I was standing in a sea of cocktails and smiles celebrating 100 episodes of the television show I had worked on. It was an incredible accomplishment and I was feeling high on life. Then a pregnant member of our crew joined a conversation I was having with one of the male executives. The conversation shifted to her impending motherhood and he said “You will never know a love as great as the love you will have for that child. Nothing can compare to it.” Well fuck me. I guess there’s another thing that makes me a failure. There I stood, 51, childless, and once again – feeling shame and humiliation for the choices I have made. At 51 years old I will certainly not be having a baby anytime soon. Deep true love was not going to be on my life menu… order something else.
Having children is a choice that women get to make, but if the current administration has their way – it won’t be. In the year 2019 women are actually losing the rights over their own bodies. Just look at what’s happening in Georgia and Alabama. It is outrageous. We are having choices taken away from us. Motherhood may be a privilege but before it becomes that – it is a decision that we get to make because it happens in our bodies. Let’s put aside the arguments about when life begins – and lets take up the argument about who gets to decide what happens inside of us. Having an abortion is not an easy choice. Women don’t get up one morning and think – should I cut bangs or terminate this pregnancy? I know this because I was faced with this decision myself.
Mother’s day always reminds me of another box I don’t get to check in life. Sure, I’d like to think I’m a mom to my two dogs – but it’s really just something I tell myself to cover the fact that I was a Mom once – even if it was just for about 8 weeks.
Yes, I had an abortion. The year was 1986. The day was Yom Kippur. The place was New York City. I was 26 years old. It was a day of atonement and I was about to atone for the sin of a broken condom.
For me, there was no question about whether to have this baby. I was in an extremely abusive relationship with a cocaine addicted nut bag. Love really is deaf, dumb and blind. When I told him that I was pregnant he said – “get rid of it.” He offered no assistance and no support financially or emotionally. He even refused to go the clinic with me. There I was, a young woman who thought she could handle anything – forced to handle something that was way above my twenty-something pay grade. Yes, I had thought I always wanted children but no – not this with guy.
I found a clinic and went there ALONE. I signed in and sat in my plastic chair facing the other women trying to hide the deep shame I could see in their eyes. There was no privacy. We all knew why we were there. For one reason or another we had all come to this decision.
When they called my name, panic swept through my body. I changed into a robe and climbed up on a cold table in a very bright room. No one was kind. No one had a nice word to say. No drugs were given to me. The abortion itself felt like they were scraping the roof of my mouth from inside my vagina. I cried – a lot. I felt humiliation – a lot of humiliation. When it was over I had to go have Yom Kippur dinner at my parents house. I didn’t tell my mother what had happened. We didn’t have that kind of relationship.
If anyone tells you their decision to have an abortion was one they entered lightly – they are lying. For me it was a trauma that I buried so deeply I didn’t even remember it until last year.
I was driving up the coast from Los Angeles to Seattle to visit my sister. The top was down on my jeep, the air was crisp and clean, and the sun was shining over the Oregon Dunes. Then the song “Brick” by Ben Folds popped out from an old playlist and I the dark sad ballad burst into the airwaves – I burst into tears. It seems as many times as I had heard it – I was truly hearing it for the very first time. The song is about Ben taking his girlfriend at the time for an abortion. He describes in detail the exact thing that had happened to me. There I was driving alone this beautiful stretch of road as a full body guttural release of tears blew out of my car and scattered themselves amidst the trees. Finally after 33 years of holding that trauma in, I left it in the Pacific Northwest.
By the year 2020, America could be illegal in 20 states. This is unacceptable. America is not the Handmaids Tale – at least not yet. Stand up, speak up and do whatever you can to keep the things that happen to your body – your decisions to make.