The Truth Is…

The truth is, what happened 18 months ago is in the past. The truth is, even writing my story, I continued to play the victim, full of self pity. The truth is, that story is over. It’s taken 18 months and writing it all out for me to accept what happened; it was the result of my mistakes. I can’t play the victim because I wasn’t one. I went down a road I shouldn’t have and that is where it led. I’m not the same person I was back then and I’m very glad of that. I’m not even the same person who wrote those first few posts, full of resentment and constantly feeling sorry for myself. I used to beat myself up thinking about how I had brought it all on myself, the truth is, I did. I can’t blame anyone or change what happened, I can’t continue to be angry at Jack when in reality, I was better off without him. I can only accept it and hope that sharing my story of abortion will maybe help even one woman feel less ashamed or embarressed by her decision. I know that I made the right choice for me at the time, and I wouldn’t change it. It was a traumatic experience and one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, yet it happens to women all the time.

To this day I still occasionally think about what might have happened if I had chosen differently. What that child might be like, what they’d look like, the colour of their eyes, their hair. I don’t know if this is how other women feel, what I do know is that I was unprepared for the emotional trauma that having an abortion brought me. I believed I was strong enough to come out the other side and move on, but I wasn’t. I guess I thought that if I was brave enough to make this decision, then I would be brave enough to make it through without becoming overwhelmed. I do still believe that bravery is the right word for the choice I made. There is so much taboo, so much negativity and contraversy surrounding abortion, you might feel pressurised into accepting and continuing the pregnancy without being emotionally, financially or psychologically prepared for it. I’m not saying that what I did was courageous or inspiring, but I followed my gut and did my best not to feel ashamed of that. I don’t believe any woman should be ashamed of that.

18 months on Jack is still with Tessa and from what I gather, they are happy. Tessa and I even parted on friendly terms, though I never speak to Jack anymore. I guess I still feel a little resentment towards him because of what my relationship with him led to, and ultimately this is the part of me I want to change.

Henry’s support never waivered, and to this day whenever I make a mistake or start to doubt myself, he accepts, forgives and reassures me. Henry is what got me through the events of last year, and what continues to get me through all the big and small problems that we face. I will always be thankful that he is in my life, a man who loves me despite all my biggest mistakes.

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A Lesson Never Learned

I could say that after that day, life went back to normal, but it didn’t. Henry and I were trying to work through everything, putting all that had happened behind us and at least trying to move forward. I was so grateful to him. I couldn’t believe the lengths he was willing to go to for me. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why he stood by me, why he tried so hard to be there for me, to stay by my side when most men would have walked the other way.

I had been avoiding going out and particularly drinking in public. Everything still felt so raw, so new, I was afraid of what might happen when people asked where I had been or what was wrong, but the time quickly came for me to step back into my social life. A friend from work was having a birthday party at her flat, and my flatmates somehow persuaded me to join them, claiming that it would be good for me to go out and get my mind off everything. It seemed like a good idea.

I hadn’t had alcohol in a while though. Due to the morning sickness and my general inability to keep anything down over the past few weeks, alcohol wasn’t really on the cards, nor was it wanted. I tried to pace myself when we got there, but quicker than expected the drinks were flowing freely. It felt good to be out with my friends again, to be sociable, to not feel like whatever I put in my body is just going to come right back up. People occasionally asked me what the situation with Jack was, so I told them of how he had slept with me after New Year and then started dating Tessa. Their responses were usually “what an arsehole” or something of that variety. I just didn’t want to talk about him. Not yet.

As the night wore on I became more and more intoxicated, and the more I drank, the more I began to feel everything I was trying so hard not to. I didn’t want to make a scene and I didn’t want it to come out in front of so many people, but I could feel the tears coming, I could feel the wave of emotion about to break. I removed myself from the apartment and went into the stairwell, where I climbed some stairs and let myself feel it.

