It’s Time To Retire

It’s time to retire this blog.  I feel that I’ve taken Dispatches from PDX through a dark time in my life, and now that I am emerging from the end of what has been a very depressing tunnel, I want to move on.  DofPDX has been an cathartic outlet for me to cry, vent, opine, cry, and mourn.  It has been company when I felt I had none, an ear to listen when everyone had become tired of hearing me speak.  It was my friend, my confidant, and sometimes, even my enemy.  I have posted things I should, and definitely posted things I shouldn’t.  This blog carried me through, and I’m grateful I had it in place when things became so incredibly rough that I could barely make it out of bed.  

The next step of my writing journey is unknown.   I have been toying around with the idea of a another blog, something fresh and new, that is free of the heartbreaks and burdens that DofPDX has witnessed.  There are a few concepts floating around in my noggin, and I hope to have something in place soon.

Until then, thank you to everyone who took the time to read my words, especially those who took the time to comment.  I hope some of these posts have helped anyone going through similar painful experiences.  I apologize to those who have been hurt by this blog, as that was never my intention.  It has always been easiest for me to express myself through prose, as sometimes the words leave me in real life verbal discourse. 

In light of her recent passing, I would like to end this blog with a quote from Maya Angelou.  I do realize that is a bit pretentious of me, but I feel like her words transcend time, space, race, culture, sex, age, and ethnicity.  Thank you again, dear readers, for being there with me through my recent journey. 

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again. 

Until we meet again ~ B

 

 

The Power of Words

Words.

Words are powerful.

Words are uncountable.  According to Oxford Dictionaries, it’s impossible to truly count how many words comprise the English language.

These uncountable words hold the power to control, command, influence, enlighten, and destroy.  In prose, words can tell stories, transfixing the reader into another place and time, into someone else’s mind, into someone else’s world.  Words can show us the meaning of life and love, filling our souls with droves of emotions.  Words can show us the meaning of hurt, filling our beings with sadness and anger.  Words can be so strong that they alter our being, molding and shaping and changing us in ways that were unimaginable.

This holds true for words communicated between two people, except real life words hold the most power, because unlike words read in a book or a poem, words between people are purposely meant for the other.  Words that are directed towards a specific person are no longer in the safe world of fiction;  these words are real, born out of the relationship you hold together.  Because of this, we must be careful with words, because once they pass the lips and become audible to the intended audience, there is no taking them back.

I was going through some papers a few days ago and came across this:

20140322-224132.jpg

It’s the ticket stub from ZooLights.  T and I had gone there just days before the miscarriage. It’s one of my favorite holiday events, and since he had never gone, I was extra excited to attend that year.  My happiness was subdued, however.  I noticed he was staring more at the children running around than enjoying the scenery.  I felt myself become defensive, scared that he was too overcome with fear and anger about my pregnancy to enjoy himself. I thought he saw the kids as a reminder of his impending doom.

As we made our way back to the entrance of the zoo, we stopped for a minute to look at one of the displays.  He said something, and I can’t remember what his exact words were.  But I remember my response:

“Who knows, maybe this time next year there won’t be a baby.  We won’t be together and I’ll be blogging about you behind your back.”

I also can’t remember his response.  I think he might have laughed and said something snarky.

I think about those words, born out of my own fear and trepidation at the journey ahead.  Those words were spoken out of a need to protect myself, and were intended to push him further away.   If only I had understood when I spoke those words that no matter how much I tried to keep my heart safe, that he already had it in his hands, and I just needed to let go and trust in him and in myself.

Words used carelessly, as if they did not matter in any serious way, often allowed otherwise well-guarded truths to seep through.
― Douglas Adams

Instead, I used words to distance myself, as I had done many times before.  The words I spoke that night are not the only ones I wish I could take back.  I told my best friend the night my cat was sick that I didn’t want to be with T anymore.  I told T the day before I had my miscarriage that I wish I would just have a miscarriage to make all the stress go away.   It breaks my heart that I said those horrible things out loud, and they came to pass.

It’s been three months since the words that I unleashed upon the universe came true.  I lost the baby, and I lost T.  Sometimes I wonder if the universe saw that my negativity and decided that it would make my words come true and teach me a lesson.  Perhaps the universe wanted to make me reap what I was sowing.  Rationally, I understand that this is not reality.  As an atheist, I understand there is no higher power directing my actions or causing things to happen to me.  Things just happen.  That’s the reality of life.  I did everything I could to be a healthy expectant mother, but I was at the mercy of biology and nature.  There was nothing I could have done to change the outcome of my pregnancy.

Words.  Words can be poison and they can be medicine.  They can break a heart or heal a heart.  Words allow us to verbally communicate with each other in a way that no other species on earth can.  Yet, we humans are often to careless with what we say to each other.  We don’t think before we speak.  We don’t truly understand the strength our verbal discourse can hold over ourselves and others.

