Why I… Was in a relationship with a man who was 18 years older than me, had an abortion, and forgave a man that was physically abusive.
I figured that it would be easier to combine these 3 scenarios all into one post seeing as they are all connected in a way. And they are all important events of my life- part of my story.
I joined the Army when I was a senior in high school. And while I was only 17 and my parents had to sign forms also in order for me to join, I felt like I was such an adult. After I attended basic training and AIT and came back to get situated with unit, I met someone. A man. I was now 18 years old and let’s fast forward a few months. This man wasn’t some rich older man. He was real, average, and gave ,e the attention that I thought I needed. As a young adult who had never really had a real relationship, aside from one in AIT, that ended all too soon, I think somewhere in my subconscious I felt that at my age I should have more experience and should be in a relationship. So I pushed for this one. Being in the military – when in your unit, it didn’t really matter our ages. We were all different ranks but we were a team nonetheless. We were given tasks and we worked together to tackle them. So this 36-year-old man who was showing me attention didn’t feel like I was doing something wrong… Especially since it started out as a friendship. We never really disclosed our ages. I mean, I knew that he was aware that I was young and fresh out of high school and at 18, everyone older than me was old anyway. He was experienced in the military and sort of knew the ins and outs and ways to get away with things and that worked to my benefit. It all sort of started out innocent. Group get togethers with a bunch of us and then it slowly worked its way into one on one time, When I moved out to UCONN for school, he was the one who helped drive me around to get last-minute stuff or let me use his car to run errands. I slowly allowed him to consume my life. He was older, had a car, 2 jobs, his own place and he “liked” me. The whole “relationship was all nice and simple for such a short time. Pretty much everyone around mew armed me and told what a bad idea it was to be involved with him in the way that I was. But I was stubborn, hard headed, and immature so I paid them no mind. I lost my virginity to him (insert abortion story- I’ll get to that in a moment) and then the downward spiral began. I began even more attached, unhealthily dependent and needy towards him. His past was consistently inserted itself into my life and causing drama in ways you could never imagine. I became fed up… I would get the sense to leave, and then he would reel me back in with tears and false promises. Typical young girl falling for it all.
Shortly after I lost my virginity, the abuse crept its way in. Everything from this moment on was fast, like awhirlwind- so much happenign in such a shirt amount of time. In the moment it felt like an eternity- like an nevr ending nightmare. It began with typical fights that would end with slight pushing and angry words. And then it increased to full-out hitting, hair pulling, scratching- things you couldn’t even imagine and things I would never wish in my worst enemy( one time so bad involving a wire hanger resulting in an emergency trip to the gynecologist at the college health center) It became a more frequent activity and more out in the open. Even happened once in a tent while on Annual Training in Ft. Polk, Louisiana, while people were right outside the tent. I kept most of it to myself. I think mainly because I knew it was wrong and I knew I deserved better and more. But I never left. Why? I wish I had an answer for you but honestly, I have no idea. There were threats from exes, cheating, drugs, the abuse. None of it was enough for me to just get up and leave. There was something about being with this man who was like an addiction to me and I just couldn’t shake it. Even on the worst days, I craved him, longed for his presence, just needed him.
I mentioned losing my virginity to him. I have heard that there is something about the person that you lose your virginity to, that creates some “bond”- but I don’t know if that is what kept me there. But here I was- suddenly no longer a virgin and then finding out I was pregnant. Thinking back, I don’t remember what his response was when I told him I was pregnant. I remember feeling so sick and just not knowing what the heck I was going to do. I do remember sitting in his apartment alone with a list of things I would need to take care of and get if I kept this baby. I remember writing on the list that I would need to leave him and do this on my own. We were not even at the worst parts of our relationship, but I knew leaving would be better than staying. I had already given up so much to stay with him- friendships, experiences, self worthiness… I know that I toyed with both keeping the baby and having an abortion for a few weeks. I made a few phone calls and then finally just set up the appointment for an abortion. I am so afraid of anesthesia I asked for just local anesthetic so I would be awake for the actual procedure. I also remember having to ask my best friend, who is COMPLETELY pro-life and against abortions to help me pay for it. I didn’t have near enough money saved and well, my boyfriend- at this point, I have no idea where his money was going. Now my friend helped me out and on Valentine’s Day 2002, I walked into Summit Women’s Medical center with my boyfriend and proceeded with the abortion. No need for details as it was not a pleasant experience and I don’t think most people would want To read about it anyway. I remember sitting up immediately after and being given saltines and water. I cried quietly and the nurse asked me, are you crying because of physical pain or emotional pain. I wonder if I ever answered her. I had to wait for him to come and pick me up, but he wasn’t too long. He took me to McDonald’s and then dropped me off at his apartment as he went out. Months went by with the same patterns of abuse and then I found myself pregnant, yet again. This time with Madison. Where was my “boyfriend” at this point? I am not quite sure. I know that he had lost his job, gotten discharged early from the military due to a positive tox screen, and was nowhere to be found.
Fast forward to where I am now- I am not angry with him. I do not harbor any ill feelings towards him. I have found it within myself to forgive him for the pain(both physical, and mental). I feel good that that’s where I am now- I feel that it is right.
Now that I have given you most of the backstory — let me see if I can answer some questions I know are out there.
