Sunday, May 13, 2012
Silent No More
. For the past eleven years, my own Mother's Day has become a day of silence, a day of hidden secret grief. I'm sick of silence. I sick of feeling like I have to remain silent because what I have to say goes against my liberal upbringing. So, today, I'm opening my mouth.
On Mother's Day, eleven years ago when I was a junior in college, I peed on a stick. The two lines turned bright pink: I was pregnant. I told my boyfriend, who held me kindly. Then I told my mother, who immediately insisted I have an abortion. A couple of weeks later, I went home to Wisconsin and had, what my therapist later told me, felt like a backroom abortion. They forced me to stare at the ultrasound. Then, after waiting twenty-four hours, I was completely awake with no pain meds.
For as long as I can remember, I've been taught by my mother that abortion is a right that we should fight tooth and nail for. It's my body; it's not a baby, and it certainly doesn't make me a mother.
There was nothing and no one to prepare me for the aftermath. I don't just mean the physical pain of the actual abortion. The aftermath of guilt, regret, sadness, depression, thoughts of suicide, and, worst of all, grief.
No one warned me about grief. Why would there be grief? I'd been taught that it wasn't a real baby. It was a foreign entity easily expelled from my body. Worse, how could I grieve for something that I made the conscious choice to get rid of? It's not like I had a miscarriage.
As time went on, my grief clung to me, tackling me to the ground and leaving me spent and breathless. When I wasn't hearing the cries of an unborn daughter waking me at night, I heard the whispers of "murderer, murderer." Neither the cries nor the whispers ever go away. I knew when that baby would have turned one. I knew when she would have started kindergarten. Every December, a deep depression takes hold of me.
I gained 50 pounds in the month before my abortion. It's stayed with me all these years. When I look in the mirror, a chubby stranger stares back at me. When I look in the mirror, I'm reminded of my baby.
After I got married and before I had my son, I started searching for answers. I wanted to find a support community that got where I was coming from. More than anything, I wanted to find Jewish support. With every search, I came up with the same answer: Pro-Life evangelical Christianity. So, I decided to go the secular route. Again, nothing. So, I went the therapy route. But, my search left me angry. I'm not looking for the forgiveness of Jesus. I'm not looking for the light of the Lord. While therapy is great, I'm looking for like-minded women who feel lost like I do. I want a safe place to grieve.
A couple months ago, I read an article about an abortion campaign. Women were wearing t-shirts that read: I had an abortion! T-shirts! This seemed equally unholy. Isn't there something between Jesus and a t-shirt? I had an abortion and all I got was a lousy t-shirt.
I still have no real answers. At one point, I thought having children was the answer. While I'm madly in love with my children, I thought once they were born, my grief would disappear. It hasn't. Now, I look at them, and think, "you had a sibling, but I wanted to finish college and your father wanted to finish law school, so I got rid of it."
Wow, I sound really fucked up when I say that out loud.
I don't know if anything will completely help. But now, instead of suffering in silence, on this Mother's day, this liberal Jewish mother will no longer be silent. My baby meant something and I'm sure yours did too...