Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse, Pregnancy, Abortion.
I think one of the hardest thing in life for me is admitting I’ve made a mistake,
Allowing myself to feel deep in my heart, that I didn’t make (what felt like) the right choice in a situation.
I like to believe that I am a strong, smart and capable woman.
But like most of us, we do have our downfalls.
We do things we’re not proud of.
Some of us will sit there and let this guilt eat them away, but me, I push it so far down, I somehow almost convince myself that it didn’t happen.
It’s a tricky little coping mechanism that I’ve picked up along the way.
Today, when I stand and look at myself in front of a mirror; I see a survivor, a warrior, a compassionate person. A caring, open, warm and loving person but I’m trying to come to terms with who I used to be.
I used to be an emotionless monster.
I’ve been so hurt for so long, that I just stopped caring.
I wanted everyone I met to feel this same level of pain that I’ve felt my whole life.
I was sick of being pushed around, I was just sick.
Both physically and mentally.
Then I turned to drugs.
I thought the fake friends, glowing lights and wild adventures would fill the needs of this inner monster I was keeping inside me.
But all it did, was make the monster bigger.
I stopped loving myself completely. That’s when things got bad.
It was like I had this glow around me, that people could just see how hurt I was.
Like a small lamb lost in the forest, only to suddenly realize that I was surrounded by wolves with no way out.
I found myself in a very abusive relationship.
Every drop of my self-esteem was slowly sucked out of me.
I got pregnant.
I couldn’t even turn and talk to my mom, for at that time I still blamed her for allowing me to live through her past.
I got an abortion.
Do you know how terrifying it is, to sit in a waiting room, all alone, and to look around and know that every single woman in that room with you was sitting with their shame between their legs.
That each and every single one of you, were going to walk out of there not knowing if what you did was truly the right choice.
I remember holding back my tears as the doctor shoved this long metal rod inside me.
I felt numb to the nurse’s reassuring words, asking me if I was okay.
How could I be?
Before this, I didn’t even know if I was pro-life or not, all I knew was that I wasn’t going to be another stereotypical teenager living on the streets, pregnant with a guy’s child she didn’t love.
I remember getting so high afterwards.
I didn’t want to think about what I’ve done.
Or why I was bleeding uncontrollably as I sit between my friends, taking turns from the bong.
I couldn’t even tell my best friend.
You think I would have smartened up after that, you would think that perhaps, I’d start using protection, or something, anything.
But I didn’t care about myself.
God, I just wanted to get away from everything.
Late nights, distant mornings, somehow sitting in class trying to finish high school.
Cramming down facts, just to spit them back out into my teachers face.
Who could argue with a smart girl?
My tongue became a violent whip, lashing out at everyone. Then I got pregnant.
Same guy, same mistake.
Maybe deep down, there was still a part of me that hoped that perhaps one day I’d wake up and my life was just a dream.
I’d be living that all American dream, white picketed fence included.
This time around, it was way harder than the first.
For the first time in years, I was beginning to see a way out of this dark hole I’ve let myself live in.
The father convincing me that we’d be a perfect family, as we stood there in our living room surrounded by teenagers passed out in a sea of empty beer cans.
The stale smell of smoke lingering in between each word as he locked me away in his room.
The thudding of my hands against the door, slowly muffled by the loud music as I sat there, wondering if this thing growing inside me would help save me from this nightmare.
But there I found myself, sitting alone in that god damn waiting room again.
Clenching hard on a stuffed animal like maybe, I was the child the doctor was going to get rid instead of the thing growing inside me.
Even as I sit here and write these words, it still doesn’t even seem possible that I’ve come from such a dark place.
Again, I had no one to talk to this about.
I told myself I was simply taking out the trash.
Months pass, battles were overcome.
I began to finally put the pieces of myself back together.
I began to learn how to love myself again.
I started thinking of a future, dreaming, making goals.
Then I was hit with the realization, that I was still just a kid caught up in the system with no money.
Who was I to believe that I could be successful in life?
Who was I to believe that I could ever be able to have the things I want.
Somehow, I stumbled my way back into the darkness of this world.
Figured selling my body was better than to work a 9-5 job.
Better pay, and all I had to do was be my old self.
It felt like a hug from a long lost friend.
Welcoming me back into the dark clubs, gangs and drugs.
This time around though, the game had changed.
Suddenly I was going in it for the money.
Trying to appear that the designer bag on my wrist was real.
That this 50-year-old man could somehow be attractive, as I looked around, bottles of champagne chilling in the hotel room.
Again, you think that I would have learned something by now, making the same mistake not once but twice.
But there I was, pregnant yet again.
This time, I was left to sit there alone, wondering how I stooped so low.
Some strangers baby growing inside me.
Sitting in class, wondering how I was supposed to keeping playing this game.
Having this stranger telling me to just get rid of it.
Bribing me with money.
Having a taxi drive me to this place of shame yet again.
Left alone, struggling to see straight after the procedure.
Lying that my ride was waiting for me outside but secretly I’m sitting on the back of the bus not even sure where I’m going.
But knowing I had to be anywhere but there.
Struggling to choose between buying the prescription drugs or dinner that night.
Then just like that, I swallowed my shame down.
Didn’t dare tell anyone of my dirty secrets.
Went on to finish high school, get a boyfriend, put as much space between the old me and this new me.
Fixing all the relationships that I’ve broken along the way.
But somehow, when I see people out here, fighting for pro-life.
Or I see a new mother, get onto the subway and I see her holding that new born baby.
It makes me cringe. It makes me remember that, that could have been me.
It makes me remember, how dark my life used to be.
I keep thinking, that if I just move on with my life, somehow it won’t make me feel so weird inside.
But here I am, four years later and I still can’t bare to even utter to anyone that I’ve had 3 abortions.
Trigger Warning: Physical Abuse, Pregnancy, Abortion.
Seven years ago I met someone I believed would love me unconditionally, someone I thought I could possibly build a future with despite all I had been warned about. In the back of my head I felt at times something about him was off but I fought the unsettling feeling in my stomach and I chose to ignore what my friends continued to say. Logic aside, I chose to follow my heart.
We met through mutual friends one summer and initially I thought he was attractive. My friends didn’t think so but in this situation I didn’t really think it mattered what they thought. I heard about his past and I knew his lifestyle was a bit crazier than what I was used to but this excited me so anything he did outside of our relationship did not bother me at first. I knew he was a party animal but I didn’t allow that to be an issue either – I joined him.
Our one-on-ones came later; we first started hanging out in-group settings with our mutual friends at clubs. One night on the way to a club he asked my girlfriend and I if we wanted to try MDMA. I was unsure at first and hesitated but my friend went ahead and tried it so I took some as well, feeling somewhat pressured. When we got to the club we went straight to the patio and started smoking cigarettes. The drugs started to hit me and I started throwing up.
I wasn’t able to fully control myself in this situation – the vomiting, the crying and the confusion… I could hear my friend asking me if I was okay but in this moment I was unable to answer her. I could also hear him in a menacing tone asking everyone, “do you see her and do you see how it’s making her react?” He enjoyed seeing how drugs would affect people for the first time. He was aroused. I somehow ended up leaving the club with him that night. I’m not entirely sure how this happened but it ended up being the first time we had sex.
After having sex we started spending more time together. I learned his dad lived thousands of miles away from him and after starting a new family for himself he stopped caring about his first son. His mom was heavily into crack/cocaine for years before, during, and after his birth and neglected him too so he ended up living with his grandmother after his mom gave birth to him. For roughly two years we were on and off with each other but during this time there was never an official title. Only we knew what was going on.
Any time I tried to move on with another person he would get upset with me and would try to initiate fights with the guy I was speaking to. I didn’t understand this because he would never fail to remind me that I wasn’t his girlfriend. I thought him being jealous of other men was another way of displaying his feelings for me, even if it was indirect so I continued sleeping with him.