 “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” — Rudyard Kipling

I saw T last weekend for the first time about two months.  We got together to talk, to finally say all the things that had been brewing during our time apart.  When he walked into the tea shop, my heart skipped a beat.  He was as handsome as ever.  We hugged and kissed, and I breathed in his familiar scent.  He was wearing the shirt I gave him for Christmas, which was a beautiful gesture on his part.  He handed me a paper bag and said he got me a gift.  I was excited and opened it, only to find a janky broken Sex and the City collectors edition magic 8 ball.  I can’t remember the reason why he owned that.  I think it was something about it being worth money someday, despite the fact it didn’t work.  This was something I had teased him about just a few months prior.  When I pulled it out of the bag,  I laughed; partially because it was funny, and partially to cover my disappointment that it wasn’t a real gift.  Nevertheless, it was a good icebreaker.

We ordered our tea and began catching up.  There was an easiness and a nervousness in me.  He seemed different.  I realized later that he didn’t laugh that night.  Not the laugh I remember, anyway.  The infectious one that makes his face become more alive, the laugh where his eyes light up and their corners crinkle just enough to show his joy but not give away his age.

There was a heaviness instead.  A maturity that only comes with surviving a battle of a certain magnitude.  He talked about everything he is doing and all the things he has planned.  As the words tumbled out of his mouth, I felt happy that he was taking care of himself, but soon I realized that he really is moving on without me.  He is living life, enjoying himself, and healing what has been broken.  And when he is ready to date again, it won’t be with me.

At one point, we stopped talking and just smiled at each other.  It was a comforting smile, but a difficult silence.  I had so much I wanted to say.  So many words on my tongue, enough to fill an ocean and perhaps spill over into another.  Words that were pouring out of my heart and filling me up, so many words that spread down through my legs and jutted against my toes, words that bubbled up to the crown of my head the through the strands of my hair.  But my lips remained pressed together in silence, as all I knew I could do was smile.  Words, at that point, were useless.

He reached out and touched my arm.  I scooched in and he kissed me, and I wondered how something could feel so natural and foreign at the same time.  Natural because we had kissed a hundred times before, ever since he lit the upside-down firework and he picked me up and kissed me in the parking lot after the 4th of July.

Foreign because we are no longer those two people who embraced in perhaps one of the best stories of my life.   Because now we are two people who then went through one of the worst stories of my life, and the innocence we had that night was buried under the rubble of stress and emotion and words that we can never take back.

Instead of allowing the words that were brimming at the surface of my being to begin seeping out of my pores and past my lips, I said something meager and weak like, “I’ll always want the chance of a first date with you again.”  I knew that were was no place at that table, no room in that teahouse, for anything else.

The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” –Ludwig Wittenstein

He nodded and said okay.

After tea, he took me to dinner, and then dropped me off at my car.  We kissed goodbye, and he thanked me for coming out.  I said, “Talk to you soon.  Or sometime.  Or whenever.”

As I was getting out of his car, he said, “Don’t forget your bag.”

“Nope, I’m leaving that with you.  The next time you give me a bag, it will have a real gift in it,” I quipped.  I shut the door and got in my car.  I began driving before the tears could come, before I had too much time to become sad before I got home.

Because I knew that there wouldn’t be a bag with a real gift in it.  I knew that we wouldn’t talk soon.

Those are the kinds of things you say when you are parting with someone you care about, and don’t know what else to say.  You want to have that hope that there will be another cup of tea, another upside-down firework, or another first date.  But you know, deep down, that it’s over and you have to start driving away and leave it all behind you.

So that’s what I did.

My evening with T did two things for me.  We were able to tell each other that there was no more anger or resentment, no animosity or hard feelings.  We had gotten past those feelings, and now only had warm affection and respect for each other.  We gave apologies and explanations, and said all that needed to be said. Everything that needed to be said, was said.  There are no words left.

Where do the words go
when we have said them?
― Margaret Atwood

The other thing it did for me was show me that I need to move on.  I need to stop living in the past, because just like my words during pregnancy didn’t spark vengence from the universe, I know that no matter how much regret or hoping or wishing that I do, nothing will bring them back, either.  Nothing I say will fix this broken relationship.  Words may have the authority to start and end wars; they may have the power to cause hurt or create joy; words may have the strength to alter the course of your life.  But words cannot change the past, and words cannot create love where there is none.

Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.”  –Rumi

It’s difficult to let go of life’s “what ifs.”  But I have to.  I really can’t live as this century’s Miss Havisham.  I have to find new words to say.  I have to find a new song to sing.  As I do so, I will remain aware of the energies that I am putting out into the universe.  Not because I think there is a vengeful and petty deity waiting to use my words against me.  No, it is because I don’t want to have more regrets, especially regrets over things I have said.  I want to be mindful of the words I give to those around me.  I want to harness the power of my words to create happiness instead of pain, to move me forward instead of remaining stagnant.  My words are my future, and only I can decide what to do with them.

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.”― John Greenleaf Whittier

Ask yourself, “How will I use the power of my words to better my life?” It may be the most important question you ever let leave your lips.

