Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hard Rocks Love - Lesson 6:
Abortion Blues
One Wants It & The Other Doesn't


There are 27 short chapters in this intense, book length article. You might not have time to read it all in one sitting. I would love it if you left comments as you go rather than wait until you finish it.

The purpose of this article is not to influence anyone about their abortion views, be they pro-life or pro-choice. Instead, it tells a compelling story of what happened to three couples in three generations in my family who had to deal with unplanned pregnancies.

There will be no statistics, photos of fetuses, cute babies, or none of the gimmicks used to sway people in their views. This article is not to be circulated for anyone's political or religious agenda in either camp, or to be reprinted for distribution without my written permission, and like my others, it is copyrighted.

Most importantly, I do not recommend you reading this if you are suffering from past abortion issues.

~ Kit


Part 1 - Sweat

I wanted to drive downtown in this traffic-heavy, strange city. It was nighttime. People bustled about on the street, cars packed the avenue, and I thought it best to park my car and catch the bus. I pulled into an underground parking lot of a massive theatre complex and found a space in a remote area of the garage. No one else was around. I walked toward what appeared to be an exit door, but it wasn't.

I turned back. This place was like a maze! I saw another door with steps that might lead outside to the street, but wasn't sure. The area looked and felt spooky. I chose a long corridor with signs leading to the theaters. It would be a longer walk, but I would find an exit and be able to continue my journey downtown.

Suddenly, I heard footsteps behind me. I glanced back. It was a young couple, and they quickly fell in step behind me. I began to walk faster, but I could hear them catching up. With a sense of paranoia, I turned to face them. By then they were only about three feet away from me.

They stopped. I recognized her. I recognized them both. She was holding an infant wrapped in a white blanket.

Suddenly, the baby's forehead grew larger and larger. It's entire body changed into a monstrous thing. It's eyes were furious, and as it snarled, sharp, pointed teeth were revealed. It lurched forward toward it's mother and bit out her heart.

Both I and the young man stared in shock. The mother was still standing, still alive! A gaping hole in her chest cavity, now heartless, dripped blood. Her eyes changed and had the same fury as the infant monster she held in her arms.

Then they both turned toward him.

At this point, I ran like hell, back toward to nearest door that may or may not be my escape. I didn't look back and heard no footsteps following me.

I woke up in a sweat.


Part 2 - Friends with Benefits

This dream mirrors what has been going on in my life for the past week, and the distant past as well. The couple in it was my son, Xavier, and his sorta girlfriend, Stephanie. For new readers, they are both 19 and have been together since May. They became very tight and said they were in love and talked of marriage.

This lasted until her baby's father, Angelo, was released from jail in July. He's also 19 - a very tough age. He had been locked up just shy of turning 18 as juvenile for a minor part he played in a robbery when Stephanie was three months pregnant with their child.

Angelo jumped back into the mix and told her he loved her and wanted them to get married one day and be a family. Stephanie became confused about whether she loved Xavier or if she should return to Angelo. She broke up with Xavier in word, but not in deed, and they continued to see and call one another as much as before. As she told me in early August, they were friends with benefits until she decided who to chose.

I wondered how that shit would play out.

It went okay until the day she told me - first - that she might be pregnant. This was around ten days ago.

He came in that evening and was very tense and quiet.

"What's wrong?", I asked.

"Stephanie or some dickhead is playing games with me over the phone," he said angrily. "See, listen, I'll put it on speaker phone."

I watched him as he called her place. A young guy answered. When he asked to speak to her, the man laughed and hung up.

Xavier was livid. He told me that on one phone call earlier, "He said was fucking her and now she's his."

He called again and when the guy picked up, he yelled, "I'm coming over right now and I'm gonna bust a cap in yo' azz!"

He said when he called earlier, he swore he could hear Stephanie laughing in the background.

"Xavier," I cautioned. "Maybe she her baby's daddy she might be pregnant, and he's over there now trying to piss you off and run you away."

He paused, shocked. "She said might be pregnant?", he repeated.

"You didn't know? She told me this morning. She's not sure."

"Oh hell," he yelled. "I know I'm killing that bitch nigga now! He ain't getting my woman!"

Oh shit, I thought.

"I'm killing him, tonight..."

"Stop! You'd end up doing life..."

"Fuck it, I don't care!", he screamed. He was obsessing on this shit. "I'll kill that mah fucka..."

He got on the phone with one of friends and asked for a ride to her house.

Men are friggin' crazy when it comes to poon-tang they really treasure. I couldn't get near the phone. I sat there quietly, wondering what in the hell to do.

He paced the floor and ranted until his friend pulled up in front of the building 15 minutes later. I slipped on my shoes and grabbed my keys.

"Don't follow me!" he screamed.

"Fuck you," I said. "I'm walking my dog."

I knew that dog would come in handy one day...

I was relieved to see it was Siggy in the car. Now there's a young guy with a great job, some damn good computer skills, and common sense that came at 18. He used to gang bang with Xavier back in the day but job training and employment turned his life around.

"Siggy," I said urgently, "unless you want to end up an accomplice to assault or worse, don't drive Xavier over to Stephanie's."

His mouth hung open while I told him what had gone down. Xavier fumed as he sat in the car.

"Don't worry," Siggy said, "I will not be driving him over there. I'll just talk to him."

He drove and parked in our lot. I looked out the window periodically to make sure they were still there, or I was gonna call Stephanie and warn her to not open her fucking door. A half hour later, Xavier came in the house still looking pissed but calmer.

He called her again. This time she answered the phone. I couldn't hear what he said, but half hour later he told me.

"It was a damn joke," he said with disgust. "Her girlfriend is visiting, and her and her stupid-assed boyfriend thought that shit was be funny."

"That's a sick fuckin' joke," I replied, shaking my head. "Cruel."

"Yeah, no shit."

Teens and young adults are so immature. They play with fire and don't have a clue. This is part of our culture and we get peeks of it on YouTube videos or from MySpace trash talking.

My daughter Casie, an honors student who is to starts high school soon and is seemingly untouched from dysfunctional issues, kept her door locked through all the craziness, but she heard it. In the morning, she came to me and held up a bright shiny object.

"I found this on the floor," she said.

It was a bullet.

Part 3 - Dealing with the Devil's Tool

It wasn't hard finding it. I locked up the .38 and barged into Xavier's room.

"If you ever bring a motha fuckin' gun in my house again, I will have yo azz locked up so fast your head will spin."

Xavier awakened. "Where is it?"

"Like I'd fuckin' tell you. Are you outta your damn mind?"

"I wouldn't have shot nobody," he said gloomily. "I'd have just scared the nigga."

"You trippin'. Rule #1. Nevah, evah point a gun at anyone unless you plan to shoot them. Your uncle taught you that. Otherwise you just tempting fate and inviting death."

"I don't wanna talk about it."

"Fuck you, Xavier. Don't play with me on this. Yo' black ass will be under the jail, you understand?"

He grunted a yes and pulled the cover back over his head.


Part 4 - You Stole What?

Now that Stephanie had missed her period which had been due in early August, they had to find out. He visited her the same day I read the riot act to him. She told him the same thing she told me: if pregnant, she was certain it was Xavier's because she had only slept with Angelo once since he got out of jail.

What did Xavier do?

He stole a pregnancy kit from the drug store. Casie figured that out when her nosey azz looked in a bag we already had and she didn't see a receipt. She was cracking up as she sprawled on the living room chair.

"Mom, Mom! He stole a pregnancy test," she laughed.

"Shut up!", he yelled.

I looked at him in amazement. "You stole a pregnancy test?"

"I didn't have no money."

He grabbed his bag from Casie.

"I can see you now," she said, "locked up and running into your old crew and all those other thugs, for shoplifting a pregnancy test! Oh-my-God!"

She laughed so hard that tears came to her eyes. I did too.

Casie used a gruff, thug voice. "I'm in for murda," she said. "Whatchu in for, Xavier?"

She then imitated his voice. "Shoplifting a pregnancy test."

"They'd beat yo azz," she added.

Now that was some funny shit between a brother and sister. My lil' nigga laughed but he really couldn't take it. He left the room - with his bag.


Part 5 - Denials, Delusions, and Dreams

Laughter turned to tears once the pregnancy was confirmed and Stephanie announced she planned to get an abortion. Xavier was devastated. I wasn't feeling very peachy-keen either.

I asked her why.

"I already have one baby," she said. "I can't handle two. My mother would hate me. My father and step-mother would kick me out. People talked about me so bad in 12th grade when I got pregnant with Angelo's baby that I dropped out and had to get a GED. People still talk about me like I'm nothing."

This part of Stephanie's culture. When I first met her, I thought she was a fair-complexioned black girl. She's Dominican, and like many Latinos, marry more often and don't look favorably on unwed motherhood.

She said, "I don't even love Xavier. I want a chance to go back to Angelo so my baby can grow up with his real father."

Keep in mind that her ex has been out of jail over a month and if she's telling the truth, they've only laid up one time while she's been running with Xavier constantly.

