This morning my husband broke the news to me that Roe v. Wade will most likely be overturned and given over to the states as a ‘states’ rights issue’. The change will not go into effect for a few months yet, but it is disheartening to say the least.
I am a woman who has had an abortion. I had just turned 22 and well, I didn’t feel that I had a choice. I did not have the means to keep the child nor did I have the desire to take on that responsibility. I had just graduated college and was preparing my Fulbright proposal.
I, however, was staunchly Catholic at the time. I remember when hearing about girls in high school and college who had abortions, I was judgmental and really adamant that I would never ever do that. It was a sin and I was no murderer.
Boy, did I swallow the Catholic party line, hook line and sinker.
Cut to 1995. I was dating my old boss and had gone to see him in Colorado Springs. He had moved there and my graduation present to myself was to see if we could make things work as a couple. I had high hopes that we could. He was successful enough to run his own store and, at 27, he was not much older than I was. He also had a used Porsche, which I absolutely loved. I wanted one of my own.
Unfortunately, the trip was a bit of a disaster. Things did not work out for us as I had hoped. I ended up leaving Colorado Springs early. I was heartbroken. When I returned home, an ex of mine called up. Despite the fact that he was married, I agreed to meet with him. I knew it would end in sex because that was what our relationship was primarily about, but I did not care at that point. I was hurting and thought that sex, even with a married man, was going to help soothe my wounded ego.
I was wrong. I felt awful about myself and vowed to cut out my promiscuous behavior. My friends, many of whom were also Catholic, thought I was a slut and well, I was inclined to believe them at this time. I did not own my sexuality yet and was using sex to get love, which is what I really wanted. It would take me years to figure that out.
Around my birthday that summer, I missed my period. I was scared shitless. I told my friends and they made me get a pregnancy test. I didn’t think that was a possibility and couldn’t believe that this had become my life. Two tests later, it was confirmed that I was indeed pregnant. My friend, Millie, told me I needed to tell Bill, the now ex in Colorado.
I couldn’t admit to her at the time that he may not have been the father. I told myself I was a slut and couldn’t wait to leave my friends’ company. I needed to process this on my own. The following day I made an appointment with my gynecologist to confirm whether I was pregnant or not. It came as no surprise when the test came back positive. My gynecologist talked to me about my options. It was an unreal, out of body experience.
I told her I didn’t know what I’d decide, but was pretty sure – I didn’t tell her that – that I was going to have an abortion. No way could my family find out. I would be disowned, or so I believed. Excommunication seemed like a less scary option.
My friend, Millie, decided to come over that day and ‘forced’ me to call Bill. I told him I was pregnant. He assumed it was his. It could’ve been. He asked me to marry him, but I did not want to get married just because of a pregnancy. I also didn’t want to marry a man who hurt me so much and I wasn’t ready to saddle him with a kid if it wasn’t his. I knew that that would not be a smart move for either of us or for the child.
I broke protocol and shocked both Millie and Bill by telling them that it might not be his. He hung up on me. She stormed out. I sat on my bed and cried for a few hours. Then, I decided to ram my stomach into the wall. I prayed for a miscarriage.
The next morning, I called the other candidate. I refuse to say his name because I still can’t believe what he said to me that day. He told me I couldn’t have the baby because his wife was pregnant. He also said I was on my own and to ‘take care of it.’ I knew what he meant and was devastated. I immediately called Planned Parenthood in Brookline, the same one where John Salvi, a maniac, opened fire a few years previously and killed several employees because he didn’t believe in abortion.
I will not comment on the Salvi case here because it’s not the place or the time. I can imagine you can guess where I stand on the issue. Regardless, in talking with the receptionist at Planned Parenthood, I was told I’d have to wait two weeks before the fetus could be ‘removed.’ Her words, not mine. I was given an appointment and had to pre-pay for the procedure. I put it on a credit card because I could not afford it otherwise and there was no way I was asking my parents or friends for financial help.
