As a child, one of my most cherished memories is of my oldest sister crawling into my twin bed and reading stories of children in magical tree houses, and people exploring dystopian worlds. Biblical parables would be read and discussed and terrors from Revelations would be explained while I was dozing off sleepily trying to be attentive. There are certain stories that become lost files of our lives and others that resonate with us the second we hear them.
I can still remember the pale blue reclining chair that sat in the middle of the room surrounded by machinery and other smaller chairs. My toes and fingertips were moist with sweat, as a breeze danced with the white gown that dangled just below my knees. I closed my eyes as the cold jelly squeezed out of the plastic tube onto my stomach as a device pressed into the space below my rib cage and naval. A little pea was swimming in black and white on the monitor as the room hummed in tune of a baby’s heartbeat.
Six shots to the cervix and a couple grueling hours later I’m back in the car, on my way home. I was already picturing myself in my floral pajamas and soft blue socks surrounded by pillows. Little did I know I was now a number in a sea of women, physiologically– even psychologically, and not by choice. (yikes)
The decision to have an abortion was terrifying, not only because of the obvious unknowns of the procedure itself but because I was already experiencing a personal transition. I had recently released myself from my family and the Mormon church that had provided a life boat in the ocean to grab onto at any time. Now, it felt like I was treading the ocean alone and rebuilding the community I wanted to be held in. Once I was liberated from the pressure of my family, I began to shed the Mormonism off of my skin along with the “good versus bad” mentality that was stapled into the folds of my brain.
Not only was I experiencing a personal transition the country was also experiencing one as well. It was November 2016 and the election was in full force, meaning everywhere I looked, everything I read, women’s reproductive rights were being discussed. Facebook was full of gruesome images and false information that was distorted by an individual three hundred thousand shares ago. Radio shows hosted debates while political figures spoke harshly of the women that chose to terminate their pregnancy as well as the people that support it. Everyone I knew had an opinion about abortion and I couldn’t find relief anywhere. I felt deserted and mostly angry that no one understood what it felt like to be exactly where I was.
After I slept through the end of the year I decided to move to New York. I was still fuming and desperate to connect with anyone who could understand my experience. So I shared my story to everyone and began to normalize abortion and talk about the topic like I was talking about laundry. Suddenly, I formed a pact with women online and in person who understood why I was still grieving.
I developed confidence in my decision and in my story and began to march in protest of the government and the silent rules that are still denying reproductive freedom, in hopes of change. On social media I shared my story in hopes that other young women feeling alone while going through this process could find some relief.
As a child the only stories I was told were of Christ or searching for Waldo not, “What to do if you’re experiencing an unexpected pregnancy?”. I wasn’t informed of the normalcy of such events that exist in womanhood. How ordinary pregnancy tests are and the amount of women that are in the same predicament I was. If only my story was one I had heard, that first year of grueling pain and feeling sorry for myself could’ve been lifted.
Understanding the significance of storytelling through my current state is one of the most important lessons of my early twenties and I haven’t been able to articulate that until now.
(y’know aside from eating regular meals and not spending all my money in a week)