The Love Story With a Warning Label

by Chloe Jeffreys · 48 comments

in Family, Marriage, Romance

Falling in real love is nothing like a Hollywood Romantic Comedy. Except this time.

This love story is EXACTLY like a Hollywood Romantic Comedy.

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.

She was.

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.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Connie McLeod December 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Very powerful. You’re very brave for being so honest. I truly admire your openning yourself up.

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Jackie December 3, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Thanks for reminding us that, as women, we should try to support each other. To celebrate the successes of our sisters.; to empathize (or at least) sympathize with their missteps— and to help them to get back up.

I, for one, have been trying hard to stop engaging in the judgmental thing. I have resolved to be mindful of when I do it and of when it’s being done to me. It may be more difficult than giving up drinking!

I loved this post. Thanks for sharing!
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grownandflown August 23, 2012 at 8:17 am

“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?”

Chloe, when we met at BlogHer I hoped we would become friends through this world of blogging. Your honesty and bravery are inspiring and the quote above is something Im going to remember.

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Amber August 22, 2012 at 6:24 am

This is so beautiful and strong and true. That girl of yours who never was, she did what she was supposed to do. She made you you. No one has a right to condemn you for it.

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Jack@TheJackB August 21, 2012 at 12:22 am

Keep bleeding at the typewriter. This is solid and you have my attention as you have so many others.

This is a story.

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Chloe August 21, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Oh gawd. It’s really hard. Suddenly Todd Akin is all big news about rape victims and abortion and I feel both spurred on and afraid at the same time.

Writing about these things seems risky on the one hand, but totally right on the other.

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Pam August 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Playing possum with a possum—LOL! Hilarious! Oh yes, do I ever have a ton of that shame crap- it haunts me some days, other days- not so much. But judging? Nope. You won’t get that from me. We all make our own choices and we have to live with them as best we can. I am in admiration of you for putting yourself out there. I doubt I ever will. So glad you came by my blog today and left a comment- because now I’ve found a blog that may very well be one of my most favorites.
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Chloe August 21, 2012 at 10:18 pm

I really don’t think anyone should put this stuff out there unless they have a clear sense of purpose. I’ve wrestled with this for a long, long time and written about it before for a much smaller audience. I wouldn’t talk about it if I didn’t think it was very important. I’ve worked as a labor and delivery nurse long enough to know that many women are in desperate situations and unless we offer tangible assistance then we best keep our mouths shut and our judgments to ourselves.

Thanks for coming by. Sorry about all my lame multiple quotes on your blog.

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Tricia O. August 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm

This is why I like you. Because you aren’t afraid to be yourself. And all of ourselves are big old messes. People who pretend to be perfect…well, they are scared of me. Because I’m so obviously imperfect they know I will rub off on them.

I find great glee in that knowledge.

xoxo
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Chloe August 21, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Hey Tricia!! So nice to see you here. It was great meeting you in NYC. I hope that happens again.

Thanks for the props. It is hard being authentic when you know that your authentic self is so deeply flawed and human.

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Aimee August 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm

It would be very clear if you were writing posts in order to please advertisers or sponsors, and I, for one, would not bother reading your craft if that was the case. Thank God for your honesty in a saccharine-coated world.
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Chloe August 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm

I’d rather die than have a blog filled with product reviews. Not that there is anything wrong with product reviews. But that just isn’t my purpose.

(Except for Botox Cosmetics. I’m still waiting for their call that I know is going to come any day now.)

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Chris August 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Cut each other slack and forgiveness to ourselves and others. My key takeaways. And, once again, opening a vein to get that open, painful, honest, truthful story out for us when you sit down to write – thank you.

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Chloe August 21, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I already know that you are the sort of woman who does that naturally, Chris. It was so good getting to meet you.

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Kelly aka MamaJo August 20, 2012 at 8:31 am

Playing possum with a possum speaks to me on a very deep level while making me LOL. Must ponder.

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Suzanne August 20, 2012 at 7:49 am

Chloe – you are very brave. I’ve thought about sharing some of my secrets to the Internet, and have decided to let those stay hidden…for now (and being slutty in my early 20′s is the least of it!) But that was the 80′s so not terribly surprising right?
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Chloe August 20, 2012 at 8:24 am

The 80s were a wild time. Kids today have no idea if they think they are the ones who invented wild.

I think sharing deep personal stuff on one’s blog is a deeply personal decision, and one really needs to be clear about the purpose first. I am clear about my purpose.

I have shared about my abortion before, elsewhere, when I thought it would serve a good purpose. But one of the main reasons I own this blog is so that I can tell my story the way I want to. I’ve told much of this story before on forums that I didn’t own and didn’t control. I’ve poured my heart out and had my words erased because they didn’t fit someone else’s bottom line.

That can’t happen here. I am the Queen of my own Blog.

My sharing this doesn’t mean I think others should (or shouldn’t) In fact, I think you have to seriously ponder your reasons for sharing something like this. Statistically, it would appear that 40% of American woman have had abortions, so it isn’t exactly like I’m sharing something that only I’ve done!

I’m not sure I want to open up a public dialogue about abortion, but I truly want to open up women’s hearts to forgiveness. Forgiveness for themselves and forgiveness for others who make choices we don’t understand.

