It's taken a long time to understand that the root of my, um, the root of the things I find most uncomfortable in my life, is a perceived lack of choice.
It's hard to pinpoint when actual lack of choice was replaced with perceived lack of choice, but does it matter? I do remember listening to my mother when I was eight, or maybe seven. The question was: do I have to?
No. You don't have to do anything. All you have to do is understand there are consequences.
From just about that point forward, every choice I did manage to make was made with as much understanding as I could muster and a full acceptance of the consequences. I believe I was shocked when those consequences didn't happen. Sometimes nobody noticed. Didn't change my outlook much.
By the time my first baby was born, I didn't see much choice at all. I stood in the rain when the kid was nine days old and promised to protect him with my life. He doesn't remember, but I do.
Choice? Not so much. The kid's got to eat. That's what it came down to. Later it was, the kid needs clothes and the kid needs diapers and all three of those damn kids need an education. In 2010 there wasn't a lot of food. $35 a week to feed three people only stretches so far. Having 50# of red and black beans and at least that much of white rice, in addition to 300# (seriously) of flour and a summer's worth of canned tomatoes got us through.
I, no shit, missed a ton of meals. My oldest daughter, no shit, has never forgiven me but she's never forgiven me for a lot of things and I'm pretty sure that list is growing fast as a hurricane. She's got to be sucking fuel right out the proverbial basement because I sure don't see much of her. Less of her brother.
Eating or not eating in 2010 was almost as hard as breathing through June 24, 2022. You know what I mean. If you don't, go see Google. How the hell could a single choice from SCOTUS be more life altering than doing whatever it took to keep my kids fed twelve years ago?
- In November 1990 I made a choice. Not good or bad, you can't really look at it that way and expect to see anything past your own nutshell. Just a choice.
- At the beginning of December 1990 there was a consequence which led to a menu of options:
- Quick! Make it so there's no way to know the truth without a test!
- Tell the truth right now. Tell it, pull the glass out of your foot and take the beating up front.
- Carry on. Tell no one. Hope like hell whoever you did tell manages to keep their mouths shut.
- I selected options 1 and 3, but not until I'd had my constitutionally protected moments to make a choice. My choice.
- This one is a whopper:
Unless you personally have had this sort of conversation with yourself and yourself alone, you have no idea what I'm talking about. Best you can do is be quiet and try to listen from outside your own nutshell (see #1, above). You don't have to. I figure you're reading because you want to understand (sorta) or you want to watch a train wreck, in which case... why?!
Point is: you really cannot know, but I'll do my best to give you the highlights.
At no point in time did I doubt that I could have immediate access to safe and affordable medical care. At no point in time did I believe I couldn't do this thing all by myself (aside from the part where I needed the doc). So no question about possibility, right?
At no point did I wonder what any sort of god or God would think about my decision. The concept of god or Gods didn't even enter the conversation. At no point did I give a rat's ass about what anyone other than me would think about this choice. I'm pretty sure I didn't even think about it. What somebody else thought about what I chose to do or not do with my body was completely irrelevant.
Listen, I was smart enough to know not to broadcast the fact. There's this none of your business business and there's the flip side. If you don't want the neighborhood all up in your business, try not to broadcast it. Fair enough.
So that was it. Just me, my thoughts, my fears, my assessment of the risks to me, my assessment of the risks to my family, and the itty bitty embryo in my uterus.
To be clear, the itty bitty embryo in my uterus didn't get a vote. I expect I'd have had one hell of a problem continuing the conversation if there'd been a discernable heartbeat. But there wasn't and even if there was, I've no way of looking back. I can't know. None of us can know.
I did not make an appointment. I made a phone call and made sure I could make an appointment. I got some information, none of it new, and found out I wouldn't have to pay more than the cost of birth control pills given my financial situation at the time. I was pretty sure I could scrape up $20.
That last part is worth looking at. I was pretty sure I could scrape up $20. Well, shit, people. If you can't scrape up $22, how the hell do you expect to feed another mouth? That's actually a rational question.
So you know I didn't do it, right? You know what I chose. I know what I chose and I even know the price some of us are still paying. Was it worth it? Well, the moment that child drew her first breath, the 'worth it' conversation stopped being mine. No point looking back, her life became her own.
- Did I make the right choice? You'd have to ask my family. Is she happy to be here? I'm sure she is. Would she cast me into hell for breaking her father's heart and disrupting her life in the process? You bet. At least that's my perception and I guess that's my truth as long as I can't poke my nose out the nutshell. (I am TRYING, people)
- Were prices paid? Oh, you bet. Prices will continue to be paid right into the next couple of generations. I'm not kidding. The collective rage in this family should not be under-estimated.
- Would the first baby's life have been different had I made another choice? Um, yeah, it would have been.
- Would my marriage have survived. Maybe.
- Would the death grip of fear and guilt have choked the life out of me. I have no idea.
This is what I do know. What's done is done. All I can do going forward is control my own actions. Do you know what's killing me right now?
Sure you do. Read that all again.
And I'm not sorry for any of it. How could I be? I made the best choices I could possibly make given my circumstances. I am sorry about the current state of affairs. I have no idea how to change any of it so I'm doing my very best to surrender quietly.
Did I make the right decision? Go back to the top. There was no right decision, just a choice. Yes or no.
I am happy for the choice I made. I am delighted that she is in the world. I expect the world's pretty much delighted with her as well.
Mostly, I am happy for having had the choice to make in the first place. That takes away EVERYTHING. There is no victim conversation here, just an empowered woman who chose to bring a child into the world under some pretty dicey circumstances.
Happy Almost 31st Birthday, Sweetheart. I'm awfully glad to be your mom.
...for you I did; not for me, not for him, not for them, and certainly not for a god of any sort. for you. for you, I did...