Until next time ~ B

At The Intersection of Real Life and Dreams

“Dreams are lies.  A waste of precious thoughts.”

I read that recently.  I wish I could remember the source.   All I know is that I did not come up with it myself, so I give credit to the person who did.

That line has been on my mind quite often these days.  As I find myself at 31 years of age, single and childless, I am beginning to realize that I must come to terms with the reality that life has no guarantees.  This means that I need to start imagining a different kind of future.  One that does not involve a family.

Lest you think I have given up, dear reader, I will assure you that is not the case.  I have not given up on what I want.   Rather, I feel that it is disingenuous to go forth with the mindset that I will have the family I so dearly want someday.  The sad, unfortunate truth about the universe is that it owes us nothing.  The world does not stop turning when a heart breaks, or a child dies, or any other devastating event occurs.   Life swiftly marches forward, and if we don’t keep up, it will leave us in the dust.  It will do this no matter how desperately we want to grasp the clock and turn back the hands of time in an attempt to change the outcomes of our present.

I have been trying to imagine what my life could look like without a husband and children, and in doing so, I have had to ask myself the question of: “What makes me happy now, and what would make me happy in the future?”  I brought this up in counseling today, and my therapist agreed that I am doing the right thing by imaging different possibilities for my future.  She even straight up said: “Life has no guarantees.”

This brings me back to the opening line.   “Dreams are lies.  A waste of precious thoughts.”  The heartbroken cynic in me agrees with this 100%.  Why waste your brain space on dreams when the randomness of life will hit you with unpredictable events at a moment’s notice?  Why bother to plan for a future that may never come to pass?  It’s easy to dive into a sea of negativity and float out in its water like a sad, pale bitter melon.   Are dreams just lies we tell ourselves about the future to make the present seem more bearable?   When we think about future possibilities, are we just deluding ourselves into imaging a life that may never come to pass?  The only thing certain about life is its unpredictability, so perhaps dreams really are just a waste of precious thoughts.

Ugh.

The truth is, that is even too dark and depressing for me.  I may be a sad, pale bitter melon, but I want to hold on to whatever shred of hope remains in my psyche.  I want to hold on to the dream that someday, tacked onto my refrigerator, will be the picture of me, hubby, and  baby.

But in order for me to set a foundation for a healthy future, I cannot bank my entire life on that image.  I have to make room for other ideas of happiness.  Maybe I will never be a mom, but I could volunteer with kids.  I may never have a honeymoon, but I can travel to amazing places anyway.  I can try new things and surround myself with wonderful people and work towards making peace with that version of life.

Because when you are 31, single, childless, and female, you must make room for the possibility of a different kind of happiness.  Especially when you self-sabotage relationships.  I had to admit out loud today that I may end up alone, because if I don’t come to terms with that now, it will be all the more devastating to try and come to terms with that at 41, single, childless, and female.

Despite all of that, the deeper truth is that I am a fool for love, and will never stop looking or trying.  I may end up doing this my entire life, being a sort of Johnny Castaway of love, hanging out on my island alone, just waiting for that opportunity to come along.  I’ll dodge falling coconuts and hum loudly, and fall asleep just as the cruise ship sails by.

However, as I sit on my lonely island of one, I can’t help but wonder if maybe the question shouldn’t be “what else would make me happy” but rather “what is worth fighting for?”  At this point, I’m not sure what to fight for anymore.  I was recently in a relationship with a man who made me laugh every day, until things went to hell after I got pregnant.  At this point, I just wish he were around to make me laugh again.  Is that worth fighting for?

I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that despite planning on being a family, we didn’t know each other very well.  I heard that from him and from others.  “How could it have been love?  You didn’t know each other,” one person told me.

So, how do I reconcile the concept of us not knowing each other with the connection that I can’t seem to shake?  Is that just the silly, rom-com loving, hopeless romantic dreamer inside of me, lying to myself?  Do I just need to resign myself to the reality that I made that connection up in my mind, and let it go?  Is this the desperate, lonely, 31 single childless female inside of me that doesn’t want to end up alone?

Or, is it something worth fighting for?  Because the truth is, he is a good man.  If he reads this, I’m sure he is shaking his head back and forth in disagreement.  He stood by me during pregnancy, and only left when it all became too much- the grief, me pushing him away, his old demons… I know how overwhelming it was for me, so I can only imagine how overwhelming it was for him.  And so I stand by my assertion.  Nothing will ever convince me otherwise.   He is a good man, and he is someone worth fighting for.  It may not be me who does the fighting, but that won’t be because I didn’t want to, or because he doesn’t deserve it.  The reasons will be entirely different, and much like my behavior during pregnancy, will be all about me, and nothing to do with him.

Only time will tell what I end up fighting for, and what my happy ending will look like.  I do know this: I will continue to dream, and allow myself to utilize my precious thoughts on the idea of a happy future, no matter what comes to pass.  Life may have no guarantees, and the universe may be moving forward without care or compassion, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up hope.  It doesn’t mean I have to stop fighting, because I may not be fighting for love, but I will at least be fighting for myself.

