Category Archives: family

The Parenting Paradox (or The Myth Of Motherhood)

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Parenting, particularly mothering, as anyone who’s lived it or who is living it knows, is perhaps the most difficult job ever in the history of the world. It never ends. There are no days off,  not even sick days…The minute you become a parent your life pretty much ceases to be your own. Suddenly (and yes, it is suddenly because pregnancy does nothing to prepare you for the realities of raising a child) there is this sort-of-person, a small and helpless little creature that is completely dependent upon you for every single thing. It’s daunting, frustrating, exhausting, and, for some, joyous. However, for others the joy is harder to find; for some it never really comes and all they can muster is a sense of contentedness or a quiet resignation to accept responsibility for the choice they have made…

For those mothers out there who fall into the latter, the realization that we are not cut out to be mothers is a hard pill to swallow. It fills us with guilt, leaves us feeling like horrible people, riddles us with regret, and shames us into silence. Because in a society that, despite its many advances, still expects women to aspire to motherhood above all else, that still fights to control women’s bodies and treats sex as if its sole purpose is the propagation of the species, admitting that one does not want children is hard enough, but to admit that one should never have become a mother is even harder. For those of us who harbor these feelings, it is not that we do not love our children, it is not that we would not do everything necessary to raise them to the best of our abilities, it is merely a matter of fact that we are not cut out for motherhood.

As anyone who knows me well knows, I never wanted children. I never wanted to be married. I wanted to go to college, join the Peace Corp, travel the world, and dedicate my life to making the world a better place. I didn’t want to be tied down, trapped in a cage, withering away in the endless, daily drudgery that sucked the lives out of my own parents and murdered their dreams. However, as is often the case with life, shit happened and I found myself, at the age of twenty-one, unexpectedly pregnant. Like most people, I was a different person in many respects then than I am now, in my thirties. Back then my belief system was quite different from what it is today; back then I was relatively religious, I believed that life began at conception and as such abortion should only be sought in the most dire of circumstances, and so I believed that having a child was my only choice. I became a mother not because it was what I wanted but because I believed I had to become one.

And this is where the paradox of parenting, or rather the myth of motherhood begins: I neither fully embraced nor entirely lamented the situation; rather I accepted it with a sort resigned ambivalence. From the moment my child was born I have cared for him, loved him, and sacrificed for him; but not because I feel a deep and all consuming maternal drive to so, rather its because I have to; I owe him the best that I can give him. He didn’t ask to be brought into this crazy, fucked up world; I made that choice. I love him and take care of him because he is a human being, innocent of the complexities of life and as his mother I understand and accept my obligation to him. But often times that is exactly what motherhood feels like to me, an obligation; a sense of duty born not out of an innate maternal instinct, but rather out of a sense of ethical responsibility.

For years I have felt as if something was wrong with me for being unable to embrace motherhood with the same zeal or happiness with which so many other women seem to embrace it. I have felt guilty for not seeing motherhood as my greatest accomplishment or as even being a minor accomplishment because for me its just something I have to do for the sake of this person who I brought into the world. For years I have felt ashamed because motherhood never felt entirely right, because it felt almost foreign. Then I read this article and while I certainly don’t feel vindicated I do feel somewhat relieved to know that I’m not alone, that other women have found themselves trapped in the same parenting paradox in which they at one and the same time love their children but wish that they weren’t parents. Not every woman is meant for motherhood, and for this reason motherhood is a myth; a sacred story of the feminine ideal against which all women are judged but up to which not all women can, or for that matter want, to live.

Although I love him very much, he’s an awesome kid and I couldn’t ask for a better son, if given a chance to make the choice again I don’t know that I would have made the same decision. It’s not that I regret the decision or that I wish he was never born, because that’s not the case, raising my son has taught me things about myself that I may not have otherwise learned; it’s simply that I realize that I would have been just as happy, if not a little happier, had I chosen a different path. This is the real reason that I never had, and why I will never have, another child: because being a mother has taught me that motherhood is not for me. I know now, in ways that one can only ever understand in hindsight, why I never wanted children – I was just never hardwired for it. I’ll never overcome my ambivalency, but perhaps now that I know that I’m not alone I can at least stop feeling guilty and ashamed.