As I sat there weeping, a girl from work who I despised walked by and asked if I was alright. I told her I was fine – she was the last person I wanted to speak to. She was quickly followed by Gary and Nicole, two people I actually liked. They stopped and came towards me, Nicole gently placing her hand on my knee as she asked what was wrong. I shook my head and tried to tell them I was fine but the words were stopped by the unending flow of tears that I couldn’t seem to control. “Is it Jack?” Nicole asked. I nodded. They tried to give me words of comfort, said he wasn’t worth it, that he was a dick, all the things you’re meant to say.

“No you don’t understand. It’s more than that. I’m not just crying over some stupid guy…I…I had an abortion on Monday.” I didn’t mean to say it. I didn’t even want to say it. The drink was messing with my brain and apparently my tongue. For some reason I hated the idea of them thinking I was simply crying over a guy, over Jack. The idea to me was repulsive. This was much bigger than him. I found myself explaining everything that had happened, trying to calm myself down. They stood and listened, rubbed my back, stroked my hair, and told me how sorry they were this had happened. After I finished I realised what I had done. “Please, please, don’t tell anyone!” I begged. They both rushed to confirm that they wouldn’t breathe a word of it to anyone. I thanked them and tried to wipe away the tears.

“Come on,” Gary said. “Lets get back in there and get you another drink!”

 

I Know It’s Over

Jack’s alarm sounded. It was 7am. I was still awake. He roused himself and started getting ready for work. He sat down next to me on the bed. “Will you be here when I get back?” I just shrugged and turned away from him. He sighed, kissed me on the forehead, and left.

I wanted to leave. I wanted to walk out of this place and never see it again, but I was exhausted. I tried to keep my eyes open, but I couldn’t. I finally let my body get the rest it needed. I woke up a few hours later. Jack still wasn’t back and I wasn’t sure what to do. Do I stay and talk things out more? Do I just leave? I sat up in the bed and looked aroud the room. My eyes went to the floor, and to my horror, lying beside the bed was an empty condom wrapper. So I guess he and Tessa has slept together. Why would I assume they hadn’t? Why on earth would he leave it in the middle of the floor for me to see?!

I heard the front door open and Jack came into the room. I was still staring at the wrapper on the floor. He looked at it, and then at me. I got out of bed and began gathering my things to leave. “So, thats it then? We’re not even going to be friends anymore?” I turned to look at him, saw the pitiful look on his face.

“I don’t know.” I replied. With that I turned towards the door and left. I descended quickly down the three flights of stairs and walked out onto the street and into my car. I lay my head on the steering wheel and I felt myself deflate. It was over. Whatever we were, whatever we had been, it was over. How could we come back from this? How could I ask Henry to tolerate his presence in my life?

I turned the key in the ignition and lifted my head up and drove home. Henry was my home.

Here Is Gone

After I had screamed and cried we went back to silence. I was staring down at the floor as Jack refilled my wine glass. “You know, I think it was going to be a boy.” I said. Jack stopped and looked at me quizzically. “I haven’t told anyone this, but since it happened, I’ve been thinking about it. I think it was a boy. I wonder who he might have been, what he would look like…” I stopped talking as tears once again began to fall down my face. Jack sat down beside me and put his arms around me. He didn’t speak, he just let me cry.

As the night wore on and the wine flowed, we spent a strange but necessary evening together. One moment we’d be telling each other stories about our family, our dogs, talking like we always did when we were close, and then the conversation would somehow lead back to one of the many things standing in our way. Tessa.   “How much does she know?” I asked.

“I told her.” Jack replied. HE WHAT?! “I was drunk and confused about everything, I felt like she needed to know.” I stared at him, horrified. I was mortified that Tessa knew something so personal about me, and that I didn’t even get a say in whether she knew or not.

“How could you tell her without asking me or talking to me about it first?!” I exclaimed. Once again, his selfish, thoughtless, personality floated to the surface.

