We too often find ourselves in situations that, once in them, there is no easy way out.
No matter the words people use to make us believe differently, we all deal with issues so large, they dwarf our perceived ability to negotiate them.
Young women, especially, face this reality every day. They need to know they are not alone.
They need to know the bravery it takes to face the tough choices is not only required of them, but of the millions of women who have come to the same crossroads before and of the women who will arrive there later.
They need to know that, though the decision may seem easy in the short term, the pain of having to choose never dissipates.
Our only choices are then to either remove the yoke of living from our own shoulders (becoming an automaton devoid of anima and living life in anticipation of death) or press forward through the pain and find a way to give meaning to the sacrifice we made for our futures.
This is not a letter to women and men who disagree with abortion. This is not an attempt to reach out and ignite a debate with any of you.
This is not me trying to win anti-abortion believers over by telling you my story. This is not about your thoughts. This is not about your beliefs. This is not about your feelings. This is not about you.
This is about my child.
This is a story I am no longer ashamed to tell. This is a story of fear, pain, love and loss told on a level of intimacy you may never have experienced before.
So, with that being said, here is my letter to the child I aborted:
To my baby,
Since I was a young girl, I have dreamed of having the perfect family. I imagined my family gathered together, sitting around a fire and enjoying each other’s company. I imaged locking eyes with my husband and sharing a moment of silence with him.
“Yes, we created this. We did it. Together.”
I imagined my life as a mother every day: pressing you against my bare skin, listening to your heartbeat sync perfectly with mine, humming you to sleep, brushing your hair, cleaning up your scrapes when you fall -- the normal things mothers do.
I looked forward to the day I would get to hold you in my arms for the first time and listen to the musical tune of your first cry in this world.
I looked forward to whispering my first words to you: "You can do anything. You have my full support no matter what road you choose to venture down. Never settle. Never give up. Never say you can’t. I will be your mother, your best friend and your guide through this world."
I didn’t get to do or say these things.
The night I found out you were in my stomach, I felt the happiest I ever have.
I immediately started planning your future in my head: the outfit your father and I would bring you home in, the color of the prom dress I thought you might want to wear, or the color of the corsage you would give to your beautiful girlfriend.
I distinctly remember dropping to my knees and thanking the Lord for blessing me with you, baby. No one could bring me down.
I called your dad and told him to come pick me up. Somehow, he already knew what I had to tell him. I promise you, I could hear his heart stop through the telephone while tears of joy flooded his face.
We were just about to begin the future I had always wanted. And, then, things changed.
Your grandfather had a pretty strong opinion about your mother having a child at 18 years old.
With no career, no financial stability to provide for you and no mental capacity to raise you how you should be raised, he helped me to understand the future I faced as a young, naïve mother.
He supported us and eventually came around, but he made sure I understood the repercussions that would follow either decision.
As painful as the choice I made was, I thank your grandfather every day for preparing me for what I had not yet prepared myself to handle: you.
My thoughts began to have their way with me.
"Emily, can you honestly raise a child the way he deserves to be raised?"
"Emily, can you provide this child with everything he needs both mentally and financially?"
"Emily, can you raise a child when you are still just a child yourself?"
These thoughts haunted me for days. I fought a battle I was not prepared for. I cried endlessly for nights and lied to your father when he asked me if I was okay.
I blamed it on the hormones. I blamed it on everything except where the blame was really meant to be placed: on me.
You see, baby, it wasn’t just about what I wanted anymore. It wasn’t just about the dreams and goals I had for myself. My life took on a much bigger meaning when you were growing inside of me.
It was now about what was best for you.
My life would revolve around you, and as happy as that made me, I was nowhere near capable of providing you with what my parents provided for me: a life filled of integrity, honor, respect, humility, patience and kindness.
I was always so focused on the idea of having you, instead of actually preparing for you.
Guilt flooded my heart. I felt as though I had already let you down, already failed you, and at that moment, as though I had already lost you.
That morning, as I walked into the brick building hidden away from society, I felt my heart break.
I walked into that building having already let you down. I walked into that building with one soul — yours — and left with none.
I remember the nurse asking me if I wanted to hear your heartbeat and see you one last time and at first I told her no. After thinking about it for a moment, I quickly changed my mind.
I opted not to see you, though, as the symbolic meaning behind simply listening to you meant more to me than anything else.
