Parallel Universe

Today is December 31st. It is mere minutes before the end of 2012 and the Apocalypse never came. Today is the day when people celebrate the end of old chapters, and welcome new beginnings. Today is the day when I would have held my newborn child for the first time, when I would have welcomed the beginning of a new life – his, and mine. Today was my due date.

I spent the day today breathing in the sweet smelling breath of a tiny infant, rocking him to sleep in my arms, rubbing his tummy when his colic made him cry, changing his diaper and cleaning his spit-up off myself with nary a cringe, and listening to the raspy sound of every breath he took into his somewhat congested lungs once he finally fell asleep laying tummy-down with his cheek against my chest.

(*Cue Twilight Zone music*) No, I did not miraculously manifest the reality that I longed for eight months ago, nor did I step over into a parallel universe. (*End music with screech of needle being pulled off record*) I am visiting my brother for the holidays, and while I’m here, I’ve been helping to take care of his three children, including one brand-spanking-new baby boy. I have no words to describe how … odd it feels. I feel like I am living, dazed and a bit numb, in a reality that might have been.  Once the baby was asleep, instead of putting him down in his crib, I carried him into the bathroom and stared at the image before me in the mirror: there I was, 9 months after the day I got pregnant, with an infant in my arms. I noticed how he snuggled into the soft, warm curves of my chest, how my body was built to comfort this tiny little creature. I noticed my arms and my hands, how sure they were of how to hold this delicate being. I noticed, when I put my cheek against his, that we shared the same skin tone, that this child was of my flesh and blood.

And I wondered, achingly, what my life would have been like today if I had chosen that other path. What it would feel like if this warm little bundle in my arms was my own child.

I doubt that the memory of my brief pregnancy and its termination will ever be something that I will be able to revisit with the kind of breezy nonchalance that I envy some other women for possessing. But, perhaps, the weightiness of this memory will give new meaning to this date on the calendar, this randomly chosen point in time that I have always found too arbitrary to take as seriously as most people do (I mean, come on! Just because a bunch of Catholics decreed it so, people now celebrate this random point in time – time, which in itself may be random, may not even be a measurable entity nor a dimension of its own – and they crowd into the streets in below-freezing weather to watch a 6-tonne ball creep slowly down a pole? I mean, if you’re going to celebrate a complete revolution around the sun, you could choose a better day to mark the beginning, like a solstice or something, ya know?).

But I digress. For me, from this point onward,  December 31st might always be the day of what-may-have-been. And so, as the clock signals the end of this day, I now make a resolution. I now remind myself why I chose the path that I did. And I now remind myself of the huge sacrifice I made to be on the path that I am on today. And I resolve not to let that sacrifice be one made in vain. I resolve to do everything I can to be the kind of person that I want to be, to accomplish all that I want to accomplish, so that I can be someone who – if she is ever given the chance again – will be exactly the kind of person who can and should procreate. And also, to be someone who, if never given that chance again, will still be happy on the path she chose for herself.

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The Taming of Crocodiles

 

I have not had the heart to write for a week or so. Cathartic as this process is, sometimes it is too painful to revisit memories and feelings that are still raw. However, in the past week, what I did revisit often is this essay that struck a chord with me months ago. At the time, it helped me through new-found unemployment and heartbreak of the man-induced variety. Now it is helping me through the loss of a pregnancy, the loss of one possible path towards one possible future. I’m copying it below, and giving credit to Julie JC Peters, who I believe is the author of this wonderful piece, and hoping that I am not offending the many-headed God of Copyright Infringement.

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The Goddess of never not broken.

You know that feeling when you have just gone through a breakup, or lost your job, and everything is terrible and terrifying and you don’t know what to do, and you find yourself crying in a pile on your bedroom floor, barely able to remember how to use the phone, desperately looking for some sign of God in old letters, or your Facebook newsfeed or on Glee, finding nothing there to comfort you?

Come on, yes you do. We all do.

And there is a goddess from Hindu mythology that teaches us that, in this moment, in this pile on the floor, you are more powerful than you’ve ever been.

This past week, I have been deeply inspired by a talk I heard on the Yoga Teacher TeleSummit by Eric Stoneberg on this relatively unknown Goddess from Hindu mythology: Akhilandeshvari.