“I…it just came out, I was drunk. I’m sorry.” he replied, sheepishly.  I tried to be angry with him. And I was, but I was running out of energy. I had spent the entire evening being angry and upset with him and with every glass of wine I drank I realised how much I had missed his company. His light-hearted, easy going conversation that made me feel so at home. I knew that this night, this time spent together talking out the good and the bad, was the last one there would be. We weren’t the same anymore, the relationship we had was gone, and we both knew it. I couldn’t be friends with him anymore, not like before, not if I wanted to make things better with Henry.  Not while he and Tessa were together, not after everything that had happened between us. I knew it was over, and as ridiculous as it was, I was sad about it. I was sad that I was losing one of the best friends I had ever had – well, if we excluded the months of December and January.

For six months Jack was my best friend, and sometimes my lover, and despite all the pain he had put me through, and all the heartache he had caused me, and more importantly Henry, I would miss him. I know it seems stupid to still care about someone who treated me the way he did, but I’m human, and everyone can admit they’ve retained feelings for someone who broke their heart, can’t they?

We shared a bed that night for the last time. We didn’t even kiss, but he held me in his arms till he fell asleep. It didn’t feel sexual, or romantic, it felt like comfort. The kind of comfort I wished he had given me the day I told him I was pregnant, and every day since. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. I had so many thoughts running through my head, and part of me wondered if maybe the reason I was here, with so many strong feelings towards him, was because I was in love with Jack. Was that why I kept overlooking his wrong doings? Why I spent an entire night with him instead of just saying my piece and then leaving? Part of me was so desperate to stay in his life, for him to say he still wanted me. Why? Because I was in love with him? I didn’t know. All I know is that despite myself, despite everything I had learned about him in the recent weeks, I remember feeling heartbroken knowing that was the last night I would spend with him.

Slippin’ Into Darkness

I’m not pregnant. I’m not pregnant anymore. It’s over. Things will be better now.

These thoughts ran through my head endlessly in the days following the abortion. I kept telling myself over and over again that I should be happy now, that it was over and life could be good now. I didn’t feel better. I didn’t feel good or happy. I didn’t feel like it was over. Nurses had told me that some women often felt feelings of loss, anguish, pain, and so on afterwards. I remember thinking to myself that that wouldn’t be me. I had never been interested in children, how could I feel the loss of something I never wanted? The nurses told me that counselling was available to women if they wanted it, but I laughed it off. Like I’ll need counselling.

I was wrong. I thought that the act itself would be the hardest part of the whole ordeal, that the day I had just spent terminating my pregnancy would be the worst thing that ever happened to me, but it wasn’t. The week that followed was possibly the lowest and most unhappy I’ve felt. I felt loss. I felt anguish, pain, heartache, regret. I felt all of it. I was overwhelmed by what I felt and I couldn’t understand it. Henry encouraged me to use the services that were being offered to me, to go and see a counsellor, to talk to someone completely apart from the situation, someone neutral, someone who could help me understand these emotions and why I was feeling them. I was too proud. I thought if I went to a counsellor it meant I wasn’t strong enough, that I was weak. Turns out it was weak of me not to go. I should have had the strength to admit that I needed to talk about it to someone who wasn’t connected to it. Someone who wasn’t my flatmate, or my best friend, or Henry, or Jack. But I never did.

I was confused and upset and completely lost. I was so angry with Jack, but I still had feelings for him. I was so in awe of Henry and everything he had done for me, so full of love for the man that had gotten me through the past few weeks.

After a couple of days had passed I knew I needed to talk to Jack. He still didn’t understand what he had done wrong, or how he could fix it, nor did he see anything wrong with his decision to spend time with Tessa rather than me. I went round to his apartment so we could get everything out, and I had no intention of holding back.

He tentatively opened the door, standing there like a dog with its tail between its legs. I said a quick hello and marched past him into the living room. We sat down on separate couches, both of us with our eyes glued to the floor. Jack broke the silence “So you’re pretty angry with me, aren’t you?” I looked up and glared at him, the expression on my face being enough to answer his rather stupid question.