Angelo's behavior is not consistent with how a man interested in a woman operates. Either she's been pulling double duty with both, or lying to herself that they have a shot of getting back together. My best guess she's slept with him more than once, but is a victim of wishful thinking.

"What does Angelo say?", I asked.

"He says he wants us to be a family."

"So why have you been spending so much time with Xavier since y'all broke up three weeks ago?"

"Angelo's been busy working."

He ain't working that much, I thought, recalling the job he has.

"Maybe it's his baby," I said.

"No, it's definitely not," she replied. "I haven't had sex with him since my last period. He's been waiting for me to make up my mind on who I want."

Ain't he considerate, I thought skeptically. Girlfriend is being played or playing both boyfriends. I wondered about that mindfuck phone call that could have ended up as a homicide case with a temporary insanity plea.

"What would Angelo say if he knew about this situation?"

"The funny thing is," she answered, "he said he had dream that I would come back to him, but pregnant with Xavier's baby."

Now that's some weird shit.

I had a dream too, I told her, a day or two after I found out she was pregnant, but mine was more abstract. A female foal (baby horse) kept following me and Casie around. She was smart for a horse and had loads of personality. She followed us home.

"Between Angelo's dream and mine," I said, "maybe this is how it's meant to be."

"No, I can't have it," she said. "I have an appointment with the clinic on Monday. They said since I'm not far along, they could give me a pill."

I was stunned. I said, "A pill?"

"Yeah," she answered. "
The clinic said it could be used until you're seven weeks along."

I can't imagine a pill strong enough to kill a fetus, as opposed to a freshly fertilized egg, without killing some important cells in the mother. Most of us have heard of the Morning After pill, generally used for rape victims, but this shit was a shock to my sensibilities. If true, it's another damned example of how our technology has made a quick fix possible for everything, except wisdom, compassion, and humanity.

I told her to check out the safety of this carefully if she decided to go through with it.

Part 6 - A Life Raft Offered

I rolled the dice that the kid could be Xavier's since they've been making out like bunnies since May. I made an offer to Stephanie. She, her baby, and the unborn one could move in with us and we could find a bigger place after it was born. This was sincere. I have never minded sharing the fruits of my life, and it didn't work out, it just didn't work out. I figure a year or two of sacrifice would be worth it, and at least this kid would have a chance to be born.

"I really can't deal with two kids," she said.

"You don't have to," I said. "You and Xavier can share custody. The child has a father who wants it. If you don't, he can take custody. He told you this. I'll be more than happy to help him raise it. Between him, me, and Casie, that baby would always be sitting in someone's lap and never want for attention. You could visit and keep him or her whenever you wanted to."

"I can't imagine giving away a baby," she said.

"Just think about it, okay? We're giving you options to abortion."

Maybe she worried that the baby would turn out to be Angelo's, and doesn't want to go through that drama, especially if Angelo blew her off. This is understandable.

Later, Xavier asked her once again to marry him. He said it could be a temporary marriage if that's what she wanted, so at least her family, friends and the rest of the world couldn't look down on her for being single with two kids by two different men.

He shocked me when he said he didn't even care if the baby wasn't his, that he loved her anyway and would love her children as his own. Being adopted, he doesn't have issues about this.

Then Stephanie used the God argument.

She told him, "I could never stand before God with a lie that I loved the man I was marrying but didn't."

I asked him if he asked her how she could abort a baby instead, which for believers in the Ten Commandments, is the bigger of the two sins.

"No," he said sadly. "I didn't want to mean to her."

Part 7 - The Misery of Loving A Mask

On Friday, he brought Stephanie and her baby over. They acted totally happy with one another; smiling, laughing, cuddling. They went to a movie that evening and came back with food. This was a splurge for him; he made a little a cash on the side from detailing a car, and I know this left him broke.

He didn't care. They were so happy I wondered if they were cementing their relationship and she decided to keep it. The only thing different was when they were alone in his bedroom, I didn't hear the usual laughter and moans of pleasure. Maybe the only talked.

They appeared happy Saturday morning. That afternoon, Xavier rode the long bus ride with her as he always does when she goes home, and when he returned, I asked if she changed her mind. He said no, not so far, and refused to talk about it.

Their relationship was blowing my mind. How could she be so loving and carry on like everything is fine, knowing he's hoping and praying she'll keep that baby? I still wonder about the mask she wears to hide her feelings. It's like it's glued on and she can't take it off. I know how it got there, but I'll tell y'all that later.

In the meantime, Xavier has been having the blues from loving a mask. When he figured this out, he did what a lot of men do when their love life gets all fucked up. I overheard him call some girl and ask if she wanted to go out. Then he called one of his weed-smoking homeboyz to hook up afterwards.

Women often see this behavior as proof that the man's feelings don't run deep, but they're wrong.
Men in general have a fundamentally different way of dealing with rejection than women.

Most of the women I've ever known and worked with as clients will sit home, grieve, and deal with their feelings introspectively. They overeat and have phone marathon sessions with their girlfriends.

Young guys, on the hand, generally try to distract themselves from their pain by becoming more social and avoid sitting in the house. Older ones will throw themselves into their work, drink too much or both. This isn't a hard and fast rule, just one I've observed.

Part 8 - Men Suffer Too

Xavier expresses his feeling through music. His latest lyrics greeted me on my computer monitor that Sunday morning. It gives great insight to how a man feels when he's torn apart by his woman's decision to have an abortion.

Bitch you fucking make me sick this one’s for you.

You killed a part of me that day
When you decided to bury my seed anyway
I realized that it would never see the sun of day
Suddenly I fell to my knees to say
No this can’t be happening to me today
Please GOD tell me this is fake
This reality makes me shake

Gurl you have change God’s fate
this dark hour on this day
That you killed fate, destiny
And a part of me
Not like it ought to be
It’s demented like a fucked up fantasy
Why do you fail to see
This is not about the u and me
Otherwise GOD wouldn’t have let you conceive

I know now what is not meant for me
My heart is ripped in three
And it feels as though there is no me
Like I lost my soul
I’m like a car without gas there is no go
No turning back, my heart’s gone cold
I’m just a wandering soul
And my brain is froze.

I heard him on the phone with her that night, and on Sunday, he went to visit her, but I learned on Wednesday it was only to return her cell phone recharger and he hasn't seen her since.

Part 9 - "A" Day

This past Monday, the day she had the abortion appointment, rolled around. The phone was quiet into the early afternoon. So was Xavier, Casie, and myself. I don't think he could bear it. He left.

How do you show love to soothe an injured friend? Child? Loved one? Especially when they're so miserable they refuse to talk?

I didn't know what the hell to do by Monday evening. Casie and I hoped to communicate our concern with food. I kept busy reading news and writing to vent my worry that he'd get another gun and use it on himself.

Xavier ain't never been easy to raise. He's a complex person: creative and funny, but high strung and tough as nails on the outside to mask how emotionally fragile he is on the inside. This is from a combination of temperament and early years in bad foster care homes and learning too much, too young, about his birth family thanks to a crazy, semi-open adoption.

Late that night he called me. His voice wasn't just tense, it was strange. "Has anyone called today?"

That told me right there he hadn't spoken to Stephie.

"No," I said sadly. "I was out for about an hour to get groceries this evening, but otherwise, no calls."


"Did she do it?"

"I don't know. I think so."

"I'm sorry."

"I don't want to talk about it," he said. His voice was totally fucked up.

"You don't have to," I replied. "Come home. I made you fried chicken, your sister baked you cookies. We love you. Come home and rest."

"No," he said. "I can't."

"Where are you? Do you need a ride?"

He paused. "I just... can't come home now. I need to be alone."

"We won't say a word to you. Please."

Long pause.

"Xavier, you have a life. You've lost a lot, but you have a life. You are loved, and with time, you can get past this. You know what I went through, and that I understand. Just please don't hurt yourself, or her."

I thought I heard him choke back tears. I know his pain is so bad that he wants to die. He's always wanted a family since he was a little boy, and he, along with I, tried everything we could to convince Stephanie that she had options.

I prayed that night that God would carry him through it, and thought about the abortions that have cursed our family for nearly a century.

Part 10 - My Folks Had The Abortion Blues Too

The way families deal with unwanted pregnancies are often passed on from one generation to the next. Until they became legal in 1973, strategies ranged from shotgun marriages, sneaking off for a long visit with distant relatives and placing the baby for adoption, women harming themselves or a family member trying to stomp it out of them, and even pretending they had been raped, which no doubt in my mind is the untold story of why a lot of lynchings of black men occurred until the 1950s.

Abortions were illegal and expensive, but not impossible to get. We take birth control for granted now in western societies, but back then, the lack of it and the unreliability of condoms were a pain in the ass.

It was 1938. My own late mother got pregnant for the first time within a year after she met my father. She couldn't marry him because technically he wasn't divorced from a woman who thought she might be pregnant with his baby.

He never thought it was, but married his first wife in name only as a favor. That lady turned out to be pregnant by someone else, which was obvious when the child was a dead ringer for it's daddy.