This figure has snuck up inside me and settled into my bones. She keeps coming out of my mouth every time I teach, and she’s given me so much strength and possibility during a time of change and uncertainty in my own life. I wanted to unpack a little bit about who she is for those that might be, like me, struggling a little bit in that pile on the floor and wondering how the hell to get up again.

The answer, it turns out, is this: in pieces, warrior-style, on the back of a crocodile. Yee ha.

Akhilandeshvari:

“Ishvari” in Sanskrit means “goddess” or “female power,” and the “Akhilanda” means essentially “never not broken.” In other words, The Always Broken Goddess. Sanskrit is a tricky and amazing language, and I love that the double negative here means that she is broken right down to her name.

But this isn’t the kind of broken that indicates weakness and terror.

It’s the kind of broken that tears apart all the stuff that gets us stuck in toxic routines, repeating the same relationships and habits over and over, rather than diving into the scary process of trying something new and unfathomable.

Akhilanda derives her power from being broken: in flux, pulling herself apart, living in different, constant selves at the same time, from never becoming a whole that has limitations.

The thing about going through sudden or scary or sad transitions (like a breakup) is that one of the things you lose is your future: your expectations of what the story of your life so far was going to become. When you lose that partner or that job or that person, your future dissolves in front of you.

And of course, this is terrifying.

But look, Akhilanda says, now you get to make a choice. In pieces, in a pile on the floor, with no idea how to go forward, your expectations of the future are meaningless. Your stories about the past do not apply. You are in flux, you are changing, you are flowing in a new way, and this is an incredibly powerful opportunity to become new again: to choose how you want to put yourself back together. Confusion can be an incredible teacher—how could you ever learn if you already had it all figured out?

This goddess has another interesting attribute, which is, of course, her ride: a crocodile.

Crocodiles are interesting in two ways: Firstly, Stoneberg explains that the crocodile represents our reptilian brain, which is where we feel fear. Secondly, the predatory power of a crocodile is not located in their huge jaws, but rather that they pluck their prey from the banks of the river, take it into the water, and spin it until it is disoriented. They whirl that prey like a dervish seeking God, they use the power of spin rather than brute force to feed themselves.

By riding on this spinning, predatory, fearsome creature, Akhilanda refuses to reject her fear, nor does she let it control her. She rides on it. She gets on this animal that lives inside the river, inside the flow. She takes her fear down to the river and uses its power to navigate the waves, and spins in the never not broken water. Akhilanda shows us that this is beautiful. Stoneberg writes:

Akhilanda is also sometimes described in our lineage like a spinning, multi-faceted prism. Imagine the Hope Diamond twirling in a bright, clear light. The light pouring through the beveled cuts of the diamond would create a whirling rainbow of color. The diamond is whole and complete and BECAUSE it’s fractured, it creates more diverse beauty. Its form is a spectrum of whirling color.

That means that this feeling of confusion and brokenness that every human has felt at some time or another in our lives is a source of beauty and colour and new reflections and possibilities.

If everything remained the same, if we walked along the same path down to the river every day until there was a groove there (as we do; in Sanskrit this is called Samskara, habits or even “some scars”), this routine would become so limited, so toxic to us that, well, the crocs would catch on, and we’d get plucked from the banks, spun and eaten.

So now is the time, this time of confusion and brokenness and fear and sadness, to get up on that fear, ride it down to the river, dip into the waves, and let yourself break. Become a prism.

All the places where you’ve shattered can now reflect light and colour where there was none. Now is the time to become something new, to choose a new whole.

But remember Akhilanda’s lesson: even that new whole, that new, colourful, amazing groove that we create, is an illusion. It means nothing unless we can keep on breaking apart and putting ourselves together again as many times as we need to. We are already “never not broken.” We were never a consistent, limited whole. In our brokenness, we are unlimited. And that means we are amazing.

You Go, Garry Trudeau!

Mr. Perry, there aren’t enough cuss words in the whole wide world to describe the kind of scum that you are. They should stick an ultrasound probe up your posterior orifice; maybe they’ll find your head in there.

