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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Reproducing Oneself

Something I've often been asked, is about my 'choice' to not have children. In my Eight post, I mentioned that my only regret in life was not having had children, or even a child. And while I wouldn't change anything in my life, for to do so would take me to a place I'm not at now, there is still a tiny pang of guilt within me.

This is going to be a painful post, but one so much a part of me, that to not write about it would be to almost misrepresent myself.

It's not that I haven't been pregnant, I have been. Twice. The first time I was in my early thirties and it was totally unplanned. Not only unplanned, but forced upon me. Not in some ugly violent attack, it wasn't as 'horrible' as that. But in its own way it was a violent abuse of power over me, by someone I trusted. Not quite date rape, but work colleague rape. To explain, I have to go back a little bit.

As I've written about before, I've had some bad experiences in life. Too early in life. Trusts were broken and I was abused. Those experiences damaged my understanding of intimacy for too long. I was unable to be touched without thinking back to the darkness of my childhood when my brother and his friend were too interested in my prepubescent body. I blocked out so many things just to survive. I tried in childlike ways to explain, to those around me, what was happening to me, but seemingly no one could interpret my tears, my tantrums, my fits.

And the blocking-out continued for so long, for so many years. After freaking out the first time I was touched 'there' in my adult years, I relearned to block it out, to just let it be done to me. I didn't know how to stop it from happening, how to remove myself from a situation that I didn't want to be in. I didn't know how to stop someone touching me, whom I didn't want to touch me. So I found a coping mechanism by transporting myself mentally from the situation. I did that way past my childhood. And that's how someone I worked with managed to impregnate me.

He came to my room one evening during a conference, on the pretext that he wanted to go over his presentation and get me to make some last-minute changes to the handouts. I tried to make him stop by using the word 'no', but he wouldn't. My mind went onto auto-pilot and my childhood coping mechanism kicked in. I was there physically, but I felt myself emotionally, mentally, spiritually, disappearing from that room, from what was happening to me. All I remember, even to this day, is lying on the bed in the hotel room, silently staring at the ceiling, blocking out all physical sensations, with my arms held as tightly as I could across my chest, believing that would stop him from touching my soul.

How ironic that such an experience would leave me pregnant. And this was three months before I was to be married. To a man who hardly touched me and chose to never consummate our relationship either before or after the marriage (but that's another story for another day). In the dark recesses of my mind, perhaps that's why I chose him and he chose me. But what I knew was that the marriage wouldn't go forward with me being pregnant and so, after an agonising six weeks, I had a termination. Alone, with no one there by my side, in fact no one even knew about it for many, many years afterwards. I really just didn't feel I had any choice and I didn't know any other way out. I thought I could make my marriage work, even though we clearly both had issues in the physical side of our relationship.

A few years later, after my divorce and thinking I was in a relationship that was finally going to work out for me, having given a man unlimited access to my heart and body at last, I got pregnant. Something we'd discussed and both wanted. I was totally overjoyed. Until several weeks later, he left me and went back to his ex-wife, simply because she asked him to. And my world caved in around me. I thought long and hard about being a single parent and decided I would go ahead. Unfortunately, Andy's ex-wife decided that my having a child would pose too much of a threat to her hold on him and she spent the next two months abusing me with phone calls day and night. I'm ashamed to say I didn't change my home number (she was calling at work too, and anyway I couldn't change that one) because I didn't want to remove any avenue for Andy to call and tell me he was coming back. That's how desperate I was for him to be in my life, even after he'd done all these awful things to me.

Well, it got worse and worse and I was stressing about it all. Hearing her words, replaying conversations over in my mind. Remembering things he'd said to me while she coaxed him on in the background. Recalling him saying to me once during a rare conversation when she wasn't there, that if I could let him say these things to me, let her hear him say them, it would make her feel better. My blood pressure was through the roof. It was too much for my system and I let the child growing within me, down. I didn't keep her safe, I didn't make sure she was in a place she could thrive. At almost four months, after one particularly evil phone call, I lost her. And with her I lost any chance of having a child. I didn't know it then, but I would never again become pregnant.