Coming to Terms with Loss: There is Hope in Unbelief

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I wasn’t always an unbeliever, an agnostic with atheistic tendencies if you will. No. Once upon a time I was a doubter, who wanted desperately for God to be real despite the lack of any concrete reason to believe so. I have suffered much and seen much suffering, too much to be able to rationalize the existence of a benevolent and all-powerful deity, much less to rationalize the need to worship one. To those believers out there, please do not take this as either an attack on your personal beliefs (have at them, they’re yours not mine) nor as it an invitation to attempt to lure me back into a flock in which my fleece was always black. I assure you, I have found peace and I have found hope. I no longer wrestle with the question as to why God allows innocent children, women, and men to be murdered, to be raped, to suffer starvation, to struggle in poverty, to be surrounded by war, or to suffer debilitating diseases because I have come to conclude that God is nowhere. We humans are in this on our own. It sounds depressing, but in reality it is not. No, it is actually freeing and full of hope.

I did not come to this conclusion lightly, nor did I reach it suddenly. Rather it was the result of a process, the culmination of years of pain, self-reflection  and scholarly study. I was raised to believe that God exists and that, if we believe enough and pray enough, God will provide. At the same time, I watched my mother drink herself into near oblivion every day of my life for years. I watched her attempt suicide, nearly succeeding twice. I watched her put our family into debt as she drank away the money for the electric bill, the car payment, the rent. Yet, no matter how much I prayed to God for my mother to stop drinking and to just be a mother to my sister and me, God was nowhere.

I watched my Grandpap, whom I loved with all of my heart, suffer a stroke and then slowly fade away. I learned much from him, though not as much as I, in hindsight, would have liked. He taught me, via his own quite actions, to not judge others, to always grant people the benefit of the doubt, and to be open-minded. I never heard him mutter an unkind or disparaging remark about anyone. He always greeted people, friend or stranger, with a wink and smile. When he passed away it was seven years after he had had a stroke; the final years of his life had been spent in a nursing home, unable to communicate clearly, unable to walk freely. Here was a man who never disappointed and never broke a promise, here was a man who was, by all accounts, a good person, trapped in his own body. He never talked about God with me, I am not certain he himself even believed, and when he died, over a decade ago, I myself was still in my doubting phase. With his death, I struggled to find a reason as to why God would allow someone, like my Grandpap, to suffer in his final years as he had, there was not a single answer religion could give me that made an iota of sense. Again, God was nowhere.

Moreover, in late 2012, I watched my father-in-law lose his five-year battle with cancer. I watched a man who loved fishing and hunting, who was always active and full of life, who was a firm believer in God and who prayed and went to church every Sunday, wither and die an agonizing death right before my eyes.  Although I had by this point in my life left behind my doubt and reached the conclusion that there is most likely no God, I still could not help, as it is only natural to do in those moments, but to question how the God in which my father-in-law so deeply believed could allow him to suffer and do nothing to ease his pain. Yet again, God was nowhere.

I was reminded recently of a Robert Green Ingersoll quote, “They who stand with breaking hearts around this little grave, need have no fear. The larger and the nobler faith in all that is, and is to be, tells us that death, even at its worst, is only perfect rest … The dead do not suffer.” It is only the living who suffer and are left to make sense of the loss, to find consolation for our grief, and to seek meaning for both life and death. I understand why some people choose to believe in, or rather hope for, heaven; the promise that someday, if you are a good boy or girl, you will be transported to a perfectly sublime existence where everyone whom you have ever loved and lost will be waiting for you…It’s a tantalizing idea, but that is, in all probability, all it is- an idea.

