We all know it’s been a rough year.
And I’m the kind of person who is constantly looking around for someone who has it worse than me, as a way to make my situation seem more bearable. This year has made that easy. Aleppo, Paris, Trump–it’s been pretty painful out there.
I know you feel it too.
But I am having one of the toughest years of my life. Back in July, I got pregnant again. I felt guilty for not being ecstatic–but I wasn’t. I was terrified. I had left my husband in April but had only stayed gone a month. We’d only been living together again for about 6 weeks when we found out I was pregnant. He was overjoyed.
I wanted to run.
It was like waking up in someone else’s life. I looked around, I looked in the mirror, and I recognized very little. I began trying to imagine life with another child. I broke down in tears.
I couldn’t do it.
I finally opened up about my feelings to a friend of mine, and she said the magic words, “You do realize you have a choice, right?”
It was like someone turned on the light.
I could finally see what my life had become.
And I could see that it was suicide to bring another child into that situation.
I had been enduring abuse from the first days of mine and Justin’s relationship. Back then it was just ‘jokes’ that were aimed at my self esteem, my intelligence, and my feisty power. I laughed them off. If they hurt, I pretended they didn’t. If I couldn’t, I’d hear “Oh, can’t you take a joke?” or “Not as strong as you thought, huh?” so I built walls around myself to protect my heart from a mean man. I saw through it–the sad, scared little boy on the inside, and I desperately wanted to help that little boy. I thought if I just showed him enough love, if I was understanding, unconditionally, then he’d grow and heal.
It finally got to me. I started breaking down in tears for an hour or two every time I left hanging out with him. A friend asked, “How many times am I gonna have to put you back together after he tears you apart?”
I knew it was over.
So I made a plan. I already knew when I’d see him next, so I figured out what to say and how to say it. I was scared, but I’d hold strong. I’d be happier after.
The next day I find out I’m pregnant.
I tried to make the call to Planned Parenthood. I couldn’t do it. My hands trembled as I dialed and by the time I got to the last number I’d be weeping, uncontrollably. I prayed, meditated, did yoga and cried for days before I figured out that Goddess intended for me to birth this child. I felt so much relief in that realization.
Next I had to tell him. He said, “If you need a man, I’m here. We’ll do this together.”
I was overjoyed. He might not be perfect, but surely a child would soften him. Surely he’d be filled with love and experience some divinity and we’d be able to do this together. I’d have to hold my peaceful center, and approach him with unconditional love, but I could do it.
And at first, it seemed I was right. He doted on me. We moved in together. He called me Princess. I had whatever I wanted and ate until I gained 65 pounds. He went to birthing classes and I got my birth center all natural birth experience. We went to the natural pediatrician. I breast fed and he supported me and even gave in to me feeding in public without a cover.
It wasn’t easy, by any stretch. His father (severe alcoholic, hadn’t worked in years) lost his home and moved in with us during the pregnancy. I liked to say Justin collected stray people the way some people collect stray pets. We had three people living in the living room (in addition to his father and the two of us) by my 5th month of pregnancy. I put my foot down. I wanted them out by the time the baby got here. One left.
Then when he was born, I was happy they were there. They cleaned and cooked and helped me so much. His father got a job because Justin stopped giving him money. I was happy. I thought it was getting better. We got a new apartment, he got promoted at work, more money was coming in, I was teaching more and feeling less isolated–and Solomon was growing and getting smarter and smarter.
Then things started feeling constricted again. He was coming home from work angrier and angrier, yelling about little things, criticizing my clothes and makeup and need to leave to teach. Every time he’d get upset, it was either my fault (why did you talk to me right when I walked in the door? I need to decompress) or I was exaggerating.
Then we get robbed. $15,000 walked out the door that day.
I was stupid for wanting to call the cops. They’d never get caught. I was stupid for feeling violated and scared, it was his money not mine. I needed to hold it together for him, he was gonna implode and the resulting black hole would suck us in. I was tiptoeing around my entire life.
But one night, I had enough. I stood up to him. I got a black eye and he went to jail.
I was more terrified of losing him and his financial support than I was that he’d hurt me again. He promised to go to therapy. I believed him.
I shouldn’t have.
It took a month of fighting to get him to let me schedule us a consultation appointment. He reluctantly agreed to buy a package of 3 sessions because she offered us a discounted price. We went to one other session and he refused to go back. It took another month of fighting to get him to the second session, and he spent the first half sitting silently with his arms crossed. Eventually I went back alone for the third session.
That’s when I realized how bad it was. I spent most of it crying because I wanted to leave but I was so scared. She reminded me that I could leave and get myself feeling safe and then decide what to do. And that leaving might wake him up.
So I did. He spent a month convincing me he was changing. I went back.
Which leads me back to this July. I was 13 weeks pregnant when I had the abortion.
My hands didn’t tremble when I made that call. There were no tears, no fear. I knew what I was doing and why.
Now I’m processing through. I was the one who was helping survivors of domestic violence and now I’m getting counseling through the very organization I’d worked to support. I made the choice to not carry my pregnancy to term, but I’m still sad about the loss of a child.
I know this isn’t an easy story to hear. It was hard to write, and harder to live. But it’s not uncommon.
I know I’m not alone and I want you to know you aren’t either. This is for every woman out there (and man too) who has come out on the other side of abuse and is looking back at all the pictures of Christmases past and feeling guilty for being sad.
We never get a chance to grieve what has been lost. We are supposed to be grateful we survived and escaped. But I’m sad. I look at pictures of my tree, my stockings, the presents I wrapped, my old family, and I’m fucking sad.
My old life is gone. I know my new life will be better. It already is better, in many ways. But I’m still grieving. And I’m learning to sit with it, to allow it to be ok, instead of stuff it down.
Let yourself grieve. Don’t feel guilty for your sadness.
The cliches don’t help, I know. But each instance of pain and sadness is here to help us learn and grow into the person Spirit intends for us to be. And we can’t do that if we don’t allow ourselves to feel it.
The only way out is through.
Reposted from my blog here.
About the Author:
Rachael is a young mother, yoga instructor, priestess-in-training and long-time writer. Rachael’s Sacred Dream is to offer packages of yoga, energy work, journaling exercises and coaching to women on a one-for-one basis—your purchase of a package provides a woman who is a domestic abuse survivor the same support. Her mission is to spread love, compassion and abundance by giving others the tools they need to heal and empower themselves. Learn more and make appointments with her here or follow her social media Facebook Instagram