My father's kindness created a big problem after he met my mother and she got pregnant. They felt they had no options except an abortion since they couldn't wed. Single mothers were thought of as tramps and their children as bastards. Some states even had the word 'bastard' stamped on the birth certificate - something that would follow a person for their entire life. One of the most interesting fiction books I ever read was Bastard Out Of North Carolina.

My parents found a doctor who would do it. When I was 20, she told me of her narrow escape from death.

She said, "The worse part was that I ran into a girl I knew at the doctor's office that night. I was the lucky one. She died a week later from complications."

"Who went first?", I asked, thinking how little was known about germs and sanitary conditions back then.

"I did."

I privately wondered if the doctor washed his hands or primitive instruments thoroughly afterwards. If not, she really had been the 'lucky one' because penicillin, the first antibiotic, wasn't available to the public until the 1940s. I didn't mention this to her; she was already sad enough talking about it.

For her, however, it wasn't the abortion as much as it was the death of the young woman she knew that made her teary-eyed. As a child, she had learned to take the deaths of infants in stride to some extent, having seen her own mother lose three prematurely born infants. This was common in her generation.

When she became accidentally pregnant the second time, she didn't want to end up dead from an infection like the girl she knew. She married my father who was divorced by then.

"I cried all the way to the wedding," she said, shaking her head.

"How did daddy deal with that?", I asked in wonder. "I mean, who would marry a woman who cries all the way to her wedding?"

"He didn't mind," she said. "He really wanted to marry me. He loved me and figured I'd love him after awhile, and like the first baby we lost, we wanted this one, but even more."

"So why did you date him so long if you didn't love him?"

"He was generous and gave me money all the time," she said. "He paid for me to go to typing school. He brought groceries for my mother and younger brothers. I liked him and enjoyed his company, but I just didn't love him because he also lied a lot. He hadn't even told me he had been married until I got pregnant the first time. My mother nearly died when she found out. That sort of ruined things."

Hell, she still didn't know the half of it. He'd painfully confided to me around ten years ago that he had two kids when he was really young and during the Great Depression. Those babies died from starvation when their mama took ill while he was living far away trying to finish high school. I wrote about that story in this artcle, Sliding Into The Rabbit Hole: The Great Depression, Part 1.

This is why he didn't mind marrying that woman who thought she might be pregnant with his kid. I think he was hoping to symbolically get back the two dead babies he lost.

During their marriage, she said she had abortions and two miscarriages. Once she she had one abortion, but another time she said two. Since this isn't something you'd forget, I think she was ashamed of this. I asked her why she had them since she was married.

She said, "With one kid, you can always leave a bad marriage. With two or more, you're a sitting duck. It's a lot of laundry and ironing too, and I hate spending hours doing that. They didn't make wrinkle-free clothes back then."

"What? You had abortions because of laundry?!"

She ignored this. "Our first seven years were good," she continued, "but then it went downhill because he started cheating a lot. By the time I got pregnant with you, your brother was nearly 16 and a year away from going off to college, so I made the choice to have you."

This made me sad for the siblings I coulda-shoulda had but didn't, and the piece about the laundry struck me as incredibly selfish. As a virtual only child, I was a lonely child.
I was nine years old and my parents had been married 25 years before she left him. Financially, she might not been able to do this with two or three of us. As she said, she'd have been a sitting duck.

"Don't you wonder how the kids you aborted would have turned out?", I asked.

I could see the conflict in her face, and then hear the strength in her voice. "In almost every family there's at least one alcoholic or crazy one. I tell myself those were the ones I aborted."

Part 11 - A Broken Rubber & No Bravery Broke My Heart & Spirit

Years later, at 19, I was pregnant.

I was in my 2nd year of college. I deluded myself that the guy I was seeing was my boyfriend, but we were really just messing around. You can tell when this when the guy doesn't take you to school dances, and when you meet him there, he's nice and stuff, but doesn't really act like the two of you are a couple.

One day, messing around in my dorm room, the condom broke. Two weeks later, I was a few days late.

Oh my God, I worried. This can't be!

Mother Nature can be tricky. My period came on and I was delirious with joy, only to start worrying again when it stopped a few hours later.

"Maybe it's just really light this month," I thought. "It did come on, so surely I can't be pregnant."

Two or three weeks after that I began having morning sickness. I had to eat a couple of crackers before getting out of bed. I knew I was pregnant but tried not think about the problems it would bring.

The thing is, I loved the feeling of being pregnant. I don't know why, I just did. There was something about it that felt so natural. I wanted to have it.

I told my wish-he-was my boyfriend. This guy had been adopted himself. He looked down at his hands.

"What should we do?", I asked.

"Get rid of it," he said. "Get an abortion."

I couldn't believe my ears. I felt an enormous anger, but at that age, never ever showed my negative feelings to anyone I was mad at out of fear of rejection. The anger of people I cared about was very effective in controlling me. I wanted to scream, 'too bad your mother didn't abort you! Then I wouldn't be in this situation!'

But I remained silent, and he left.

Part 12 - Carrying My Mother's Baggage

I absolutely could not tell my mother.

She had always been terrified that I'd get pregnant as a teenager like one of her sisters did, who shamed the family and married at 16, but not before the whole neighborhood knew.

Her own mother grew up in a Catholic orphanage and was a devoted Catholic. She even had an uncle who was a priest. In 1939, my mom was traumatized when the Church had her ex-communicated after she told her parish priest that she was pregnant by a divorced man - my father - and needed advice.

When she didn't go along with the priest's idea of sneaking down to her relatives who lived in the country and put the baby up for adoption, he had her kicked out of the Catholic Church. Not just that church, but the entire religion. I think this involved getting a letter from the Pope's office in Rome. This nearly killed her mother.

Damn. How's that for baggage?

My mom was so insane about this issue that when I was six years old, she told me if I ever got pregnant outside of marriage, she'd drive her car off the bridge - and said this while driving across a bridge. I looked down at the water and imagined me causing her death.

She didn't mean it; she just wanted to instill fear in me. Indeed she did, but not how she imagined. I didn't fear sex once the sex drive kicked in, but hadn't considered that a broken condom and pregnancy would ever happen to me.

Instead, I feared her, and for her. The result were disastrous and tragic. In my greatest time of need that I have ever had in my life, I was afraid to turn to the one person I needed and wanted the most - my mother.

Part 13 - The Hitmen

At my most vulnerable moment, I called my father for help.

He was an ambitious man who thought of his wife and two children as trophies. He loved me, but it was a selfish love to an extreme.

"You can't let this interfere with your studies," he said. "You must get an abortion. At least they're legal now. I'll pay for everything."

My voice was soft and I squeaked out my question. "Can I have it and come live with you, Daddy?"

"No, that won't work," he said with great finality. "I'm renting a room, and like I said, college first."

"You have lots of money," I squeaked. "You can rent an apartment for us."

"Nope," he said with more finality.

I hung up. The hit had been ordered on my unborn child by both it's father and grandfather.

Part 14 - Nowhere To Turn

My father's 3rd marriage with a woman in the South had just crashed and burned. He was indeed renting a room from a friend until he could figure out where he wanted to live. I thought of calling my brother for help, but I was ashamed, but also, his first marriage had just failed. He left his first wife and was renting a basement apartment.

I had no fucking where to turn... except maybe, death.

I didn't know how I would do it; I just wanted to do it. Maybe I could leap to my death from my dormitory rooftop. In tears, I walked to a nearby hospital emergency room and told a very callous receptionist that I was suicidal. She rolled her eyes and told me to take a seat.

An hour passed and no one had seen me. I walked back to my dorm room and cried myself to sleep.

A day or two or three later I was sitting in an abortion clinic. A very concerned woman met with me, but by then my brain was frozen, the same way my son's is now. I robotically told her I need an abortion, in the same tone of voice that my son's girlfriend has been saying, I can't have another baby.

She tried to connect with me but couldn't pierce that wall I built. She gave me insurance papers that my father would have to sign since I was on his policy. I mailed them to him.

During that week, a dorm mate confided that she was pregnant.

"What are you going to do?", I asked.

She was fuming mad. "My boyfriend has been treating me like shit since I told him. I want an abortion. I don't want his kid. It might turn out to be an asshole like him. I'd hate it."

I was shocked at how differently she reacted than I, and from there learned that there are an infinite number of ways that people - men and women - respond to an unwanted, ill-timed pregnancy.

I went with her when she had her abortion. When she came out, I asked her how she felt.

This girl never struck me as having a brain. She grinned. "I'm so glad to have that sucka outta me!"

A doctor overheard this, and like me, his mouth was hanging open in shock at how little value she placed on the life she had carried. This was striking because he performed abortions for a living, yet even he couldn't fathom her reaction.

I dont' know how I kept up with my studies and exams, but was at least pulling C's and an A in English. My father promptly returned the paperwork. I called and meekly asked him again if I could keep it.


Part 15 - The Waters of Life

I went to Catholic school in some of my early years. This left a strong imprint on me. I've since left that religion but am still a deeply spiritual person and a Christian in the loose sense of the word. I believe in God, Heaven, Hell, the Golden Rule, and the Ten Commandments. I believe most of the Bible, but also know how corrupt man is.