We cannot know for certain what, if anything, awaits us when we die. Whether or not there is an afterlife at all, whether or not we go to heaven or are reincarnated or cease to exist at all is, in all honesty, irrelevant because either way we only get one shot at this life. We each get only one chance to be this person, living this life. This, right here and right now, is all we get; therefore we must do all we can to be the best possible selves we can be, to treat others with respect, dignity, and compassion because in the end it is most likely that the legacy we leave behind through our actions is the only true afterlife there is.

While I have concluded, after years of study and personal reflection, that there is no great and mighty deity coming to our rescue, I have also concluded that this is ok because we have each other and in that there is hope. There is, most highly probably, no God, but we are here nonetheless and our actions, regardless of belief or lack thereof, determine the quality of life that we and our fellow humans will live. We humans have the power, via our choices, to lift up one another and make life good. We can feed the hungry, end poverty, find cures for diseases, stop violence, prevent rape all by simply learning to value our fellow humans by pure virtue of the fact that we are each a person worthy of respect and compassion. We need neither the promise of heaven nor the threat of hell to do right by each other, we need merely the realization that good action begets good action and will create a legacy of goodness from which current and future generations of humans will benefit.

 

I Need Feminism Because….

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Perhaps you have all seen the pictures floating around, “I need feminism because (fill in blank),” in which men and women alike hold up hand-written signs explaining why feminism is important to them. Or maybe you’ve seen the Facebook page, “Who Needs Feminism?” If not, check it out. This is great campaign designed to inspire open dialog about the need for and importance of feminism. I just discovered it myself a few days ago and I love it. Mostly because it pleases me to see how many people, both male and female,  understand that there is a real and urgent need for feminism; but also because it got me thinking about why I need it.

Honestly, I never really considered myself a feminist until I moved out on my own and had to start making my own way in the world. I was raised, for the most part, by my Dad. In my home, household duties were not relegated to only the women, my Dad did much of it (mostly because my mother was inebriated most of the time, but I digress). He did laundry, and dishes, and ran the vacuum cleaner. He helped with homework, tucked in we girls at night, and played nursemaid when we were ill. He played dolls with us and taught us to throw a football and a baseball. Most importantly, he never raised us to believe that there was anything we could not do. No matter what aspiration for a future career floated into my childish mind, and I had some really off-the-wall ones believe me, my Dad never once said to me, “Girls can’t do that.”

I didn’t grow up believing that being a girl had limits. I could throw a ball as well as most of the boys I knew, and I could out run most of them well into high school (it was my freakishly long legs). I was always at the top of my class; reading, writing, history, science, I excelled or did very well in nearly everything. On the rare occasions someone told me I couldn’t do something, my Dad was there to remind me that the only people who cannot do things are those who never try.

It wasn’t until I began to grow up that I noticed that the world was backward and twisted, and that there were certain things I couldn’t do; not because I lacked the capabilities or the intelligence to do them, but because society had drawn little lines in the sand around things that it did not want women to do. My first lesson in this came in high-school when my then boyfriend thought it would be fun to tell everyone he’d had sex with me. I was barely fourteen, I hadn’t even had my first real kiss yet and now, suddenly, I had supposedly had sex. Luckily I had a strong circle of friends and a Dad who was not above threatening the little prick, so the rumor never had a chance to spread, thus sparing me from the extreme slut-shaming with which so many other girls are forced to contend. That is not to say that I didn’t have to deny his story or defend myself against comments his own friends made, but my reputation was not irrevocably ruined by his lies. I was lucky, but this was my first lesson in the reality of the double-standard with which girls are forced to live; in which a guy is lauded as a stud and a girl is condemned as a slut where sex, real or imagined, is involved.

