I was 23 and totally in love with a boy who turned out to be crazy. At the time, I was the kind of person who saw people for their potential instead of who they actually were. I had met him at college. He was a beautiful, unworldly, idealistic young kid who loved to play guitar and slept outdoors most days. When I dropped out of school and went back home, he followed me. I asked him to live with me rather than let him be homeless. We both stayed in my tiny old bedroom in my mom's apartment.
After a while, it seemed like he never stopped talking about how evil the urban world was. He said we should get away and go live in the forest, where the awful things that were going to happen to everyone else when the world ended wouldn't reach us. I begged him not to talk about it. Both his sister and mother were schizophrenic. I knew he was, too, though I hadn't seen it until now. I knew I had to end the relationship. But I knew that if I did, it would mean that he would live on the street. I walked around, going to my job, and saw the homeless people everywhere, yelling to themselves, feet black with filth, sick, cold, hot, hungry, insane, utterly isolated. I knew that my sheltering of him was what stood between him being a person who needed help and a person who was beyond help, one of those people who had been abandoned to the street, who had nothing standing between them and death. Then I found out that for the last eight weeks, I had been pregnant.
I knew right away that I would get an abortion. I realized that I had been waiting for something to force me to do what I had to do: end the relationship. I wept and wept and wept that that thing was a baby. A baby that I couldn't keep. I considered, crazily, for a moment, going off with him and living in the forest, like he wanted. Just me and him and the baby. Maybe things would be alright after all. But I couldn't do that. I couldn't throw my life away. I couldn't throw my baby's life into that hell. And I couldn't give it away. How could I bring a life into the world that I couldn't look after?
I've always been someone who believes in a woman's right to choose. I've also always been a feminist. My mom, who'd had an abortion before she married my dad, stood with me, and so did my brother. Morally, I supported a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy, and I still do. But I still cried. I cried because I had messed up so bad. I cried because I was an idiot, because the choices I hadn't made had influenced my life as surely as those that I had. I felt so guilty. I named my baby Jennifer. I named my baby, and then I killed it. This is the truth of how I felt.
After the abortion, I sold every piece of clothing I owned. I quit smoking. I quit my job. I went back to school. It changed me forever.
It's been five years. It's only in the last year that I've been able to recollect these things without breaking down. I do not regret my decision in the slightest. It's odd, that you can feel this way--so firm in the rightness of what you did--and yet still feel this sadness. I guess it's complicated where those feelings come from. I still know I was right.