Everything humanity touches becomes corrupt, and I don't doubt some parts of the Good Book has been altered to serve the needs of those with other self-interests. Still, I have faith in the basic tenants.

I began reading what would happen if someone was about to die, but had not been baptized and there was no minister available. Something I read said that anyone could be a substitute. I have no idea if this is correct, but I did what I had to do. Some of you will think this crazy or even pathetic. I don't care. It happened.

On the day before the abortion was scheduled, I baptized my own fetus and prayed to God that it would be enough to get him or her into heaven.

I've since come to think that God would not be so cruel to ban from Heaven any child of any religion or the many good people who lived eons before Jesus walked the earth and afterwards. At the time, however, I wasn't taking any chances and prayed that baptizing a fetus would give my child eternal life, and that one day, I could meet him or her and say I'm sorry.

Part 16 -
Ignoring The Angel Whispering In My Ear

I asked my fake boyfriend if he would drive me to the clinic and wait with me. I wanted him to share the pain but didn't tell him this. At first he said yes. On the morning of it, his chickenshit ass called and he said he couldn't make it.

I didn't even cry. Like a zombie I just said okay and hung up.

The weather suddenly changed on a dime when I left the dorm. It was a cold, clear, sunny day in mid-December, but the sky suddenly grew very dark and windy, and there was lightening but little rain. It was freakish and highly unusual for the area, so much so it made the paper the next day. Another dorm mate who suspected or found out I was pregnant said the weirdest thing, something like this was a bad omen.

I said nothing.

I drove there alone. The counselor met with me again. "I'm worried about you," she said sincerely. "You're too quiet. What's going on? Talk to me."

"I'm okay," I said as flat as a robot. "I just need an abortion."

She gave up. In the surgical room, the doctor asked me, "Are you sure you want to do this, because once I give you this shot to anesthetize that area, there will be no turning back."

"Yeah, just get it over with, please."

The moment he touched me, tears began quietly rolling down my face.

A weird thought kept racing through my mind, 'the life you save could be your own, the life you save could be your own...'

I didn't understand what that meant until years later.

"Are you sure?", he asked again.

I nodded.

That doctor looked so uncomfortable. The procedure was hell. There was very little physical pain, but the noise from the vacuum cleaner sucking out the life inside me was nearly unbearble. To this day I hate noise from vacuum cleaners.

Part 17 - The Genesis of an Eating Disorder Reawakens

I was told that I'd have to wait a few hours after the abortion so they could check on me. I knew this ahead of time and brought a huge sandwich with me.
I bit into that fucking sandwich like a starving animal.

My best guess is that it was to fill up the emptiness inside my heart.
At 19 on the day of that abortion, my weight was a healthy 125 pounds and I had a knock out shape. I spent the next few years slowing gaining. It took years to get it back, and I never did get back to 125.

As a kid, I had been skinny until my parents sent me to live with grandmother on weekdays at the age of five, shortly after I told my mom I had been abused in nursery school. I wrote about that in this article.

Living with Grandma made me fat by the age of six. I wouldn't be considered fat by today's standards of fast food kids, but back then I was. At twelve, I saw how beautiful a cousin my age had become. She was so pretty in the clothes she wore. I knew I could look like that. I crash dieted and dropped to 97 pounds, and from there, gained slowly as I grew in proportion to my height.

People respond to trauma, the betrayal of others they trusted, or extreme stress in many ways. Overeating, alcohol or drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, compulsive gambling, are a few of the negative self-soothing behaviors people turn to. Depression, anxiety, and mental illness are other behaviors that can grip us.

For the majority of women, an abortion is usually sad and regrettable, but they have a different feeling and outlook about it. The majority are not traumatized by it. For them, it's a choice they made.

I respect this, and in particular, a woman's right to choose in the early stage of pregnancy while the baby is still considered a fetus. Yeah, I know that's a form of double think since I believe in life at conception, but we all make our choices and deal with life differently.

For me, however, the abortion I didn't want was traumatic. I felt I had no choice and was unwilling to gamble that I could find a homeless shelter to live in. I honest to God believed my parents would forsake and abandon me.

Thus once again in my life, food became by self-soothing behavior.

Part 18 - Toxic Secrets & Family Betrayal

Two days after the abortion, I had taken my last exam and was packed and ready to fly home. The semester had ended. My pseudo-boyfriend dropped by to say goodbye. I was chilly with him and had little to say. Our meeting was awkward and brief. I dropped him a short note a month later telling him my home address if he wanted to contact me. I never heard from him again.

My brother picked me up at the airport.

"Dad told me you were pregnant," he said.

My face became hot with shame. "Yeah," I replied, "I had an abortion."

"I'm sorry you went through that," he said.

A couple weeks later I still hadn't told my mother. I had no one to talk to and hadn't even told my girlfriends I was back in town. Filled with shame and utterly sad, I called my brother, crying. He betrayed me too.

His voice was like ice. "If you wanted it," he said coldly, "you shouldn't have done what you did."

The words were a knife in my heart. It didn't occur to me then that his selfish ass could have called me when he first found out and I was still pregnant. He had a damned good job. He didn't want me to know that he knew, because he didn't me to ask him if I could come live with him.

The words of his ex-wife whom he had just walked out on nearly killed me too. She said, "If I had known, you could have stayed with me."

So why the fuck didn't my brother mention this to her? Was it so trivial to him that it never occurred to him to mention it? It's not like they weren't talking every day. And why didn't my stupid ass think to tell her? I'll tell you: it was shame on my part.

Families secretly collaborate in ganging up on one member. This is never more clear than in death issues, from abortions to signing consent for an ill family member to be withheld medical treatment.

Had my father warned my brother to not mention it to his wife or my mother, and pointed out how inconvenient it would be for them, and derail my education that he wanted to go like clockwork? This would not surprise me in the least. It also wouldn't surprise me if my father warned him against telling his wife.

I kept the secret and paid the price.

Part 19 - Learning Courage

I don't even remember that Christmas the few days after my abortion, except that my father grinned like a fool, satisfied that I had done what he wanted. He told me that things would be fine when I returned to college in January.

That was the last fucking place on earth that I wanted to go to.

"I can't go back, Daddy," I said. "Too many bad memories."

He brushed this off. "You have too, honey. You cannot let anything or anyone stand in the way of your education."

The seeds of rebellion replaced the weeds of cowardice that dominated my 19 years of living. Being meek, over-accommodating, squeaking out my needs, and holding in my anger only caused me to lose something - someone - that I had really wanted.

I rebelled and refused to return there. My father livid, but couldn't do a damn thing about it. He was very insistent and called me every fucking day.

"You have to return," he said.

"Nope," I said, just like he had to me when I asked him for help.

My mother, whom I was living with, supported me.

"Something is wrong with her," she hissed at him. "She stays in her room with the door closed and hardly ever comes out. I think something happened to her and she won't talk about it. Leave her alone and stop bullying her!"

It was only after this I trusted her enough to tell her what happened. We cried together. Later, she gradually shared her stories in detail with me. We were like war buddies who survived battles of life and death, love and loss, and mourned those left behind.

She helped teach me courage the lesson that took her so terribly long to learn: to not wait too long in standing up to the bullies who could care less about your feelings and will flatten you like a steam roller, but to never become a bully yourself. She passed away a few years ago. This was eight months after my father did, and unlike him, she was fortunate enough to die the same way she lived - peacefully.

Part 20 - The First One Was The Last One

It's too bad no one knew that I needed to be seen for follow up medical visit. I thought the continued bleeding was normal. It should have stopped after a few days. I bled for nearly a month.

The abortion was botched, an infection had set in, and years later I learned there was so much scar tissue around my fallopian tubes that I was left infertile. This might have been avoided if the doctor had given me a prescription for antibiotics after the procedure to minimize infection.

As a result, my first pregnancy was my last pregnancy. I grieved for years from the loss of that child, and later, for the children I might have had, but couldn't. It's like they all died on that day, and huge part of me with them.

My trust in God and the afterlife helped console me, as reflected in this poem I wrote years ago:

My unborn child, if there's a way
That life and death could touch
I wish for you to understand
That I loved you very much.

Part 21 - The Calming of the Ocean Inside of Me

My father was born around 1910. His emotional baggage was being a victim of chronic racism, and he learned that an education could partly solve this.

For example, when he graduated from college with a degree in Accounting, the best government job they'd give him was as a messenger. He was lucky to get that. He started his own business which he ran in the evenings, and did tax returns in the back of the shop during the season. He got damned wealthy from this, especially after Civil Rights kicked in and he was given a fair job in the government.

His issues, however, were both good and destructive to my needs when I was in crisis. In mid-January, which was a month after the abortion, he pushed a check on me to use for tuition at an inexpensive local college.

"I'm not ready," I said.

"Go ahead, honey. You'll be fine."

The hell with that, I thought.
I took the money and bought a really nice stereo and a bicycle, and as soon as I stopped bleeding and the weather was nice, began riding around every day.

