I made a 4 hour trip to Baltimore MD in my gently used car. I could feel adrenaline, excitement, and earnestness overwhelm my body in the way a young person might feel while getting dressed for a school event. If I don’t get dressed quickly enough maybe my mom might change her mind. My sub-conscience teased me, but I could taste freedom as I belted the lyrics to “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie for most of the ride.
I arrived at a brick house that warm afternoon. Under its worn pavements, and creaking front screen door, it looked like paradise. My brother greeted me with full arms at the bottom steps of our new apartment. He was running from his own demons and happy to have someone to help him fight. I stared at our new home in amazement and relief. I had no idea what was to come. I don’t really think I thought too much into my future, other than enrolling into a local community college. I was still deeply in love, and at the time I thought love was enough.
Life hit me fast.
I was in over my head by the end of the first month of being on my own. My bank account quickly fell into the negatives along with my spirit. Despite my gnawing pains that were caused by loneliness and not knowing where my next meal would come from. I knew I couldn’t move back home.
I am the only reason I stayed.
If I had listened to all of the external signs telling me I wouldn’t make it, I would have run away the first time I opened my paycheck, the minute I realized I’d lost over 30 lbs or the night I had to sleep with the stove open to keep myself warm. I just couldn’t give up on myself. I didn’t care if I starved to death.
I was worth fighting for.
My high school sweetheart was in West Virginia, and I was drowning. I needed his love and support more than I needed money. I needed something that felt familiar to me. I needed to breathe, and yet his calls became more distant. I guess the writing was on the wall. One eerie day in September he finally told me his truth. Our high school passion and flame had dwindled. He traded his love for me for his love of life. He learned, he saw, and he became. He could no longer support my yearning need for his affection. He moved on and crushed 3 years of hope and my entire life plan in one 30 minute call. I can’t quite explain what it felt like to be broke and broken all at once.
I hung up in disbelief and did everything I could to keep him in my life. The next few weeks are hard to remember. I worked and called him. I cleaned and called him. I cried and called him. He never answered, and only made me incredibly desperate.
The coolness of October made things worse as the holidays crept up on me. I received a phone call from one of my friends one early afternoon. It was normal for her to call. She was one of the only friends who paid me a visit while I was settling into my independence. “Laura, what are you up to?” her friendly, concerned voice asked. I knew she had something compelling to tell me. Maybe some inner circle gossip, or perhaps she needed something.
“I heard he’s having a baby.”
I think I went deaf for a moment. I felt salt and sand press furiously against my wounds as I questioned her endlessly. We hung up, and an unexpected void rushed up my legs, into my stomach, and pumped right into my heart.
A piece of me burned away into the night as I cried for the child I let go of last fall, a child I couldn’t give a fighting chance to. He was now granted a second chance at that. I became turbulently jealous of him. My emotions manifested themselves physically. It was debilitating, and all I could do was vomit and cry.
I’m still not sure why I grieved so much during this time. Women that abort children aren’t necessarily irresponsible. The decision to erase a piece of you has never been easy for any woman. Whether you were raised in love or raised through survival, there is never a moment that you don’t carry that decision with you. I wish I would get over it. I wish I didn’t have to trace back to it every time I talk about my personal trauma. I wish I could articulate better words to describe my sense of hopelessness in those days, and how the decision was less up to me than I could ever explain.
As for me, I have never wanted to die. I just wanted the pain to go away. Anything else would have felt better than living.