Friday, 24 February 2012
This post was submitted anonymously.
I need to preface this post with a few statements. First, and most importantly, this is not an argument for or against abortion. I do not judge the choices made by any person, be they a stranger, or the partners that have had to face this monumental decision with me. This, in my opinion, is the most difficult and troubling decision anyone can face. Its after-effects will be carried with you the rest of your life, no matter your choice. Even in my own life, I can't say whether the decisions made were right or wrong. Once the path is chosen, one can never know where the other road might have led.
Secondly, these words are mine, and mine alone. I cannot weigh the heart of another, so I can't know if my experiences, thoughts, and regrets are shared by others. I have never taken the other path, so can only speak on the road I have traveled.
Lastly, let me address the motivation for this post. I cannot stand the way society addresses abortion today. Maybe it has always been like this, I can't say. When I say society, I guess I mean mostly politicians, the media coverage on the abortion debate, and the feminist view. Anyone who has faced this knows they all have it wrong. It is either framed as murder, which can not be allowed to continue, or a simple medical procedure that can make all your troubles go away, or a woman's decision, where the only input needed from the man was given at conception.
It is none of those.
The first time I faced this crossroad, I was 16. She was 18, and we had been in a committed relationship for nearly a year and a half. When she told me she was pregnant, it was the scariest moment of my life. I know it was for her too. I had no idea what to say, but knew society taught me to listen, try and comfort, and support whatever decision she came to. Emotionally, we were but children, neither prepared to handle what was now before us.
I did all I could to do what I had learned, but inside I was falling apart. When she decided to have an abortion, I can't explain what came next. While I was relieved, not being a dad in what would have been 11th grade...to this day, something's still broken. I still felt like I needed to run away from it all. This feeling did not change after the abortion. Less than a month after I did something that, to this day, I have trouble getting my mind around; I cheated. I traumatized her again, so soon. I have no excuse or explanation for this, and am very ashamed of myself. Obviously, the relationship did not last long after that. The scars we shared, and those I caused, would not fade so quickly.
Eleven years later I would come to this fork in the road again, with a girl I had been with around four and a half years. This time, at 26, I was much more emotionally capable of handling what I was faced with. Don't misunderstand; I was still terrified. This time though, I knew what I wanted. I still knew a man had no place pushing a woman one way or the other though. She was still in college, and several years younger. We lay together all day and night, crying, talking and crying some more.
I tried to comfort her, to sway her decision to keeping the baby, by talking about best and worst cases if that's what we decided. Even the worst cases I came up with sounded manageable to me. She was scared about what her family would say and do, what would come of her schooling, etc. She said she wanted to have an abortion, so that's what we did.
I did not tell her I had been down this path before, nor the heaviness of my heart because of it. If she chose to keep it, I wanted it to be because she decided we could do it, because she wanted to have my child, because of anything positive. Not because I scared or pushed her into. She made her decision, I supported her, and we kept our relationship together. At least for a time.
About a year and a half later we would find ourselves in the same position. It was different this time though. We talked, much the same conversation as the first time, only shorter this time. She was less emotional about it this time. There was still crying for both of us, but not as long. She reached the same decision again, and again I supported it . We managed to stay together for more than another year after that. I did not feel any resentment toward her at all, but will never forgive myself.
I wish I could tell you why I didn't learn from my mistakes, but I can't. I guess I could give you some babble about how sex does not equate to pregnancy, while in the heat of the moment. I don't buy it myself, so I won't push it on you. We learn pretty early that is where sex leads when you aren't careful, and my lessons were punctuated with sorrow. To this day babies make me sad. I'd never show it. I have a niece and several nephews. Friends I grew up with, and long since ex girlfriends have children, and I find myself counting out how old my kids would be, if I'd had them.
I guess I just want people who read this to understand how these decisions can weigh on a man too. That no one makes these decisions lightly, so don't press your morality on them. And that abortion may make the obvious hardships go away, but carry a huge burden of their own.
Anyone find themselves in a similar situation?