That summer, I used my own savings and with help from my mother, bought a nice, used car.

Three times a week I drove to a Maryland beach, a one hour drive away, all by myself. I was 20 years old by then. I sat or laid on the sand, soaking up the sun, watching the waves, and treading the water.

I brought paperback novels for the moments when thoughts intruded, to avoid wondering what the baby would have been like that I would have had been born that summer.

There was a solitariness about me that made me completely unapproachable. Not a single man hit on me once during those many trips to the beach.

This is remarkable. I was unquestionably beautiful: long hair, still had a perfect figure, and the face of an angel. I didn't glare, grit, or scowl at anyone, but somehow, there was an invisible Stop sign about me that men read.

This was great and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I wasn't interested in anything there except the peace of the ocean, which slowly began to calm the storm in my heart and soul.

Part 22 - Still Damaged

By the end of the summer, I met a great guy through a friend of a friend. We began dating and making love was so sweet with him because he loved me. I had enjoyed sex before, but with him I had my first orgasm. I can't recommend them enough.

I didn't know I wasn't fertile, so used both condoms but also spermicidal foam to have double protection. This is smart for any woman, because at least one time a condom broke. My new boyfriend, who was real as they come, reassured me that if anything happened, he'd never leave me. He meant it too.

That fall, I returned to the local university as a part-time student and took two classes. I did great. This gave me back my confidence that I could finish college.

I suffered, however, from what is called complicated bereavement. In simple laymen terms, it means you're stuck in your grief. This interfered with one of the few great relationships I had with a young man who loved me. I broke up with him after two years and didn't even know why, other than I felt scared it was too good to be true. Now how dumb was that?

A good therapist saw me a year later and helped put me on the road to recovery, but frankly, I'll never get over it completely, any of it, from the abortion to figuring out how selfish my father and brother were in their refusal to help me in my time of need. I wondered what hurt the most, the abortion or their betrayals.

Before I trusted them like a child and loved them unconditionally. Afterwards I trusted them to be only who they are: fair weather family members who bail out when a storm hits and use all kinds of rationalizations and excuses.

Time and time again and with many other loved ones, they proved themselves incapable of having the highest level of love or friendship - which is sacrifice of one's time, money, or energy when needed for those they profess to love.

Instead, they're control freaks who routinely manipulate others. They are kind of people who you give what they want you to have, not what you want or need. If they don't approve it, you don't get it. They do all this with great charm until you get mad and complain. That's when they mindfuck you and try to make you feel bad or guilty for asking for an equal, balanced relationship.

In their pursuit of materialism and success, they've left a string of burned out relationships, divorces, abortions, and one child by my brother disowned him a few years ago and even changed his last name. This was his way of learning how to say, "Nope."

People like this are fine to hang out with superficially or even date. Just don't get emotionally close to them and think they'll ever be there when you really need them. You do so at your own risk.

Part 23 - Looking in the Mirror

The funny thing is that it's not unusual to have many friends, lovers, co-workers and bosses like this. You may even be like this yourself with some of the folks you interact with, because there are few true friends who will go that extra distance for you.

The problem arises when one person gives the illusion that they are invested in the relationship more than they are and the other believes it, only to be shocked and hurt when a crisis emerges and they ain't there for you.

This kind of behavior is most damaging in family relationships where children are the most vulnerable, and second to that, sexual love relationships.

With young love, people don't quite know how to read the signs of another. Love involves a degree of suspending reality. We don't notice all the flaws that others, especially older folks, see so clearly.

With every heartbreak and broken relationship, we learn more about ourselves, and have the challenge to grow, or grow cold.

What do I mean by this?

"I figured out that bitch/bastard!"

To move beyond this, one must look at one's self. Why did I miss the signs is an important question to ask. How am I responsible for what went wrong? Did I expect too much? Was my head filled with fantasies of who I wanted this other person to be?

To not move beyond blame is to risk losing your heart. A heart is a precious thing. It gives one the ability to be empathetic and to connect with what another person feels. The lack of empathy causes huge problems in personal relationships as well as in nations.

Coldness is the opposite of empathy. Without empathy, it is impossible to love deeply or let anyone love you. People are treated as objects for what they can do for you in a non-mutual manner.

Blowback is always a risk when one lives in this frozen state, but many people live what appears to be successful lives using this strategy to avoid pain. They either create a lot of pain for others, or spend their lives simply being lonely for shutting out opportunities to connect with others. Over time, they are a little more likely to attract people like themselves, and are shocked to find themselves being used, then discarded at their time of need.

Part 24 - When The Chickens Came Home To Roost

The selfish, cold lifestyle finally caught up with my father on his death bed. He didn't know that day would be his last. I visited him at the nursing home. My brother and his third wife had been there an hour earlier. Within the hour I was there, his breathing took a turn for the worse. I checked his oxygen tube and discovered very little air was getting through. I summoned the nurse.

She replaced it and his breathing eased, but damage had already been done to his fragile body. A doctor checked him and told me there was little else they could do for him. My father was rapidly growing weaker and even without the doctors words, I could see it was a matter of hours. He was dying and even he knew it.

I called my brother who was at home. He was messing around in his yard and doing nothing important.

"Come back!", I urged him tearfully. "Daddy is dying. He won't last but another couple hours."

I told him about the oxygen and his turn for the worse.

"I don't want to be there when that happens," he said quietly. "It will be too hard for me."

"This isn't about you. It's about him. You need to be here. He's alert. Come say goodbye, now."

"I already saw him earlier. There's no point in coming back."

My father heard my part of the conversation. I tried to cover up my brother's and said, "he can't make it now. Something important has come up."

My father was no fool. He began to cry. I don't doubt that his heart had been broken as a young adult, but he learned a final, painful lesson again, that he had taught his son over the years.

He clutched my hand with all the strength he could. I began reading the Bible to him.

"Daddy," I said. "Ask God now to forgive you for all of your sins so you can get into heaven."

He nodded; he couldn't talk well because of the air problem and he'd gurgle more than anything.

"Please, Daddy," I said, "before you go, please tell me you're sorry about that abortion you made me had. I know I did it, but you had a hand in it. Please, just do me this favor."

He shook his head no. We had fought over his refusal to help me for years. He refused to accept any responsibility for it whatsoever.

Well, I thought, it's between God and him to figure out that. I tried. I went back to reading to him and thanking him for the good things he did for me in my life. He wasn't all bad, ya know? He was good at what he was good in being and disastrously terrible in other areas. He was what he was.

It was at his funeral service that one of my brother's children gave a speech in church about the evils of selfishness that cursed our family. A year later he disavowed himself from my brother. I never told a soul how my
brother behaved on the day our father died.

Whatever went down between him and one of his sons had nothing to do with it, but this young man had become clear-sighted enough to see he needed distance to protect his sanity from the pain that came with loving his father.

Part 25 - Like A Contagious Disease, Monsters Don't Die, They Just Multiply

Now I watch my son, the third generation, go through the pain of wanting a baby but helpless to prevent the abortion of it. I wonder how his girlfriend feels too. She has one critical personality trait that I had at her age: she is meek with her family.

In the nightmare I described at the beginning of this article, the baby-turned-monster ripped out her heart with sharpened teeth. This, I think, is symbolic of how the unwanted pregnancy and the corner she felt boxed in ripped out her heart. I recognize her mantra so well: I need an abortion, only in Stephanie's case, it's I can't have this baby.

And in the dream, she became a monster too as both she and the infant turned toward my son to rip his heart out. On the day I had this nightmare, unbeknowing to me, he had written those lyrics which I had not seen:

I know now what is not meant for me
My heart is ripped in three
And it feels as though there is no me
Like I lost my soul
I’m like a car without gas there is no go
No turning back, my heart’s gone cold
I’m just a wandering soul
And my brain is froze.

And what did I do in my dream? I ran, in fear and like a coward from what I knew would happen to him.

Shame is weird. In real life, I didn't run and have done all I could to convince her she had alternatives and to help him, but I felt shame for how I acted in damn dream.

I can't have this baby was her mantra as it had been mine. When the mind snaps from too much pressure, people often go into the robot mode. The fear of rejection by one's parents is a huge deal even in young adults.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't mad at her; I'm angry as shit. It's Wednesday evening now as I finish writing this, and neither Xavier nor I have heard a word from her. That baby is dead.

At the same time, having been in her spot, I understand what she's been through. If she took that pill, when she miscarries that six week old fetus, she's going to freak out, I can't help but wonder if she'll freak out as she looks at it in the toilet.

When she discovers her folks were thinking more of their short-term convenience and needs than hers, that's going to hurt big time.

Then there's the issue of her baby's daddy. If he was all that interested in her, he'd be with her, not Xavier, whose been with her five out of seven days a week - even after they broke up. She's got this idea in her head that Angelo will marry her and she'll have an intact family, which is a form of respectability she's been brainwashed to believe is more important than love.

The odds are against her given Angelo's lack of attention, and that's gonna hurt too. I believe she loved Xavier. Her voice, body language, constant calling him and vice versa, all of that, showed this, but she gave up the man she loved for the man she liked for the sake of her son.

