routine. I shoved the “incident” out of my head, for the most part, during the day at least. I even managed to blot out the memory at night during the week. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but I think that’s when I learned to read to truly escape; to read til exhaustion overtook my body, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. And even if my brain was still awake a little, then I would just run over in my head what I’d just read, and spin out how the story might continue. I learned my coping mechanisms well.

But there were the nights, usually on the weekend, that I’d cry myself to sleep, quietly raging at my life, my stupidity. I grew up in a fairly conservative home where guns were available and accessible, and I knew exactly where a .45 magnum lay; an easy way out. Was the pain not enough for me to actually commit suicide? No, the pain was enough, but I believed my punishment lie in living through the agony of what I’d done. You see, my opinions of the fate of a fetus never really changed, only my opinions on the self determination of women and the reproductive rights of our bodies. In my heart I KNEW I’d killed a child, a potential and I would have to live with that for the rest of my life. Though never again would I tell a woman she was wrong for choosing abortion or pronounce judgment on someone for that difficult decision. Because while I was firm in my decision and for me it was right at the time, it was still a difficult decision to make; especially with my beliefs that human life begins at conception. I don’t think I ever actually wavered in that decision, but it tore me apart, tore at me to the point of actually considering suicide. But my death wouldn’t bring back the life I knowingly, willingly took.

So, that’s the way my life went for a while; I put on a happy face, what other’s expected, meanwhile living in a hell that I’d created for myself. The fact that I’d tossed away the only person that was related to me in a way that wasn’t a mere legality also had a huge impact on me. After years of wondering who my “real” parents were, if I had any brothers or sisters and what they were doing, if they ever thought of me, I made the mistake of thinking “it couldn’t happen to me” and got pregnant; obviously a blood tie that is undeniable.

I eventually got over the mind crippling pain, and was able to breathe again a full breath without feeling like sobbing at the end of it. Dan and I broke up in our senior year, shortly before December and our first anniversary. Considering the normal tempestuous nature of teenage relationships, nearly a year long relationship with the agonizing decision we had to make at such a young age ain’t half bad.
Looking back on it, I think I buried my pain instead of dealing with it in a healthy manner; but in my defense, we didn’t exactly have the awareness of therapy or knowledge that a “good support system” would help grief. You were just expected to “deal with it” and “get over it”. Besides, who did I have to turn to? Dan couldn’t help; he was too far into this with me to have been any real help. My best friend just didn’t understand, though she tried, and most of my few other friends didn’t know. I couldn’t turn to my parents; THEY certainly wouldn’t understand, and I really didn’t feel comfortable with going to Dan’s parents. They were good people, but it was just awkward being around them by that time.

Besides, like a good little adoptee, I learned not to complain about anything to anyone. Everything was just fine, and we don’t want anything to rock to boat, right? Right? Right. Just like everything else, ignore it and it’ll go away; you’ll be fine.

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