Until next time ~ B

Field Report: February 27, 2014

Pretty excited to have a new field report.  I feel that it has been far too long since I have had public transportation material.  Dear readers, I hope you enjoy today’s offering.

Max Green Line, AM Commute

The train was fairly empty, as it was past the morning rush.  I was traveling to work late, per usual.  Everyone was quite, reading or listening to music, when the train rolled to a stop at the Main Street station.  The doors opened, a few riders boarded, and the doors shut.  Instead of moving forward, the operator came on and said that we had to wait there a few minutes because there were two trains ahead of her at Gateway.  Not caring about the time, I kept my attention on my Twitter feed, also per usual.

Suddenly I heard, “Man, don’t you touch my bike!”

I looked over in the direction of the voice to see a tall, commanding man in a lime green reflective jacket.  “Are you drunk?!” he asked a smaller man whose attire indicated that he was not as well off as the larger man.  The smaller man said something that I couldn’t make out, and the larger man said, “I’m getting you off this train.”

I was tingly with anticipation, thinking this was going to be a great morning show.  He walked over to the door and pressed the emergency call button.  The operator came on and asked what was needed.  The man said, “Yeah, there’s a drunk and disorderly jackass on this train and he’s touching my bike.”  The operator said something about contacting security and the man replied, “Oh, he is going to get off this train.”

The smaller man looked at him defiantly and sat down.  “I’m not getting off this train!” he said.

The large man told the operator that he won’t leave, and she said it would be handled at the next stop.  The train began to move forward and I watched the small man sit in his seat, reading a small book out loud to himself.  He started praying and talking to himself about god.  The larger man stood staring at him, as if he was on guard.  Finally the small man looked up and started talking to the larger man.  It was hard to understand him, but I think he said something about being sorry.  The larger man replied something about his bike, to which the smaller man said, “Man, I have my own bike!”

We rolled to a stop at Gateway and a transit officer boarded.  “What seems to be the trouble?” he asked. The larger man had no qualms about making the smaller man out to be some kind of out of control rider.  The officer asked the smaller man for his ticket and photo ID.  The smaller man pulled his wallet out, and it was stuffed with cards, George Costanza style.  He pulled out an ID, and the officer said, “This is expired.  Please come with me, sir.”

The smaller man protested and said, “No, no I have another one,” and began rifling through his wallet for a piece of identification.  This is when I went from being amused to feeling sorry for him.  This wasn’t a drunk and disorderly jackass.  This was a drunk man who likely had mental health issues, and the larger man was the jackass who was blowing the event out of proportion.  The officer again asked him to get off the train.

“Come with me, man,” transit fuzz said.  The smaller man asked in a small voice, “Where we goin’?”  He stood up and slowly put his jacket on, then his backpack (attached to the bag was a small purple teddy bear) and he unhooked his bike from the rack and got off the train.

This time I took a closer look at what he was wearing.  His clothes were old and ill-fitting.  His bike was dirty.  The larger man stood there with a smug expression, and when the doors shut he took a seat.  As we pulled away, I watched the transit fuzz pull out his pad of tickets while the man continued to search through his wallet.

I wanted to walk over to the larger man and ask, “Are you proud of yourself?  Was all of this really necessary?”  But instead I just sat there, silently.  I hope the smaller man got to wherever he needed to go today, and I hope the larger man gets a big dose of karma.

Max Green Line, PM Commute

I missed my usual 4:35 train, and had to take the 4:53, which was absolutely packed.  I squeezed on board, and found a spot standing near the door.  I was tired.  It wasn’t that today was a long day, but rather, I just felt gross.  Have you ever had that kind of day?  Where you just feel so… blech?  My hair wasn’t doing anything, I was wearing a big oversized sweater, and I had dark circles under my eyes.  Despite getting what feels like enough solid sleep, I’ve been exhausted this week, and my eyes are showing the wear.

So I stood there, minding my own business, avoiding eye contact with anyone.  When the train arrived at Lloyd, three young men boarded and we all shuffled to make room.  I had about a foot of breathing space, with one of the young men right in front of me.  I was paying attention to my phone, but could hear snippets of his conversation.

“Yeah man,” the kid, likely between 18 and 21 years of age, said.  “So she came over and I totally fucked her.  And then she gave me an ounce of [something I couldn’t make out] and left.”  They all laughed, and one of the other boys said something I couldn’t hear, to which the kid in front of me said, “Haha, yeah.  You know I ruined all other men for her.”

I vomited a little in my mouth, and wanted to say, “Son, the only thing you probably ruined was her was the chance for a good time that night.”  But I kept my mouth shut.  As we hit each stop, we had to keep shuffling around just a bit, and he finally turned around and saw me behind him.  He must have not realized I was there because he looked a little surprised.  After that, he was much less boisterous to his buddies.