Relationship issues got in the way. Even though Andy came back almost a year later, he was drowning in the bottle by then and showed little interest in me physically. Partly it was me, as every time he initiated anything, after the lights had been turned off at his request, his ex-wife's words rang in my ears 'Andy says going to bed with you was like going to bed with a pig'. And he was there when she said that. He let her say that to me. He never loved me, he used me. And I was just as bad, because I let him use me. Never again will any man do that to me. I have since taken back my life. It's mine.

So, today, here I am at 48 with excellent ovaries and still ovulating, but with absolutely no desire to have a child so late in life. Do I sometimes let myself dream of it? Yes. Do I know it will never be? Yes. I have hopes for my future, to be with a man who already has children and I would never want them to feel threatened by another family. I want them to know that he will be their father, and only their father, always. They deserve that from him.

When I see babies or young children, I do still feel a tightness in my throat. And for the longest time after I lost my baby, I couldn't bear to be near a baby or touch a baby. I just couldn't. I'm getting much, much better. I can now see the joy in a child, I can now witness a woman's pride and happiness in being a mother, without tearing up. I do sometimes wonder if I was being punished that second time around. Probably most women in the same position do.

I'm where I am, today. And I'm happy being here. This is where I'm meant to be. For me and for the man I want to grow old with. Had any little aspect of my life been different, chances are I'd not have met the man I'm in love with. And that, for me, is unimaginable. I want him and I need him. He brings out the best in me. I celebrate his fatherhood and I adore the fact he is such a wonderful father. I will always support that. And I will always cherish him with every fibre of my being.

A sad path at times, but I'm where I need to be, today. And I have learned so much along the way. About myself, most of all.


Jac said...

And some day, I feel sure, a child or children will come into your life, and you will bring all your wisdom, gentleness and soothing self to him/her/them and help him/her/them become better people. That's parenting whether we gave birth or not.

Princess of the Universe said...

Once again you've demonstrated how strong and brave you are. Not many people could recover from what you've gone through with such grace and dignity.
I'm so glad that you've managed to find happiness!

Fusion said...

Dear Fiona,
What princess said is perfect. You are a wonder, truely you are.

As I read about how you blocked things out physically because of what you went through as a child,
it sounded so familar to me and how my wife behaved years ago. I has made me think more about that.

And I'm glad you found a way out of it as well. How did you take back your life?

Thanks for sharing some more of your life with us! Hugs!

Fiona said...

Jac - thank you, that's a perspective I haven't given much thought to, but I do like it very much :)

Princess - you do what you have to do and you survive the best you can. Otherwise, well we all know what the alternative is. Thank you for your kind words and I'm glad too, that I've found the happiness I've always wanted, with such a wonderful man :)

Fusion - it is a feeling that can only barely be described, most of it is only felt. I can empathise with what your wife went through, and you went through, by her side. I took my life back when I hit rock bottom and knew that the only place down there, is the gutter. And something so deep inside me told me that I didn't have to stay there. That plus the help of my lifelong best friend, my chosen sister, who dragged me back to Hong Kong, where my life began again. And where, seven years ago, I started to live for me, for the first time in my life :)

I wish your wife had found her peace during her lifetime, but not everyone does. I'm one of the lucky ones. Thank you for your kindess :)

anna said...

I don't really have words right now. I just want you to know that your post touched me.

kimba said...

Fi.. thankyou so much for your post.. In some strange way I feel at times that blogmates are surrogate family.. that we all fill a place in the community.. you have a lot of wisdom.. you are an excellent mentor (except for when your wildly romantic streak gets the better of you.. !)

This story resonated very strongly with me and I am sure with many others that will read it.
I'm happy you are in 'my online family' xx

Miranda said...

(((Big hugs))) I too have no words, just know that we're here for you always.

Trueself said...

Fiona - Your words touch me so deeply. Although I could never even get pregnant, it is something for which I longed. I longed for it for years and years. Eventually I adopted and even now I sometimes feel out of place because I'm the "old mom" amongst N's playmates. Many of my peers are starting to have grandchildren, and I have an 8-yr-old. I wouldn't trade him for the world though. He is the light of my life. Sorry, didn't mean to make this all about me, but I did. Just know that I understand those feelings you have. You are very strong, and I admire your strength. Hang in there.

freebird said...

Remarkable post, remarkable woman, Fiona. Very painful, very moving, but you seem so at one with the world now!
I've always been immune to babies - or is it a self-imposed immunity? Maybe I'm too scared to explore that one - I don't need any more rawness just now!

