IWD Open Letter: Abortion on Valentines DayBy Merri Leston
I booked my abortion on Valentines Day. Even at the time I found it ironic.
These words do not come freely as I romantically thought. I thought catharsis was easy. It is not.
But today is International Woman’s Day. 16 days have passed between a day to celebrate women and a day I wanted to be anything other. Today should be dedicated to my potential but I dedicate it to what (or who?) I have lost.
Hope is a liar – one string on the lonely lyre.
I just received my 100th job rejection and I’ve come off a photo shoot where casting couch culture became very real. Apparently my tits are worth more in this world than my First Class Oxford degree. My bankcard was just declined for a coffee so I’m having some tap water. The server is being really nice about it – I pretended my card had been blocked but I think he knows its not.
But today is International Women’s Day. I should be grateful – I have an Oxford degree and a pretty face, what a wife I will one day make. Pretty and clever – a real trophy. My hair is cut short and my voice is deep – maybe I could give Hilary a run for her money, I’d look better in the pantsuit after all.
Who were you? Who were you going to be? Would I have loved you? Would you have loved me?
I don’t like stigma. I don’t like not talking about things that happen, because why pretend that they don’t? I’ve worked as a mental health campaigner for a long time, embarrassing myself and those that love me by imparting tales of medication-induced psychosis (I thought I was dead for a bit, apparently that’s a side effect), weeks spent surviving on diet coke and sweetener packets and my fears of everything and anything.
I am candid, overly so. I did not carry you so I will not carry shame.
Today is International Women’s Day and today I will do my part. I talk about this because I can. This will not be a dirty secret that is the underline to a hard chapter.
This is a thing that happened. This is a thing that happens.
My dad needed to go to the pub beforehand – much too much talk about his daughter’s vagina for his liking.
The waiting room was purgatory, little girls alone – one with a strong Irish accent. I had to pay; when handing over responsibility for medical procedures to charities there are bound to be cock ups, so to speak. I called on Valentines Day but they booked too late. The woman on the phone said it would have been murder. That was unprofessional, Ms. Stopes.
It hurt, of course it hurt. But the real pain is here and now. It is International Women’s Day but it is women who will cast the first stone – call me a murderer. Slut. Careless. Undeserving. A monster.
Which life matters? Was I a host to a life? Or was I a life to a parasite? This is not an anecdote. This is a stream of broken consciousness. Confused conscience.
I will not justify my decision to you; I had to justify it to myself, and that was far harder. Decision is not the right word anyway. It implies certainty – ordained by my supposedly sullied soul. But this decision rots inside, it rots reason where mortality and morality align and divide.
Who were you? I hardly knew you but I felt you every second.
Today is International Women’s Day and my words dry up. I will make pleasantries in the counselor’s chair – I may even pay my dues with tears so he rest assures I am repenting. That part of me died with you.
But I refuse to let this define me. This event will not condemn me. Your death will not haunt me. I have started a conversation where you are a full stop.
Today is International Women’s Day. Today of all days I will smile at the thought of the person I can be and, just for a moment, forget the person that you could have.