My Sober Life, Chapters 15 & 16

In which I make an unpopular decision

(Disclaimer: This post discusses a highly volatile topic. So as this is my blog and my rules, if you are rude or disrespectful, I will delete the comment. If you’re only here to stir the pot and pit people against each other, delete. To sum up: Don’t be a dick.)

During the summer of perpetual clam bake, one of my co-worker’s roommates seemed to take a liking to me. We’ll call him Jack. Jack was not my “type” at that time and this was not my normal crowd. None of these guys were. But they were right up my alley for where I was mentally. We smoked a lot of weed, listened to a lot of bad rap (ICP, anyone?), made up ridiculous games, and just chilled. Somewhere in the middle of all that, Jack and I started dating. 

It was a fairly standard relationship for your late teens. Get off work, meet at their apartment, smoke a few bowls, go to bed. We didn’t have much in common beyond that, which was perfectly fine with me. I wasn’t looking for anything serious.

After the gravity bong incident, I hung out with him less and less. I didn’t want to be around the drugs, and he started to act a little strange. He forbade me from chewing cinnamon gum because it reminded him of his ex-girlfriend, but in the same sentence would ask if he could call me the pet name he had for her. He was very clearly still in love with her, and almost any conversation circled back to his hometown and her and them. He went as far as to call me her name when we were intimate. He shared with me stories of self-harm and a desire to hurt others. And least of all, a woman had started hanging around the apartment a lot. Her name was Kitty, and twice I found her in his room with very little clothing on. (Spoiler Alert: He was cheating on me.)

As I got ready to move back up to the college town to not go to college, I assumed we would end our relationship. It didn’t make sense for us to try long distance. He didn’t have a car, and I wasn’t planning on driving back down all the time. All of his behavior indicated to me he wasn’t interested in anything long-term, and I didn’t really like him all that much anymore. He apparently had the opposite idea and was hurt when I was not enthusiastic about pursuing the relationship. 

One night shortly before I was supposed to leave, he came to my house to say goodbye. My parents were out for the night, and he wanted to talk. We sat in the TV room, and he turned the lights low. Listening to the radio, a Nine Inch Nails song came on. He started telling me (again) about how Trent Reznor is a genius*, and unexpectedly, began to cry. I was caught off-guard and awkwardly tried to comfort him. He started kissing me. I didn’t want to, but he was crying, and I didn’t know how he would react to being rejected when he was already vulnerable. I didn’t have experience with emotional men and didn’t want things to go sideways. 

In an instant, his intent switched from teary kissing to something more urgent. He pushed me down on the couch. Not hard or violent, but just enough force to remind me he was stronger than me. So, not for the first time and definitely not the last, I let sex happen to me. 

I have read a lot of accounts of other people, not just women, who have done this. It is easier and safer to just let it happen. You tell yourself you’re consenting, but during, your soul is screaming. You do everything you can to remove your conscious self from the situation. My go-to was to count backwards from 1,000. It takes concentration and time, and usually before I reached zero, he would be done.

And then I moved 100 miles away, thinking that was the end of that.

After we got settled into the apartment, I got a job working in a lab testing soil samples. (Yes, really.) It was an interesting enough gig, and all the guys who worked there were really nice and helpful. I’d only been there for a week or so when I started feeling really off. I bolted to the bathroom to throw up. And then again. And again. About every 45 minutes. I was sent home because I thought I had the flu.

The nausea would not quit. I was desperately dehydrated, but water made me throw up. If I didn’t eat, I felt terrible, but when I did eat, I’d throw up. I called in to work the next two days, and hoped it would get better by Monday.

By Saturday, I knew something must be really wrong with me. I talked to my roommate and friend, and she asked what I’m sure you’ve all felt was obvious by now: Could you be pregnant?

I thought back…when was my last period? I couldn’t remember. When was I last home? When was that night? (counts on fingers) About six weeks. Fuck.

She offered to go to the store for me to buy a test. While I laid in bed with my agonizing nausea and unquenchable thirst, I thought about how I couldn’t possibly be pregnant. The test would be negative, of course. Did we use protection? Yes, he definitely said he did. I remember I asked just before I started counting. Did he lie? Come on, who does that. It has to be something else. Maybe I have an ulcer or appendicitis or cancer.

She came back, and I wasted no time to prove myself right and breathe relief at the sight of the negative result.

Up until that moment, I would have told you I never would consider an abortion. Up until that moment, even though I believe in a woman’s right to choose, I could not imagine a situation where I would go through with it. But I was in that moment. I was in that situation after an encounter, in which I did not want to partake, with a person to whom I did not want to be linked for the rest of my life. 

I walked out to our kitchen table, set the test in the middle, sat down across from my friend, looked her right in the eye and said, “I cannot have this baby.” And I meant it.

I have never regretted that decision. Never once. I do not feel guilty, sad, or ashamed. I think about it occasionally, but it was the right decision then and it remains the right one now. Not every woman in my shoes would have made the same decision, and that is the right decision for them.

I went back and forth about whether or not to post this. And it wasn’t because of regret or shame. It was because of the Judgy McJudgersons. The people ripe for a fight. The name callers, the slut shamers, the gossip mongers, the “What about”-ers. Was this chapter worth exposing myself to that? Did the value of this story outweigh the likelihood of losing readers and ostracizing friends and family? 

Unlike many times up to that point in my life, I knew in my gut it was the right decision and trusted myself. So with a resounding, “YES.”, it is worth every judgmental comment, cruel name, and righteous throwdown. Because I will bet you several thousand dollars there are women reading this who made the same choice, and it is the secret they will take to the grave. Because they don’t want to invite in the scrutiny and judgment. But I got you, Sis. We are OK.

Although it took many (many) more years for me to recognize and fine-tune that gut feeling – the one that warns me against wrong decisions and encourages me toward the right ones – there was that one time 20-year-old me knew what was best for us.

Cheers (with H2O on the rocks). 

Also, friendly reminder: Don’t be a dick.

*Trent Reznor is a genius (hello, THE SOCIAL NETWORK score), but it took over a decade for me to listen to his music again after that night.

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