LePhare said...

I've never been a 'child' person. It's not for everyone. Not that I have any regrets about having our daughter, but if there had been a situation where we could not have had children, neither of us would have felt it was a 'right' taken from us.

Another very good post Fi.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Fiona. So many parallels in our lives. One of the many reasons I find myself relating so well to you.

Thank you for sharing this.

Fiona said...

Anna - sometimes words aren't possible, your being here is all that matters :)

Kimba - *L* what's wrong with my wild romantic streak ;) I'm happy you're a part of my online clan too :)

Miranda - big hugs back atcha. Thank you :)

Trueself - back at 40, I might have been tempted, but at nearing 49, no. Life becomes what it was always meant to be, sometimes we don't see that for a while and then it dawns on us....aaaaah that's why. Thank you for your words :)

Freebird - thank you for dropping by when I know so much is going on for you. Some of us want them, some of us don't, some of us might and are still thinking about it. Regardless, we are good people. Be strong :)

Ian - Thank you. I don't feel anything has been 'taken', more a small regret that things didn't work out differently, as I'd wanted children since my 30's. But, I truly am happy where I am today. I'm a good person and I'm loved. It doesn't get much better than that :)

Oblivion - I know, it's comforting to know that someone has lived a similar life and in doing so, can truly understand what often can't be expressed, but is there between the lines. Hugs :)

Sunny Delight said...

My darling friend, there is so much I want to say, I am so proud of who you are......even if I have only known you since you found your way back...I am very grateful to your sister/friend....very grateful to her for being there for you!
You have such inner strength, such love inside you, such love to share....all of us whose lives you have touched are the better for it!

Your story is one many of us share, so many similarities, and in the telling, you do something that can help others who have lived it, or perhaps even a young girl that is living it....simply put....I love you darling woman.....

George said...

I am so very sad for what you have had to endure and if it were not for your strength and courage you would not be in that beautiful spot you currently call home. The think I find amazing with you Fiona is that in all your posts you do not trash or belittle the person who was wrong to you.
You have a lot of grace young lady and I am pround to think of you as friend.

Bless you.

Laurie Anne said...

Fiona, your post was vulnerable and raw and courageous. I don't have the courage to be that "real" in my own blog. I admire you and your coming from out of your struggles strong and whole. I'm speechless....

Jamie/foundme said...

It's over-rated. Having kids. Being single...

It's so hard. And you lose so much. You gain so little, and are not respected for it, even by those who say otherwise. You will always be less in the eyes of the lucky/wealthy married parents.

I once was a person who swore not to EVER have kids, and ended up having two out of wedlock. Out of even their preference. They both requested I have an abortion.

And the first person who knocked me up that was pro-life was named Andy. And believe me, it was a shock when he didn't care I was having an abortion.

Maybe your love wasn't meant for being a single mother, struggling to survive, and struggling to maintain your dignity.

Maybe you were meant to love the man your with now, and spend all that stored up love on him.

Maybe, just maybe, you've given more to other's than you know by your kind comments when other's were dealing with difficult situations of their own.


And the words about sexual abuse... Do we ever learn to move past that? I sure hope so...

Fiona said...

Sunny - if I could help even one person by sharing, I would feel a sense of relief. This awful thing we too often keep hidden, thrives from being kept as a deep dark dirty secret. It draws power from it. When we can speak of it, we break its back, we remove its ability to keep growing. Thank you for your amazing words. Hugs and I love you too.

George - I am who I am because of what I've lived through and I wouldn't have it any other way. My strength and courage is inherited from my father, one of his gifts to me. I believe that everyone has their demons but I refuse to be anyone's victim. I did chuckle to myself when I read that you called me "young lady". :)

Laurie Ann - I must admit I did hesitate about writing this one. I wasn't sure if it was 'too much'. But it's real, it's me, it's my life. I don't want to hide anything :)

Jamie - I think you're absolutely right that my destiny is to give my love to those who are not my children. And that's what I feel when I say I'm where I'm meant to be. I truly do believe that.

Do we ever move past sexual abuse? I don't know if we do. But I do know that we can put it in a place where it doesn't hurt us any longer, where we don't blame ourselves and where we use it to grow rather than to wither.

sophie n said...


i would have been there to hold your hand...




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