If she tries to get back with Xavier, he's already made it crystal clear that he'll say fuck off. He's currently half-crazy and certain that she aborted his baby that he tried so hard to convince her to keep.

As in the dream, her heart will be ripped out in ways that surpass my own experience, and that process is just beginning. I shudder to think of the wounds that she'll have on top of the older ones before we ever met her. I wonder if she'll turn bitter and like a monster, or develop the courage to fight for what she really needs or wants.

Part 26 - The Self-Abortion of a Heart

Xavier is extraordinarily bitter. Earlier today he began to let out his anger.

"I hate her. She's evil."

He continued to rant.

"She's not evil," I said. "She's like you said a few days ago. She's very confused."

"Fuck that. I don't care about her confusion. I don't care about anyone except you and my sister. No one better ever fuck with me anytime soon 'cause don't have heart no more. It's gone. I'll never trust or love another woman. I don't even believe in God no more. He can do miracles. He can change things. He let my baby die and let her kill it. He failed me too. There is no God."

"Xavier, don't think like that. God gives us free will to choose. There are consequences when we choose the wrong thing and hurt each other..."

"My baby didn't choose to die. That evil bitch with no damn conscience chose to kill it."

"True," I said, "but you're not going to like what I'm going say, but she is not the total blame for this. You helped make it. You chose to not use a condom. When she got pregnant, she decided she didn't want it..."

"I don't want to hear it..."

"Of the two of you," I said, "she is the most guilty, but you helped create this situation and helped make this baby. I did too, because I allowed the two of you enjoy yourselves, thinking you were both using protection. We're all guilty and suffering from the consequences of our choices."

Oooohhhh, he didn't like that. Xavier ranted and cussed so much that I can't even remember what he said other than he wasn't the blame and I was just being a fucking bitch and not supporting him.

Fed up, I said, "Fuck you, Xavier. I've been watching your back since the day I got you. Life is hard. People make mistakes. We are constantly disappointed. If you choose to go cold and heartless, that will be the biggest mistake you ever make in your life."

"Fuck that. I lost my baby."

"I know. Many people have. I'm sorry."

He left shortly after that, still angry, still wounded, no doubt has been smoking weed or drinking beer to anesthetize his pain. He is only in the second stage of the five stages of grief - anger - where a lot of people get stuck. He will grieve for a long time.

Chapter 27 - The Theater of Life

Someone once said something like, 'Life is a theatre and we are actors in it, playing our roles.'

In my nightmare, I parked my car in an underground garage of a massive theatre complex. I'm certain this is symbolic of the hidden drama in the underbelly of life - those darker corners that terrify us and we don't let others see.

In it, I ran like hell for the exit door, and in extreme fear and possibly selfishness, did not pull him away. It does not bode well that I didn't hear his footsteps behind me. I woke up before finding out if I made it out, or if Xavier escaped before the symbolic monster of his real life experience bit out his heart.

Given his overall life history, his prognosis is poor. I like to think that if he doesn't make it and becomes a full-blown, woman-hating, gun-toting thug of a monster, that I escaped, and on the other side of the exit door is my daughter, Casie, waiting for me, for us.

I refuse to live with anyone without a heart. He knows this. He has been warned. He says he doesn't care and hates the world. This is his grief talking so I cut him some slack for now. I will do what I can to pull him through this, but unlike the abortion he had no control over, this choice to save his own life is his.

I pray an angel whispers this in his ear.



It is just after midnight on Tuesday, Aug 26th.

Stephanie had the abortion last Wednesday. She called me Thursday, wanting to talk to Xavier and tell him she did it and was bleeding. Boy, was I glad he wasn't home. I think she wanted his sympathy.

"You'll make him insane," I said. "Talk to me instead. Tell me all about it."

She did. She sounded calmer than I ever could have. This wasn't unusual. Often people are so numb that they appear calm but instead are going nuts inside. Or she may have really been doing well because she doesn't see aborting a fetus the same as I or Xavier does.

He found out that day anyway. She sent him a note on his MySpace. He was a bear to live with the following the three days - and this was on his old medication that I insisted he take if wanted entry into our apartment late at night when he came home.

I got tired of being the target of his rage and bullying. He hadn't been home one minute on Thursday night before going off. He tried to take two large sodas, one for himself and his buddy in the car.

"No," I said. "He has a job and deals weed. You shouldn't be chilling with him no way. Let him drive up to 7/11 and buy the sodas. I ain't no grocery store. Money is tight."

He went off. It was so bad that I locked myself in my bedroom to avoid his rant.

"Yeah!" he yelled. "You better stay in there!"

"Stop threatening me!", I yelled back. "You better chill or I'm kicking you out," I yelled back.

He stormed out of the apartment.

I called his friend on his cellphone and told him, "Take his ass back to your place. He cannot stay here raising hell and cussing me out over some damn sodas."

"But Ma," his homeboy said, "he's a good person. He's just angry."

"I understand that," I replied. "He can be angry, but he cannot be abusive. I draw the line there."

This young man pleaded for Xavier, pointing out all his strengths and how hard the abortion had been on him.

"Give him a break, Ma..."

"Nuh-uh," I said. "He ain't cussing you out 'cause you ain't a female and can knock his azz out. Talk some sense in his head, or he'll be living with you or on the street."

These kinds of high-stress situations are why boys need fathers. The role of a good, strong man is to guide them, but also protect the mother from the son's attempt to dominate and inappropriately direct anger her. It's a tough, relentless battle with a lot of boys.

In absence of a father, they seek a strong male figure as a substitute. As we all know, this don't always work out in their best interests.

At 8AM Thursday, Xavier came home and knocked on my front door. I made him take his meds and stay outside for half an hour until they took effect. He slept for over 12 hours, went out somewhere to blow some weed, and came back by midnight. He was argumentative on Friday over little things but stopped short of being abusive, then partied a little that night and slept again for most of the day. On meds, he doesn't have the energy to run the streets non-stop.

It was Saturday before he began to talk to me. He did so unexpectedly that afternoon. He didn't say much, only that he was still pissed at Stephanie and it was over. I sympathized.

On Sunday, he made his big announcement.

"I'm joining the Army."

"Right idea, wrong war," I said.

"There ya go!" he yelled. "Putting me down again!", and blah-blah-blah.

"I ain't putting you down," I tried to explain. "I just don't want see you coming back in a coffin or a wheelchair."

He smiled his first smile in a week and had a twinkle in eye as he said, "Don't worry, Mom. God won't let nothing bad happen to me."

I smiled. "God? I thought you gave up God."

"I was just mad. I could never give up God. He's carried me too far. He'll watch out for me over there."

"I'm glad to hear that," I said, "but why do you want to do this now?"

"I always have, but I need to get away, and I need the discipline."

"True," I replied. "If you go, don't go killing the civilians over there."

"I won't. I'll be teaching those white boys that life is valuable. They always like me. They'll listen."

Maybe some will, I thought. Xavier has always gotten along extraordinarily well with guys of all races in his age group. I think it's his combination of quick humor and machismo.

I didn't tell him right away that the Army wouldn't touch him with a ten foot bomb without a GED or diploma.

The real test came later that night. He was on his MySpace and Tiffany was on hers. She sent him message. He told me later they chatted a bit, and he told her hard times are part of life and wished her well. In other words, goodbye and good luck.

She emailed me the next day and told me the same thing. She said she still had the phone number to the hotline if things got bad for her.

In one sense, Xavier and Stephanie had an abortion.

For him, their relationship is over and he's began to heal.

For her, healing will take a lot longer. Her body has been through a lot from the pregnancy to it's loss. She has a child by a man who is shaky at best and I'll be shocked if he doesn't pull the rug out from under her and split.

For her and any woman, it's more personal because their body is involved. I discovered that she didn't take a Morning After pill, because this is only dispensed within 72 hours of having sex to avoid a fertilized egg from implanting itself in the womb. She could have had a surgical abortion, but opted for a pill known as RU-486. It can be given up to 7 weeks of conception, but it only has a 92% chance of aborting the fetus.

Thus, she has been dealing with the bleeding from the miscarriage and the slight possibility that it won't be effective. Then it will be three weeks before she can become sexually active again, and her baby's daddy may no longer be interested - or vice versa. Then she'll have more loneliness and self-doubt to deal with, unemployment, and the baby she already has to raise.

And only 19. What a friggin' nightmare.

Tonight as I write this, Xavier is calm, watching a movie, and waiting for me to get the hell off the computer. Tomorrow morning he reports to a GED center to try once again to get his high school general equivalency diploma. He learned he needs it to enlist, and his trauma has given him a goal. Even if the Army rejects him for whatever reason, at least he'll be more marketable for a job.

Whoever said that biology is destiny was right. It's a bad argument when it comes to race and ethnicity because it ignores history and culture, and it's also misused to promote sexism. However, we can see this truth clearly between the sexes in the way certain problems affect them. Also seen is that the hearts and souls of so many people of both genders have been wounded from mistakes made in relationships.