Most of the time when I was with him I was really high and out of my right mind: a few months later after continuing to have unprotected sex my period was late. I called my girlfriend who used to hang out with us in the beginning of my relationship with him and she said her period was late too. We waited a few days and then we went to a clinic together to take pregnancy tests – both tests were positive. When I called him to tell him he hung up. I called a second time and he started yelling at me. He didn’t exactly say what he wanted me to do with the baby at this point but he did say I was a slut and an idiot… this now became something that was entirely my fault.
My girlfriend and I didn’t cry at first mostly because we were both in shock. The next step was for me to figure out what to do. I was 17 at the time and I didn’t want to tell my parents. I also knew the amount of drugs I had been doing at the time would affect how my child developed. The biggest factor was my age – I knew wouldn’t be able to provide for the child on my own so I couldn’t keep the baby. The same day I found out I was pregnant was the same day I set up a day to terminate.
I felt extremely alone during this time, one of the reasons being that my girlfriend and I stopped speaking. It might’ve been the fact that we were both pregnant at the same time and had a hard time dealing with it. We were both really stressed, confused, hurting, emotional… we drifted during a time it was necessary for us to support each other. I also felt sad about my choice to have an abortion. Although it was my decision, I knew it was my irresponsibility that caused me to now have to terminate my first pregnancy. I blamed myself because I took drugs and I had unprotected sex. He was also was not a part of the abortion process and this made me feel even more alone.
We continued to see each other after the abortion but he started to say things like he didn’t want to have sex with me because a baby died in me. I began sleeping with other people, even some of his friends because I was angry with him. My pain was enough for me to justify this. When we would argue, I would throw it in his face that I slept with someone he knew. I knew the situation was unhealthy but I chose to handle it this way and continue taking drugs to cope with my loss and the entire situation. I was also hurting over my girlfriend and I not speaking. I felt isolated from everyone. I detached from my friends because they were not able to understand how I felt and I was attached to him because it involved the both of us. When it rains, it pours – situations that arise can make you feel your weakest if your support system isn’t stronger than what you’re being faced with.
The verbal abuse worsened and the physical abuse started. One night I was at his house and we were watching a movie. He suggested going out but I said this would be a bad idea because he was on house arrest. I advised we stay in and he responded by saying I was a fucking bitch and controlling. He grabbed his water bottle and poured water all over me. I decided this would be a good time for me to leave his house but he didn’t.
As I tried to leave he grabbed me. I tried to fight him off but he wouldn’t let go even though I kept saying I didn’t want to be there anymore. I started punching him because I wanted to get away. When he punched me in my nose we both heard it crack and he said, “Yeah did you hear that? I broke your nose.” I still tried to break his hold but he continued to squeeze me to the point where I blacked out temporarily. I fell and he dragged me back into the house. At some point I started to regain consciousness and I could hear he was rummaging through drawers in the kitchen; I thought his next move would be him stabbing me.
He came back to where I was and started hitting my face again. I can’t remember how I did but I got outside and started to run down the street. I knocked on his neighbour’s door and they allowed me to come in and use their phone. I called the same friend I had stopped talking to months before and she came to pick me up. The first thing she said was that I needed to go to the police to file a report and I agreed. The cops took my statement and when they pulled his record and saw the trouble he had been in before they went to get him without hesitation. I told my parents what happened when I got home and this was the first they had learned anything about what I had been going through. Charges were pressed and he went to jail for five months.
I fell into a depression. I didn’t want to go anywhere and mostly because I was scared to go outside. The entire situation starting from finding out I was pregnant and hearing his reaction right down to him putting his hands on me multiple times left me traumatized. Once, he tried to contact me from jail and when I heard his voice I hung up. I continued to use drugs as a way to cope.
Fast-forward five months: one night I went to the club and he was there. I noticed my friends kept whispering about something but wouldn’t let me in on the conversation and it hit me; he was here too. I left them to go to the washroom and as I was walking there I felt someone grab my shoulder and whisper in my ear, “I love you, I’m sorry.” He found me. It didn’t take long before I found myself kissing him until one of my girlfriends came over and pulled me off. They were furious that I would entertain him after all he had done to me but still, in a moment of weakness I tried to seek comfort in him, the one person I shouldn’t. My friends and I left the club and went back to one of my girlfriends’ house. The entire time after I left the club we were texting each other. He later stopped by my friend’s house in a cab to pick me up and despite my girlfriends telling me to not go and that they would be upset with me if I left, I did. I was happy to hear from again but I knew I shouldn’t have been. Why would I be happy to hear from someone that did the things he did? It took me a bit of time before I understood the cycle of abuse.
He said all I needed to hear: he was sorry, he would never do it again, he’s changed, and he’s learned his lesson after being in jail. So I forgave him and we were now officially in a relationship – I had the title I wanted him to give me for two years now and I felt this time would be completely different.
Although my romantic relationship seemed to be flourishing, my relationship with the women in my life went down the drain. Every single one of my girls turned on me because they didn’t support my decision to be in a relationship with him. Instead of trying to understand that I cared for him or remain in my life as a support system in case something went wrong they started calling me names. They would see me out and call me a dirty whore, they would comment on my pictures on social media saying horrible things about me and overall they made me feel even more depressed. This went on for the 7 months I stayed in a relationship with him. The first two months our relationship it felt like he had made changes within himself but after a short time I started to see signs of aggressiveness again. He never hit me again but the verbal abuse continued. He would grab me if we got into an argument and even the smallest arguments were magnified, as he couldn’t control his temper. He would go from being extremely happy with me to being extremely sad and angry within seconds. One minute our conversations were laced with words of love and the next minute he shared he thought I was a whore and worthless. I knew there was something more to him I’d never be able to control but during the time we were in a relationship I tried my best to. His mother knew I tried to leave a few times and every time I attempted to do this she would manage to persuade me to stay a bit longer by saying he needed someone like me because she wasn’t there for him when he was growing up. I was being manipulated all around.
One day we were out having lunch and I saw a girl I had asked him to stop speaking to before sent him a text message. He was being shady again. I got up to leave the restaurant but he wouldn’t let me leave. Leaving him became a problem and at times I found myself scared to go because he would either make me watch as he hurt himself or tell me he would commit suicide if I chose to leave.
We ended up in the street outside of the restaurant arguing. He started following me every time I tried to walk away and as he followed he taunted me. He would keep saying that I couldn’t call my family because I wasn’t allowed to be around him and he’d remind me I didn’t have any friends that would help me get out of the situation this time. Reminding me I was alone was his speciality. I was screaming and crying in the street and despite how many times I asked someone to help, they continued to walk right past me. I tried numerous times to get into a cab but he would open the cab door before I could get to it and tell the driver to leave. I made my way to the subway and went straight home. I told myself to take as much space as I needed and I refused to contact him.
After the incident in front of the restaurant he called me a few nights later. He apologized to me and I let it slide again. Before we ended the conversation he told me he was going to bed and that we would speak in the morning. I woke up to three voicemails from him. He lied again. He went to a club and pocket dialed me and this was the last straw for me. I grew weary and I was exhausted. I tried over and over again to help this person, to be there for him, and to show him the love he never received at home. He didn’t respect me after all I had done and after the voicemails I had confirmation that he would not change and I’d always be with someone who didn’t respect me, my body, my feelings, or who felt I deserved the truth regardless of what the situation was.
There comes a time when you have to put yourself first as cliché as that sounds. My eyes didn’t open after the first time he hurt me. It’s always easier to say what you could have done differently but what I learned after I left the situation is that when you’re in an unhealthy relationship with someone who doesn’t recognize they have trauma of their own, there is a cycle that you end up in unwillingly. It is in my nature to care and love so when in a relationship with someone that was my first priority. In his case, I wanted to show him love and care for him in ways he told me he never experienced because of his family situation.