The train began to thin out after a few more stops, and finally at Flavel, the boys had reached their destination.  The train began to slow, and the kid in front of me turned around and looked at me.  Suddenly his body language and demeanor had changed.  “Please excuse me,” he said politely, as the doors opened.

Great.  He probably sees me as old enough to be his mother, and therefore feels the need to show respect.

I smiled politely and scooched over so he could walk off the train.  He was the last to leave, and just before he stepped onto the platform, he stopped and looked at me again.  “I just want to say that you are absolutely gorgeous,” he said, and stepped off.  My jaw dropped and I barely got a thank you out before the doors closed.

I stood there, stunned.  There I was, feeling so tired and gross, and this little punk who was just talking trash about some poor girl, just spoke to me like I was a lady.  I have no idea what he saw in me today, but it definitely put a smile on my face.

Today’s lessons:

Twice today I judged a book by it’s cover.  The small “drunk and disorderly jackass” on the train this morning turned out to be a man likely in need of mental health intervention.  The punk kid on the evening train who boasted to his buddies about his conquest is likely a polite young man when his friends aren’t around.  Today I was guilty of making snap judgements, which has been a bad habit of mine for some time.  I react before I think.  I need to start thinking more and reacting less.  We all have a story to tell.  We all have a chain of events in our past that have led us to where we are today: successes, failures, illness, divorce, abuse, poor decisions, good decisions, accidents, baggage, life, and death.

If we start looking past the exterior, we might be surprised with what we find underneath.  A life full of hopes and dreams.  A life that has weathered storms.  A life that is important and deserves respect.  A unique life with a story to tell that will be unlike anyone else’s.  And when you think about it, that’s really something, isn’t it?

Until next time ~ B

Lettin’ it Gooooooo

Last night was my second yoga class since the summer.  I got lucky and scored a really cheap monthly membership at a studio near my place.  They also do hot stone massages there, and your first one is discounted.  Needless to say, I can’t wait for payday.

On the new client form, they asked a variety of questions, the last of which read: What do you hope to get out of yoga?  I responded, “Strength, flexibility, and peace.”  I’ve never been one to meditate, nor do I hold an ounce of spirituality in my body, but I’ve read about the beneficial effects of yoga on the mind, body, spirit connection.

This excerpt comes from an article in Mother Earth Living:

Continue reading

“There and Back Again” with Me and Paul Anka

“Do you think I should have an abortion?”

“When the kid turns 18 are you gonna tell him what I said?”

“No.”

“Then yes, I think you should have an abortion.”

[Paul:]
Havin’ my baby
What a lovely way of sayin’
How much you love me
Havin’ my baby
What a lovely way of sayin’
What you’re thinkin’ of me
I can see it, face is glowin’
I can see in your eyes
I’m happy you know it*

I think this is the moment my heart stopped beating, the world swirled around me, and the tears started.  The tears that take breaks, but continue to pour down 24 hours later.

The truth is, I cannot be angry at him.  His feelings are legitimate.  We have been together less than six months, and we are not financially stable.  How can I argue with either of those points?  Abortion is the rational decision.  His feelings are no less important or relevant than mine.

You’re the woman I love
And I love what it’s doin’ to ya

However, what has hit me like a ton of bricks after his admission is how much I want this baby.  In my last post I wrote about how conflicted I felt about this pregnancy.  It is scary and uncertain and I do not know how I am going to do this.  When he said he wanted me to terminate the pregnancy, I realized instantly that the thought of terminating this pregnancy is devastating.  I cannot do it.  I will not do it.

Something else became clear to me as well.  The reason I have been pulling away from him during the last five weeks is because I knew, deep down, that he does not want this baby.  I knew he was talking himself into it, and every time he would make a snarky comment, I would cringe inside and my heart would crack a little more.

Havin’ my baby
You’re a woman in love
And I love what’s goin’ through ya

The most recent incident was on a trip to Powell’s.  We were walking out of the store and passed a book on making moonshine at home.  He picked it up and said, “Oh cool.  This would be fun… since I’m going to be spending a lot of time at home now…” with a tone that implied how much he loathed the very thought.  I stood there and looked at him as he flipped through the pages.  “Wow, could you say that with a little less bitterness?” I replied.

He laughed.  “Since I’m going to be spending a lot of time at home!” he said, with a fake happy voice, and he put the book down.

The crack in my heart deepened.  I bit my lip.  “You don’t have to do to this at all,” I said in a very small voice.  He chose not to respond.

Finally, last night we got into a very deep discussion about the pregnancy, and I knew, more than ever, that we are heading in the same direction, but are not on the same page.  The more negativity that came out of his mouth, the more certain I was that he felt deep unhappiness. After going around and around in conversation for what now seems like an eternity, I mustered up the courage to ask the fatal question.

[Paul:]
The need inside you
I see it showin’
Whoa, the seed inside ya
Baby, do you feel it growin’
Are you happy you know it
That you’re
[Both:]
Havin’ my baby

I should note that this was not the first time I asked him.  One week after I found out I was pregnant, he made a bitter comment about how we are not going to have any more fun.  I flat out asked, “Do you want me to have an abortion?”

