I’ve not really written about loss yet. There is difficulty on many levels in not only coming to terms with loss, but also coming to a place of acceptance.
On the evening of July 2, 1988, I had just put my 4-year-old daughter to bed, and was waiting for her dad to get home. We’d been having marital problems for some time as he was prone to violence when drunk. He was an alcoholic. A very mean drunk. I suspected I was pregnant and wanted to discuss it with him.
I was sitting on the couch, watching T.V. when I heard him lumbering up the stairs, mumbling to himself, and the bar stench clinging to him was strong. I turned off the television and approached him. Everything inside of me said to not engage, but I was fed up, angry, and ready to demand change. As I walked toward him, I simply uttered, “I can’t believe you’re drunk again.” He glared at me with those drunk, glassy eyes, and literally growled while spewing his hatred. “I don’t need any shit from you, Bitch.” I shook my head and turned to walk away when he grabbed my arm, spun me around and punched me in the stomach two, maybe three times. I’m not really sure all of these years later. I pulled away from him and ran into the bedroom, locking the door behind me. He didn’t bother continuing the fight and just passed out on the couch.
All night I fought the pain in my belly and prayed I was not pregnant, just late. By the time the morning rolled around, I was bleeding and the pain was unbearable. I called my dad and told him what had happened. To my surprise, he was at my place within 15 minutes. He got my daughter up, dressed her and told me to get ready so we could head out right away. My husband was already gone for the day. When we got downstairs to the car, my dad strapped the baby in and helped me into the passenger seat. He handed me a towel to sit on and looked at me with the most soulful eyes I’d ever seen. I loved him deeply in that moment.
He took me to a clinic that provided services for women, one of them being abortions. It was the closest medical care he could get me to in a timely manner. I will never forget walking through the crowd of protestors, my dad with my daughter in one arm, the other one protectively surrounding my heaving shoulders. I was devastated by the comments being hurled at me, the worst being that my living child would never forgive me once she found out. These people had no idea what I was going to the clinic for. Not in a million years did I think I was walking into this place to get an abortion.
Once inside and after a thorough exam, I was told that I was about eight weeks pregnant, but was hemorrhaging and would likely lose the baby to a miscarriage, however, the amount of blood I was losing presented the possibility of severe and life threatening issues for me. I was told I had to terminate my pregnancy. I was devastated and thought for sure my father would hate me forever for having to do this. Quite the contrary, he paid the fee, requested I be put under so I wouldn’t have to remember the experience, and when it was done, he came back without my daughter so he could carry me to the car and the safety of his home.
For decades I would not define what happened to me as an abortion, I could not fathom my choice of partner had forced that upon me. I termed it a pregnancy termination. It wasn’t until I began this journey that I realized despite being the victim of such a horrendous experience, I still felt guilty, like it was my fault, and the decision I made to save my life was a selfish one. I never attributed any guilt or responsibility to my husband. I kept telling myself I should have just left him alone.
Every July 3rd over the years, I’ve said a prayer for the life lost that day because of violence and rage. Every July 3rd over the years, I’ve made the promise that I would do whatever I could to provide support and love to other women that have experienced brutality at the hands of their significant others. Every July 3rd over the years, I have forgiven those people that judged me and hated me without knowing my story. Every July 3rd, I forgive myself.
I also have to state gratitude that I had the services I needed to save my life, and struggle with the knowledge that there are so many entities out there wanting to dismantle organizations that provide much needed health care to women. The struggle today is real, and as a woman that is still standing because of a place like Planned Parenthood, I avow my allegiance to support them.