It always starts the same way: the honeymoon phase filled with promises to change, apologies after something happens, even gifts depending on what they did. Then the tension builds: they start to criticize you, the swearing starts and if they’re not able to coerce you to do what they want, they try again with anger. Lastly explosion: attacks and pain both emotional and physical. This cycle became me. Month after month and time and time and time again I experienced each one of these phases until one day I broke free – twenty four months was enough.
Trigger Warning: Pregnancy, Miscarriage.
I knew that as soon as the umbilical cord was cut, my daughter would take her last breath. I’ve managed to survive after losing my child.
I found who I thought was the love of my life at age 13, much earlier than anyone else I know. We clicked instantly and he and I managed to stay together all through high school despite any trials and tribulations we faced during this time. We were comfortable, in love and it was just simple.
I was 15 when I lost my virginity to this person and after the first time I had sex I became pregnant. We both decided it was too early in our lives to carry this pregnancy to term and decided together that an abortion would be the best decision for us. Despite what we decided, the idea of an abortion tore me up inside and caused me a great amount of stress. I went back and forth but after miscarrying I took this as a sign that it was meant to happen this way. After the miscarriage we still continued to talk about having a family one day even though we were still hurting. We had names picked out for our future children and we still shared our dreams and aspirations.
I met someone in college and I started to feel something for them but initially I wasn’t sure of how to explain these feelings. They were confusing because this person was a woman. I struggled with the idea of pursuing a relationship with her out of fear. I wanted to continue looking “normal” and I wanted to be accepted. I wasn’t sure of how to deal with this new label I would be given, “lesbian.” I also didn’t want to be judged. Eventually I let these thoughts go. I did not want to look back and have any regrets so I ended my relationship with my boyfriend and decided I’d follow my heart.
She forced me to explore new parts of my soul. I found out new things about myself I didn’t realize were there and the love I felt for her was like nothing I’ve felt before. It didn’t mean that what I experienced with my boyfriend wasn’t real, it just meant that I was now learning about a new kind of love that I was more receptive to. Her touch was different as her hands felt like silk. She understood me in a different way and this was a breath of fresh air. She was able to look deep and far past all I’ve experienced that caused me sorrow. In return I would have done anything to make her happy and at the time I thought she would do the same; until she cheated.
My heart shattered. This cut me deep and it was more than I could handle at the time. On the outside I started to show anger but on the inside I was in pain; new bruises. I started drinking more and smoking weed as a way to cope. I started to act reckless and outside my character. Before I knew it I found myself running back to the arms of my first love, hoping he could help me forget what I was feeling. Any time we got together we would drink, talk, laugh and I was able to forget for a second the pain I was feeling and he would put my mind at ease. We’d talk about our past together and we’d talk about what we had planned for the future. In a moment of reflecting we slept together without using condoms. I got pregnant again.
When I let him know I was pregnant he didn’t ask me to have an abortion, he told me to have one. He told his family and acted confused as if he didn’t know how it happened. He belittled me in front of his family and allowed them to criticize me and say I was forcing him to grow up before he was ready. The lack of support from him made me agree to have an abortion… until I confided in my ex girlfriend.
I wanted her to hear from me instead of someone else that I had gotten pregnant by my ex boyfriend and she became the first person I told. Her first question was about what the father thought about it and I let her know he was pressuring me to have an abortion. Her face immediately showed disgust and she questioned why I would go ahead with that option knowing in my heart I wanted to keep this baby. I shared with her that I didn’t want my child to grow up not knowing who their father was because I knew my ex boyfriend would remove himself from the situation. She responded saying my baby didn’t need him as their father because we had her and my family. She offered to help; saying she would pick up more shifts and help me with anything I needed. We cried together for hours talking about the baby and she begged me to not do it. My ex girlfriend was right – I didn’t want to have an abortion and aside from that what she said was true; I didn’t need his support and deciding whether or not to keep the baby wasn’t only his decision to make. I decided I wasn’t going to terminate my pregnancy.
Eventually, at some point during my pregnancy, my ex boyfriend got on board but when he came back my trust for him was minimal. I started to prepare for this baby as a single mother and he hated it. He’d tell me I made him feel like I didn’t need him and he was right, my response would always be, “because I don’t.” He still stuck around even though at times I was difficult and still accompanied me to my appointments and ultrasounds.
My ex girlfriend would bring me food and visit regularly. She’d talk to my belly and even if we were fighting she would ignore me but continue to ask about the baby several times a day. She hated that I was pregnant by my ex boyfriend but loved the baby I was carrying. We found ourselves arguing about plans that included my ex boyfriend and the baby; she was also upset about not being able to attend all appointments with me. She didn’t have much control over how much of the baby’s life she would be a part of and would get really angry with me. Her moods were like day and night – at times we were doing great but in those moments where she felt she lost control she started to talk down to me, calling me a whore and telling me my child would be ashamed of me for being involved with both her and my child’s father. At the same time I was constantly fighting with my ex boyfriend about everything right down to me suggesting we should hyphenate our child’s last name since we weren’t married. The stress I was feeling because of them started to become unbearable.
At three months I stopped working, at four months I was instructed to remain on bed rest, and at five months I went into labour. I quit my job and was forced to go on unemployment to pay my bills. I was not supposed to go anywhere except for my appointments and back home again. I couldn’t stomach my food, I lost 20-30 pounds, and I would faint multiple times a day if I stood too long. One night my ex-girlfriend and I got into a fight about how the baby shower would work. She still had animosity towards the father and his initial rejection of the baby. The argument got heated and she took her frustration out on me. Again, she spit comments about the failure of a mother I’d be and about my whorish ways; commenting on how no one could love me because of how spiteful (she thought) I was. The next day at my doctor’s appointment the father and I found out that my water had broken and that my amniotic fluid was dangerously low. I never got to leave the hospital.
I found out I was having a girl. I was told they needed to induce me and that I would have her that night. A lump grew in my throat when I realized what I was being told – I went into labour too early; I would be giving birth but leaving without a child. My daughter was two weeks away from having fully developed lungs and on her own she would not be able to breathe. I took some of my anger and pain out on my ex girlfriend. I texted to say the baby would die and when she tried to call me I hung up and asked her to not speak to me. The pain I experienced was unbearable not just because I chose to not have an epidural but because I knew that as soon as the umbilical cord was cut, my daughter would take her last breath.
It was heart breaking because she was active in my stomach and I tried so hard not to let my body alarm her of what was happening. She was moving happily until the very end. I gave birth and she passed away a half-an-hour later. I didn’t get to hold her until she had already passed because the doctor didn’t show up until after she had already passed away. When the nurse handed her to me she said, “it’s okay, you’re both young, you guys just try again,” before she walked away. We spent a few hours with our daughter, holding her lifeless hand before I allowed them to take her away. My ex girlfriend begged for me to tell her where I was but I wouldn’t respond.
I went into a depression. I came home to all of my daughter’s stuff in her room but without her. I completely shut down. I had suffered loss before but nothing compares to the loss of your own flesh and blood. I blamed so many people for my child’s death including myself. I felt I failed her that day. I felt like the hurtful words I listened to leading up to the day I went into labour and the stressful situations I was in could have been prevented and avoided if I didn’t continue to involve myself with these two people.
I knew it would take me years before I could accept what happened and to speak of everything without bursting into tears. I held onto so much hate that it turned me into a bitter person. I failed to see any light in anything that I did. I rejected any love anyone was trying to give to me and I carried the burden of not being able to carry my child to term.
