Today, I am talking about choice. I really wish it was the choice between chocolate ice cream and chocolate cake, but it's not. I'm talking about women's choice, along with a bazillion other bloggers.
I could throw a bunch of carefully researched numbers at you; I could give you facts and figures and speeches by predominate leaders, but that's not how I roll over here.
Today, I am going to tell you a little story. I am in no way proud of this story, but I am telling it anyway, and then we are never going to speak of this again.
Once upon a time, I was a 21 year old very pro-lifer Mr Lady dating the wrong boy for the wrong reasons, and at the perfectly wrong point in my life I found myself all knockered up. I wasn't careless or reckless; quite the contrary, actually. I tried very hard to not get pregnant, I just failed miserably.
I had a moral dilemma on my hands. I knew that if I had a kid, I would be a single mother. A single waitress mother. With no education, no parents to help me, nothing. I would become my mother.
I went to my dad. I asked my dad what to do. Now, my dad does NOT believe in abortion. He has 9 kids, 5 of them illegitimate, backing up those beliefs. He sat me down and said, "Mr. Lady, I am giving you ONE get out of jail free card. You go, you take care of this, and you never, ever forget it."
I went to baby-daddy and told him I was pregnant. He cried. He didn't sleep for a week. His heart was broken. He knew, too, what we had to do, and he hated it in a way I didn't expect.
Shortly after I turned 22, I became a pro-choicer. It wasn't the horrible torture they told me it would be. It wasn't calloused and superficial and awful the way I was taught it was going to be. Even before the crazy rule structure got put into place, they sat me down before, told me ALL about what was happening, laid out every conceivable option in front of me, and then made me go away and really, really think about what I was about to do.
I really, really thought about it. And then I really did it.
Four years later, I was married to that same baby-daddy. We had 2 children. I was losing my mind and his was planted quite firmly in the bottom of a bottle of Mouvedre. I was trying to figure out if I could leave him. I was trying to raise two infants all by myself while he found himself. Our shit was not good.
Of-mother-fucking-course I got pregnant again. We had one very good day together, and I am as fertile as the Tennessee valley, yo. I was totally in denial, even though I was late and right back up to a DD cup. I refused to even admit it until I had to admit it. When I finally did admit it, I came immediately to one very clear conclusion; I could in no way have another baby with a man who I was *this* close to getting away from, who had hurt me and made me an evil person. I had 1 3/4 of my feet out that damn door and I wasn't getting trapped back in it. I went to my best friend, I talked to her. I cried to her. We really, really thought about it.
I really, really thought about it. And then I really did it.
I ended my fourth pregnancy, and this one was so much harder than the first time. I think it was because I knew how great being a momma was. I knew how much I loved my babies. I was so thoroughly in that place where your whole life is your kids, where every minute in a sacrifice for them, and I did something I saw as purely selfish.
It wasn't purely selfish, though. We had to go. We had to let dad figure out his crap, and we had to leave him to do it. And that's exactly what we did.
If I had kept that pregnancy, I never would have left. I never would have learned that I could leave. I would have disappeared into the haze of co-dependency that IS life with an alcoholic. Being able to leave then braced me for being able to leave in '06, when I really, really had to leave, when it was international and gruelingly difficult and totally a non-option.
There was no way I could seen those two pregnancies through.
I wish that it was different. I watch these people that are so much a part of my heart and who are going through adoption processes overseas because one little thing went awry for them and the can't have the babies they are so desperate for, and it makes me feel small and ungrateful for the gift I have been given. I am not ungrateful. Every day I rejoice in these creatures that I have made, even the days when I want to sell them to the circus. I know that this thing, this raising children gig, is the single best gig in the world, but that doesn't change the fact that sometimes, well, sometimes people just can't do it. Sometimes people try really hard to avoid the situation, and the situation finds them anyway, and sometimes it can destroy people.
I thank whatever every stinking day that I had the options I had. I will kick and fight and scream and rally and throw things and cry to make sure that some other 'me' out there has those options, too. The world is not black and white on Ariel, and everyone has a different story, a different history, and different reasons to make the choices that they make. What's important to me it that the option exists for women who need it.
This is the point where I would really like to get into everything that I think is wrong with the system now. I would like to talk about the men who don't get a say in the process because it's such a convoluted, screwed up lobbying topic and has become this drastic, political monster rather than the save-haven for people it should be. I would like to get into all the serious flaws in the system, and how I firmly believe that it should be WAY more regulated than it is, with limits, with accountability, with responsibility and compassion. I would LOVE to get into the fact that those people who make posters of aborted fetuses to propagate their own political agendas, those people who mock and abuse the pure hell that women go through in making this choice, need to be hung by the nearest tree. I am not going to get into all that though, because I know that if I had once ounce of gumption I would get off my lazy ass already and be the change I want to see in the system. I haven't, and I doubt I will, and I am totally ashamed of that.
I have this box that I keep; one, small, wooden box full of all the little favorite letters and notes and secret, special things to me. In it are plane tickets from the day I left my mother, drunkenly scrawled on cocktail napkins, birthday and mother's day cards, and buried deep in the bottom of that box is an ultrasound picture with a tiny little dot in the middle of it taken 11 years ago. I will never look at that picture, but I will also never throw it away. Because I refuse to forget. I will not ever take it lightly. I will always know that I did the right thing at the right time, and I will always be grateful that I live in a world where I could.
Would I do it again? Hell no. Would I hold your hand and rub your hair and make you tea if you had to? You bet your sweet ass I would.
OK, that's it. I cannot talk about this anymore. That is my story, and I'm sticking to it. I hope y'all don't hate me for it. I hope that no matter how you feel about it that you google Blog For Choice today and read what I can only imagine are seriously more eloquent, more poignant posts on the subject. This is merely my experience, and I share it only in the hopes that maybe someday, someone who needs to read it will.
Tomorrow we resume our normal broadcast days.