it has now been nearly a month since i counseled the woman who said, "just don't let my daughter grow up like me". the statement really wasn't even about the abortion. but then, abortion is mostly not just about abortion, is it? it's really about hopes and dreams, about providing for the kids you already have, it's about the quality of your life.
this particular woman, whom i'll call tanya, immediately started to cry as soon as she entered the counseling room and couldn't seem to stop. finally, she was able to tell me why she was sobbing so uncontrollably. she said that it was just in the last few days that she had come to an astonishing revelation. somehow, she said, in the 15 or so years since she had graduated from high school, she had "lost herself, little by little'. what she then proceded to tell me was that when she was in high school, she was outgoing, optimistic, a cheerleader, and had a fulfiling social life. she had married her high school boyfriend a few years later, and then began to withdraw from her former life. her husband restricted her departures from the house, restricted her phone calls, while at the same time putting her down, stripping away her self confidence, eventually even taking her self respect. and, she told me, it wasn't until she found herself pregnant again that she even realized what had happened.
her decision to terminate the pregnancy was just a part of her decision to begin to take back her own life. she said she was terrified, had not told her husband, and hardly knew what she was going to do next. but, she said, she knew she could not stop now that she had remembered her former self. she said very clearly that she didn't know how she'd do it, but she had to move on. it was at this point she declared "just don't let my daughter grow up like me". she said that even though her daughter was only 4 years old, she could see the daughter beginning to act like her, beginning to sound as though she was losing faith in herself, and it was this that tanya said made her weep so loudly.
i asked her if she thought she might be weeping for herself a little too and she agreed. as we continued talking, of course tanya admitted that she was somewhat afraid of her former self. what if that optimistic, cheerful girl wanted to "take over" her life? so, we came up with a little game should could play. she could invite the "cheerful girl" to visit, but would tell her in advance that she could not stay too long. she could pick the days and times that she felt it would be safe for "cheerful girl" to visit, and of course i encouraged her to consider therapy so that she would have someone who could be a touchstone for her on this new scary, but very very inviting pathway.
this session has stayed with me because i think that there is so much about it that is true for so many women. so many of us lose our voice somewhere along the way to wherever it is we are now. and sometimes it takes a big big life event like pregnancy to shine the light on our lives for us. that's what it was for tanya. let's all wish her good luck on her journey.