As I grew into adulthood and became aware of the world around me, as I went to college and learned more about women’s history, I learned newer lessons; lessons that were in many ways harder to bear than my earlier lesson. I became aware of the millions of  women all over the world who are still traded into marriage, most often as young girls, against their will. I learned that adultery is still punishable by maiming or death in many areas of the world and that women are far more likely to be the victims of such cruelty than men. I learned that girls and women all over the world are less likely to be educated, more likely to live in poverty, and more likely to suffer from disease for lack of health care. I learned that women and girls are more likely to be physically, sexually, and emotionally abused, raped, or murdered. I learned that for millions of women all over the world chattelry is the reality in which they live; being a woman in this world is as good being born a goat or cow.

I need feminism because women are not equal, not by a long shot and not even here in my own country. I need feminism because the world I thought I knew as a girl, the world that my Dad tried to build for me where everything and anything was possible, is not real. At the same time, though, I need feminism because I know that that world, the world of my girlhood, the world my Dad so deeply wanted for me, is possible.

When I was in sixth grade I participated in and won 7th place in a state-wide essay contest entitled, “An Influential Woman in My Life.” In the response letter, Governor Anne Richards told me that young ladies like me have the power to change the world. I still believe that. I will never stop believing that. And so, I need feminism…

Redefining Rape and Reinforcing Rape Culture

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Our culture is fucked up. Profoundly and irrevocably so. For reasons I cannot fathom (perhaps my mind isn’t closed enough or my heart not small enough) our culture has an unnerving and a disturbing habit of blaming and shaming victims of violent crimes, particularly of rape. As a woman and a mother this is unsettling to me on so many levels.

We live in culture that teaches our daughters to not get raped rather than our sons to not rape. We live in a culture that teaches women to fear being alone at night, to not wear certain styles of clothing for fear of attracting a rapist, to not drink at a party or flirt with a man because it might invite him to rape us. Never mind the facts. Never mind that nearly half of rape victims are children. Never mind that the majority of rapists are acquainted with the victim. Never mind that majority of rapes occur in or near the victims own home. Fuck all truth and logic because clearly the victim was begging for it….The mind reels.

We live in a culture that, instead of jumping to the defense of rape victims, shames them and degrades them and leaves them feeling abandoned and  doubly violated. The victim is asked all sorts of irrelevant questions: Why were you there? Why were you alone? What were you wearing? Were you drinking? Do you give him any indication that you wanted to have sex? All that these questions succeed in doing is placing the blame on the victim by implying that if the victim hadn’t been there or worn that or gone out unchaperoned or had a few drinks, then nothing untoward would have happened to her. Isn’t it enough that the victim has been violated, most likely by someone who is brandishing some kind of weapon? Hasn’t the victim suffered enough at the hands of the ass-wipe, scumbag, piss-poor excuse for a human being who violated their body? Must we really pile onto their pain with thinly veiled accusations that somehow, on some level, the victim asked for it?

Essentially, we live in a culture that is sending a message to our daughters, and by extension our sons, that by sheer virtue of being born a woman we must accept that someday someone might rape us and that we, as women, must bear the sole responsibility of preventing rape and to do all we can to not provoke it. Because, as this brilliant picture says, we must presume that all men are mindless sex-machines hardwired to bang anything that moves regardless of its willingness to engage.

Instead of treating rape victims like sluts, instead of teaching women to hide themselves under yards of fabric or to never leave the house, instead of presuming that men are incapable of controlling themselves, why not educate people from a young age to respect their bodies and the bodies of others? Why not teach children, in more advanced and detailed language as they age, about the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching? Why not teach, “DO NOT RAPE,” rather than, “DON’T GET RAPED?” Really, this is what we should be doing.

Instead there are people, many of them lawmakers, most of whom are males in the GOP, who want to redefine rape; supposedly in effort of preventing abortion, although I am inclined to think that it is more the result of a sick and twisted need to own and control the bodies of women. Regardless of their reasons for such callousness,  the use of such hurtful terms as “legitimate rape” and the utterance of such heartless statements as telling victims that they should either “relax and enjoy it” or “make the best of a bad situation,” is demented beyond measure.