Often times we forget to cherish the moments we have and to see how potentially beautiful these situations can be. There are many situations I wish had played out differently and with people I know would have treated me better. Sometimes we take our blessings for granted and find loopholes in why we should be grateful. Looking back now I realize that one of the most damaging things from this situation was allowing people to make decisions for me. I was already going through enough. The verbal abuse can and will drain you. I listened to the words thrown at me and internalized them as facts. I am not a whore, I am not damaged, and of course one day someone will love me. My daughter as she looks down on me is the most proud of who I am. Do not allow the words of others to define who you are or alter the decisions you make for yourself. You know what’s best for you. I hope anyone experiencing emotional turmoil and with unsupportive people sees that they are worth more! I look in the mirror every day and I tell myself exactly that: I am more than what those people thought of me. I’m slowly healing and learning ways to cope with the loss of my child. I am beautiful, I am strong, I am worthy and I have survived.
Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse, Abortion.
The scars on my legs, even after two years, are still healing. I’m still waiting for the marks to go away. Back then, when they were fresh, he’d see the cuts and say if I was trying to punish myself I should have sliced deeper.
I can’t tell you exactly when he started to change. I have an idea, a rough time frame, but I can’t pinpoint the exact time because the shift wasn’t sudden and happened gradually.
Beginning of the relationship:
We met in 2008. I was 16 years old. We had class together. I still remember the first day I walked into the room. I was late and he was already seated. We locked eyes but I don’t remember ever really trying to speak to him again after that. I don’t think I even had interest in him at first or found him attractive. There was nothing compelling about him till we spoke. I guess all they say about mental connection is true because it was after our first conversation I was intrigued. After school that night I went home and searched him on Facebook but for some reason he was already on my friends list so I went ahead and messaged him. We added each other that night on MSN and it started from there.
By 2010 we were in a relationship. In those two years after meeting we built a friendship. I don’t think at ages 15 and 16 you really take relationships seriously anyway so when we were a little older and when we thought we were mature enough, we decided to give an official, committed relationship a shot. At first it was light, it was fun, it was innocent and we enjoyed each other. I looked forward to the messages after class on MSN and I waited for his text messages before I went to bed. We talked about everything. I couldn’t wait to get to school to see him or to run into him in the hallways. He wanted to understand why I did the things I did and why I said what I said. His approach was different and he seemed to genuinely care. So over some time trust was built and I opened up.
He didn’t just love my light, he listened to all that was dark and it felt like he could help me heal. Looking back now I don’t know if I was in love with him or the idea that someone could look past all I felt about me was messed up. No doubt this person became my best friend before it went sour. I needed someone to listen and I needed to feel like someone would stay. He was stable; whether or not deep down I was in love with him, I kept him. I’ve never had stability before.
This new relationship started and I felt like God was finally bringing something positive into my life. I felt like I was always dealt the worst hand. Don’t get me wrong; I knew I had many things to be grateful for. I had received an ample amount of blessings and amazing people to share these things with but there were also so many hardships I couldn’t quite grasp or make sense of its reason for happening.
I had 1001 walls built and he tried to knock all of these down. I didn’t want to let anyone in because I didn’t need anyone. My mentality was, “I had gotten this far without anyone and I don’t need someone starting now.” I tried over and over and over again to push him away but he didn’t budge. He stayed, he tried, he wanted to be there, he wanted to learn my triggers and he wanted me to get to better a place. He said he wanted me to succeed and he wanted to take care of me. Illusion.
He didn’t understand why I didn’t fully enjoy sex. He started to take it personally that I would never have an orgasm with him, that I couldn’t look him in the eyes or that when he tried to push his fingers in me I would push his hands away. My favourite position was doggie style and not because I enjoyed lying on my stomach or because I was lazy. I couldn’t handle intimacy. I was frustrated with myself too. My internal battle was affecting what I was trying to grow with this “wonderful” new person and so I told him what my “problem” was; I had been raped when I was 14, just three years before our relationship started and sex scared me. I was trying though. I wanted to try again with him but I was scared. I thought this would scare him away or that he would tell me it was too much but he stayed and we continued our relationship. This was the first major thing he learned.
One day he forgot and tried with fingers again and I started to cry. At first I laid there, hiding my face with his pillow so he wouldn’t see and I tried my best to enjoy it but I couldn’t. My sobbing grew louder and couldn’t be hidden anymore. He asked what was wrong and I told him at one point during the incident my rapist used his nails to violently scratch my vagina after he had finished with his penis. He never tried with his fingers again and this was the second major thing he learned.
Since he couldn’t pleasure me with his fingers he tried with his mouth. Any time his head started to get lower, I would pull his face up and stop this from happening almost immediately. He loved how I tasted but I hated that he always wanted more. Eventually he asked me why I wouldn’t let him where he wanted to go and I told him the first person to ever use his mouth on me was someone related to me. They both had beards. Even though I knew my partner wasn’t the older male who took advantage of me when I was eight years old, his beard touching my leg made me cringe. This was the third major thing he learned.
One night he was on his way to a party and asked me if I had a problem with it because women I didn’t know would be there. I said that I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly worried. This was conflicting for me: I love and adore women. I’ve been with women. I believe they deserve the most respect. I believe they are all survivors, they are all strong, and they are more than worthy of all things great. I hold all the females in my life on a pedestal – on the highest level is my mother. They never intimidate me, as I genuinely want all of us to succeed – but “daddy issues” do not disappear overnight. He asked me what worried me about women and I told him that it had to do with male interaction with females, males that I trust. I spent my entire childhood watching my mother cry because my father didn’t come home. I listened to her excuses for why he was absent but I let her believe I didn’t understand why he wasn’t there. When he was sober he was amazing. He was my favourite person in the whole world. When he drank I didn’t know who he was. I watched him hit her, abuse her – physically, mentally, verbally, you name it. I don’t think I can erase the image of a knife to her neck as my sister and I screamed and cried. She faced it. Later down the road as a grown woman my mother asked me if I thought she was weak and without hesitation I said no; she’s the strongest person I know. She does not need to explain her decisions and I was able to make sense of why she stayed. My partner at the time knew; he knew I was terrified of being cheated on and he knew it would kill me to find out he was involved with another woman. This was the fourth major thing he learned.
There he had it – I laid it all out for him. I trusted him to not hurt me. I saw this person as someone different so I exposed myself. All that made me vulnerable, all that made me the slightest insecure and all the details I promised I would keep private were now shared with someone I believed loved me. What I would later learn is that possession does not coincide with love; compliance is not a way to prove you’re genuine and eventually restraint will cause resentment.
I needed to understand him too so I dug. I wanted to know what he had experienced, if anything. He touched on having a father who was physically abusive to both him and his mother. I listened to him and although I couldn’t relate to my father ever putting his hands on me I understood how watching your mother experience something painful could affect you whether it be now or later. I understand the construct of hyper-masculinity and how males are conditioned to behave a certain way and I also understood that one of the first ways he learned to treat a woman was by inflicting pain. I just didn’t think he’d ever do it to me. Call me naïve – I thought I could reverse his way of thinking.
I decided I would be there for him the same way he was for me. At this point in my head he was still this “wonderful” new person who knew everything about me, wanted to help me, who didn’t find me to be unworthy after all he had learned and who wouldn’t use anything he knew to make me feel worse about things that already made me feel ashamed. And again, so I thought.
Two people searching for love will never find it. He said he didn’t feel cared for at home and I said the same. He told me I was the person to show him the most love, more than his family did. I told him I loved that I made him feel this way. So I did what was in my nature – I stayed to help him feel something the same way I needed to. What I also understand now is that two people searching for love will have two different definitions of what love is. My definition consists of nurturing, the ability to remain autonomous and free, forgiveness, understanding, and to give wholeheartedly. Later I learned his definition of love consisted of control and manipulation, power, compliance and to inflict pain, just like his father, as an act of self – fulfilment.
Middle of the relationship/The Slow Shift:
He expressed he hated all of my male friends and my exact words were, “that’s unfortunate.” He knew who I was, he knew I was “that girl,” the only female to get invited to an all male party as “one of the guys.” That wasn’t going to change. Red flag number one.
He didn’t like that my girlfriends were a priority. I never did anything to make him feel he wasn’t important or included but if any of the women in my life needed me, I made sure to be there. He thought this put him second and he didn’t like this. Red flag number two.
