Falling in real love is nothing like a Hollywood Romantic Comedy. Except this time.
But Beware! This love story comes with a warning label:
Kids, Do Not Try This At Home!
The night before I met Jeff I was awakened by that creepy feeling that someone was watching me. As I lay there holding as still as possible under the blanket, terrified to look up to see who was staring at me, I flashed back on all the other times I had lain in bed before, just like this: Frightened.
There were all the years in my childhood hiding under the covers in the dark hearing my parents screaming obscenities and casting blame at each other for why their lives ended up so miserable.
It is horrible to know that your parents’ misery is due to your very existence.
If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times: If my mother hadn’t tricked my father into not using a condom that night on the top of that bunkbed…Oh, how wonderful his life would have been! A life without me.
Then there were the other years–when my father was overseas—hiding under the covers knowing that every creak in the floor, and crack of the walls, was the sound of 21 robbers standing at the door ready to knock it down and kill us all.
As I lay there in the dark, I wondered: How many nights before this one have I hidden under my blankets—eyes squeezed shut–afraid of what would be staring back at me if I dared peek?
It is said that home is where they have to take you in when no one else will have you.
Finally, that night–the night before I met Jeff–at 23 years old, I had a home.
Turning Point Women’s Recovery Home was the first place I’d ever felt safe in my whole life. Lying there in bed, nestled in amongst the other 19 recovering women, I knew I was home, safe and sound.
Home is where they understand you.
The women at Turning Point understood me. They didn’t judge me. Well, you know. Much.
I didn’t have to explain to them how I ended up there. I didn’t have to explain to them why I didn’t have a family. I didn’t have to explain to them why I’d had the abortion. I didn’t have to explain to them why I’d had to flee for my life from a man I still loved, or why I’d allowed him to beat me in the first place. They all knew why without me ever saying a single word.
And they all listened anyway while I tried to explain—mostly to myself–even though they understood.
Unlike some of you.
Some of you don’t understand. You don’t understand why I made the choices I made, and you most certainly don’t understand why I would come out publicly—some 27 years later–and talk about this shit now. Shit that should obviously be hidden in shame and silence. Shit that nobody else ever need know about. Shit that for sure will not get me advertisers or sponsors.
But I don’t care about that shit. I care about you. And just maybe I’m not alone. Maybe you have some hidden shit that you are shamefully hiding from everyone else hoping that it’ll just go away.
Maybe I can help you let go of your shame and forgive yourself.
First and foremost, let me reassure you: You probably did the best you could. And if your best sucked as bad as my best then at least we can learn from it and do better next time.
It is easy, peasy to judge other women. It’s almost like an Olympic sport we women play.
Because it is easy to say, “Oh, I wouldn’t make that choice.” or “I would leave the first time he hit me.” or “I am pro-life. I know I’d never have an abortion.”
Yes. It is easy to say those words, and even mean them if you’ve never had your words tested against the hard concrete of cold reality.
All I can say is that you don’t know what you would have done if you were in my shoes anymore than I know what I’d do if I were in yours.
Maybe one of the ways we women could begin to call a truce with each other is to start giving each other a fucking break. You know. Like stop condemning the hell out of each other the way we do in our effort to make ourselves feel better about our own lame-ass choices?
Yeah, that. Maybe we could all work on that, huh? I know I’m trying.
And why did I go here? Why do I have to tell you about this stuff? I know you are wondering to yourselves, “Chloe, why can’t you just tell your cute romantic comedy and show us your terrible artwork like you promised?”
Because, I told you, real love isn’t like a romantic comedy. Except when it is. The real life love story of Jeff and Chloe–a tragic comedy of errors–doesn’t make any sense without this part.
I’m going to tell you a truth. A seriously hard truth that I’d be better off leaving out if I were smart. This piece is neither pro-choice nor pro-life…no, that’s a lie. This piece is pro-life; it’s pro-My Life. The life I wouldn’t have lived if I hadn’t had my abortion.
But I want you to know that before my abortion, and my life that followed it, there was a little baby who lived inside me. I think it was a little girl (and someday I’ll tell you why).
Always for me my story includes this little girl who was never born. But she existed, just as truly as you or I exist. She was real, and she seared her footprint onto my broken heart. Every choice I made after she came into my life, and every choice I’ve made since I sent her away, has been affected by her existence.
To leave her out of my story would be to kill her twice.
So, judge me all you want. But I will not hide in shame over this. Neither do I rejoice.
And while I regret so many of the choices that led up to her conception, I regret nothing since she came into my life. Without any doubt, she alone is the biggest blessing of my life.
On the night before I met Jeff, lying there in fear–yet again–I forced myself to open my eyes and peer over my covers. And standing in my window was a possum staring back at me.
I’d been playing possum with a possum.
There’s a moral in that somewhere for anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear.
On the day I met Jeff I was still grieving from the pain that came from all the poor choices that I’d made in my life up until that point. While I was out of the woods, I was far from out of the darkness and the sense that the world was really a dark and scary place.