“God no!  No, not at all.  I don’t even like that word,” he responded vehemently.

[Odia:]
I’m a woman in love
And I love what it’s doin’ to me

[Both:]
Havin’ my baby

[Odia:]
I’m a woman in love
And I love what’s goin’ through me

I now know the power of his poker face, because I believed his emphatics and therefore took his falsehood at face value.  As the weeks went on, I was much less inclined to buy into this untruth, so last night when he responded to my abortion question affirmatively, it was not a surprise.

The fact that it was not a surprise does not make the truth any less heartbreaking.

I have spent the last five weeks looking for signs he was coming around, and occasionally he would show signs of it: the pregnancy book for dads that he purchased on his own; the times he would rub my belly and smile; the text message that read, “love you both.”  But these were just fleeting moments in his otherwise apprehension towards the pregnancy.  I wanted to believe him when he said, “I didn’t want to be an old dad, and now I won’t be.”  I wanted to believe him when he said we would be okay, that he was excited for our impending family, and that he wanted to be a dad.  I even thought about asking him if he thought we should get engaged before the baby came, that way even though we were not married, the commitment would be there, and that baby would come into the world with two parents not only devoted to him or her, but also devoted to each other.

[Paul:]
Didn’t have to keep it
Wouldn’t put ya through it
You could have swept it from your life
But you wouldn’t do it
No, you wouldn’t do it

But, for better or worse, I am an excellent reader of between-the-lines.  It was written all over his face so many times.  Once we were out with my friends, and one of them was like, “Oh wow, you’re having a baby!”  And he replied with a half smile, half grimace, “Yeah, she sure is.”  All I could do was look away and pretend to my friend that everything was okay.

With the difference in our feelings becoming increasingly obvious,  my anxiety began to spin wildly; I became anxious and depressed, worrying about anything and everything, pushing him away for the smallest of things, because this is my defense mechanism.  Then came the night that my cat was sick and I had to take her to the emergency vet at 9:00 pm.  I texted him the situation.  He responded, “Okay, drive safe.”  I then barely heard from him the rest of the evening.  I was so hurt by this lack of any concern or empathy for me, and knew at that moment that he cared more for going out and being with his friends than he did about being a partner.  When we discussed the situation, he claimed this was untrue, that I should have known he cared, but that he was unable to help so he just did not say anything at all.  I took little consolation from this, but wanted to put the situation behind us and move forward to make the relationship work.

[Both:]
And you’re havin’ my baby
[Odia:]
I’m a woman in love
And I love what it’s doin’ to me
[Both:]
Havin’ my baby

That was a week ago.  Now I find myself at a crossroads.  I feel like Tom Hanks at the end of Castaway, standing at the dusty Midwestern NoWheresVille, wondering which direction to take.  I know I want to be a mom.  I am scared and uncertain of how I will do this, with whom I will do this, and how well I will do this.  But I know this: I will give it everything I have, and at 31, I know enough about poverty and single parenthood and the difficulties of upward mobility to make sure my child will not end up in the same situation.  It takes a village to raise a child, and I have a village.  A wonderful supportive village that will not let me fall.

[Odia:]
I’m a woman in love
And I love what’s goin’ through me

I want to take this journey with a partner, and not just any partner, but one who is ready for fatherhood and commitment.  I want a partner with whom I can share my joy without worrying about upsetting him or hearing snide comments.  I want to talk about baby stuff and feel excited and the good kind of anxious.  The harsh light of the day has revealed to me that I do not have this, and that it seems all but impossible to sustain a partnership with someone who does not want this baby.  He has said so many times he wants to be a dad; I guess this is not a good enough time for him.  I wish I could change his mind, but I cannot control the feelings of others.  I cannot make him want to be a dad to this baby.  To my baby.  For the past five weeks he has said, “This is YOUR decision. This is YOUR choice.  YOU know the risks of having a baby.”

It has rarely ever been “we” or “our.”  Your your your. 

So that is the reality.  This is MY baby.

[Paul:]
Havin’ my baby (havin’ my baby)
What a lovely way of sayin’
How much you love me

[Paul:]
Havin’ my baby
(havin’ my baby)

I am pulling out everything I am capable of in order to stay strong right now, but I cannot deny the most painful truth: My heart is broken beyond any short term repair.  I have a life growing inside of me that is half me, half him.  I know eventually my heart will be whole again.  Still, I am not angry or hateful towards the father.  The timing, the finances, the lack of readiness- he is entitled to worry and feel that this is not the right time.  I am entitled to continue moving forward with the pregnancy, and that is exactly what I intend to do.

I do not know what this journey is going to look like, but do not all great journeys begin that way?  This is my own There and Back Again.  Me, the baby, and a little light 70s am radio.

