I have asked a few friends who are pretty firm in their beliefs about God, whether they think God punishes us here on earth while we are living or whether He waits until we die and then hands down judgement. My friend Andy believes wholeheartedly that God punishes us here on earth for our sins, by either denying us our prayers, or handing out retribution for acts against Him. I have been struggling with this for years. I have been torn between believing in the all-knowing, forgiving, image of God I was raised to believe, and the fire and brimstone God preached by various religions. As it stands, I don't know what to believe. I struggle daily with my faith and often feel I am being punished, the ultimate punishment being Calvin's death.
It's 1994, February 24th to be exact and I have just walked out of the public health clinic in shock. I'm pregnant. My boyfriend and I have been on-again/off-again for the last four years. We are currently living together but our relationship is volatile, and I have become accustomed to being intimidated and afraid. I know he's not going to take the news well, and this of all days is his birthday. I wonder if he'll react positively, maybe see it as a birthday gift, but nonetheless, I'm scared shitless to tell him. I wait until we're at home and alone that night, after the celebration at his mother's is over. I ask him if he loves me, and when he says yes, I tell him I'm pregnant. Silence. "What are you going to do about it?", he asks me. "I don't know," I answer. He is displeased to say the least. I quietly think to myself that he needs some time to get used to the idea and then he'll soften his stance. The next day he starts asking me again what I plan to do about it and when I waffle he tells me that if I have the baby, he'll leave me and tell everyone that I was cheating on him and that it's not his. "Then you'll be a single mother on welfare and noone will want you, you'll be damaged goods". I'm stunned. "Ok, I'll have an abortion," I said. Of course I still hoped deep down inside that he would think about things and change his mind.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks I find myself becoming attached to the baby growing inside me. I find myself daydreaming about becoming a mother, about my boyfriend and I getting married. He notices. He starts taking every opportunity to make sure I go through with the appointment. He starts dragging me out to bars and insisting I drink, I don't want to, it goes against the built in feelings of protection I have for the baby. He makes me cry in the bar and he insists that I drink the drinks he's placed in front of me. After one drink, I get up and leave. When I get home, I start thinking that maybe I will have the baby, I obviously love it enough to defy my boyfriend's wishes to sit with him and get drunk, maybe I'll just put my foot down and say that this is the way it's going to be. When he gets home that night, he's rip-roaring drunk. I'm already in bed, sleeping. My pregnancy and the morning sickness is exhausting. He grabs me by the foot and pulls me violently out of bed and onto the floor. I'm crying. "Please," I beg, "don't..." We start to argue. He wants an answer, am I going through with it or not...Every time I say "I don't know", the arguement escalates. Pretty soon I'm sobbing as he jabs his finger into my chest, telling me I'm not going to ruin his life. Finally, I agree to go through with it, just so I can get some sleep. During the night, my boyfriend repeatedly woke me up, probably every fifteen minutes or so, deliberately depriving me of sleep, wearing me down. I'm beyond tired. I'm hurting all over, more than anything I'm devastated that this man who claims to love me doesn't want our child.
The clinic is a five hour drive away. We leave at three in the morning to make it to my nine am appointment. We're in the middle of a blizzard half way to the city where a doctor is waiting to give me an abortion. I'm crying, I reach out and touch his arm as he's driving and ask softly, "Please, let's just turn the car around and go home..., please." "No", he says. There's no changing his mind. Silently, I pray on the way to the clinic for him to feel bad and have a change of heart. He doesn't. I lay crying on the table, legs spread as the procedure is completed. I hate myself, and I hate my boyfriend in this moment. I wonder if I'll ever be able to forgive myself for what I have just done....
I haven't. And neither has God, according to the way some people believe. It took me eight pregnancies with nine babies to get my two daughters and my son. Then Calvin died and I wonder if I'm still being punished for not being stronger, for being afraid of my boyfriend and what he would do to me, for being afraid of going it alone. I'm so sorry for what I did, I've never been able to let it go and I don't know if I ever will. I hope that if God is looking down at me with His fire and brimstone and saying "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, blood for blood..." that He realizes that losing Calvin has been the worst thing to ever happen to me, and that I've had enough, I'm completely broken and on the verge of collapse...Please Forgive Me.
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