I know I said this wouldn’t be a political blog, and I plan to honor that promise. However, I do plan to point out how those around us – politicians, religious leaders, air-headed teen-pop idols, even friends and family – can contribute to the overwhelming difficulty of making the decision to abort a pregnancy. The decision is hard enough, and if a woman is going to stay sane enough to make the right decision, she needs to recognize those that are feeding off her vulnerability, and learn to tune them out. I had the misfortune of being pregnant in Texas, but the IMMENSE fortune of going to a clinic that grudgingly carried out Perry’s dirty work with incredible contempt for the new bill, and incredible compassion for those of us made to suffer through its consequences. I was reminded constantly by the doctor and the nurses and the counselors that whatever decision I made would be the right one, and that I had no reason to be ashamed or to feel guilty. I hope that everyone who has to go through this cruel process (Texas isn’t the only state run by compassion-less dickheads) finds the kind of support that I did. If that support and understanding is unavailable to you, take it from me: you have no reason to feel ashamed. You have no reason to feel guilty. That fuzzy gray image of a blob inside your uterus might seem beautiful to you (it did to me), but it is because it is beautiful and dear to you that you are making a decision in the best interest of that blob’s future. If you are not ready to be a mother, for whatever reason, then growing that blob into an actual human being and bringing it into a world not ready to receive it would be far more cruel. Don’t let those GOP bastards get to you. Don’t let the picketers outside the abortion clinic get to you. They don’t know your pain, they have no right to judge you. Don’t let religious zealots get to you. If their god is such a wrathful, unforgiving beast, then you should pity them, not put stock in their judgments.

You are a good woman. You are making a wise, compassionate choice. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

When Atheists Believe In God and Hell

So yesterday we talked a bit about the five stages of grief. For most people, these are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You would think that the progression goes something a little like this:

If you are generally a positive person, or if you have superhuman powers, you might hope for something like this:

The reality for most normal people, however, is more like this:

Only, the colors in the flowchart make it seem like a far more cheerful process than it actually is. It is gut-wrenching, agonizing, terrifying, dizzying, nauseating, insert-a-million-of-the-most-horrible-adjectives-you-can-come-up-with-here. If you are a pregnant woman considering an abortion, or have already had an abortion, then I don’t need to describe it to you, since you are likely going through the process at this very moment. It’s a good thing to recognize each of the stages (you might not go through them all). It won’t make your feelings seem any less painful, but it might help you to maintain a clearer head if you know exactly what you’re going through and why.

Denial: For me, the gravity of the situation didn’t sink in right away. I spent a couple of days being completely numb and in a daze, not really spending any time thinking about the decision ahead of me, or the consequences of what I would choose to do. It was a defense mechanism that allowed me to continue living my normal life without much upheaval. My sole occupation was dealing with morning sickness (morning, noon and night) and making multiple trips to the grocery store everyday in the hopes of finding something I could stomach.

Anger: This is where I started to blame the universe and its mother and its neighbor and its dog for the situation I was in. I blamed my boyfriend, because he wasn’t ready for the responsibility, and who isn’t ready for responsibility at thirty-five??? I blamed my parents, because they are still living in their conservative religious/cultural bubble where having sex outside marriage is something that can be enjoyed only by men and whores. Good girls have hymens. Unless they’re divorced or widowed, then they have cobwebs. I blamed my boyfriend’s parents, because they raised him to be the kind of man who wasn’t ready for responsibility at thirty-five. Thirty-five! I blamed the U.S. government for doing such a piss-poor job of running a country that I didn’t have health care and couldn’t get a job despite trying for months and months and months. I blamed God, and I don’t even believe in any gods. But it was convenient to have an imaginary being to aim all my anger at. And when all these people, institutions, and fictional entities were still not enough to spread the fury around, I began to blame myself. What kind of a failure was I? I was thirty and still had not established myself enough that I could bring a child into the world and provide for him. (I will always refer to my unborn child as a boy. Of this I was – for no rational reason – convinced.) Who doesn’t have a job or a savings account or health insurance at thirty? Thirty??? Me, that’s who. And who has all of those things but not the courage to take on adult responsibilities? My boyfriend, that’s who. It was like I was spinning in a circle with my accusatory finger outstretched, and whoever had the misfortune of standing anywhere near me was going to get some share of the blame. Not to say that I was throwing the blame around without any rhyme or reason… just that I was angry at myself and the world for the situation that I was in, and focusing on the anger was easier than focusing on the painful decision at hand.