In women, their reproductive mishaps can burden them for 18 years or more of raising a child, or feeling guilt and wondering how the child they aborted would have turned out.

In men, they have the battlefields they escape to, from the military, to the urban gangbang streets or the corporate warzones where they compete or work out their aggression with other men.

Seems like we all end up bloodied and bruised.

Cheers to those of us who struggle to hang onto our hearts and humanity, and may God or fate pull the rest of us from the path of coldness.



  1. First of all I must say that I think you are an extroadinary writer and extremly brave for sharing this with the world by way of this blog. I'm at work and cannot read it all, but I will come back to it.

    My hope for your son after he gets past the pain from this ordeal is that he would have learned a very valuable lesson about not only females but people in general and the importance of knowing and understading one's character before becoming involved with them. But with that, my hope is also like yours that he still be able to love and most importantly show love and not become some angry, hateful, and vengeful person. Poor kids they don't know who they are and who's they are yet and in trying to find out they make some stupid mistakes that have huge and very hurtful consequences. No judgement here, I been there done that.

  2. I pray your son's heart will heal, and not harbor any hate for his ex girlfriend...not because of her decision, but because it will take away from his greatness. I hate that she made that decision, and I'm truly mourning for the both of them.

    I don't want to sound preachy or self righteous, but I will say that I have had close friends who've experienced abortions, some multiple times, and it's something that stays with you for a lifetime. I feel their pain, sadness, regret, shame, and wish they didn't have to experience it. In a sense, they feel haunted by their child's or children's spirits....and that's something I don't think is easy to live with. I doubt I would be able to handle it.

    One thing that shaped my opinion about abortions was when I found out my father made my stepmother abort two of their children. Their relationship was already fucked up, due to his infidelity and physical abuse, but for him to force her (and yes, he did, because my father has the ability to bully one into submission) was descipable to me. But karma is a bitch, because he is now in jail for failure to pay child support for the children he abandoned.

    For that, among other things, I hope his ass rots.

    But just as you had Xavier and Casie come into your life, he will, too have his family, whether it's traditional or unconventional.

    Many blessings to all of you.

  3. I am still reading this piece but I decided to comment on it while reading it as you suggested.

    First, I am completely engrossed by your and your son's stories. My family has never shared this experience with me although I know they have dealt with it. I appreciate your candor and willingness to share this personal part of you with us.

    Also, to quote you:
    "...Being meek, over-accommodating, squeaking out my needs, and holding in my anger only caused me to lose something - someone - that I had really wanted."

    You have described me to a T! At 21 I have figured out what was wrong with the way I've been interacting with people. Over the last few months I've been working to rectify that. It's a little hard going and honestly I've decided to cut ties with certain people in my life. I'm happy to read about someone who was once like me who turned out to be such a strong woman.

    I'm off to read the rest as I can!

  4. To Torrance: Very fortunate.

    To Tip: you said it so well, "Poor kids they don't know who they are and who's they are yet and in trying to find out they make some stupid mistakes that have huge and very hurtful consequences." Most of of have been there in one way or the other.

    Goldiilocs: I understand you haunting metaphor. Decisions that don't feel right and then don't work out sure can haunt us.

    Many women are fortunate to not be traumatized due to their life experience and world view. Because of this, as I said in the article, I'm surprisingly but reluctantly pro-choice, and leave it to God to judge.

    To Estheroetee: Thank you. Meekness is a double-edged sword. It's the only game in town when you're a kid in some families, but can F you up royally as an adult. I learned this the hard way. Good luck in your struggle.

  5. This is a topic that needs to be discussed so thank you for posting this. It takes two people to conceive a child so both parties are responsible. Unfortunately a lot of folks are sleeping with folks they really don't know. They assume--oh this won't happen to me but reality is whoever you sleep with has a 50/50 chance of getting you pregnant. Everyone should be more careful before jumping in the sack and then it won't even get to the point where you have to make a life changing decision.

  6. To Confessionofasbw - I think it's a habit from childhood. Two kids meet on the playground and become instant friends. Teens take a little longer, but not much, before they're best buddies. This is also the time when the sex drive kicks in.

    Thus, it's not surprising that older teens and young adults use their same lifetime approach with dating, only to discover that what worked before no longer works well or at all, and that it suddenly takes time to get to know someone - at a time when they're also getting to know themselves.

  7. Wow, this is too interesting. I'm on part 15. I hope that your son doesn't develop a bitterness towards women because of this situation. I hope that God heals his heart and helps him to trust again. This piece is further proving to me that although we (women) think that men are just dogs for no apparent reason, but all of these "dogs" can attribute their actions and attitudes to probably one particular situation that was a turning point in their view on love.

  8. Thanks, Mimi. You said it well, that with many, it's a turning point in love.

    Most of the men and women I've known who are bitter or harsh toward the opposite sex have had a bad experience where they are stuck in anger. Along with any lovers, this includes unresolved anger toward a parent.

    Thank you for your well-wishes for Xavier. He's taking it very hard. I'll do an epilogue on what happens in this situation, probably next month.

    By the way, readers, I just discovered that I had two chapter 15's, so I corrected this. Makes it 27 chapters, not 26. Sorry for any confusion.

  9. First, let me start of by saying that I love your blog. I was up late last night reading this post and could barely wait to wake up and finish. You have certainly had interesting life experiences and it is rare to find folks with your level of introspection. To me, the best writers are those that force you to think about life from a different perspective, and you certainly fill the task.

    Now, about this post…I understand that the choice you had to make at 19 was one that changed your life forever. I am truly sorry for you and your loss. I can only begin to imagine how that has impacted your life and the grief you had to carry because of that. I hurt for anyone who has to make life-changing decisions so young. Situations like that can force you to grow up in a matter of moments.

    In your son’s case, I am glad that at the end you finally told him what he needed to hear: he assisted in creating this situation and the lesson he should take away from this is to protect his penis (and his heart) by using a condom. From reading a few of your other entries it seems that your son has some issues that he’s working on. I am sure he viewed the baby as a way to start over in life and do better for his own seed than may have been done for him. What never ceases to amaze me is the fact that young people can’t see that the best way to prepare a solid life for their children is to set a solid foundation for themselves. What good would he have been to a child when he is still a child himself? When he still has so much ground to cover mentally, emotionally, financially? Perhaps his grief would be relieved if he felt he was doing better for himself, and better preparing himself for the myriad responsibilities fatherhood will encompass?

    I stand by my belief that many of the problems in our society are directly related to the collapse of the family. I applaud Stephanie for making a decision that was right for her, and for the child she already has. Hopefully, these young people will get it together. The future literally is riding on them.

  10. Dom, thank you for the compliment and long, thoughtful comment. Having been a social worker and therapist, I can testify that most people have interesting stories that others could learn from, but they feel too ashamed to tell them. I was too at one time, but decided it was time to let go of these feelings and lend a hand to others, but also to let others see that events and the feelings that spring from them have a lot of gray areas.

    I also agree that babies raising babies and the collapse of the family has caused enormous problems, both in managing a society and on a personal level of those affected.

    Again, thanks for thoughtful comment, and this article will have a final chapter soon.

  11. Im so glad to hear that your son has a goal and is actively working to achieve it! Productivity gives us a sense of purpose, and hopefully Xavier will continue to seek that end.

    Best of luck to them and thanks so much for the update.

  12. Wonderful post KIT.

    You really have had a very full life and you see able to look at it clearly. I think I have that same ability, but life hasn't been anywhere near as full.

    I feel for your son's girlfriend. While there are women who have no pain, emotional or physical, from an abortion, she doesn't seem to be one of them. I think her life is going to be very hard and I worry for her and the child she already has.

    I appreciate you being so honest about life. I always get a few nuggets from you that really resonate with me.

  13. Thanks for the well-wishes, Dom. I hope he gets it together too.

    Thanks Big Man. In all honesty, I've never felt my life has been as full as I've wanted it to be, but as they say, it over 'till it's over.

    You mentioned Stephanie and how some women "have no pain, emotional or physical, from an abortion, she doesn't seem to be one of them."

    She's a very tempting target to classify like this. That dumb joke phone call she allowed a friend to make didn't help her in Xavier's eyes. He, her friends and family are blind to her suffering because she's been so quiet about it and they really don't want to see it.

    I doubt that I would have either were it not for my own experience and training asking people key questions on a deeper level. You're right that she will have some very tough times ahead. I feel for her, and hope she doesn't grow cold.

  14. I particularly worry about her growing cold and bitter and taking it out on her child.

    I don't know her, so this is all conjecture, but she seems very worried about how her family views her child and her. It's almost as if she sees her child as the one thing that ruined her social standing and made her life super difficult. In addition, while she bears the brunt of the ostracization from her family and friends, I'm sure the child is treated with love.

    So, I could see a situation where she begins to resents the child, particularly if this Angelo cat doesn't stay with her. Her resentment will stem from the slights of her family, and probably from her own guilt about the abortion. That's why I worry about her and the baby.

