‘When my boyfriend asked me to marry him, his mum burst into tears. It explained a whole lot.’


In those days, no matter how much pressure I felt from a date, it felt like I was to blame. As a woman, I was a sexual instigator simply by being alive.So, I kept dating my friend’s brother, even when he pressured me sexually, or made me feel gross about sex. I didn’t like it, but I also thought it was standard.The sex was pretty much always uncomfortable and unfulfilling for me. I wanted to feel good about it, and I wanted to “get over” my vaginismus, which made full penetration impossible. We muddled our way through the act with me holding onto the base of his penis to prevent it from going too far.Despite my uncertainty back then about whether or not our actions actually “counted” as sex, I got pregnant in 2007, shortly after we began dating and having shallow intercourse.It seemed like a terrible joke. Pregnant by the relationship I knew wouldn’t last. Of course, we were still in a conservative Christian bubble where premarital sex was wrong, abortion was wrong, and there was no safe space to talk about sex or pregnancy.Although I felt like I had to have an abortion, I was very torn up about it. When I talked to my boyfriend about possibly continuing the pregnancy, he was quick to remind me that my mother would kill me for getting pregnant in the first place.After a bit of back and forth, it occurred to me that I really didn’t want him to be my child’s father. He wasn’t stepping up to help; he just wanted to make sure I had the abortion. Then I realised I didn’t want my father to be involved in my kid’s life either.When I went in for the abortion, I found out that the pregnancy didn’t appear to be viable. They said it looked like an empty sac, and completed a D&C. My feelings about the whole thing were complicated, but ultimately, it was good that I didn’t become a mother at 25. I wasn’t ready.To my horror, however, my boyfriend wanted to talk about a future with lots of children and act like nothing happened. I needed time to heal and sort out my emotions. He didn’t get that, and I think we were on different pages for the duration of our relationship.After the abortion, I felt very brittle, almost bitter inside. I don’t believe in post-abortion trauma, but I discovered that abortion can certainly become traumatic when you live in a culture that requires you to hide it. My boyfriend didn’t mind hiding the abortion from his family, because it wasn’t a big deal for him. It was a big f*cking deal to me because I had grown up internalising so many negative messages about sex, my body, and motherhood.It was a relationship which I never expected to last long, yet I stayed in it for five years. It’s hard to believe how quickly complacency grows when you’re sharing your life with someone whom you know isn’t right for you (and vice versa).

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