[Dear readers, Although this piece deals with an issue that is, without a doubt, very close to my heart, there is something that I wanted to bring to your attention that, based on how you look at it, this story may not clearly address. The pain and heartache that I am about to share is due to an abortion that I had, but I am fully aware that this experience would have never happened had I chosen to remain abstinent. There are millions of reasons why sex before marriage is wrong—this is just one of them. —Shellie]
Awhile back, I received a phone call that changed my life forever. I’ll never forget the ring, the hesitation on the other line, the message, my response. You might as well have reached in, pulled out my heart and stomped on it profusely. And the crazy thing is I thought that at least when it came to this particular chapter in My Matters of the Heart, Vol. 1, I had mended. Guess not.
See, sometime ago I was in love—so in love—with a man. Who didn’t love me. Sure, he claimed he did, and maybe in the heat of passionate lovemaking or arguing, he believed that he was. Either way, it didn’t really matter. I didn’t need his permission to ignore the rumors of him and countless women, to worship the ground he walked on, to give him my everything. Nor did I ask for it. Maybe that’s why he was just as presumptuous in how he received my love, lovemaking, love giving, love sacrificing.
Perhaps I should explain how my devotion to this man ties in to the phone call that devastated me so. See, I was told that he was expecting a baby with another woman. Now, before you think that I am some pathetic psycho who needs to buy Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” single and get over it, let me finish.
I was pregnant by this same man a year ago. Yep, that’s right. The man that I loved, we made love and created life. So what, you say? There’s lots of single mothers, you say? Well, although that may be a reality, it makes me no less sympathetic to my own problems. And besides as a result of the situation, I am not presently a single mother. Although I could have been.
Remember, I loved this man. And it was deeper than late night bootie calls every other week. I called his mother Mama, he spent time with my brother, we shared the same friends, he and I had been best friends for almost two years before. We were bonded. At times I had wondered if we were destined for each other. You know, soul mates united as one for eternity. So you can imagine how a single, twentysomething, Christian, “already aborted before” woman who’s in love with a man whom she thought she could mesmerize into love’s submission felt when she saw the “plus” sign appear on her home pregnancy test. Scared. Elated. Confused. Anxious. Relieved. Yes, even relieved.
Not only was I happy to know that I could still conceive after years of poor planned parenting, but perhaps this was a test from God for me and this man. No child’s an accident right? The Bible says before the womb that we all are called and chosen, right? So, maybe there was a plan for me, him and this life within. I was carrying his baby. Sure it was microscopic at this point, but a baby nonetheless. Sure he may have needed time to adjust, but he was against abortion. I’ve heard him speak on it many times. It was against his religious and personal beliefs. Sure he may not be initially excited. I mean, our relationship wasn’t the clearest to understand or explain, but he knew the pain and agony I went through grieving the loss of my other children. There’s no way he would expect me to go through that again.
And then I remembered the response that he gave when I broke the news. “You know we can’t keep this baby. And don’t blame me for your past mistakes. I shouldn’t have to pay for that.” I couldn’t tell if it was selfishness or fear, but either way, this clearly was not about us being bonded or soul mates or the soul within. It was every man for himself at this point. But remember, I loved him, which at the time I thought meant that I had to sacrifice my heart, my sanity, my flesh, my soul and all of the other things that were growing inside of me for him.
The day I reluctantly terminated that pregnancy was the worst day of my life. I knew better. Not because of my personal or political views on abortion, but because of my emotional attachment to this child. How could I sacrifice my baby, who was a part of my body, for its father, who was obviously detached from my heart? And nevertheless, a father who swore he would stand by my side. A father who swore that he loved me. A father who swore he would not have another child out of wedlock. A father who would impregnate another woman just twelve months later, while emotionally abandoning me literally hours after the procedure? How? Why? How?
After hanging up the phone, my mind instantly recalled the first time I saw When Harry Met Sally and the line that instantly stuck with me. I remember Sally had been living with a man for several years and yet he wouldn’t commit, only to marry another woman months later, to which Sally replied, “It’s not that he wasn’t ready for marriage—he didn’t want to marry me.” Sally and I must be sisters. Our names rhyme, and so do our stories. It’s not that this man was not ready to be a father; he did not want me to be his child’s mother.
I can’t tell you how many unresolved feelings resurfaced at the news. Shoot, I don’t even think there’s a word for most of them, but I know I felt sick to my stomach with the kind of queasiness you get when you’ve been reading while riding in the back seat of a car or after sitting in a smoke filled room. I wanted to vomit out all of these emotions, but couldn’t. I wanted to curse him out, but knew I shouldn’t. I wanted to tell the new mother of his child the kind of sacrifice I made for him, but didn’t.
And to be honest, I wasn’t sure why. Surely, it wasn’t because I still loved him. It couldn’t be that. Any man that required the loss of a child as the display of affection didn’t deserve my love! And what a fine time to get that revelation. Over a year later. If I had thought that highly of myself when I was a “baby’s mama,” perhaps I would be teaching my child how to walk, talk and use the bathroom right now, instead of wondering how big of a woman I’d be if I sent knitted booties to his house.
And although sometimes it kills me that I cannot bring the day back that I gave up my child, although I feel somewhat guilty for resenting an innocent, unborn fetus that has absolutely nothing to do with me, although I am presently in a relationship with a man who is more than this man could ever be to, for or with me, I still hurt inside. Because I know that any personal, life-changing decision, should have been just that—personal.
So, in order to keep my sanity and peace, there is nothing left to say to this man, the mother or this new life, other than congrats, with the inner knowledge that I will never allow him or any other man like him to have the pleasure of loving me or hurting me again. But in honor of my lost loved one, I must step out and make a plea to those women who unfortunately may be in my same situation. Don’t ever let a man talk you out of one of life’s greatest responsibilities, motherhood. You may be pregnant under the most challenging circumstances. The father may be incarcerated, abusive, unfaithful or just a selfish idiot, but don’t let his needs take precedence over yours and your child’s. It is not guaranteed that you will be as physically and emotionally resilient and he appears to be, if you should choose to terminate.
So, as politically correct as it may sound, let my story, heartache and pain be an example to you that it may be you and the man’s child, but it is, without a doubt, your decision. Any man that tells you otherwise is not concerned about your well-being, just his comfort. If I could do things over little one, I would. Rest in peace.
[Shellie R. Warren is an up-and-coming writer in Nashville, Tenn. Since making the commitment to pursue a career in writing less than five years ago, she has been published in dozens of publications. She also serves as a visionary consultant for D&C Multimedia and spokesperson for Miss Black USA, Inc.][Editor’s note: Look for Shellie Warren in the July/Aug issue of RELEVANT magazine. Subscribe now.]
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