Bargaining: This is where I decided that I would have the child no matter what anyone said or did or thought. This is where I imagined that I would somehow miraculously get a job with a hefty salary and ample benefits, all before I became visibly pregnant and therefore undesirable to employers. There was much delusion involved in the bargaining stage, as I sent out resumes to people I had already sent resumes to in the past year, thinking that somehow this time would be different. And I told myself, with desperation that I now realize was oh-so-sad, that if only I could find myself a secure job with a stable income, then I would keep the baby. And if I couldn’t find said job, I would do the right thing by my child and not bring him into a world where I couldn’t care for him. But the delusion continued until the very last day…

Depression: This was not a separate stage in my case, but rather a state I would enter into at various points every day, when I would realize that my anger was for naught, and my desperate job search was for naught, and all my hoping against hopes was for naught. This state involved lots of crying while in the fetal position. I have nothing remotely jokey that I can say about it.

Acceptance: This didn’t come for me until the very last day, really. On the day before the abortion, when I went in to get my sonogram and hear about the risks of the surgery (thank you, Rick Perry! May there be a hell just so you can rot in it), I was still hoping I would find a way to keep the baby. Seeing the little berry-sized blob on the sonogram monitor made me want to grin like an idiot, but I bit the inside of my cheek because I knew I wasn’t allowed to be happy yet. When asked at the end of my appointment if I wanted to make an appointment for the procedure, I made one for more than a week away, hoping to buy myself time. It wasn’t until I got home, saw an inbox void of job offers, and saw my boyfriend’s not-ready-to-be-a-father-yet face looking at me like I was crazy that I hadn’t made an earlier appointment that I realized I was defeated. There was no way that all the missing pieces were going to fall in place magically and allow me to raise a child. I picked up the phone, and feeling like a zombie, moved my appointment up to March 17th, and collapsed in tears, moaning from depths within me I didn’t even know existed. Acceptance isn’t always a graceful process.

I have no nuggets of wisdom to leave you with today. It sucked, that’s the summary. But I will leave you on this hopeful note: it gets better. I won’t say that I’m a shining ball of sunshine and rainbows these days, but I am certainly more at peace than I imagined I would be. It gets better, I promise. Hang in there. Remember the reasons for your decision, and be kind to yourself, and it will get better.

The Mayans Got It Wrong

The Blob will be the end of us all.

On Mother’s Day 2012, I was 6 weeks and 6 days pregnant. I wanted desperately, desperately, to keep the baby. But I was realizing more and more with every passing day that I wouldn’t be able to. So with every post I read on my Facebook newsfeed, wishing new mommies and mommies-to-be a Happy Mother’s Day, I would dissolve into tears. I wished the apocalypse would just COME already so I didn’t have to make the agonizing decision that was ahead of me.

When I called my own mother on that day, she said to me in her typical weepy woe-is-me fashion: “What’s to celebrate when my children are far away?” (My mother is your average narcissistic martyr, a specimen found readily amongst immigrant parents, I imagine. Or maybe mine is just extra special.) I wanted to reach through the phone, throttle her, and scream, “you HAVE children!!! You got to celebrate bringing them into the world, and they love you enough to CALL YOU EVERYDAY no matter how far away they are – even though you are a miserable, self-centered PAIN IN THE ASS – and you have the UTTER GALL to complain?!?! Some of us don’t GET to have our children, some of us don’t GET to celebrate today, and BY THE WAY don’t think that your fucked-up, shame-driven child-rearing and your complete inability to be supportive of your own children had nothing to do with that sad reality, MOTHER.”

Instead, I told her to enjoy her picnic on the lake with Dad, hoping that I had managed to hide all traces of bitterness from my voice.

Not being bitter was a daily battle. I watched enviously as young mothers I know (some of whom got pregnant much the way I did – unmarried and unplanned) toted their kids around, beaming with pride and joy. I hated all those mothers that posted pictures of their kids on Facebook. Every. Fucking. Hour. I’m not kidding you. What’s up with that? Seriously, Little Timmy dumps a bowl of cereal on his head, and your first thought is to pull out the camera? Actually, I get that. I would probably do the same thing. Sure, grabbing a mop would be more efficient, but it would not provide ways to embarrass your son in front of every girl he ever brought home to meet you in his teenage years. I’d be that snap-happy mom for sure. Which is probably why I chafed even more with each adorable picture and every cute quote posted (“Today little Timmy pointed at the lady ahead of us in the grocery aisle and yelled ‘her underwear is showing Mommy!’” Seriously, Little Timmy is awesome. I want a kid like that). Facebook became the bane of my existence. Well, in a whole new way, at least.

