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“When I was in my transitional mid-twenties I was dating a musician. He was older than me, had gorgeous long blonde hair, and had arrived in my life shortly after I had arrived in Los Angeles. The first time we had sex, it was quick and common enough. After the encounter we talked until 5 in the morning, mostly about painting, how Mitch Hedberg’s success was much a result of his vocal cadence, and about how cohesive (or not) we thought “American Idiot” was.
When I found out that I was pregnant, not more than a month later, I had a nervous breakdown. I had just walked out half-way through a fundraising event, at which I was the coordinator of the interns and volunteers. I had interviewed for the permanent position earlier in the week and had just found out that the position was given to a fresh-faced college graduate who did not respond to her interview questions like a babbling idiot. She apparently wasn’t pregnant and feeling like hurling her breakfast from the top floor of a building on Hollywood Boulevard. I took the pregnancy test by myself, in the small bathroom of the roach-infested apartment in which I lived. I called The Musician and got his voice mail. I drove to the 10-foot square area of an old office building that he called home, sat on the pad on the floor that he called a bed, and realized that he was high. I laid down and cried hysterically as he pet my head.
The next morning, The Musician told me that his “vote [was] ‘no’.” He hadn’t realized his dreams, just as he hadn’t for the last 15 years of his life. He tuned his guitar as he told me that he would man-up if I wanted to keep it. I was so scared. And I felt too ashamed of myself to go home to my parents. My father had already had one daughter unintentionally get pregnant at a young age, a son whose psychotic girlfriend had already told our entire family that she’d aborted “several” of his children. But I couldn’t have The Musician be the father of my child. He had no job. I was making crappy money. He lived off of others, including myself. He didn’t want it. I didn’t want to own up to it.
The night after I had the abortion, I drove The Musician to a radio interview. I was still bleeding, the same way I would bleed for several weeks. At first, I was emotionally even-keel. Then, mid-summer, the insomnia invaded my brain. I would leave The Musican’s bed early in the morning and walk barefoot through the streets of Los Angeles. I took long drives so that I could lose my breath crying. I would speed on until I started feeling like jerking my wheel into oncoming traffic. I lost 30 pounds in 6 months from not eating, and throwing up anything that I did eat. I almost lost my long-standing job. I had so much meaningless sex with strangers that I started seeing a therapist. My car got re-possessed.
After the birth of my second child, I struggled to become emotionally attached to him. Of course I loved him, but the moment I birthed him, I felt relief. When they placed him on my chest I just stared at him. Was I supposed to cry? How was I supposed to feel? I thought of the moment I had the abortion, how under anesthesia I dreamed that I was fighting a terrible war, kicking and screaming and struggling. And here in my arms was a child and I found it hard to connect with him immediately.
My husband, who had lost his job because of being intoxicated 4 weeks before my son was born, would often drunkenly tell me as I was coming home from work what a poor mother I was. He knew that I wasn’t, and I knew that I wasn’t. It was him lashing out because of his own shortcomings, stemming from the emotionally abusive issues with his parents, which caused the drinking in the first place. And even though I would tell him to go fuck himself, part of me believed it. Because, while I loved my son, it was very hard to feel for him the way parents always spoke of feeling for their beloved children. I thought that my indifference could be postpartum depression, coupled with combating my husband’s beer-feuled ramblings. But I knew in my heart it had to do with the first child. I had invested my emotions too intensely into punishing myself over that decision that I had none left for the child in my arms.
Later that year I lost my job. I was afraid to attend a holiday party, which my husband was explicitly not invited to. I feared leaving the baby alone with him for that long in the evening, the time of day where he usually started knocking back the beer. I recovered from the loss quickly, and got a job with a friend, doing something that I enjoy, which is not something that I was able to say the entire time I worked at the job that I lost. I felt good about it. Monday-through-Friday. No nights. My son could see that he could follow his dreams, even if it was small steps over long periods of time. Up until that point, we were the parents with potential, who just fucking gave up.
I’m 100% positive that I miscarried my third child because of my unemployed, drunk husband. I sobbed hysterically when I found out that I was pregnant again. I sobbed when I told him. Of course, he was drunk when I told him. When we planned to have our first child, he seemed sober enough. I guess that he was trying hard to impress me, but come 6 months with child, he had slipped into utter stupidity. Now I was going to have another child with him, that he was going to get to raise while I worked, and he didn’t even appreciate the chance enough to stay sober for the experience. I started resenting him for taking away what I always wanted to be–a mother. And then I started resenting myself for taking it away from myself the first time.
Shortly after my miscarriage, I started thinking about leaving my husband. I was starting to regain my confidence and his attempted alcoholic emotional abuse was wearing thin. But it was also around that time that my husband started working again, and sobering up a little more. Several friends, from around the state, offered rooms to myself and my son. I was reluctant to leave my husband because of my child. Would my son be better with a father who was a part-time alcoholic, or without a father at all? The more I thought about what a mess that I was in, what the last 5 years of my life have been, the more I realized that I had to do what was best for my son. Not for me. Not for anyone else.
And at that, I found that very specific love for my boy. Someone, concerned for my sanity, asked me what it would take to leave my husband. This person even hit at that soft spot between my ribs that always aches over the crime of infidelity that I committed against my college sweetheart. What if he came back into your life? Could you leave your husband then? The answer was automatically ‘no’. Without thought. Without question. My son, who is the only survivor of my three children, was my man. No one else in this world deserved my love more than him. No one deserved happiness more than him. And then when he had his fill of my affection, then I deserved to let myself relax and create and grow. I had barely started regaining my self-respect to be comfortable with who I used to be and start bridging that person with who I am now. And I was but a second-consideration when it came to my son. Any other person was a far cry.
This new union with my son helped, for the most part, put to rest my emotional distress from the first and third child. Our relationship has also helped strengthened who I am. Sure, I’ve had a few days here and there where my emotions about the events are compounded for some reason, but I always remind myself that those are things that, which I had control at some point, I have absolutely no control over now. While I don’t feel any connection to my husband, I feel a connection to myself. And more importantly to my son. If I need to leave for my son, I will. For now, I endure for my son and find my happiness in him, among other very healthy and rewarding things like music, art, and friends.”
–Anonymous, age 30.