He constantly called my phone if I was out with my friends. He needed to make sure there wasn’t a guy around. No matter how much I tried to reassure him that I’d never cheat on him he didn’t believe me. Red flag number three.
He started to monitor who was messaging me. He would constantly argue with me about male friends he didn’t know. He got upset when these friends ‘liked’ my pictures on Instagram or Facebook. Eventually I had to turn notifications off on my phone because I didn’t want to deal with him. Red flag number four.
I put up a fight. Always. He wasn’t going to control me or tell me what to do. I was going to hang with my boys, I was going to party wherever I wanted to and I was going to return the call of whichever one of my male friends was calling even if it was right in front of him. This didn’t mean I was immature or not ready for a relationship. This displayed how controlling he was. It wasn’t disrespect. I didn’t have to alter my behaviour because he was insecure. He didn’t like how he looked and felt he was stagnant in life. He wasn’t working and I was on top. I was always on top. I had money and I was taking care of myself. I was always involved with numerous projects at once. I had friends and I was well known. People knew who I was but only knew him as my boyfriend. I was stronger than him, mentally. I challenged him and he didn’t like it. Later down the line he would come to tell me that he was intimidated by me and this explained his much of his behaviour.
Instead of leaving him at this point, two years in, I decided I would stay and help tackle his insecurities and all that made him uneasy. What I didn’t understand is that you cannot help someone that does not want to be helped or who believes his actions can be justified. He looked at me as his possession instead of his equal. It’s not your job to “help,” period. At times I knew things he did and said was wrong but he was my first serious boyfriend. His actions after years of inconsistency and instability in my home, felt somewhat okay. I was desensitized to so much after seeing my mother go through worse. I felt I had it better. I don’t feel this way now but back then it felt normal.
The first time he called me out my name I let it slide. After all he didn’t know better, right? He had watched his father do it to his mother and so he didn’t actually mean it when he repeated the words to me, right? Wrong. We had just finished shopping and we were on our way home. He wanted to spend time with me later in the evening but I told him I couldn’t – I had plans with the guys. He looked me dead in my eyes and called me a whore and he said he knew what I was doing when I was out with them and I wasn’t answering his messages. This fight escalated quickly and I defended myself. I tried to level with him but he said I was a bitch for arguing with him, then he said I was a cunt and then for whatever reason started to name people I slept with before knowing him and called me a slut. He looked at me again and said I was deserving of the rape because all I did was flirt with men anyway. He used major incident number one as a way to make me feel the lowest I could possibly feel. I tried to walk away from this argument but he kept following and blocking me. He didn’t want me to leave. Possession. I ended up having to call one of my friends to pick me up to get me away from him. Slowly I started to shut down and his way of speaking to me continued. I’ve always believed the most important thing in a relationship is not communication, but forgiveness. So I forgave him and we continued.
The hard part of the relationship – middle to end:
February 17th 2012 one of my best friends asked me to watch her son. I asked him if he wanted to tag along and keep me company that night as he had the night off work. My friend went on her date; I locked her door, put her son to bed, and fucked him in her living room.
March 28th 2012 I took a pregnancy test in the washroom at my school. Positive. I didn’t cry because I was happy. I ran back to my classroom to get two of my girls. I took them down the hallway and we plopped on the floor. I showed them the test and I told them how excited I was. I called him to let him know. His response: “you’re a cunt, that’s not my baby, didn’t we talk about how much of a whore you are and that you’re sleeping with other guys? Get rid of it.” This was when I started to cry.
When he calmed down he called me back and we spoke. He said he would leave school to pick me up. He asked me what I was craving and said he would take me to eat. He said he was sorry, that he actually was excited and that he was wrong for what he said. Forgiveness. So we continued.
We decided we were going to keep our baby. Agreed – the timing was probably the worst, our families wouldn’t be happy, but we both believed it was a blessing.
Then he changed his mind. Over and over he changed his mind. One minute it was all a go then he called me a dirty whore and said I needed to get rid of “it.” Then when he decided we would keep our baby I was the person he loved the most, his best friend, and he couldn’t wait to see what our baby looked like. Forgiveness.
Of course he changed his mind again after that. My anxiety disorder worsened. After the sexual abuse I had experienced earlier on and now being pregnant and having someone verbally abuse me every day, it escalated to a point where it was uncontrollable and I was having anxiety attacks several times a day. Both my mental and physical health was deteriorating. I woke up to text messages where he asked me if I woke up in a pool of blood and to only respond if I miscarried. Before I went to bed I received messages where he told me I was filth, I asked to be raped, and that he doesn’t want to have babies with a dirty woman so I should abort. Messages like these continued for weeks, all day and all night.
I didn’t tell anyone what was going on. How could I? They looked at me as the strong one of the group; I was the mother. I took care of everyone else. My relationship on the outside looked perfect. How could I possibly go to my friends and tell them I needed help? He knew I’d never tell anyone. I believed whatever happens in a relationship stays between the two people so I never said a word. Maybe I was also trying to protect him.
April 3rd 2012 I had an abortion. I couldn’t take him anymore. Secretly, deep down, I didn’t want his child. I wanted my child but I didn’t want his. I cried and cried feeling like I killed my baby and carried this guilt for years but I did what I had to do. I thought maybe he would change if I made him happy and our relationship would be good again after the abortion but he wouldn’t touch me or look at me the entire time. From the moment he picked me up till I got home he wouldn’t engage with me. I was sitting on the floor in the hallway outside of the clinic and reached up for a hug but me pushed me down to the floor and asked me to not speak to him. I sat there and cried till it was my turn.
After we left the clinic he still wouldn’t speak to me. I was drowsy from the drugs and I remember him walking ahead of me, not turning back once to help me. I fell trying to get inside of my house and he yelled at me telling me to hurry the fuck up because he had to get home. I thought this would be the end of him but it wasn’t.
Exactly one week after the abortion I woke up to a text message from him saying was really tired. I called him to say hi and asked why he didn’t sleep well. He told me he was up until 3am talking to his ex girlfriend, almost taunting me with this. I hung up and had an anxiety attack. He used incident number four to hurt me.
I drank every single night for months. The drinking stopped when I started cutting myself. I never understood why people hurt themselves but that day I did. It made me feel better. Also, I was working and I couldn’t handle a hangover while there. At the time it was the quickest and easiest way to release. I fell into a deep depression. After being pregnant for two months I was attached to my baby and I couldn’t wrap my head around the termination. Regret. I wouldn’t accept help from my friends. Most of them didn’t understand and I was ashamed to go to the ones that did. I felt alone. Two of my best friends were away in another country and I couldn’t face my family. I was young too. I didn’t even really understand what was happening. I tried to continue like everything was okay but it wasn’t.
You act in ways outside your usual character when you feel like you don’t have anyone. Or when you tell yourself you don’t have anyone. One day after an anxiety attack I attempted suicide. I still remember that day like it was yesterday – I was laying on the floor in my basement crying about my baby. I tried but was unsuccessful. I panicked and called my friends but they didn’t answer me. The next person I called to take me to the hospital was him. He picked me up to take me but cussed at me the entire way there, cussed at me every time the doctors left the room and cussed at me before he left. He was upset he had to miss work.
He knew at this point he had some kind of power over me. He saw how much I loved him after I begged for us to keep our child and after I begged him to be treat me better but stayed even though he didn’t. One minute he was great, one minute he was horrible. It was almost like he was testing me every single time and I didn’t budge. When he wanted to see me weak and have an anxiety attack, he’d mentioned his ex. When he wanted to see me cry he would say if I were a stronger woman I would have held onto the baby despite all that he did. I started to internalize all of this. Love can be wonderful and it can be the most beautiful thing but it can also be the most darkest, damaging, and hurtful thing when used as a weapon.