I never want to turn into one of those bitter people that can’t be happy for others. I realized a few weeks back as I glared at my computer screen with a picture of Little Timmy smiling innocently back at me, that I was beginning to turn into one of those people. This, in turn, made me realize that I had a lot of anger to vent and a lot of fingers to point at a lot of people, including myself. Looking back now, I realize that I actually went through the five stages of grief before I even made my decision. I suppose that means that I had made my decision right at the start, but needed to grieve the loss of something that I did actually want (a baby, duh) before I came to terms with said decision.

Damn. How’s that for a breakthrough? I just figured that out as I wrote today’s entry. Thank you, blogosphere. And thank you, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. Can I call you Lizzie?

The point is, the bitterness came from not wanting to own my decision. Today (Day 2 after the abortion), I was at an event crawling with babies (pun totally intended). And I felt the bitterness creeping back into me. And when my conscience wagged its finger at me and I banished the bitterness, I became overwhelmed with sadness and longing. So… today’s lesson is that the Kübler-Ross model cannot be applied in a linear fashion to real life. That is, emotions are one giant, quivering, slobbering, mass of whatever that stuff is that the Blob is made of, and sorting through them is messy. Thanks a lot, Lizzie. (See? Still bitter and assigning blame. This will be a long road.)

Ah, blame. Let’s talk of that another day. Today, I am going to wrap myself in a blanket with a pint of fake ice cream (I couldn’t do dairy when I was pregnant. Well, hello there, coconut milk ice cream! Where have you been all my life?), lock the door to keep the Blob out of my house for the night, and watch some mindless TV. Now is the time to indulge, my friends.

P.S. Lest you think I am turning into a creepy stalker that will kidnap Little Timmy, rest assured. That cannot happen since he is a figment of my imagination. Well. That just made me sound even crazier. Folks, there is no Little Timmy. Just a lot of cute kids in my life that are tormenting me these days with their cuteness. 

That Damned Blue Line

It’s funny how the minute you tell people you are pregnant, they think it’s okay to ask, “weren’t you using birth control?”

a)      Obviously, if we didn’t want a baby yet and weren’t trying to conceive, there were some preventative measures put in place.

b)      Have we ever discussed my sex life before? No? Okay, then I would really rather not start now.

Maybe this whole ordeal made me feel incredibly exposed, like I was having to share details of my life that should have been between myself and my boyfriend alone, and I’m just griping about nothing important. In our case, we had substantial evidence to convince us that we would never be able to have children, and so we became kind of lax with the whole prevention thing. Whoops.

This was, however a double-edged sword. We had two false alarms in the past, and even though neither of us felt ready to start a family yet, each time those two sad, parallel blue lines showed up on the pregnancy test, my heart would sink a little as I would realize that I may never see that oft-coveted plus sign. So, when a few weeks ago I saw that third perpendicular line, screaming at me loud and clear, I wasn’t sure if I was filled with joy or filled with terror. Actually, I was numb.  Until about two minutes later when, shaking, I was telling my boyfriend. (The shaking at this point was not entirely out of fear. I remember having to suppress a smile for about two seconds before I said it out loud. There was obviously a part of me that really wanted this.) Then I took a deep breath and sat in complete silence for a few minutes. He was pretty silent, too. I was proud of myself for being calm. That didn’t last long. A couple of hours later, I peed on another stick, just in case. Damn, that plus sign was dark. There was no mistaking it. Then about two minutes after that, I was panicking, saying “of course I can’t keep it, what on Earth will I tell my parents, we’re not even married, you don’t even act like you ever want to marry me, our relationship has been anything but stable, how can I bring a child into THIS?!?!