To insist that there are two types of rape, “legitimate and “illegitimate” (read, “might have deserved it” and “definitely deserved it”), is to feed into the myth that some women ask to be raped. By claiming that, in the event of a so-called legitimate rape, a woman’s body will prevent pregnancy (never mind that this is categorically untrue) suggests that pregnancy is proof that the victim, on some level, actually enjoyed herself. The words and deeds of these “men” will ultimately only serve to perpetuate the lies about rape, to undermine the pain of the victim, and to reinforce our rape culture.

No one, neither male nor female, should stand for this blatant, cruel, and hateful disregard for the bodies and lives of rape victims. The true mark of a civilized society is how it treats the marginalized and abused; therefore, until  our society puts an end to our rape culture and stands against the lies that serve only to revictimize the victims, then we cannot reasonably consider ourselves to be civilized.

Through the Gates of Hell and Back Again

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I grew up in the 1980s and came of age in the 1990’s, in the midst of third-wave of feminism. The generations of women who had come before me had fought, with such bravery and determination, enduring prison and abuse, to win me the right to vote and to have access to family planning service, including access to safe and legal abortions should I need it. I took these things for granted. I mistakenly believed that society, at least the majority thereof, had progressed to such a point on human, civil, and women’s rights (all one in the same in my opinion) that no one would ever dare to drag us back through the gates of hell  and lock us behind them once more.

To my fore-mothers and fathers, who struggled and fought and suffered so that I could have a full say in my own life, I am sorry for my complacency. But I am awake now. I have heard the battle cry of the misogynists, from every corner of this nation, as they fight to rob me of my hard won autonomy.  I was foolish to believe that rights, once won, could not be so easily over-turned. As a student of history, I should know better. I am sorry. It will not happen again.

I admit, that over the course of the past two years, the ferocity and determination at which the GOP and the anti-choicers have come at women’s rights has left me a bit fatigued. It seems as if every time I turn around some half-wit, wanna-be-king of the world is saying something horrible. If it’s not Todd Akin saying that there are two kinds of rape (the “legitimate” kind and “you asked for it” kind) and only one of them can get you pregnant, or VP candidate Raul Ryan claiming that rape is just a “form of conception,” or Tom Smith insisting that getting pregnant from rape is akin to getting pregnant out of wedlock; then it’s the average anti-choicer calling abortion murder (and by extension women who have them and doctors who perform them, murderers) and telling women, as one person said to me just two days ago, “[choice] has nothing to do with what you do with your body. Its what you do to another body simply residing in yours.” To make matters even worse, as if the stupid and sexist things these people say aren’t bad enough, over the course of the past two years, the GOP has introduced 916 anti-choice bills all across the country and the official GOP platform for 2012 states that abortion should be illegal in all cases, including rape and incest.

The level of dipshittery being displayed is so mindbogglingly stupid, so sole-witheringly terrifying, it’s utterly and deeply depressing and tiresome. And I’m tired. I’m tired of arguing with people who refuse to see reason. I’m tired of arguing with people who honestly believe that they have a right to tell women when and how they can and should become mothers. I’m tired of trying to explain to these people that while they’re entitled to their personal opinions within the confines of their personal lives, they do not have the right to force anyone else to live by their personal paradigms. I’m tired of the hateful and cruel and evil (yes, evil) words and actions being hurled at women.

I’m tired. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. But I will not give in. I will not back down, there’s too much at stake. I will stand. I will crawl. I will drag myself across the fires of hell if I must and will not rest until the gates of hell have been broken down. Until the rights my forebearers fought so hard to secure are clad in titanium and set in stone, I will continue to fight back for as long as it takes. The point at which you feel you can fight no longer is the point at which you must fight harder. This is more than fight for rights, it’s a fight for survival.