[Odia:]
I’m a woman in love
And I love what’s goin’ through me
[Paul:]
Yes, you’re havin’ my baby

Until next time, I’ll be here, with the immortal Paul Anka:

Image

~B and little B

*Paul Anka (You’re) Having My Baby (featuring Odia Coates)

The Other Truth

I have learned something recently that perhaps I have always known, but now am living the reality day to day:

Sex is: Fun. Hot. Unique. Beautiful. Dirty. Amazing.  Two people colliding together, becoming one for a short (or long if he’s in his 20s *zing!*) period of time, and then breaking away.

Sex also results in procreation.  As those two people collapse in after the heat of passion, biology keeps moving forward.  One sperm heads down the right fallopian tube and finds the golden egg.  Just like the two people that came together in the act of sex, that egg and sperm collide and become one.  Shortly after, it tumbles down the fallopian tube into the uterus and finds a cozy place to implant itself for the next 9 months.  If all is well, life begins.

I have known how babies are made since I was nine years old.  I begged my mom to tell me the truth, and when she finally did, I thought it was the most disgusting thing I had ever heard in my entire life.  I could not fathom why two people would EVER want to do that.  Just completely gross and reprehensible.  It was impossible to wrap my brain around the process of procreation.

As an adult, I never thought much about actually making babies.  I was just focused on participating in the activities that produce zygotes, and doing what I could to prevent conception from actually happening.   Sex was fun.  It resulted in sweaty bodies, heavy breathing, and connecting with another person.

That is, until I found myself pregnant.

Pregnant.  Bun in the oven.  With child.  Knocked up.  In the family way.  Pea in the pod.

Now I am trying to wrap my brain around the concept of procreation happening my body.  The right time, place, sperm, and egg struck together one night in October, and the process to form life began.

So back to what I’ve learned.  Sex is amazing.  The biological process in which life begins and forms is amazing.  Deciding to keep the baby and move forward even though I am in no emotional or financial place to have that baby?  Not so amazing.

I have been alive for 31 years, and in those 31 years, I have never felt so emotionally conflicted as I do now.  As a child I was pro-life.  That changed to pro-choice as an adult.  Now that I find myself building a baby in my uterus, that pro-life conviction has become even stronger.  I could never tell another woman that she would be forced to continue a pregnancy that was unwanted.  It is her body, as this is my body, and ultimately it is a decision to be made by a woman, and only by that woman.

And there is the part where I hate myself because I’m going to admit on paper that this pregnancy is unwanted.

Unwanted.  What a terrible word.

I always imagined getting pregnant would be this beautiful, exciting, and amazing time with a husband.  We would decide it was time to have children, and I would find out that we were having a baby and decide what kind of cute way I would deliver the news to the dad-to-be.  Would I get a onesie with some kind of adorable pun on the front?  Or maybe I would wrap up the pregnancy test in a box and tell him I wanted to surprise him with something, and he would open he box and get a big smile on his face, and we would hug and be teary eyed and talk about how excited we are to be having a baby together.

This was not my reality.  There was no husband, no decision to start a family, no onesie.  Just me, two positive pregnancy tests, and the crushing realization that I would be telling my boyfriend of four months (and not four smooth months, either) that I was pregnant.  Instead of figuring out what cute way I would tell my husband, I was desperately searching for the words to inform my partner that he was going to be a father, that we were not careful enough, that for the past month my body was building a zygote we made, and his life never going to be the same.

I have known I am pregnant for 4 weeks.  These have been a rough four weeks.  They run right up there with cancer, my dad leaving, and the loss of my first love.  I am 31, husbandless, with too much debt, less than $100 in my savings account, a 13-year-old car, unmarried, living at home, and surviving off an AmeriCorps stipend.  As pro-life as I am, I have always known that abortion was not an option for me, but the reality is this:  I would be lying if I said that it has not crossed my mind.  I would also be lying if I said that in the event of a miscarriage, it would probably be for the best.  I feel shame and self-loathing for having those thoughts.

Those feelings have been particularly acute since I had my first ultrasound and saw the heartbeat.  There is a growing human with a heartbeat inside of me, and I am desperately trying to keep it together as I move forward.  My life is changing and I am doing what I can to keep up.  I have to look at everything differently now.  I have to think like a mother and prepare for the arrival of this baby by doing what is best for him/her.  And in doing that, I’m forced to ask tough, uncomfortable, and potentially hurtful questions.  I do not like doing this.  I do not like feeling this way.

Unless you have been unmarried, pregnant, and financially f*cked, it’s hard to describe the tidal waves of emotions that flow through you at any given moment (thanks, hormones).  The first two weeks I was excited about this baby.  I was enjoying the odd symptoms and imagining what it would be like to hold my baby in my arms and relish in the moment that I made a human.  I thought about baby’s first laugh, what birth might be like, what I would name him/her, what he/she would look like.  I monitored every new feeling like it was life or death.