But then something shifted. The next morning, when I woke up, and suddenly my sore breasts and the overwhelming nausea had meaning, I smiled. I wasn’t horrified at the thought of being pregnant. I began to cherish knowing that I had the beginnings of another human being inside of me. How fucking awesome is that??? Pretty fucking awesome, I tell you. And when I say “awesome” I mean it in its true sense – it inspires awe, this little thing inside of you that was once two separate cells that merged, and now it’s a tiny little thing with a beating heart and the beginnings of eyes and a nose and tiny arms and tiny legs and… sigh.

Having been through false alarms before, I had already thought about what I would do should I find myself pregnant in the situation I was in (this is not a relationship blog, so I will try to sum it up quickly: living with my boyfriend, not having told my parents he even existed, not knowing if we would make it long enough to get married, but working on the relationship with the hopes that we would grow old together, because damn him to hell, I love the man. He’s been my friend for much longer than he’s been my lover, and I adore him, despite his excruciatingly annoying habits). So, when faced with the situation as a mere hypothetical one, I would always state rather bluntly, “I’d have to end it,” all the while wondering to myself if I would have the heart to end a pregnancy.

Well, I just found out the answer to that question the hardest way possible. I didn’t have the heart. Until the very last second, when the nurse was putting an I.V. into my arm, I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to go through with it.

A lot of people will talk to you about empowering women with choice. I think they fail to mention that it is not a choice that women ever want to make. They should just have the option of doing what is right – for themselves, for those around them, and for the potential child – even though it might never be a choice they will truly, willingly make. Sure, there might be women who can march right into a Planned Parenthood and get that thing sucked right out like it’s a tumor, and walk out feeling relieved. I’m sure they know, even in their nonchalance, that they are making a serious decision. I am not one of those women. I cringed at the thought. I cringed just now, writing that sentence – calling an embryo a tumor and picturing it being sucked out – and had to stop writing to lock myself in the bathroom and sob for a while. At the risk of making an entirely inaccurate generalization, I will say that I seriously doubt most women can be so cavalier about it. It goes against our natural instincts. Even the most left-wing, liberal, militant feminist pro-choice advocate would have a tough time fighting off her maternal instinct – not to mention those wickedly powerful mommy hormones – with her rationale.

So to my sisters out there reading this, hoping for some glimmer of clarity in a confusing time, I say this: don’t think that because it seems like an impossible thing to do, you can’t go through with it, and that you won’t be okay afterwards. It might hurt like hell, I won’t lie. I am hurting still (well it’s only been a day since the surgery), and I expect to be hurting for a while to come. But if you truly think that it is the RIGHT THING TO DO, don’t hate yourself for doing it. The fact that it hurts is, in itself, proof that you are not a monster. You are a mother – even if you don’t keep it, you will have been a mother for a few days or weeks or months, being the sole protector of what is growing inside of you. And even if you choose not to let this one see the light of day, it doesn’t mean you are being hateful or unfeeling or murderous. The day before my abortion, a counselor at the clinic said something that summed it up beautifully – “either choice you make, to keep it or let it go, will be a choice of love.” Don’t forget that, and don’t stop loving yourself either, because you need that love now more than ever.

Thank You, thesaurus.com.

So, you’re considering an abortion. And you have found yourself, like many of the touted 1-in-3 women must have done before they did the deed, looking to Google for answers. The internet has, after all, been your best friend and confidante for decades now, am I right? (Come on. You know you’ve typed “I’m bored,” “I’m depressed,” “he cheated on me,” “itchy vagina,” “cheesecake recipe” into Google at SOME point in your life. Google is like your best girlfriend that you can share all your secrets with. Never mind that as far as girlfriend’s go, Google is one mouthy broad, because minutes after you tell her your secrets, you’ve got advertisers putting banners over your e-mail inbox, telling you you’re only 10 tips away from keeping your man satisfied, or here’s this miracle ointment for yeast infections! or offering you 10% off at the Cheesecake Factory.) Anyway. Maybe you’re scared and confused, or you just want to know more about the procedure and what it will feel like. Maybe you’re feeling alone and misunderstood, and are looking for others who have shared their stories.

Wait.

Before you hit “search,” know this, and brace yourself: the internet is rife with douchebags and douchebaguettes (yes, that’s a word) that are looking to make you feel bad. Their job is to feed off your fear, shame and confusion in order to push their own religious and political agendas. Pro-lifers be warned, you will not get a lot of respect on this blog. But if you’ve got an ounce of true humanity and compassion in you, perhaps you will continue to read it without judgment, and put down your “abortion is murder” signs.