Baby, the beautiful sound of your perfect heart is a tune that stopped mine mid-beat. You were absolutely perfect, and, for a split moment, I swear I could hear you whisper in my ear how much you loved me.
You dropped me to my knees.
From the moment I knew you were inside of me until the moment you no longer were, you had me living on my knees, in awe of your energy and ability to connect with me.
I didn’t tell your father what I had done. I lied to him and told him we lost you while your grandmother and I were out of town.
It broke his heart when he found out the truth. To this day, I don’t know how he loved me through his hatred for me, but he did.
Please know that I, alone, made this decision and he played no part in it. I never gave him the opportunity to think about anything but how much he needed you.
He wanted you more than he wanted to breathe; you were loved before we even knew you, baby.
You would be 7 years old now; you would be beautiful and you would be passionate, but, most importantly, you would be mine.
I am writing this letter to you because I want you to know I feel you around me every day.
I feel your whispers, your warmth, your guidance and your love. I feel your heartbeat still synced with mine, and I truly believe that is the only reason I still have one.
I’m so sorry. I’m so very, very sorry. I am so sorry I was not ready. I am so sorry I didn’t have the strength to raise you yet.
I am so sorry you began this journey just to be treated as though you were not wanted. Baby, you were wanted. I still want you. I still love you more than any lost soul can love a found soul.
I have since been traveling the road of self-discovery. I have searched for the experience and strength I need to raise you properly.
I couldn’t stay with your father. Every time I looked at him I saw you. Every time he looked at me, he saw betrayal.
At one point, I was searching for my soul lost in the building that day, but I realized she will never be again. To be honest, I do not want her back.
I have found a new perspective (a new soul, if you will). I have found a love that is rare to many of us.
It is the love of the wind on my face. It is the love of seagulls taunting each other on the waves. It is the love of those same waves crashing into each other and still finding their way to the shore.
It is love that is rare to the eye, soft to the touch and all-encompassing.
When you do come back to me (and I know you will), I will be able to give you my heartbeat this time, instead of you giving me yours.
I have loved you since the moment you were inside of me, baby. I have loved you every second for the last eight years, and I will continue to love you for the rest of my days.
My promise to you is that when you do come back to me, I will love you unconditionally as I know you love me. I will provide you with every ounce of life that is allowed to me.
I will teach you, guide you and surround you with unconditional love and forgiveness as you have so selflessly done for me.
I will be your mother. I will be your guide. I will be your best friend. And, you, you will be my baby.
I have and will always love you.
I look forward to the day you are ready to come back to me. I am waiting to feel our hearts in synchronicity once again.
With the rarest and truest of love,
To all the women who have been through my experience, let me tell you this:
Hardly a day goes by I don’t think of what my child might have been or where my child may have found a place in the world. The pain is still palpable in my heart.
That will never change for anyone who finds him or herself dealing with such an issue.
Still, I look at my life, my failures, my love, my intellect and all the other pieces and parts of who I am. I must judge whether those pieces and parts add up to a positive or a negative contribution to life. These self-evaluations are impossible to avoid.
It has taken me years to raise my head out of the puddle of shame I drown myself in every day. I suffered in silence, and I suffered alone.
Everywhere I went, I heard laughter coming from children at play, the snaps of a mother behind a camera making sure she doesn't miss a beat and the squeals of a little girl when her crush would chase her on the playground.
Every time I left the house, I lived my life in slow motion, as if it were my punishment.
The truth of the matter is, I was punishing myself.
It was at this time, I realized the most important concept I was failing to adhere to: the ability to forgive myself; the ability to say, “You know what, I’m going to be okay;" the want — the will — to continue living.
I wasn’t doing what I needed to do, which was come to terms with what had happened and prepare myself for future possibility of motherhood.
This ultimately led me to realize that if I didn’t pull myself out of the slump consuming me, giving up my child would have been for nothing.
Do not follow the path of self-recovery I chose to travel, as it led to the beginning period of self-destruction.
There are other women who need your words just as I know someone out there needs mine.
They need to know this: 1) Never bury yourself in shame, 2) never let your decisions consume you, and 3) most importantly, forgive yourself.
If my message reaches the ears of one young woman and helps her through her dark time, it will be worth, as Shakespeare phrased it, “the vicious slings and arrows,” that will surely follow the postings of this letter.
This is my story. We all have one.