  15. Wow. I read this from beginning to end. And I'm at WORK! Thank God for a slow day here...

    My oldest son was saved by the counselor in the abortion clinic. I wanted him so badly, but I knew how my mom felt. In fact, she sent me the money this way, "Take this money and abort that baby or got start a new life." She didn't want anything to do with me.

    I was 20 and a smoker at the time. I stopped smoking and drinking after getting pregnant. I wanted my son so badly. As I sat in the clinic waiting for my turn, the woman offered me a cigarette. "No thank you, I don't smoke right now. I'm pregnant."

    She got to the truth. I left in tears. I wish I could thank her today.

    My son is 15, he's awesome, and he is loved loved loved by the same mom who almost disowned me and my dad who wasn't quite sure. They fell in LOVE with him on Day 1, and they can't imagine life without him. They spoil him terribly.

    He has a 9-year old brother now to complete the set.

    Sometimes I think of the two abortions I had between these two, but somehow their faces dull the sting.

    And to make sure to avoid any more "oops", the doctor reluctantly tied my tubes at my emphatic request at the age of 28.

    Thanks for writing this! The writing was fantastic.

    Hawa, author of
    Fackin Truth Blog (Personal Blog)
    Cleanse Master Remix (Health Blog)

  16. Big Man, thanks. I talk to Stephanie once a week and she finally got past that terrible numbness and cried. She's terribly sad about the whole thing, but still feels it was the best decision for her. I credit her for do what was right for her.

    Meanwhile Xavier is emotionally recovering quite well and moved to the place where he and she talk occasionally on their MySpace.

    Hawa, you are so blessed. My God, I wish I had had the strength and courage to walk out of that abortion clinic so long ago. Thank you for you thoughtful comment and sharing your story.

  17. you said to comment as we read and i am finally reading.

    i am ashamed to say that i wonder if i wouldn't have been one of those people who didn't feel sorry for you when you aborted. i tend to get cold when i can't relate. but i do come from a strict religious background. i wouldn't have told any family member. and i definitely think (unless i had one of those "i want this baby epiphany") that i would go away for a while, have the baby and give it away.

    also, how did you know you were beautiful? i'm not being condescending. i'm just wondering how one becomes sure of their attractiveness and can vocalize it in a matter-of-fact way without sounding stuck up. i can't even call myself pretty even though i've been told.

  18. I really did laugh out loud with your comment, Emeritus. I mean hell, don't hold back! lol.

    You asked how did I know I was beautiful? Two ways: constant feedback of this all my life from strangers to folks I know, and a mirror. It didn't make me vain; it made me insecure that I was too often liked (and used as a trophy) for my looks, not for me.

    I don't mind if lack empathy over my stupid choice at 19 to have the abortion. I will say that while your generation has grown up with this topic being discussed at school and in the media, the right to have an abortion had just passed a couple years before I got 'caught'.

    When this happened, I didn't know what to think or how to feel b/c I was numbed out from having zero social support, the threat of homelessness and total family rejection along with the fear that my mother really would fall apart and become suicidal. I wish I had courage back then, but I didn't, the times were different, and I thought like a needy child. As you continue reading, you'll see me make this point. Anyway, life is what it is; we live and learn.

  19. "Before I trusted them like a child and loved them unconditionally. Afterwards I trusted them to be only who they are: fair weather family members who bail out when a storm hits and use all kinds of rationalizations and excuses"

    -One of my cardinal rules. Treat people as they are, not how you want them to be. It's cold as hell but I decreased the heartache by 40%

    "Cheers to those of us who struggle to hang onto our hearts and humanity, and may God or fate pull the rest of us from the path of coldness."

    -That my wish and prayer too.

    All in all a captivating and chilling story. I'm glad we can all learn from this.

  20. it's funny how I always learn something about myself when I read your blog. the way I am now, I would like to think I would've been supportive of whatever decision you made at the time. had I known you back then, with my religious parents and moral high-handness, empathy would've been a stretch. But thankfully I have friends in my life that would've done exactly what your brother's ex wife offered you had I been in your position. So now, there's no way i would ever think to judge or be cold.

    as for the beautiful thing, I was just amazed you could just write it out just like that. i would be hard-pressed to admit i was attractive and i've always secretly marveled at ppl who had no qualms announcing what they felt was an obvious fact. :-) i wish i had that kind of confidence.

  21. Thanks again. Glad it gave you a different view. As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate the Native American saying that to understand someone, you have to walk a mile in their moccasins. I write what I write in a humble attempt to spare others of the rocky roads I and those I've know have traveled.

    Beauty is sort of a complicated issue. 1) It's in the eye of the beholder. 2) Personal attractiveness gives one an edge but personality will beat it quickly with most adults. 3) Outer beauty fades with age too, thus inner beauty is paramount in personal development.

    Hope you come to acknowledge yours and enjoy it while you're young. You are, you know; I remember seeing your pic long ago. Just gorgeous, inside and out.

  22. KIT
    Thanks for linking me to this. I have a buddy who's in the reverse of your son's situation (two girls baby mama) (I'm only two chapters in--will post as I go along).

    It all goes back to what we think about sex. I feel sorry for this generation coming up. What is friends with benefits? Sex isn't frivolous! It holds the power of life and death!

    Our society has made it either or: either you treat sex like something disposable or you fetishsize it with chastity balls and purity rings.

    You know I don't know...

    Good stuff!

  23. I find your blog fascinating and well written! However, I have to be honest that I think you are enabling your son's walk down the wrong path. You raised him, and apparently you raised him to think it's okay to commit crimes, be unemployed and without direction, to use profanity in front of you & to have loud sex with his girlfriend in your house with you home.

    I can't imagine what kind of father he'd make, it's very easy for him to cry and carry on when she said she wanted an abortion, it's quite another to actually be there to do all the work once the child is born. I understand her decision.

    By the way, I teach High School on N.Y.'s Riker's Island, the largest jail in the country, I know a little bit about what happens when young people are irresponsible about parenthood.

  24. Jules, Thanks for the compliment about my writing and blog. Now let's deal with the other stuff you said.

    "I have to be honest that I think you are enabling your son's walk down the wrong path..."

    Fair enough criticism. I have struggled for years in walking the fine line between being enabling or codependent, versus saving this black male. I could have used the popular and often self-serving tough love and kicked him to the mean streets. A young homeless male of any race is a potential danger to himself and others.

    "You raised him...

    I did not raise him in the critical first three years of his life. I'm pretty certain I mentioned in the article his birth mother was a substance abuser and he was born premature, and at three weeks age placed in one shitty foster home followed by another that left him malnourished. It's harder, but not impossible, to recover from childhood traumas.

    " raised him to think it's okay to commit crimes, be unemployed and without direction..."

    Whoa! This is untrue and possibly racist. Never judge a person by the family, or a family by the person. There are middle and upper class families all across America who have always had a teen or adult child who is drawn to trouble, just as there are millions of poor kids born to highly dysfunctional families but are law-abiding and drug free.

    And as for education and a work ethic, that's another unfair and groundless accusation. I and others worked like hell to provide guidance and resources for him. There's an old saying, you can take a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

    "you raised him to think it's okay... to use profanity in front of you"

    I love words. All of them, and the more expressive and to the point, the better. I don't fear profanity nor does it bother me when used in private. Words I hate are the ones designed to cover up feelings and truth.

    For example, would you rather have a VP who says with a smile, "If McCain and I are elected, gosh darnit, we believe in the right to life under all circumstances," or one who says, "If elected, fuck you and your reproductive rights, and if any of you bitches don't like it, we'll add your name to our secret list of un-Americans."

    "you raised him to think it's okay... to have loud sex with his girlfriend in your house with you home."

    Look hon, it's not like I was running a whore house. I live in an apartment, not a McMansion. The two said they were in love; he wanted to marry her and I treated them no differently than I would have if they were. I don't embrace the pretend philosophy that my son is celibate, and would rather he have a steady girlfriend at home than in a backseat in a park.

    "I can't imagine what kind of father he'd make, it's very easy for him to cry and carry on when she said she wanted an abortion, it's quite another to actually be there to do all the work once the child is born. I understand her decision.

    Me too.

    "By the way, I teach High School on N.Y.'s Riker's Island, the largest jail in the country, I know a little bit about what happens when young people are irresponsible about parenthood."

    Well, Jules, now you know a little bit more - hopefully in how to not, be so damned judgmental, which frankly, has racist and/or bourgeois overtones. I could feel it in your comments. I'm sure your students can too.

  25. Kellybelle, you said, "Our society has made it either or: either you treat sex like something disposable or you fetishsize it with chastity balls and purity rings."

    Yes, these are different ends of the spectrum but disaster hits everyone across the board. The poor just gets more bad press. This country had loads of forced marriages and adoptions until abortion was legal in 1973, and out of wedlock pregnancies were covered up with lies that "the baby was premature", or the girl sneaking off and putting it up for adoption.

  26. This has certainly been an emotional drain on all involved. Especially X and most definitely you.

    I will comment futher on your newest update, "Apples Aint Oranges", as it will be directly linked.


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