An open letter to Anti-Choicers

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Dear Anti-choicers (aka pro-lifers),

Stop. Stop it right now. Yeah, you with your holier-than-thou, pseudo-moralistic, self-righteous stare. Knock it off. Stop trying to dictate the actions, choices,  and lifestyles of consenting adults. You there, who decries the alleged evils of big government, stop supporting people who want to control the lives of consenting individuals. You’re speaking from both sides of your mouth and you sound like a hypocritical dipshit. Oh yeah, I said it. Until you have to deal with ass-nuggets, like yourselves, treating your body like public property, you haven’t a clue what “big government” really is or what it really means to have your rights infringed upon.

Too harsh? Too bad. Quite frankly, I have had enough of you and your lies. You claim to want to “save” the unborn. Great. But what about the already born? Where are you for them? Where are you to save the already living, breathing children, huh? Where are you for the nearly 21,000 children, worldwide, who die from poverty each day? Where are you for the 72 million children, all around the world, who do not have access to education? Where were you for the nearly 2 million children who have, in the past decade, died as a result of war; or the millions more who are living in war-torn nations, in fear of death or injury? There is far more to “saving a life” than merely preventing abortion. And until you’re willing to tackle the horrors of this world that rob the already living of their lives, that inhibits them from having a good life, then you’re not pro-life and you need to stop pretending to be.

In truth the majority of you are anti-choice. You have no desire to preserve life, you merely want to control the bodies of women. I tell you now, stop it! You anti-choicers need to get over yourselves and stop trying to dictate the personal lives of other consenting adults. I demand that you get out of my private life, especially my uterus; it’s mine and your personal beliefs are not welcome in it. It is my life and my choice, in the end it is I who will have to live with the consequences of my actions not you, so go away and leave our bodies alone.

To the anti-choicers out there who are men, I have this to say: It is so easy for you, you who has never and will never be faced with the full responsibility of pregnancy, to act as if you have the right answers. You do not, nor will you ever, know what it is truly like to carry a developing life inside of you and to have to face all of the fear, uncertainty, and (for those of us who choose to become mothers) hope that comes with it. You are free to impregnate and leave, but it is the woman who must, by sheer force of biology, carry the full burden of pregnancy with her. I have been asked by some amongst you why it is that being a man keeps you from having a right to decide? Well let me ask you this, why does being a woman force me to not have a choice as to whether or not I become and/or remain pregnant if I do not want to? Does being a born a woman forever preclude any personal autonomy or right to choose my own destiny?

To all of you anti-choicers I say that unless you have to bear the burden, unless you have to endure the pain, you can take your opinion and cram it. Your personal opinion has no place in my private life, or anyone else’s. You are not my father or my mother, you are not my sister or my brother, you are not my friend, nor are you my husband; therefore what you think I should do with my personal life, with my body, is of no consequence to me and I don’t want you telling me, or the women I know and love, what we can and cannot do with our lives and our bodies.

Sincerely,
Karen~ wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and -always- woman.

Confession of an Unaborted Fetus

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What annoys me most about the anti-choice (or as they like to call themselves, “pro-life”) camp, is that in their fight to “save” embryos and fetuses, which they believe are people, from abortion, they assume that the resulting person will embrace life and be grateful for it. This assumption itself also assumes, wrongly so, that every parent will love and nurture their child and that every child will be born into a family that can and will provide for them. Anti-choicers live in a fantasy world of their own imagining; a world in which they ignore the hard truths of the real world, a world filled with poverty, neglect, and abuse.

Truth be told, I would love to live in the world that anti-choicers pretend exists; a world in which every embryo would become a baby who would be welcomed and loved and taken care of. But I do not, instead I live in this world; a world in which millions of children are born into homes that are trapped in poverty or into homes where one or both parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol. In this world, every year millions of children suffer from neglect and/or abuse, be it sexual, emotional, or physical. In this world, every day thousands of children die of diseases from lack of healthcare, from starvation or malnutrition, or from war.

I wonder if anti-choicers have ever once stopped in their self-righteous crusade to consider whether or not these children would have preferred abortion to birth. In all of the rhetoric about the sanctity of life, have they ever once contemplated the quality of the life that unaborted embryos and fetuses might one day live? I don’t think they ever really have. I wonder that if they knew that there were people in this world right now, who, if given a choice, would have preferred abortion to a life of pain and suffering, if they would put as much effort into making the world a better place as they do into filling it with more people?