My financial situation cemented my need to have this procedure. However, the next two weeks saw a lot of tears and banging my stomach against walls. I even tried to throw myself down the stairs at my parents’ home – yes, I was still living at home. I had thought better of it because if they caught me bleeding, I was sure they’d figure out my ‘secret’ and my ‘shame’.
I kept to myself largely for the next few weeks and made sure I had the day off of work. I was working at Harvard as a phone operator, part-time. I had no means and no desire to have the baby, but I felt immense guilt and didn’t know how to cope. I turned to food to soothe me as I had done so often before.
Those two weeks seemed to pass in slow motion. I became convinced that God was cruel because he didn’t listen to my prayers for miscarriage. I begged for His help so I wouldn’t have to do this. I didn’t see any other options.
Finally, the day came. My friend, Millie, despite her anger at me, drove me to the clinic where we were greeted by protestors who called me a ‘murderer’ and a ‘whore’. I was visibly upset as the security guard buzzed us into the clinic. I walked slowly as if I were about to be executed.
When I got to the receptionist’s desk, I told her I was there for my ‘appointment’. She handed me some paperwork to fill out and told me to wait. I cannot remember what the paperwork looked like. I can, however, remember crying while filling it out.
The wait seemed interminable and I watched a young woman with her mother. She looked like she was still a teenager and, again, I noticed I was judging her for doing the same thing I was about to do. I was such a Cathoilc hypocrite.
When they called me back, I thought it was for the procedure. Unfortunately, no. I was meeting with a social worker who tried to convince me not to do it. I was very upset about it and told her that I had made up my mind. I felt as if she were judging me too. I know now she was not and I also know that Planned Parenthood really tries to present you with options. They are not the ‘abortion-factory’ that many conservatives would have you believe them to be.
I was crestfallen as I went back out to the waiting area. It seemed endless. I don’t remember how much time passed before I was called back to see the doctor. He was cold and clinical. He told me to undress from the waist down and left me so I could do it. I was so nervous and shaking. I started to cry as I got myself hoisted up into the stirrups on the table. I was starting to rethink this. Maybe my parents wouldn’t kill me. Maybe they would and I wouldn’t have to worry about this at all.
As the doctor returned to the room and began the procedure, I could hear myself think NO in my mind but I didn’t say it out loud. I just cried. He sent me back to a recovery room and I could feel myself bleeding. It was quick and I felt dirty. I was devastated.
Nothing about my abortion experience was good. It wasn’t a happy day for me. It is a day I will always remember. I still regret the decision but am grateful that I had the opportunity to make it. I am scared that women now in states like mine – Texas – will not have the same option. My own daughter, if anything should happen to her, would have to go to Mexico or another state to have the procedure. She’ll be vilified worse than I was.
It’s not right. It’s not fair. No one should tell a woman what to do with her body. If these so-called pro-lifers actually cared about life, they would make it easier for a woman to have a baby and get services she needs for herself and her child. If I had had more options, I may have made a different decision.
I may not have. It was my decision to make and I still deal with the consequences of it to this day. I do regret what I did, but I cannot take it back and I would not want to take away the right of another woman to make the same choice I did. Actually, abortion is not a ‘choice’ per se but a nuclear option so to speak. If I could’ve seen another way forward, I would’ve taken it.
I am sad, disappointed and angry that the Supreme Court, as shaped by Donald J. Trump, takes women’s lives into no account. It’s a sad day for the United States and I can only hope that there will be another decision someday to restore our reproductive rights under Roe V. Wade. I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime.
Ironically, I was born in 1973, when Roe v. Wade was passed. Less than 50 years later, we are overturning it. I can’t believe what has become of my country during my lifetime. I’m not surprised to be honest, but I am upset.
For those of you who don’t know me or who haven’t worked with me before, I am not shy in admitting that I have bipolar disorder. When I was first diagnosed, at the age of 35, I was shocked, scared and upset. I didn’t want to ‘be bipolar’. Bipolar people were very mentally ill and I did not identify as mentally ill. I wasn’t having that.