But I digress. I am not writing this blog to forward any political cause. I am writing it because I, too, was sitting at my computer two weeks ago – pregnant, scared, searching for solace in cyberspace. And what I found was little solace. I had to sift through the pages that feigned support for women by calling them “victims” of abortion. I’m sorry. This might be a difficult decision, and I might be worried that all these tears finding their way into my keyboard will cause a short circuit, but helpless victim I am NOT. There were pro-choice websites that did little to address the emotional aspects of abortion, making it sound like it was about as hard as removing an ingrown hair. Pro-choice I may be, but unfeeling robot I am not. There was a handful of support sites where a large number of women commemorated their never-born children by naming them and putting teddy bear and angel GIFs in their signatures. To each their own, of course, but I didn’t think that beginning to think of the pea-sized embryo inside of me as “baby boy Johnny” was going to make for the most rational decision on my part.

And then there was an even smaller handful of blogs written by women who had gone through the process and decided to document it in all its detail. What to Expect When You’re Aborting was written with humor, and gave a lot of useful information (like her Abortion Recovery Kit, complete with: “First you’ll need a crucifix and crushing sense of shame — OMG JJJJJJ FUCKING KAAAY.”) But at times, I couldn’t relate to her glibness (I, for example, did not think of what was growing inside of me as a “womb squid,” and I didn’t think of the pregnancy as a “son of a bitch.” A large part of me really wanted the baby). Then there was I’m Really Having An Abortion? which focused a lot more on the emotional aftermath of the blogger’s abortion, but after a while it began to read like a soap opera (I love my husband, but I can’t stop screwing my boyfriend, what should I do?), and once again I found myself unable to relate.

Don’t get me wrong, these bloggers and others like them were the internet’s saving grace, and I am grateful for these strong women for sharing their experiences. I think there should be more voices like theirs, voices that speak of experience and truth and humor and heartbreak without spewing rhetoric one way or another. And that is why I’ve decided to add my voice to theirs.

So, today, I will leave you with this: Reject the stigma. It’s a difficult thing to do (or not do), but abortion is no reason for shame. I had mine just yesterday. And I know that crippling feeling of shame that you might be suffering from. It is creeping into me as I pause between paragraphs, but I am fighting it off. As should you.

When thinking of an anonymous username for this blog, I went to thesaurus.com and searched for “abortion.” Dumb idea. Here’s what I found at the bottom of the page:

Main Entry: failure
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: lack of success
Synonyms: abortion , bankruptcy, bomb, botch, breakdown, bungle, bust, checkmate, collapse, decay, decline, defeat, deficiency, deficit, deterioration, downfall, failing, false step, faux pas, fiasco, flash in the pan, flop, frustration, implosion, inadequacy, lead balloon, lemon, loser, loss, mess, misadventure, miscarriage, misstep, nonperformance, nonsuccess, overthrow, rout, rupture, sinking ship, stalemate, stoppage, total loss, turkey, washout, wreck
Antonyms: accomplishment, achievement, attainment, earnings, gain, merit, success, win

Screw you, thesaurus.com. Way to boost my spirits the day after I had my uterus vacuumed out. But wait… they also listed “terminate” as a synonym for “abort.” At first, this did not help me, since I was still sobbing about the potential future I had terminated before it even had a chance to exist. But then, I told myself that it was up to me to shape the way I thought and felt about my decision. And so I pictured myself, Schwarzenegger-style, wearing dark glasses, wielding my massive biceps (I don’t have those, but once the no-exercise-for-two-weeks-after-surgery ban is lifted, look out!), daring, just daring anyone to mess with me. I did not kill, murder, or terminate a life, but I’ll be damned if I don’t terminate this sense of shame that society is putting on me for making the right decision. And so, even though I am grieving today, and will grieve for a long time still, I will remind myself of that image as often as I need to, so that I can be strong enough to face the condemning voices around me (and those within me).

P.S. I thought Terminator was a horrible movie that only got worse with every sequel. Perhaps tomorrow I will come up with a better image to help me through these tough times.