It's So Personal: The Guilt
A reader writes:
This is a secret only my wife and best friend know. But there is something therapeutic about reliving this for a complete stranger...
My story begins about 8 years ago when I was 21, just out of an alcohol and drug treatment center and trying to pick up the pieces of my life. Against everything I had been told, I began seeing a sweet, innocent, and naïve woman who had just graduated high school. Being the asshole I was at this point in my life, I selfishly used her for sex. I suspect she felt an emotionally connection, as I led her on, but it was purely physical on my end. I am not proud of this, nor am I excusing it, but I was still very much an addict, even if I wasn't actively using.
Anyways, after only a few months of seeing one another I received a hysterical call. She had taken a home pregnancy test and it was positive. I told her to come over so we could discuss things. I realize now that I took advantage of her sweetness, innocence and naivety to convince her that an abortion was our best option.
Sure, I was just out of rehab, unemployed and uneducated, but these were all temporary. I came from an affluent family who would have helped provide for the child while I got my act together. We could have chosen to bring the child into this world and found more mature and emotionally healthy parents to adopt him or her. Instead, all I could think about was the stress and awkwardness this situation would cause, and I was set on making sure my girlfriend saw it the same way. No yelling, intimidation, or threats were involved, but I was able to convince her.
We scheduled an appointment at Planned Parenthood in hopes of receiving a non-surgical abortion. We were told that by the time they could see us she would probably be too far along for this option, so I called a private clinic. The very next day we were at the clinic, where they ran some tests and gave her a number of pills to take. No counseling, no discussion of options, nothing really.
The next night she came over to my place and took the pills. It was not pretty to watch; she was in pain and it got a bit messy. Only after it was over did the guilt and enormity of the situation sink in. As my girlfriend slept, I laid curled up crying myself to sleep at the thought of what I had just done. I selfishly convinced another person to kill a baby because I was unwilling to accept the consequences of my actions.
Every day I think about that moment and what could have been. While our relationship ended a few months after the abortion, I still occasionally talk to this ex, and we both regret the decisions we made back then. We were unprepared for the guilt and shame that would follow. I can’t help but wonder how things would have changed had I received some form of counseling, some cooling-off period before the abortion - something, anything to try and help me understand what I feel now. I don’t doubt that many places provide these services but I know many don’t.
These feelings have only become worse as my wife and I have been trying for 18 months to get pregnant. We are still trying, and the doctors assure me there is a good chance it will eventually happen. But what if it doesn’t? The actions of a selfish and sick 21-year-old may have prevented me from being the father and man I now want to be.