I had been dating my boyfriend for about 7 months when I found out I was pregnant with his child. I lost my virginity maybe 5 months prior. I didn’t know anything about birth control or safe sex. My mother had never spoken to me about any of it.
My boyfriend wasn’t exactly the most responsible, so he made the decision to veto the condom. If I had known any better, I might actually have said something. Since I had never been in a situation like this before, I was pretty much clueless.
We had been together for a while now, but things weren’t perfect. He was increasingly depressed and I was starting to almost feel afraid of him. A darkness was emerging in his ice blue eyes that I couldn’t quite recognize. I tried to be as affectionate and devoted to him as I could be, while maintaining my sanity.
I was deeply depressed, myself, but that was pushed to the back burner. His issues were more pressing. He was about to turn 19 and his mother wanted him out of the house. He didn’t have much income from his job at CVS. He didn’t have many friends to crash with, so he became vacantly melancholy, dreading the date of his birth.
I threw myself at him, hoping it might be enough to make him smile for a little while. Much to my disappointment, it was not. He was harboring dark feelings inside of him, the kind that eventually erupt in violent outbreaks. When he got frustrated, he began punching himself in the face. It looked really painful, as if someone else were doing it to him.
Here I was, this tiny innocent girl; and there he was, this massive angry man, pounding his fists into his own skull. He could really hurt himself, so I always tried to intervene.
“Please, don’t hurt yourself!” I would cry.
“Back off, I don’t want to hit you.” He would say; infuriated, but not with me.
“Then stop swinging.” I demanded.
“You just don’t understand what its like to feel so angry at yourself,” he confessed, tears welling behind his eyes.
“You’d be surprised.” I offered, restraining the truth from protruding through my lips. He could never know about the baby; he might actually want to keep it.
My family would have completely disowned me. I could never tell them in the first place, I was already the biggest failure on this side of the Mississippi. If I did something really bad, something like this, I could never go back home. I would be exiled. I would kill myself before I let it happen.
I thought, ‘thats it, I can kill myself.’ It seemed like an easy enough solution. I had been wishing for death all along, but now I had a really good reason. My life would never go back to neutral, it would remain negative for the rest of my time here. I would never know happiness if I lived to birth a child at 16.
I kept it inside. The information, not the baby. I was afraid to tell him what was growing inside of me. I felt disgusting. I was ashamed of myself. I was constantly on edge. I told no one, not even my best friend.
It was especially hard because, at the time, a new movie was coming out. The movie was called Juno and all my friends thought I looked *just* like the main character. Even more, she liked the same music as I did and dressed the same way. Of course, she was a pregnant 16 year old. There was a movie about my life and I didn’t even know it.
One day, while sulking in History class, my teacher told us a few cautionary tales. He was informing us of History classes past. Almost every school year for the last 6 or 7 years, he told us, a girl would become pregnant. He told us how he would always let her sit at his desk, because the metal chairs provided were too small. He said all of this with a clear look on his face. It was as if he was talking directly to me.
After class, I lingered for a minute, hoping he would tell me that he knew; he could just tell. I sat, hesitantly, waiting for some clear indicator that I could trust this man with my secret, but no such sign revealed itself. I kept my secret to myself and walked out of the classroom. That night I called my boyfriend to tell him what was going on.
He was sick to his stomach at the news. He hadn’t really considered what we would do if this were to happen. He broke down. I was just glad that I wasn’t in his physical presence, but on the opposite end of the phone receiver.
Due to my absence, I couldn’t tell you what went down between my boyfriend and his mother that night, but the next day he had something urgent to tell me.
“She’s going to help us,” he told me.
“But, how?” I asked; afraid and confused.
“She’s going to say you’re Aoife (his little sister). She will use Aoife’s insurance information and its going to be quick and easy. You’re too young to go in without a parent, so she will pretend you are her daughter.” He told me, explaining the complex plan as if we were planning to rob a bank.
“Are you sure this will work?” I asked, clearly unconvinced.
“Of course it will.” He smiled so sweet, I hardly recognized him. He kissed my forehead; I smiled with relief.
A few days later, my boyfriend’s mother and I walked into the clinic. We filled out some forms, writing the name of this woman’s daughter in place of my own. I couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking during all of it. I was defiling her little girl’s name. I was feeling extremely uncomfortable; she knew my most shameful secret.
I mostly kept quiet, not wanting to blow my cover. They had to do a quick consultation before administering a pill that would end my troubles. I didn’t think about what the pill was doing to my body. I didn’t acknowledge the side effects. I simply swallowed my pride along with the pharmaceuticals that would end this, once and for all.
I didn’t really feel any different afterwards, just like I had a secret burning in my chest. I was ready to die before this whole situation even emerged. I was really ready to go through with it all when I figured there was no other choice. I had begun accepting my fate and almost looking forward to the relief that was sure to come.
I expected death to be quite blissful; a final resting place. I found the flushing of my insides, though, to be rather volatile.
For seventeen days and nights I curled up in a ball on my bed and cried myself to sleep, hoping the next morning the bleeding would stop. It lasted seventeen days. One day for every year of my life that I had hoped to forget plus one for the decaying embryonic potentiality for life. One for every letter in my name which I had hoped would be printed in the obituaries column by now.
Sorry for dragging this out, but it seemed to be lasting forever in the moment. It was enough to make me totally withdraw from myself. I couldn’t let myself think about what was happening or what any of it meant. I couldn’t feel any of the associated emotions. I was basically a hollow shell.
It was around this time that my boyfriend had crossed over from borderline suicidal to actively attempting to take his own life. Things spiraled downward from there until our falling out on my 17th birthday.
I learned a really hard lesson through all of this, though. It is incredibly important to talk about sex with your kids or siblings. You need to make sure the people you care about are protected and being responsible.
This relationship taught me a lot of other really hard lessons that could have been conveyed through words from my mother or one of my older sisters. I do not resent them for their lack of action or communication, but I strongly suggest you take the time to be sure your young ones are safe.
Just knowing how it works and what you need to do to take care of yourself is enough. If I had known even the basics, I wouldn’t have ended up pregnant and suicidal at 16. Something tells me the suicidal tendencies would’ve been there anyway, but the pregnancy wouldn’t have been.
My mother still doesn’t know about this. No one in my family knows about any of this. I was young and scared. I was convinced I would be outcasted by my family if they knew how awful I really was. I had no idea that they had the power to help me. I was too scared to find out.
Looking back, there are so many people I could have turned to. I’m lucky my boyfriend’s mother was there for me, but that woman hated me. She certainly never looked me in the eye again after that. I think her attitude towards me strongly influenced my feelings about myself.
Had I turned to someone who loved me, they may have had more compassion for me. They just might have felt bad for me. Rather, I faced a woman who never liked me with my darkest secret. I reached out to her for help and she reluctantly guided me through to the other side. I was immensely grateful but completely terrified of what she might say to me.
She never said a thing, much like my own mother. Silence became our mutual understanding of respect on my end and, well, disgust on her’s.
I hope that if, someday, a young girl comes to me for help with something they feel so embarrassed and ashamed about, that I can make them feel better. I hope to remind all young women that there is nothing shameful or embarrassing about what we do. Our bodies are like magic and we need to do what we can to take care of ourselves. I’m not one to say what that is, but I just hope to assure you that its okay, whatever you decide.
Just don’t be ashamed of yourself, ever.