This article discusses sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers. The Kingston Sexual Assault Centre’s 24-hour crisis and support phone line can be reached at 613-544-6424 / 1-800-544-6424.
On Feb. 1, I took a pregnancy test in a campus bathroom.
As I stared at the positive result, I was still in a relationship with the father. I also knew I would do anything for him, but I seriously doubted he would do the same—for me or this hypothetical baby that definitely couldn’t sit in my backpack while I went to class.
That didn’t feel wrong. I grew up in a house where the women doted after the men while receiving nothing in return.
I’m also pro-choice.
It was clear to me I was getting an abortion, and I shouldn’t stress my boyfriend out with details—including the fact that I was pregnant.
Twenty-four hours later, when he was breaking up with me over the phone, I still had no desire or impulse to let him know.
This was a man who, like most of the men in my life, took a while to trust me when it came to my own body. Telling him another ex had raped me was a slow process with a lot of questions about how I could have let it happen. Telling him about my OCD diagnosis and how it impacted my daily life involved assuring him he wouldn’t have to worry about accommodating me.
I didn’t think it would bring me any peace to say we’d finally had the worst kind of accident while he was telling me he didn’t have room in his life for a relationship. I didn’t want him to accuse me of making it up for attention.
A few days after that conversation, I booked a series of appointments for a medical termination. Then I went into full break-up mode.
I met a guy off Bumble who gave me the weirdest sexual experience of my life—if you’re reading this, I’m very sorry I ghosted you—it’s just that I was pregnant. My housemate chopped my hair off in our kitchen without so much as a YouTube tutorial. I blasted Taylor Swift every waking hour. I didn’t eat a vegetable for a solid two weeks.
So, by the time I was sitting in a waiting room about to take the first of two pills that would make my little problem go away, I hadn’t had much time to consider what I was doing.
I wanted desperately to romanticize it. I wanted to be made of steel. I believed, completely, that I was making the right decision and I shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed. I wanted to see myself as a strong woman doing something difficult and necessary.
I even booked an appointment to have my nose pierced that same day because I wanted to feel in control of something.
Then it occurred to me—the permanence of what I was doing.
I heard voices questioning my worth, calling me a coward for taking the easy way out, voices that sounded like my own. I heard my parents, who still have no idea what’s happened, wondering where they went wrong.
Even though I was a generally kind and happy person, with law school acceptances and financial stability, I was being selfish.
I was a whore.
I internalized these feelings. Again, I didn’t want anyone to know before I got a chance to tell my ex, who I agreed to cut contact with for three weeks to help us move on.
None of it felt like a choice when I was forcing myself to go through it alone. I ignored that feeling and went into my appointment anyways.
I was doing well at ignoring all of it until I saw an Instagram story.
I had just gone through the most traumatic week of my life, and the man who was half-responsible for a soon-to-be-dead clump of cells was playing pool with his friends.
I think I blacked out after that. I broke the no contact rule with some vicious texts. I sent a friend to get my things. I burned old polaroids in the sink while my housemates stood by with a fire extinguisher.
Looking back, it might have been the hormones. Or the lack of sleep and vegetables. In any case, it was a dark time, and even though I’d contacted him, I still didn’t tell my ex about the pregnancy. I didn’t want to deal with whatever judgment he’d have.
When I finally told him, a week after my sink dramatics, I got something even worse—apathy.
Just like with my vicious texts, there was no response to the voicemail telling him about the abortion. Even better, when a friend of mine chewed him out, he told her I should “accept” that he was longer part of my support system.
I stared at his text for a long time. A text that wasn’t even sent to me. I tried to rationalize why he felt I wasn’t worthy of decency.
Maybe he already had a new girlfriend who didn’t appreciate him staying in touch with an ex. Maybe he was going through a difficult time with the midterm season coming up. Maybe it hadn’t hit him yet. What exactly I meant when I said, “I got an abortion.” Maybe, if we were still together, and he still saw me as f—kable, he would’ve been kinder.
Maybe I was worthless.
Maybe when I was sitting in the waiting room, wanting desperately to tell someone but remaining alone out of a need to respect him. It was just one last desperate plea to get the support I never got when we were together.
In reality, I didn’t need to “accept” anything other than the fact that I shouldn’t have believed in him.
Luckily, the women in my life reminded me relentlessly that I wasn’t, in fact, worthless, and there wasn’t any excuse for his behaviour. No matter how you spin it, I did the best I could—whore that I am—and, if he had an ounce of respect for me, the man who provided the sperm for my little problem should’ve sent a text making sure I was okay.
Even if I never needed him to be okay.
But it’s going to take a very long time for me to look in the mirror and not see a monster with a nose piercing. I’m going to walk around with scars the person who wasn’t pregnant will never have to carry.
I’ll be the father’s crazy ex. And just like he had no obligation to deal with something that wasn’t happening to his body, he’ll have no obligation to let other women know about what happened. Meanwhile, I don’t know if I’ll ever have a fulfilling relationship without revealing my medical history.
I don’t know how I’m going to live with that, but I’m trying to, even though I feel pretty broken all the time.
I hope no other women feel that way and that they actually get a choice.
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