I had driven over there with a speech prepared, ready to dish out everything that he so readily deserved, but sitting there across from him, it all went out the window. I wilted in his presence, I felt weak, vulnerable, and small. He sat there waiting and waiting for the onslaught he knew was coming but I couldn’t get my words out. I was so full of anger, hurt, and sadness I couldn’t speak.

“We’re gonna need wine.” Jack said. He wasn’t wrong. He left the room and returned with two glasses of white. Thank God.

“You acted like you didn’t care.” I finally managed to force out. “You never acted like it was your responsibility, you just left me to deal with it. Because I was the one who actually had to go through it, you acted like you just got to sit in the sidelines and ignore everything that was going on. You never asked me if I was ok, you never tried to be there for me.”

Jack sat opposite me, listening as I spoke, tears streaming down my face as I tried to let go of everything I felt towards him, of how he had made me feel these past few weeks. He didn’t offer much in response, I think he knew that there was nothing he could do at this point, and that I needed to air all of it out more than anything else.

“I know I could have handled it better, and I thought we were talking about it, I guess it just wasn’t enough.” He replied. I snorted. It wasn’t even close to enough. His words brought out the anger in me and, through my tears, I shouted at him for being so incompetent. For leaving Henry to pick up the pieces, for spending his time going on dates with Tessa instead of being there for me. I cried and shouted, and cried some more. Jack just sat there and took it.

I Go To Sleep

I pulled up at the pavement, threw open my door, and vomited onto the street. When I was done I closed the door and tried to regain some form of composure. Henry looked at me with pity and sadness, took my hand, and gave it a comforting squeeze. “Hey, its Glasgow, people will probably just think you’re hungover!” he joked, trying to lighten the mood. I smiled briefly at him, but I wanted to get home, so I started up the car again and continued driving.

When we got back, I crawled into bed and waited for something to happen, for the pain to start, for it to be over. The nurse had given me a pack of strong painkillers just in case, and Henry urged me to take some, but I told him no. Even when the cramps started, longer and more painful than any period I’d ever had, I refused. I guess I decided that I deserved every ounce of pain that I felt. It was my punishment.

All day I went from bed to bathroom, over and over again. The cramps ranged from unbearable to almost unnoticeable, I went from crying to calm constantly and Henry took the brunt of it. I would snap orders at him, from getting me food, to bringing the TV through from the living room so I didn’t have to leave my bed. I started obsessing about a bar of chocolate that I wanted, but I didn’t have any in the flat. Henry being the amazing creature that he was, went off into the night to find me one. It was pissing rain and freezing cold – this is Glasgow in January – but he went without hesitation even when I told him I was just kidding.

He returned as I was making another trip to the bathroom, after having been to three different shops in order to find the chocolate I was looking for. When he handed it to me, I just wept. I was overwhelmed by his complete devotion and selflessness. I wept because I didn’t deserve him, because of everything I had done to him, and because it was so wrong that he was in this situation. When he finally calmed me down, with soothing words and two of those strong painkillers, with the worst of the cramps and the bathroom trips over, we snuggled up in bed and I quickly drifted off to sleep, weary, emotionally and physically exhausted from the past 24 hours.

At around 4am Henry and I woke to the sound of my phone ringing. I picked it up and looked at the screen. Jack was calling me. I put the phone back down. This was, as I said, the night of the staff party, and as I had relieved Jack of his duties with me, he was spending the night getting drunk with our co-workers, which included Tessa. I ignored the call and tried to go back to sleep, but minutes later, my phone went off again. I couldn’t pick up with Henry right there, and I was furious that given all I had been through that day, Jack had the nerve to call me, drunk, at four in the morning. I turned the phone off, and went back to sleep.