At times I would be having an anxiety attack and he would hover me saying and doing things that would make them worse for me. I would lie there crying, hyperventilating, having absolutely no control over my body and he would laugh and smirk as I begged him to hold me and calm me down. He wouldn’t touch me. Instead he would say, verbatim, “everyone thinks you’re this strong woman but I know exactly how to break you down, I know I can control you.” At one point after the abortion he wanted to have sex but I was still bleeding. I told him I couldn’t and that he’d have to give me a few days. We were out driving one day and continued to do so till he said, “no I want it now, let’s pull over.” I didn’t really know how to react and I kind of just looked at him. I told him I was cramping and in pain. He said, “Guess I should just call my ex.” Compliance.
We went to a parking garage. He entered me, pulled out, looked at the blood on himself and told me “I was absolutely disgusting,” put his pants back on and we left. Another time after that when I stopped bleeding we attempted sex and he saw the marks on my leg after cutting. He looked at me and said if I was trying to punish myself I should have sliced deeper. According to him I was responsible everything that happened.
There was a monster in this man I could not tackle. Even if I tried to tackle it I’d never be successful. I wanted to stick by him and I wanted to help him change but even thinking he could be changed to suit me was a mistake in itself. I’ve always been a strong woman. And in these moments where it sounds like I was weak, I wasn’t. Abuse comes in many forms but starts with manipulation. Mental abuse is hard to recognize at first since it doesn’t leave obvious marks and it’s not always blatant and in your face. It can be characterized by the manipulation and invalidation of a person. Anything he did and said to me was to invalidate me as a woman, first starting with invalidating my strength.
I was trying to work towards a better place for myself and he recognized this. I tried to leave him numerous times but he would threaten to swallow a bottle of pills or hurt himself and I’d stay – thinking it wasn’t who I met back in 2008 and that he needed help too. I felt trapped. Remember what I said about forgiveness being the most important thing in a relationship? The act of forgiveness can destroy you.
Nobody believed me when I tried to share what this person did and said to me until I showed proof. I showed them my phone so they could see his text messages and one night his best friend listened to him on speaker as he cussed at me the day after my birthday. He was mad guys were flirting with me at my party. Everyone viewed him as this sweet and lovely person. Only I knew who he was.
He wanted compliance but that wasn’t in my nature. He needed someone to control and maybe at my weakest moment he had that but it didn’t continue for long. Recognizing red flags isn’t as easy as it seems when you pair all that I went through at home and as a child with what he was doing. I’ve learned now.
Our cores do not change. My heart and my core is different and will never be the same as his. At the center of his core was darkness, and at the center of mine, despite all that I had gone through, was light. People will choose to show you what they want but deep down they will always be the same.
He started our relationship saying he admired how strong I was but this was far from the truth. This relationship ended one night after a party. We went to one of our friend’s house and afterwards attempted to have sex. I got on top of him; I kissed and licked his neck, pushed his head between my breasts, begged him to suck on my nipples and moaned as he did. Then I hopped off to turn on my back, waiting for him to fuck me. I was wet and ready to go. He slid in me and I pushed him off me and sat up. Something shifted, I don’t know what or why, or even when, but I looked him dead in his eye and said, “get the fuck off me, you disgust me.” Karma. I put my clothes on and I left. I was ready to move on.
If your partner had to be in a state of distress and depression for you to feel happiness, even in the slightest, you’re weaker than them even at their lowest. He started to slowly realize towards the end of our relationship how much his family impacted his life and he started to slowly see exactly how damaging he had been but at that point when he finally realized a change needed to be made, I was ready to walk. He cried, he called me and begged me to work things out but it was too late for me.
Relationships and what being in a relationship entails can be confusing. This idea of sticking by someone no matter what they do or say to you will make you forget about what your needs are and what makes you happy. This is not called sacrifice for the other person; this becomes self-destructive for you. I stopped worrying about what he needed when I chose to leave because I started to see that nurturing each other’s needs was not being done mutually. It wasn’t easy to move on or to make sense of most of what happened. My focus became healing on my own and without him – he was the root of the issues.
I forgot for a short while but I know who I am. What he planted in my head was slowly removed. I am none of the things he tried to tell me I am. Instead of continuing a relationship with someone who constantly reminded me of everything that caused me pain I decided to start a new journey, standing alone. I have to live with my decisions and I know why I made them. I cannot question or punish myself for anything that happened before him, during our relationship, or even after. Forgiveness. And so I continued.
Trigger Warning: Abortion.
About three days before I took the test, I knew I was pregnant. The new changes in my body for the past week or so had clued me in, not to mention that my period was five days late at this point. I woke up on a Tuesday and I just knew in my heart that I was pregnant though I had never been in this situation before. I guess a woman’s intuition is a real thing.
The next 3-4 days were spent frantically googling pregnancy symptoms and other things that could be the cause of my new-found exhaustion, mood swings and all-day nausea. I’m surprised that no one close to me was clued in, I mean I took myself to bed at 8pm every night and I was extremely moody and sensitive. Though I knew it, I willed it to be not true because I did not want to be in this position. I decided that I would go to Walmart on that Friday and buy a pregnancy test to confirm. Up until this point, I had not shared any of this experience with anyone, not even the “father.”
Around came Friday and I found myself in the condoms/pregnancy test aisle in a busy Walmart. Standing in that aisle, all I felt was shame and embarrassment for my predicament. I even began to tear up as I stood there trying to decide which pregnancy test to buy. This sounds irrational but I honestly felt like I could sense people staring at me more than normal as they walked by. I approached the checkout line and tried to hide the pregnancy test as much as I could because the shame I felt was too real. I’m not sure if the cashier noticed what I was purchasing but when she looked at me all I saw was kindness in her eyes and in her demeanor which caught me off guard. As I left I immediately felt emotional and started to tear up.
At that point I knew I couldn’t continue to do this alone. I texted one of my best friends and told her I thought I might be pregnant and how much I was freaking out. She called me and I began to cry. Like an amazing friend she started to go through all the other logical explanations for my symptoms. Though I appreciated her efforts, like I said, I already knew I was pregnant. We decided that I would wait till after she finished work to do the test.
My family is of a South Asian background and there was no way I could have confided this without getting kicked out or disowned. As such, I didn’t want to chance it by taking the test at home. My friend drove us to a Starbucks about 15-20 min away and I ended up doing my test in that bathroom. I peed in a cup to do the test and as we waited for the results I went to dispose of the contents of the cup. As I was doing so my friend called out “Is it supposed to be two lines if you’re pregnant?” I responded with a ‘yes’. I’ll never forget when she said back to me “Babe, you’re pregnant.”. My friend, bless her heart, wrapped me up in a hug and was more emotional than I was. I think because I had already accepted the fact I was pregnant, even before I took the test, it contributed to my lack of emotion. Instead, I nervously laughed (my go to in uncomfortable situations), and we both kept repeating how shocked we both were at the fact that I was pregnant.
Till this point I had not shared any of this experience with the father. I tend to be very independent, especially when it comes to emotional situations. I shy away because I feel like I’m burdening others with my issues. By virtue of his career, he was often busy and I didn’t want to add to that. I shared this concern with my friend and she gave me her view on this. It helped me realize that it wouldn’t be fair to him to not allow him to have any part. Later that same night I found myself meeting up with the father to tell him I was pregnant. When put in uncomfortable situations I often resort to inappropriate jokes or just plain laughing at things that aren’t remotely funny. So there I was, sitting in a car with him and I found myself laughing while telling him I was pregnant.
Before he could say much or get out of the shocked state he was probably in, I began to ramble and I told him I knew I couldn’t keep the child. From the moment that I knew I was pregnant, before I even took the test, I knew the reality of my situation. I was 23 years old and I had just finished up with school, yet to start my career. I knew I wasn’t in the ideal position to be starting a family, let alone doing that with someone I had only known for a couple months. He expressed that he felt the same about my decision and wanted to be there for me when I went to the appointment. For reasons beyond me, I found myself trying to give him an out and told him that it wasn’t necessary because my best friend was surely accompanying me. He ignored that and said he wanted to be there and I guess that caught me off guard. I tend to expect the worst in any situation I go into and I expected him to not care or want to be there at all but this was different.