Well, pretty quickly, I learned that medication made my life easier and more manageable. Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy groups – both in a mental hospital (Out Patient) and with a DBT specialist in private practice – I learned about mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. The skills in DBT, which was created by Marcia Linehan in the 80s to treat Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which she was diagnosed with and studied extensively, helped me improve my life and my well-being.
Over the years, I’ve accepted my diagnosis. I’ve come to terms with the fact that, at times, I ride the middling highs (I’m hypomanic) and, more often than not, the lowest of the lows. As I recently told a friend, “To be bipolar is to feel real joy and deep sorrow. It is the fulness of human experience.”
When I am in my ‘mania’ phase, I am extremely creative, confident and happy. However, I do not always relish these periods because I am looking for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. When I go into a deep bipolar depression, I call it THE BLACK because it feels like I’m stuck in black, sticky goo, unable to move or feel anything but emotional pain. I have gone into the black more times than I care to admit – or count, but I have always come out of it with some deeper insights into my personality and myself.
However, that does not make it any easier. Last year, when I was titrating off of Effexor, a medication I had been on for more than 20 years (previous to my bipolar diagnosis, I was dx’ed with major depressive disorder). Each time I went down 37.5 mg, I went into THE BLACK. A few times I didn’t think I’d make it out alive. I really was in a bad way.
Now that I am off the medication, which can sometimes exacerbate mood fluctuations, I feel much better. My outlook is better and my overall disposition is more even. I am not cured by any means. I still need to take my medications daily and practice some extreme self-care. My psychiatrist and my therapist as well as my life coach have been instrumental in teaching me the importance of self-care.
I try to teach that to my clients. You are the only you you have and you should take care of yourself. You should want to. Sometimes, I didn’t. It’s not like that anymore. I feel more capable, competent and sure of myself not just because of the medication but because of my study of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – the restructuring/reframing of negative self-talk/beliefs – and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), as previously mentioned.
I also find working with my clients to be extremely therapeutic. They help me see things about myself that I wouldn’t realize otherwise. They teach me ways to problem-solve. I love the work I do as a mental health coach and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Would you like to work with me? I have slots available for the New Year. Please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or a 60-minute free consultation.
Making behavior modifications and habit-based change doesn’t have to be difficult. My motto is ‘small changes make big impacts.’ I know of which I speak. More than four years ago, I weighed over 400 lbs. I am now about half that weight – and still losing. I was not an exerciser at this time although I had once been a dancer and a bit on the athletic side. I had become super sedentary. Walking from the couch to the fridge was about all the exercise I would get.
Then, in December 2016, I tore my meniscus. It was extremely painful and, after going to two orthopedic surgeons, I was devastated that, due to my weight (and BMI, which was 68% at the time – a staggering number I know), I was not a good candidate for surgery to fix my torn knee cap. I was determined to get in good shape.
That January, although I am not much of a New Year’s Resolutions type of gal, I began to ride my recumbent bike. I did it for five minutes at a time, twice a week. That was all I could manage at first. The sweat dripped off me like I had run the Boston Marathon and my breathing was so heavy I thought I’d have a heart attack – or faint. I kept at it. Now it’s December of 2021 and this morning, for example, I did 15 miles in 80 minutes on the bike (I’ve had to replace the one I used back then because, as my husband put it, I “wore it out.”) I am now exercising seven days a week and no less than 10 miles a day. It’s like breathing. If I miss a day, I really miss it.
This is from a girl who was once prescribed a bariatric walker.
I’m not saying this to make you feel bad or have you compare yourself to me, but I want you to know that change, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, is possible. All you have to do is want to change. It’s like that song from the Christmas special, “Santa Clause Is Coming to Town.” You just ‘put one foot in front of the other’ and change will occur.
Let’s start making our first steps towards change today. Reach out to me. I am here and happy to help.