This story is titled “I Had Four Abortions Before I Turned 21” and appears in Love Matters.
I had four abortions before I turned 21.
As a teenager, I was very fond of reading pregnancy books. One day, after reading one such book late into the night, I woke up to find my fingers moving tenderly over my belly wondering how and when will I have a baby of my own. Yes, that was the 13-year-old me, who wanted to grow to experience the beautiful storm pregnancy is.
Who would have known that six years down the line I'd be ‘grown-up' enough to have this ‘dream’ come true, but that it would turn into a nightmare?
I was just 14 when I started dating Rahul. He and I started off, just like any other couple, and soon got close physically. And just like other couples, we also had our ups and downs. But my relation with Rahul was not one of equals. Rahul was eight years older and the age difference between us was a source of power for him. He began to exert it and strongly.
On our good days, I was treated with a little compassion but disrespect was always an undertone. There were days when I would be living through panic attacks, chronic chest pain and severe anxiety because of his behaviour.
We were just stepping into the fifth year of our relationship when I found out that I was pregnant. I was just 19. A sense of shock, disbelief and confusion engulfed me. My dream of pregnancy had come true but it was nowhere rosy as I had it imagined it to be. Given the realities of our relationship and circumstances, abortion was the only choice.
Before my body could recover from my first teenage abortion, I became pregnant once again - second time in just four months. It wasn't that we hadn't used protection before or it was my first intercourse, I had just stopped caring about myself in the overall environment of our abusive relationship.
It was almost eight weeks before I even took the decision to abort.
I showed up at the gynecologist's clinic under a pretend name and age. However, I did accept being unmarried. I was told by the doctors that there will be complications in my abortion. I underwent a surgical abortion and this time came back numb, mind and body.
I was treated so poorly in my relationship that eventually I learned to treat myself just as disrespectfully, too. I had stopped caring about my body and in no time got pregnant for the third time in a short span.
I was quite aware of the fact that whatever I was doing with my body was not right.
Why did I do nothing to end this trauma? Frankly, I began to get high on the idea that I could survive such heartbreaking situations and to say the least, difficult experiences. I believe, subconsciously, I chose it. I chose to be uncaring and disrespectful towards myself.
My way of living and being had essentially become self-destructive. Abuse can make a different person out of you. A person that even you yourself fail to recognise.
After undergoing three abortions in a very short span, my relation with Rahul was spiraling downhill. But it was not before my fourth abortion that I fought myself out of my abusive relationship.
An uncanny sadness and restlessness engulfed me during this particular abortion. I questioned myself and my actions. The truth was, I wasn't ready to accept that I was someone who could choose abortion. With or without a husband. Let alone fourth time even before turning 21. But question I did and began the process to break free from the cycle of abuse.
There are probably millions of people right now hoping, wishing, praying and dreaming of getting pregnant, but it is never anyone's hope, wish, prayer or dream to have an abortion someday. Until you're there in that situation wanting or in need of an abortion.
Abortion is a choice that is completely stigmatised and floats on an ocean of shame. But I do not regret any of the abortions I had. Had I not had the power to choose abortion, I would not have been the person I am today -- the person who walked away from a six-year-long emotionally and mentally abusive relationship.
The person who finally brought an end to the self-destructive behaviour pattern she had developed over those years. The person who respects her body and fills it with gratitude for everything that it has gone through and yet, did not give up on her.
The person who has grown into a more responsible human being and believes that she can choose to be a mother when the time is right, with or without a husband.