From this point up until and even after the procedure, there is no way I would have been able to go through this without my best friend. When I say this girl went above and beyond, its not a joke or exaggeration: from being there for the pregnancy test, driving me to see the father, booking the appointment and taking me to the abortion appointment, showing up at my house with iron pills and multivitamins, and even taking me on a mini road trip to keep my mind off the stress. She was my rock through this whole ordeal and I don’t even have words to express or show my gratitude to her for keeping me sane. The timeframe from when I took the pregnancy test to when I had the abortion was only about 6 days but the emotional rollercoaster I went through was difficult.
Though I was sure of my decision from the very beginning, it does not mean this was a smooth or joyous process for me. Before I found myself pregnant, I honestly thought motherhood wasn’t for me and I was sure of that. However, after becoming pregnant, I felt something change in myself and I realized that I could have the capacity and nature to be a mother if I wanted to. It was hard for me to come to this realization because I didn’t want this to be my first experience with pregnancy/motherhood, etc. It took me a couple days to be okay with this experience and then I took my time to ‘say goodbye’. I needed to just say thank you to my unborn child/fetus/whatever you want to call it, for it’s presence in my life and the realizations it brought along. I also needed time to acknowledge that it just wasn’t the right time or place for me for this to happen.
This takes me to the day of the abortion, the Thursday after. My best friend picked me up, took me to the appointment and the father met us there. The abortion experience itself wasn’t as traumatizing or painful as I expected it to be which could be attributed to the painkillers and Ativan I was given. Though I did find myself emotionally drained as I came out of the procedure to meet my friend and the father. Once it was over and I had the chance to sleep, I found myself feeling relieved more than anything else. At first, this made me feel guilty.
I felt like I shouldn’t be allowed to feel this way after what had just happened. I expected to be in some sort of emotional turmoil or thought that’s what the normal experience was, as per narratives I read online. The more stories I read through, the more I realized that rarely will two women will have identical abortion stories. There are so many diverse factors that influence our experiences, whether that be with abortion or anything else in life. If you have an abortion and you feel relieved afterwards, own your experience. Or if you have an abortion and you feel the opposite or struggle with it afterwards, that’s your experience to own as well. No one, but you, can tell you what the right way is to feel after an abortion. That’s your narrative and your experience to make sense of. It took me a while to realize this and to feel okay with the relief I felt.
At this point, it has been a couple months since the abortion and I don’t feel any differently. The decision I made was the right one for me. I can’t even imagine being months into a pregnancy right now. Though I’m relieved and at peace with what has happened, I certainly don’t think I’d want to go through that again and I’m hoping my IUD will save me from that situation.
Trigger Warning: Abortion.
Sitting in the waiting room dressed in my long gown and socks I feel I look like my Grandma. They told me to remove my underwear and I feel uncomfortable sitting on the hard seats, they’re trying to make comfortable with blankets.
The few women in the waiting room display an array of emotions on their faces: calmness, fright, relaxed,
I have to wonder what they see on mine,
Am I doing the right thing?
Is this going to hurt?
I just heard I’m almost 8 weeks,
AM I DOING THE RIGHT THING?
One by one they are leaving me,
It is now me and the calm girl with the bounce in her step…she asked if I was given the IUD pamphlet…
She jokes and I laugh,
We talk about being hungry,
We laugh in this place,
We are all here making a big decision,
And we can laugh,
She gets called and I am now sitting alone on this hard seat,
Why would this place want me to stay hungry while making a big decision?
I am the last one here,
Seeing the locked exit from the corner of my eye.
Listening to the opening of the Ginger Ale can on the other side,
After all of this I will be able to eat,
Distract yourself with thoughts of food,
I hear my name being called,
It is my turn,
My heart beats faster,
I’m getting rid of ‘him’
Oh my God am I doing the right thing?
The nurse tells me her name: Ricky,
I want to tell her that that is the name of my brother but I think that would be awkward,
She seems nice,
Her glasses…her glasses are nice; distraction,
Walking to the room I pass a room on my right and see the same woman I was in the waiting room with,
I see their faces and some still look calm others look like they’re in pain,
Oh my God my heart beats faster,
I enter the white room and I sit on the bed,
“Are you sure about your decision?”
I say yes but am I?
She says she likes my glasses and wants to know if I get compliments all the time too?
Yes I do and this is when I tell her I like hers,
We are like glasses sisters;
I laugh nervously,
I lie down.
I look up and I see a picture on the ceiling,
What is it a picture of?
I don’t remember and everything is white,
Ricky is talking to me as she is inserting an IV,
Memories of me in the hospital start to pass,
I can hear Indrani from work telling me I should not have gotten pregnant,
That word: “Pregnant.”
“Squeeze the blue ball” she says,
It’s in and she rests my hand on my stomach,
The IV hurts and it’s uncomfortable,
I look up to the picture and this will be my distraction,
I will not tell her this hurts.
She leaves the room briefly to get the doctor,
I hear I’m the last one; I hear I was 8 weeks,
I hear rustling… everything is starting to spin and I feel tired,
I feel like I’m pass being hungry now,
I put my hand to my head and close my eyes,
I open them to see Ricky,
She says the meds are working,
This is actually really happening!
Everything is about to change in less than ten minutes.
The doctor enters with a black nurse,
The doctor doesn’t look like a doctor to me,
I see brunette hair…
She’s asking me about birth control options,
No condoms are bad,
I look back up at the picture,
What the fuck is this picture of anyway?
I can’t believe this situation I’m in,
“IUD… you can have it inserted for a week and some women keep it up to five year and take it out when they want,”
No I do not want that,
Ricky asks questions and now she’s talking to me,
I look briefly at the doctor,
Oh my God this really is happening,
I can feel it,
She’s telling me she’s going to dinner with her husband after,
My words jumble but I manage to tell her “that’s nice,”
At least they get to eat,
What am I going to eat after this?
I really, really am doing this,
Ricky is told to rub my belly,
She’s still talking,
I don’t know what’s going on,
Focus on her glasses… her glasses are nice,
“You’re done, everything is complete.”
Everything is spinning,
I feel nothing,
I gave it back and now I feel nothing,
I am now one of the women sitting on the chair,
Ricky pours me some Ginger Ale and says it will help,
“Heating pad?” I say no thanks,
The calm girl sitting across from me says the heating pad will feel nice,
I take the Ginger Ale but it’s going to choke me,
I can’t swallow,
Everything is going fast,
Ricky is gone,
It’s slowing down,
The pad is making me hot.
I don’t like being around these girls,
They look like they are in pain,
I feel nothing,
The calm girl leaves and waves bye,
I start to eat the crackers,
Focus on empty chair across from me,
Crackers drying up in my mouth,
Ginger Ale is done,
Another nurse gives me a package to read,
Purple paper “Post Abortion,”
I was pregnant ten minutes ago,
It is now gone,
I am now,
Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse.
It was a late December night and I was excited that I could finally get into a club. It was my nineteenth birthday, the night I got pregnant.
The previous year my girlfriends went off to university and since that time the connection we built over the four years during high school was slowly lost. I had taken a year off of school because I was at a point in my life where I was confused about what to do next or even how I felt about myself. Growing up in a household of violence and addiction really took its toll on me and I needed to figure out how to move forward with my life even though I was still living in a hostile environment. Slowly the violence and addiction of a family member had subsided so I made the decision to go back to school although the trauma, pain and lack of love were still there. On top of it, my mother had been going through a very tough time in her life and struggled with her mental health since I was twelve – this too made it difficult for me to navigate as a young woman who wasn’t able to discuss much of anything with her mother.
