“It’s not that I hate her. I just hate the reminder.”
Ben, my therapist, wrinkled his forehead and gave the same look I give myself every morning. He thinks I am a bad mother.
She is seven years old and looks just like him. Long black hair, big blue eyes, a tall and thin model-like body. She is my “souvenir” to the one night I wish I could forget. But she is suppose to be my baby. Her long hair should be tied up into a tight bun, with her waist covered by a pink tutu. She should bow and I should applaud. When she smiles, I should be filled with an overwhelming feeling of this is mine. In reality, it reminds me of the disgusting smile he had plastered on his face when he was done. Something that grew inside of me for nine months, I brought her into this horrid, dark and disgusting world.
“Can you explain?” Ben repeated.
“I… I just thought after all this time I would… feel better, but this dark feeling just wont go away,” I told Ben, “I thought that it would go away.”
He was scribbling in his little yellow journal profusely, just like he’s done every Tuesday for last six months. I want to know what he’s writing.
“Damn it!,” I blurted out, “so many women want kids and would give anything for a kid just like mine. Why can’t I just…”
“Lindsey,” Ben interrupts me, “just relax. You shouldn’t compare your situation. Yes, you’re right, hundreds of women would absolutely love to be so lucky to have a beautiful little girl like Emily. But they would never want it to happen the way Emily came into your life.”
She didn’t ask for this. She didn’t spend her entire time in the womb plotting against me and wishing to look like him. It’s not her fault that I cannot get past this.
“Im sure tons of other people have had kids from… being victims, but those moms don’t have this dark feeling that I do. I don’t even deserve to have her.”
“But you do. And there is a reason for it. You just need to figure it out and be happy with it.” He took a deep breathe and asked, “Why did you decide that abortion wasn’t the option for you?”
“We’ve already talked about this… I don’t understand why you make me do this almost every time!” I snapped back at him.
“You need this. You haven’t worked through this- I can tell by how defensive you get,” he softly said. “You need to understand why you made the decisions you made.”
“Fine. Like I’ve said, like 20 times, I thought it would be different. I mean, I was sixteen when I found out I was pregnant. After everyone found out what happened, I lost more friends than I count. Nobody wanted to be friends with the ‘town slut’. The baby was the only one who wasn’t ashamed of me. It sounds pathetic to say it, but basically, I kept her so I wouldn’t be alone,” I paused to see if Ben wanted me to go on, since he knows how the story ends, but he didn’t budge at all, he only nodded his head for me to continue. “He wouldn’t admit to what happened and nobody believed me. I wasn’t anybody special, but he was, so his word meant more than mine.”
“Have you seen him since the night Emily was conceived?”
“Uhh…” His question caught me off guard, we have never focused on him before. “I didn’t have a choice but to see him. I saw him every Sunday morning and Wednesday night, along with the all the people who thought I was a liar.”
Ben could tell that I was getting flustered and irritated. “Did he ever try anything else or talk to you at all?”
That little lump that grows in my throat every time I talk with Ben was getting bigger – “Yeah, he did,” and bigger. “He said that I wanted it- that I teased him at youth group. He said I wanted him and that’s why I let him drive me home,” I took a deep breath and continued, “He knew nobody would believe me. He even told me so. His exact words were, ‘why would anyone believe the town slut over a man of God?’ This made me hate him even more.”
“Do you need a tissue?” He asked, as he handed me a box of Kleenex. “Ah, sorry, but before I forget, how are you feeling on the Sarafem?”
“Eh, okay I guess. It doesn’t feel like it’s working right now, that’s for sure.” I tell him, hoping he doesn’t want me to keep talking about him. “But, I’m not really having any side effects or anything- but I don’t feel any different on it.”
“Give it time,” he reassured me, “it might take us some time to find the right dosage, and even medication for you.”
“How long until we know if it’s working?” I asked, “I’m not entirely sure how I feel about being on anti-depressants, but if it can help me be better with Emily then,I guess it’s worth a shot.”
“Honestly, it depends. You just need to let me know if the way you’re emotionally feeling worsens or if your body reacts in any way. We’ll just take it day by day.”
“Okay,” I say and wait quietly for Ben to change the subject.
“But anyway, backing it up a bit- why didn’t you have an abortion? I know religion comes into to play a little bit here, but I don’t want you to hide behind that anymore. You can find a deeper, personal reason for this.”
“I don’t know if I can talk about this again…”
“This is where you truly struggle with your self understanding. You always change the subject when we get to this point,” Ben pleaded. “Try to let yourself be at peace with this, Lindsey.”
“Fine, but if I want to change the subject then I can. I mean, this is my session, right?”
“Yes, you’re right,” Ben laughed, “it is your session, but in my office I try to keep my patients on topic and not about puppies and tornados,” He couldn’t help but laugh again, “like our last unprogressive session.”
“Ugh,” I whined, “Fine.”
“So, why didn’t you have an abortion? Try to walk me through what led you to the decision to keep your baby,” he asked again.
“I had thought about abortion, as I’ve said before – and adoption. I just couldn’t go through with abortion. I made three appointments, and canceled all three. I just couldn’t handle all of the ‘what if’s’ I would have.”
“Okay,” I could tell Ben was confused, he tilted his head and squinted his eyes, “so something kept telling you that you needed her. She was there for you and you needed to be there for her. Is that right?”
“Yeah, I guess. I just could never go through with it. I thought if I didn’t have her, I might miss her and that hurt worse than anything else… God, that sounds so stupid,” I said as I starred, hoping to figure out what he was writing.
“No it doesn’t. It’s okay, there is no way you could have known how you would feel once Emily was born.”
“Actually,” I hesitated, but I knew I needed to tell him. I needed to “find peace” with my darkest moment, “when I was about seven months pregnant, she had gotten tangled somehow with her umbilical cord and the doctors were worried she wasn’t going to make it. She had a few hours to untangle herself before they would go in and try to fix it themselves. I had this huge part of me that…” I could just picture my sister’s face. She was mortified when I told her – I will never forget the way her lip quivered and eyes winced in fear. I could almost see the love she had for me being sucked away. I starred at my feet and continued, “that wanted her to stay tangled. I knew then, that I wouldn’t be a normal mother.”
“You say ‘normal,’ but not ‘bad.’ Just because you felt a moment of weakness and reevaluated your pregnancy doesn’t make you a bad mother. It makes you human. Is this when you thought about adoption?”
“Yes. But I didn’t want her to come find me one day and ask why I gave her up. What makes me so horrible is since I was so selfish with the abortions and I kept her, I constantly prayed for something tragic to happen. It never did.” Trying to lighten the mood, I quipped, “I guess God knew how I felt about Him.”
“Ah,” he laughed, “okay, what about now? What about Emily…” the timer interrupted Ben. “Well alright, Lindsey, see you next week.”