Surely, at this moment, many of you are thinking that it is highly unlikely, if not wholly impossible, for anyone to think that abortion would have been the better choice for them, and their mothers. But I assure you, there are.  I personally know a few people who feel this way. And I admit that I am among them; something I have voiced to very few people. It is not that I do not love my life, because I do. I have much, especially now, for which to be grateful: a loving and supportive husband, a wonderful and darling child, friends who make me laugh and who are always there for me when I need them, a chance to pursue my dreams of being an Historian, and a roof over my head and food on my table. But I endured *a lot* of pain and suffering to get to where I am today; mostly at the hands of a mother who was not fit to be one. Had she aborted  me I would never have had to watch her self-destruct and drag our family down with her. It took years for me to come to terms with the past; and there are times at which I still struggle to not feel angry and sad because of what my mother put us all through. The repercussions of her terrible choices, of her self-loathing and self-centeredness, have affected not only my life but the lives of my own family as well. For this I cannot even bear to have her in my life because even the mere sight of her makes me want to scream at her, to list every ill that has befallen me and those whom I now love as a result of her actions.

I love my life, especially now that I have a family of my own and am becoming the person I had hoped I could be. But a lot of how I have lived my life up to now, the determination to make something of myself and to never let anything break me, comes in part from a need to prove that I am not nor will I ever be her. I’ve gotten better at living for me and for those whom I love, rather than to spite my pain and its source; but that desire to spite it all is still there, deep down, and I doubt it will ever go away completely. Although, I hope it will because I’d rather live life for love and happiness than to spite the pain and self-doubt my mother caused me to feel.

Do not confuse my stating that I think abortion would have saved me from suffering with an adolescent’s temper-tantrum exclamation of,  “I wish I’d never been born,” or with a depressant’s suicidal tendencies. It is not a wish, it is an expression of understanding that life is about more than quantity, more than mere existence; it is about living a good and happy life. And yes, life is not without it’s hardships, but there is a profound difference between difficulty and suffering. Moreover, believing that abortion would have saved me from suffering is not a confession that I want to die because I don’t want to die. I am here now and I have established relationships with people whom I would never want to make suffer the pain of me ending my own life nor would I want to stop living a life that has, because of the choices I have made throughout it, become better and even mostly happy.  Suicide would end a life already established and would hurt the people whom I have come to know and love; whereas having been aborted would have prevented that life from having ever existed at all. I would not know this life. The people in it would never have known or loved me, nor would I have known or loved them. I would simply have never existed. Period. But, since I am here, I will live life to its fullest and I will love, and learn, and be the best human being I can possibly be.

This confession is not to be misconstrued that I think life is a curse because I do not. Life can be, and for many people *is,* wonderful. However, for many of those of us who walk this earth right now, life is pain; often more pain than wonder. We are starving to death. We are living in nations ravaged by war. We are watching one or both parents fall deeper and deeper into addiction (and more often than not depression and attempts at suicide). We are being or have been sexually abused, physically beaten, or emotionally battered. We have been diagnosed with diseases that will prevent us from ever becoming adults. For many of us life is a constant effort to find the aspects of it that make it worth living. Some of us eventually find those aspects and cling to them like a life preserver; holding on to them with every ounce of our being, often worried that they will slip away and plunge us back into the abyss of pain that we fought so hard to not drown in.

I would like for anti-choicers to consider this when they insist that every life is a gift. I would like for anti-choicers to recognize that life, for many of the embryos and fetuses they hope to “save,” will be filled with unimaginable suffering and pain, and that, if they truly wish to “save” life, they start improving its quality while they concern themselves with its quantity.

If there is a sanctity to life, as so many people claim, shouldn’t it be about ensuring that everyone can live the best one possible? I think so.