I began drinking at 16 and smoking at 12. People thought it was because I wanted to “fit in” but mostly it was because I needed a way to cope with everything that was falling apart around me. I learned at a young age that the way to cope was through the use of drugs and alcohol. The volatile environment I called home was a ‘no talking zone’ where feelings and love could never be spoken about freely or honestly. Violence was the norm – a way to express yourself. Addiction to drugs and alcohol was not hidden and suicide attempts were front and centre. At only twelve years old I was trying to figure out how to cope with seeing all these things; coming up with stories to tell my teachers if they asked me where the bruises and deep cuts on my forehead, legs and arms came from, while my friends hung out peacefully at home complaining about their parents not wanting them to wear mascara because they thought they were too young.
The night of my nineteenth birthday I accepted the invitation of two male co-workers to go out to a club downtown Toronto to celebrate. One of my friends picked me up in a cab where we would then meet the other at the apartment he lived in downtown. He bought me a Ciara album for my birthday and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had already bought it. I left my bag at my friend’s apartment downtown because we had discussed earlier in the day that I could stay the night to save money by not having to take a cab home. I lied to my father and said I would be staying the night with a girlfriend of mine. We made our way to the club and got in without an issue. There were no assumptions or expectations for the night ahead, at least on my end. We were all friends.
I had a crush on one of the guys that came out that night. We spoke about it in the past as the feelings were mutual but there were no plans to act on it. Growing up I never received much attention from boys. I was the quiet girl yet quick to stand up for myself or anyone else that was bullied or picked on. I was the girl who couldn’t afford to wear expensive clothes. The girl who barely passed her classes and came to school with bruises and cuts, the girl who hung out at the back of the school drinking and smoking; I was the girl who was never asked by anyone if she was okay. So, to receive the attention of an older attractive man was exciting but intimidating and nerve wracking for me. I wasn’t ready for anything from him – not even a kiss. We would be friends, I decided.
As I danced the night away one of my friends decided to go home so it was just the two of us left: me and the one I had a crush on. He kept bringing me Smirnoff after Smirnoff after Smirnoff while he sipped on water the whole night. He was a fitness and health buff so he wasn’t interested in alcohol whatsoever. I think I lost count at four Smirnoff Ice’s. As 3am rolled around it was time to leave and we headed back to his place where I had left my stuff earlier in the night. He took me on a tour of his building, showing me the amenities it had to offer, and then we headed up. We agreed that nothing would happen that night and even decided we would sleep head to feet. From there things got blurry.
On my nineteenth birthday I was raped.
When I gave birth to my son my whole life changed. Not only because I became a single mother at nineteen years old but something felt off. I didn’t realize I was raped on my nineteenth birthday until I was 25 years old. I always knew something didn’t feel right but I couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t have a label for it. I slipped into a deep depression that I couldn’t even recognize. I didn’t know I was severely depressed for the first several months of my son’s life until well into my twenties. I remember having a hard time doing just about anything. I stopped calling friends, answering their calls or returning them. They slowly stopped inviting me out not realizing that something serious was going on for me. Then the phone calls stopped. I lived with my parents at the time and my father, now a sober and completely different man, was extremely supportive. He knew what was going on with me even though I didn’t but he didn’t know how to help me. He would let me sleep while he took care of my son. He would feed him, bathe him, and hold him when I couldn’t. He would try to talk to me but was only met with anger or silence. He would encourage me to go out and take care of myself. I resisted but eventually accepted. I would go out not to drink but to get drunk. I had this constant need to escape so that the pain I couldn’t label would go away.
When I was 25 I decided to see a counsellor. I was always hesitant to go to one but I finally decided to. I forced myself because I needed someone to talk to. I had run into my sons ‘father’ after six years of his chosen absence and I was beginning to have confusing memories; flashbacks to my nineteenth birthday and confusing thoughts that I didn’t understand. Within five minutes the counsellor had me in tears and within ten she told me it was normal to feel the way I was feeling about running into my sons ‘father’ because he raped me. I let the word sit in the air, not understanding it; as if I didn’t even recognize it. I remember this intense anger boiling up inside of me towards her. I screamed, “I was not raped!” I immediately grabbed my bag and ran out the door making sure I slammed it on the way out.
I didn’t understand how a complete stranger could tell me I was raped. Wouldn’t I know? Of course I would know. Right? I willingly drank on my nineteenth birthday. I went back to his place on my own free will. I put my pajamas on and decided to sleep in his bed. What do you mean I was raped? But then everything started making sense. The fact that I didn’t remember my clothes being taken off and that I didn’t remember having sex. Do you even call that sex? What would you even call it? I went to sleep but woke up during the night to him on top of me. I vaguely remember trying to push his body off mine. In the morning I woke up without clothes and I couldn’t stop wondering how. I recall going to the washroom in the morning and crying because I didn’t understand what was dripping out of me.
I always thought rape had to be violent until I was 25.
Growing up I was told what rape should look like. It was described as violent, aggressive, and painful – an event that will have you running for your life; for your well-being, mentally and physically. So how could this counsellor possibly think that I was raped? It wasn’t violent, it wasn’t aggressive, and I don’t recall feeling any pain. I didn’t wake up with any injuries. I didn’t have to run for safety. So how was it possible for someone who had only known me for ten minutes claim that I was raped on my nineteenth birthday?
Then I began to remember. I was drunk and was given drinks until I was at a point where I couldn’t even defend myself or give consent.
Consent. That was the missing piece. That was what I was missing for so many years.
Yes, I went back to his place. Yes, I laid down to sleep. No, I didn’t give consent. How could I? I was heavily intoxicated. Blacking out. Unable to even understand how and when my clothes even came off. Was a condom used? I didn’t know. I had no idea because I couldn’t remember anything. I willingly went back to his place but my intention was to sleep, his wasn’t. He was sober and I was not.
For years I blamed myself for getting pregnant at nineteen and for getting drunk that night. For trusting someone enough to sleep at their place. I did not want to have sex with him that night. Yes, I had a crush on him but I was not ready to have sex with him. I did not want to have sex with him. I just wanted to sleep but he decided he wanted to have sex with me. He did not have a drop of alcohol the whole night – he knew what he was doing and I wasn’t in the right state of mind to say no, to deny consent. And yet I did physically but it was ignored.
That night he took a piece of me. He helped himself to my body and made me feel like a stranger inside of it for years. He turned my life upside down and walked away with no consequences. No repercussions.
My rapist doesn’t know he is a rapist.
My rapist is my son’s father.
My son is my life. He is everything to me. I am his mother and he has no father and never will. My son is innocent and is not to blame for anything that happened that night. He has nothing to do with any of it. He did not ask for this to happen. He did not ask to have a rapist for a father.
My son changed my life – for the better. He makes me see the world in a completely different way. He is my light, my motivation and my life. I love him with every cell in my body. When I look at my son I see him and only him, not the man that raped me. My son is an innocent light full of love and this is all I see when I look at him; peace. I wouldn’t change what happened on my nineteenth birthday because then I wouldn’t have my son and yet I would want to. These are complicated feelings that I can never fully express or explain and I don’t think I will ever be able to but the people in my life would get this.
Rape doesn’t have to be violent in order for it to be considered rape. This is one thing I wish I was told when I was young. I blamed myself for getting pregnant for so many years before I realized that it wasn’t my fault. I went out to have a good time – to dance and have some drinks. The plan was to go back to a trusted friend’s house to sleep. Period. Full stop. I am not to blame. It was not my fault. The only thing that was my fault was trusting the wrong person to spend my time with, and even then, don’t we all at some point in our lives?
On my nineteenth birthday I was raped. Nine months later my son gave me a new life; a life full of hope, joy and unconditional love. My son has healed me in ways I could have never imagined and I am truly thankful for him. He is not to blame. I am not to blame. It was not our fault.