I have sat on my previous post entitled “Her Choice” for a few years now. I know it is messy. I know it leaves out millions of details. I know it’s only a glimpse into the beginnings of the breakdown of myself. I know it is far from perfect.
I wrote it in third person to remove myself somewhat. The emotions of that time unbearable in ways. All the things I wish I had done now verses what I actually did. How timid I was then. How innocent. How utterly in the dark as to what was really happening. How unaccepting I was of who my monster was. How hopeful. And now, so many years beyond that, I feel so sad for that the poor woman in the story. She had no idea how much worse it was going to get. I want to free her. To run to her and warn her. To hold her. To help her. It’s a strange yearning for I am her. The disconnect confuses me because at the same time, I know her completely.
I look back on that time and I am filled with grief. I was married with two children already. It was the last scenario I could have ever imagined facing: an unwanted pregnancy and the other half of the equation pushing for an abortion. That is a scenario you find when you are in high school or because you had a fling in college with a stupid fraternity bro. Not when you have pledged your life and said your vows and already had a home with children. It still blows my mind.
I look back on that time and I am filled with disgust. What kind of man makes his wife choose between the stepdaughter she absolutely adores and her unborn child? What kind of man pushes his wife into a place where she begs God to take her baby so she doesn’t have to choose? What kind of man makes his wife feel so unsafe? So unloved? So wrong for only doing what was right?
I look back on that time and I am filled with anger and perhaps some bitterness. In a time that should have been so beautiful, I was devastated. When I should have been laughing and planning and calling all my friends/family, I was sobbing and hurting and forbidden to speak or share of the life within me. Even though I was terrified of being pregnant again and having babies so close together… and even though it was unplanned and the timing seemed all wrong, I knew to my core that I loved that baby with everything in me. I knew it would be alright. And I’m so angry that there are no happy memories to hold onto.
But I also look back on that time and I filled with awe. Despite the tears, the insults, the submission, the abuse, the torment, the wrongful prayers, that woman was so brave. She rose up when it mattered. She chose life when she was only given the choice of certain death. She fought for what she knew to her core was right. That woman’s defiance and heart and bravery forged the woman that I am today. And I am so damn proud of that.
I have gnawed on this for years. This story. I was trapped into a silence that I did not break for so long. Protecting my monster at the cost of myself. But it goes beyond that. I have struggled with if this story should ever be revealed.
On the one hand, it is one of the most integral pieces of my story. It is the first time I ever stood up to my monster. It is my first act of defiance that has ever mattered. It makes the story what it is. And because of the choice I made, to continue on with the pregnancy rather than to end it, I had to pay.
From the moment I found out I was with child again, my spouse stopped helping. I never again had a partner get up in the night to help with a crying child. I never again had a partner let me sleep a little longer in the mornings while he cared for the children. From that moment on, I was alone in the journey of parenthood. So few know this. It was only I that crawled out of bed to hush a baby in the night. Only I that gave baths. Only I that attended regular doctor appointments or distributed medicine. Only I that grocery shopped or cooked or cleaned the kitchen. Only I that washed the piles of laundry or folded or put them away. Only I that helped with homework or attended the mundane activities. I carried a full time job with a salary by day and a full time job with no gratitude by night. The full weight of being both a mother and a father fell on me. And he never blinked an eye.
I paid in other ways too. Slowly he took more and more from me. Little freedoms. Financial, social, and then some. He became more arrogant and rude. He upped the ante. He demanded more and more of me and each time, I arose to the occasion. I felt guilt at having defied him. I felt like I couldn’t tell him how tired I was or lonely or sad. That he would just fling my choice of having our baby in my face. And so I smiled and put on a brave face and forged on. I didn’t know it then but this infuriated him. My resilience. And the punishments began.
But on the other hand, this story contains perhaps the most important part to me in this entire world. My child. My child who was unwanted. My baby who he wanted gone. And I have struggled so much with putting this out into the universe. Because should my child know? What will it do to him? How would that possibly feel? Is this even my story to tell?
I have weighed this carefully. Questioned and thought out every scenario I could. And then it hit me. This isn’t just a story of being unwanted. That is only half of it. No, this is a story of being so undeniably wanted. A story of how a mother loved this child so very much, she was willing to face anything to keep him safe. This is a love story. One where good overcame evil. One with a happy ending.
There have been horrific days since. This brave woman I admire so very much has endured more than she could have ever imagined. This story was only the beginning of testing her. Only the beginning of heartache, loss, and false choices. She has fallen again and again and again but the one thing that she has done that many others never could do is get back up.
The story isn’t over. Love will most certainly conquer evil. And there isn’t a single day that goes by that I’m not so grateful for my beautiful surprise. My son. My very wanted and cherished son. I will never stop choosing him.