And then around the two week mark, reality really set in.  Finding a job, saving money, paying off bills, finding a place to live, paying for a baby, maternity leave, going back to work, leaving my baby in daycare, being in a young relationship, and so on an so forth. I panicked.  Hardcore.  One night I just lost it in my bedroom, and I have felt unsettled ever since.

On top of those feelings is the abject fear I have about making a commitment to the father.  I am now tied to this person for the rest of my life and it is terrifying.  I now not only worry about being left in the middle of the night, but I worry that I am going to be left with a child.  He and I are so different.  I knew that going into the relationship, and I have dealt with it in some way or another every day.   But the relationship was young, and I was having fun and seeing where it was going, and I was taking it all day by day.  He and I were definitely moving forward, but no major decisions were being made.  We were getting to know each other and figuring out what makes us tick.

But now, now that there is a baby involved, I feel like decisions have to be made immediately.  I have all these thoughts going through my head.  How compatible are we?  Do your wants, desires, lifestyles really match up?  Do we fulfill each other’s needs?  I am trying to be realistic about it because I do not want us to be unhappy together just because we have a child.  I do not want us to be a cliche: two angry parents who stayed together when the best option may have been to split up.

Just like me, I know he is having difficulty with the concept of this pregnancy.  It was unplanned, and neither of us were ready for it.  The weekend before I learned I was pregnant, he made plans to move in with four men in their 20s.  Right now he has the opportunity to live it up, to enjoy being single and childless until the baby is born.  “Gotta do this while I still can, I only have six months left,” he says in front of me and his buddies at the bar.   It was an embarrassing moment.  Yeah, boys, gotta get the last of my living out because this old broad trapped me into fatherhood.  

I know he did not mean it like that, but I certainly took it like that.  Unfair?  Probably.  He is doing the “right thing” by me and continuing with the relationship and preparing for baby.  But I feel like he has been talking himself into it.  “I’m excited for this.  It was unexpected, but I never wanted to be an old dad, and now I won’t be.  What if we had waited until marriage?  We probably would not have started a family for another couple of years.  So this timing actually is good.  It will be fine.  It will be an adventure.  We got this.”  Thirty minutes later: “Well, we’ll see how it plays out.  You need to get a job.  I had different plans for the next year.  I am doing the best I can.”

When he says negative things, I get upset and take it personally.  I worry he feels trapped and tries to emotionally escape, like he is trying to get whatever is left out of his system because there will not be any more fun had once the baby is born.  I worry he will resent me and the baby because we took away the lifestyle he preferred, and he’ll never get it back.

When I say negative things, he tells me, “It will be fine.  You made a choice to keep the baby, now deal with it.  Get yourself together and get a job and do this.  You know the risks of having a baby.” When I push back, he tells me that he does not like seeing me be hard on myself.  He tells me that I can do this.  He tells me he fell in love with a feisty, foul-mouthed woman who had big plans, and that I need to grab life by the balls and move forward.  Some days I just want to push him away and deal with this by myself, because it is too hard to think that I am making him miserable with the pregnancy.  (Yes, I know it takes two to tango.  But I chose to keep it, and my choices affect the both of us.) I wish I believed him, and I wish I could get out of this funk and and get back that feistyness, but right now I am just really struggling to wake up and get through the day.  Growing an unplanned human is emotionally and physically exhausting, and when you add stress on top of that, some days just feel really bleak.

The repercussions of an unplanned pregnancy are difficult.  I am suddenly having to make big changes for which I was unprepared. The relationship with my boyfriend has been strained.  I am mourning the loss of the experiences I thought I would have.  I am taking it really hard.

This is not how it was supposed to be.  It was supposed to be happy and wanted and beautiful.

But hey, I made this choice, so it’s time to just deal with it.  I knew the risks.

An unwanted, unplanned pregnancy with a new boyfriend and no money.  Maybe I should have known I would turn into some kind of welfare queen cliche.  A couple of years ago I said to my mom, “I have this feeling that I’m going to end up as a single mother.”  I am eating those words right now.

These are the words that not many pregnant women admit out loud.  These are not the words you find on happy baby blogs where people are glowing and excited and having the best time.  You are not supposed to admit out loud that a baby might not be wanted.  You are not supposed to admit out loud that you have thought about abortion.  You certainly are not supposed to admit out loud that a miscarriage would not be the worst thing in the world to happen.

I realize there is a risk to putting these thoughts out into the internet world.  Some people may think I am selfish.  Some may think I am unworthy of being pregnant when there are so many couples struggling with fertility.  Some may think I am nothing but a heartless bitch.  But you know what?  I am writing all of this and putting it out there anyway because I know there are other women who are conflicted.  I know there are other women who are struggling.  Someone has to speak The Other Truth.  And that person might as well be me.

This is also the truth: I want this to get better.  I want this to go from unwanted to wanted.  I want this to turn into a happy, beautiful pregnancy and then into a happy, beautiful family.  Before you pass judgement, know that I am not a horrible person.  I am a real person.  This is a real pregnancy.  And these are real feelings, whether you like it or not.

And until next time, I will continue doing the best I can.

~ B