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Marie August 20, 2012 at 6:52 am

Absolutely no judgement here! Can’t wait for the next part of this story. If there’s a single person around that hasn’t made a choice they spend the rest of their life regretting, i’d sure like to meet them and find out how they tick! lol. You’ve come a long way from where you were then, that shows your true strength.
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Laura B. August 20, 2012 at 6:38 am

Incredible. Chloe, as you slowly peel back the curtains of your life. Being vulnerable IS THE hardest thing one can ever do!
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Dawn August 20, 2012 at 5:25 am

I believe there is healing in sharing our stories, healing for us and for those we share it with. We need to understand that we are not alone in our brokeness and that there is healing when we open up. Thank you for sharing.
I recently shared my testimony to a group of ladies-knowing you are an unwanted child is a hard burden to carry, knowing your heavenly Father loves you more than you even realize eases that burden tremendously. I pray you completely understand how powerful His love it, not just in your head, but in your heart and innermost being. Psalm 139 my all time favorite when I am feeling unlovable :-) Years of reading this to heal my heart.

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Helene August 20, 2012 at 3:46 am

Chloe, you write so beautifully and honestly. It is sad to read of so much heartbreak in your life, but you have emerged intact and even stronger as a result. No judgment, just support and virtual hugs.
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Sally August 19, 2012 at 8:27 pm

You know, you said that you have spent a lot of time pondering the question of whether or not you should write about some very personal life experiences. I appreciate that you don’t want to exploit either yourself or any of those that you love in order to gain readers or advertisers or awards or whatever. My hunch is that the act of your thinking it through (praying?) and asking your family and friends their opinions has led you to this place where you are willing to sacrifice some of your own privacy in order to give a healing gift to yourself as well as to other women. That has the fragrance of grace.

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Angela Parson Myers August 19, 2012 at 8:13 pm

No judgement here. I was very touched by your story, and I’m sorry you were faced with having to make that kind of decision. Writing about my pain has always helped me think it through and come to terms with it, though I’ve never faced anything as bad as the things you have. I hope it works as well for you. Eager to read the rest of your story.

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JennG August 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I’ll have to be the first to say…I’m a little ticked (no pun intended). I am staunchly anticliffhanger. :(

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Chloe August 20, 2012 at 7:39 am

Sorry to disappoint. I guess that’s why they call it a “blog’ and not a “novel”.

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Jo Heroux August 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm

How loving to share this heartbreak and the lessons you carry today. You never know who will read this and let go of their own guilt or shame. It is useless to carry it. It does nothing positive for you and the lessons changed who you are so, good for you for throwing it out there and clearing your hands of it. It is past and done and you will never be judged by this girl. Ever.
I have made my own share of bad choices and paid the consequences for those.

Excellent write and I’m bettin’ there might even be an advertiser looking at this and going, “Oh, yeah, we need that girl. She tells the truth and she perseveres. She’s our girl!”

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Kristi August 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Zero condemnation from this corner of the universe. For well over 2 years after our son was born I was terrified of going through another pregnancy from hell like his was and realized how hard it would be NOT to have an abortion if it happened. And I was in my 30′s! Never again would I entertain even thoughts of judgement towards a woman who made that desperate choice. My heart aches as you tell the story but am so thankful that you do… more need to hear this and others like it.

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Major Bedhead August 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm

You, woman, are one hell of a writer. This was excellent.

This: “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.” So much, this.
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By Word of Mouth Musings August 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm

You know I love you … your words, your heart.
And the bits of you, that speak to the bits of me …
because they know, they see …

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SewWhat? August 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I don’t know how many time I keep asking my kids ‘what do you think you’d do?’, hear their answer, then tell them they don’t really know what they’d do until they’re actually faced with that particular situation. You’re completely right of course, we don’t know what we’d'a done if we were in your shoes.

:hugs:

SewWhat?

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Annie M August 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Well, if I had anything to advertise, or wanted to sponsor a worthy wordsmith, I’d advertise and sponsor you BECAUSE of this post!

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Julia August 19, 2012 at 6:21 pm

You know that you will not receive condemnation from me. I am so proud of you for being strong enough and brave enough (and a little bit crazy enough) to talk about the hard stuff….the stuff that people want to gloss over and pretend doesn’t exist. By sharing that stuff you are helping so many others.

I’m proud of you.

And playing possum with a possum? That’s rich….

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Peg August 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Oh honey! Once again you are speaking into my life. Thank you for the transparency and saying things I need to hear. And here you thought you were just telling your story…Love you babe!

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Brenda August 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I’m touched by the footprint of your daughter in your heart.

Almost completely unrelated, my mom was pregnant without knowing and the baby died before 10 weeks. I always called him Brian Matthew to myself, the name I would have been called called if I were a boy.

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Andrea Butler Tian August 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm

“It is easy, peasy to judge other women.”

Amen. I still struggle with deep female friendships for this reason, fear of being judged.

THANK YOU for putting it all out there, Chloe. Thank you for being real, even if it won’t get you advertisers or sponsors.

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Andrea August 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Holy powerful writing woman. Seriously.

No judgment here, I just want to say I had no clue that you have experienced all of this and I am so glad you are powerful and strong and able to share to support others. Sending you much love and a touch of applause for your ability to open up this way.
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Marla August 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm

We all hide something, but most aren’t wise enough to know that in sharing we not only free ourselves, but those like us. Hugs

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Susan in the Boonies August 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Thank you for loving others enough to share your self, and your story. In the end, it’s all we’ve got.

And heavens, no condemnation. If my Lord doesn’t condemn me, how could I condemn you?
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Anne @notasupermom August 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Hey, possums are hella scary.
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Amy August 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Brava. Living fast and hard as a young woman trying to find what was missing- I was the one who didn’t have the abortion, yet wondered how my life would have been if I had….

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Liza Lee August 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Oh, Honey. No condemnation. At all. All I feel is sadness for the poor young woman who was doing the best she could with the tools she had.

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Robin August 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm

“… 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?”

AMEN!!
You already know you get no judgement from me.
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Natalie August 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Another cliffhanger! :)

Thanks for writing, Chloe. I’m always anxious to see what you have to say.

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