When I woke the next day, I felt hungover, as though I too had been at the staff party till 4am. I had two missed calls and three text messages from Jack. The first one simply said “I miss you.” The next was a more slurred and miss-spelled version of the first, and the third was a long winded, hard to understand message again focussing on how much he missed me. I wanted to scream and cry in frustration. I looked over at Henry, who was just beginning to stir, and once again wondered why I had ever let myself fall for Jack. Why I had given up this kind, selfless and wonderful man for a guy who was immature and selfish.

I sent him a text, asking him how on earth he could say these things to me after I had spent the night having an abortion while he was out partying with Tessa. Unsurprisingly, his reply was that he was sorry, and that he had meant he missed me as a friend. Did he know anything about women? How did I fall for one so dense?!

When Henry woke up he had a smile on his face. “You’re not pregnant anymore!” he exclaimed, as though he was once again trying to make light of the situation. I just looked back at him glumly. I thought that I would feel a sense of relief, that I would feel more at ease now that it was done. I didn’t. In fact, the worst was yet to come.

The Day That Never Ends

I was awoken early Monday morning by the urgent need to be sick. I dragged myself to the bathroom and let the foul taste of stomach acid fill my mouth. When I was done heaving I sat on the bathroom floor, not wanting to move, not ready for this day to start. Henry came to the bathroom door, knocking softly, reminding me that we have to go soon. I pull myself up off the floor and clean myself up, force myself to eat an apple and drink some water.

Without Jack and his car, I was driving us to the hospital. This was probably a mistake. My stomach was twisting itself into knots over and over again, my hands were shaking with fear, the nausea came and went in waves. We pulled up at the hospital and I turned the engine off. I lay my head on the steering wheel and turned to face Henry. I could see my own fear mirrored in his face. He began gently rubbing my back as he reassured me “It will all be over soon, tomorrow, you won’t be pregnant, and everything will be back to normal.” I tried to smile in response, but it wasn’t real.

We returned to the ward we had been to just two days before, and were guided to a hospital bed in a room of six. Only one other bed was occupied, an elderly woman sat directly across the room from us. I wondered if she knew why I was here, if she could tell by the shame and fear on my face. Why was she here? As I wondered, she picked up her phone and began talking quietly to someone, and I was torn back to reality by the taste of stomach acid once again rising in my throat.

I stumbled my way down the rows of beds to the hospital toilet where I threw up the water I had drank and the apple I had eaten. When I finally re-emerged from the toilet, the nurse was waiting patiently for me next to Henry. I sat down on the bed while she explained what I needed to do, then she pulled the curtain around the bed to give me some privacy. I don’t want to go into too much detail about it, but I was given six pills, none of which went in my mouth.

I was also having to get an injection because of my blood type, and was getting the contraceptive implant put in my right arm. I lay on the bed as the nurse explained everything to me, not really listening, but nodding my head to suggest I understood. Henry’s hand gripped mine tightly, my eyes staring into his as he watched the nurse insert the tube into my arm. I had been given a local anaesthetic and couldn’t feel a thing, but the look on Henry’s face made me wince. I looked down at it after it was bandaged, and even though it was mostly covered, I could see violent red and purple bruises bleeding out of the top of the bandage.

A different nurse came to give me my injection. I could tell she knew why I was here and she clearly didn’t approve. “Stand up please,” she asked, rather curtly, as she stood there with the needle in her hand. I stood up and went to lift the back of my dress. A further humiliation of today was that the injection had to be in my butt. I had barely gone to take down my tights when the nurse forced them and my pants down with her own hands and stuck me with the needle. I let out a small yelp of pain, to which she sniggered under he breath. She disposed of the needle and simply said “You can go now.”

With my body aching and bruised, we walked quietly back to the car. As we drove, I turned to Henry, “How long will it take?” All day. The pills I took would induce a miscarriage, which would take the form of a heavy and painful period, during which I would pass large clots of blood and, at some point, the embryo. Silent tears fell down my face, my stomach churning as I rounded the corner onto a busy street. “I’m going to be sick.”