Why would I possibly want to be with someone so much older than you? Good question – I ask myself this often. I’m not sure- I used to think that the circumstances were weird because we met in the military , but now, over 15 years later I think it has more to do with the fact that I was immature. And then – I think it also had to do with his maturity level as well. I was an inexperienced, naive 18 year old and truly had nothing to give towards the relationship. Maybe he was a bit manipulative and that is sort of what drew him towards me- maybe he thought that he could turn me into what he “wanted” – but the way things panned out between us- the world will never know. I don’t know exactly what was going through my mind during that year and a half. I sometimes look back and reflect on that time and regret the time I wasted- the time I should have been living and I was stuck in a standstill. But you know what- in this new journey- looking back and living with regrets isn’t going to help in my progress. I aim to just be grateful for the good times that existed between the bad, that my time with him allowed me tap into some inner strength I didn’t know exist, and the fact that without him, there would be no Madison.
Why would you, how could you forgive him for the abuse? This is also a difficult one to answer. There are so many variables to why I have forgiven him. First let me tell you- he came with a lot of baggage and with that baggage a lot of people hurt me. His ex girlfriend and mother of one of his children was the person who called my mother and told her of my abortion. This same person contacted my father and told him intimate details of my relationship with him. She helped him try to make me out to be a horrible and neglectful parent in the court systems resulting in endless court dates and parenting classes. But about 9 years ago – I realized that I was holding on to some pretty hurtful feelings towards her. I was a bit more religious back then, and took it to the alter and gave it to God. It wasn’t for me to handle. I couldn’t change her or the things she had done- I could only move forward. I actually consider the two of us as friends now. And I realized at the same time that if she was worthy of this forgiveness than he most certainly was too. Second, those closest to me know that he is extremely sick now and I think many think that I forgave him because I out all the blame on his illness and feel that this is what caused him to do the things he did. NOT TRUE! I hold him accountable for every hit, shove, thrown item, the hair pulling, all of it. I remember each one vividly and I won’t ever forget. But being angry- only hurts me and those that are there for me now. When I am living with hatred towards him, I start making other people pay for the mistakes that he made. I also didn’t always act my bestand wouldn’t want to consistently be judged for that either. Because of his illness, he doesn’t always remember much- or even me at times, and that breaks my heart. I don’t see him much and when I do – I always wish that I could tell him that I forgive him, but I know that it won’t mean anything to him. at lot from that time period is trapped somewhere in his brain. I do believe in Karma to some extent- but I wouldn’t wish his illness on my worst enemy. I don’t think he is a horrible person. Even back then-I think he was hurt, and misguided, and pumped full of drugs and other toxins that impacted his actions at times, but still choices he made. I do wish that I had been able to make more of an impact before he started losing control of his life and ruining the relationships all around him. But it wasn’t my job. Wasn’t my purpose. I guess that just wasn’t meant to be a part of my story. And lastly, I think one of the big reasons that I found it easier to forgive him, is because he left me. Like just up and abandoned me. I know he wasn’t doing much for me anyway, but when I found out I was pregnant with Madison, that came at a point where I hadn’t heard from him for a couple of weeks- he wasn’t returning any phone calls or texts from me, and I had no idea where he was staying. But it was that – him leaving – which forced me to move on. If he had still been coming around and been there throughout my pregnancy with Madison- I don’t think that I ever would have found the strength to get over him, to move on, to focus on living again. It was one of the hardest transitions that I have ever made in my life because I truly felt like I was going to die and that I wanted to. But by him just leaving and letting me go- I was forced to realize there was no hope for the two of us and that I needed to get up each day, go to work, and focus on what I was going to do next. Yes, I was also pregnant and there was the thought in my mind that no matter what was happening I would always be able to keep a piece of him close to me since I was having his child, but as I got further on in my pregnancy- that is when it hit me. I didn’t need him or better yet, want him around me or our child- since he had already proven that he didn’t want to be there for either of us. And I thank God for him for making that decision for me. And that was my first step to forgiveness. I truly believe that he knew that I didn’t have much to offer him and he knew for damn sure he had NOTHING to offer me and that Madison and I would both be better off if he were not around fully. I know he left because he was losing his apartment adn needed somewhere to stay and I wasn’t able to provide that for him since I was living back at home with my parents. So he had to find someone else who loved him and would be able to take him in and care for him as needed. We ended up getting back in touch again adn I saw him a couple of times throughout my pregnancy. He was even present for Madison’s birth- but nothing had changed. He was still gone and I still needed him to be gone. I never doubted his love for Madison or any of his children- he just struggled with how to show it. There were custody battles and child support issues which brought out the worst in both of us. But eventually the court dates stopped and the custody issyes faded as he got sicker and sicker- and then it was almost as if he were truly gone. Honestly now, Madison and I don’t visit him nearly as much as we should and I do try to call him at least once a month- but one thing is for sure- he is forgiven. And I know when I do see him, I sit next to him, hold his hand, and tell him that I care about him and I hope amidst all the confusion in his mind- that he has found some peace.
Now onto the extremely heavy question — Why did I have an abortion? What kind of horrible person am I? The answer isn’t simple, isn’t black and white. And yes- to many I am a horrible person because of the decision I made. What kind of horrible person am I – only those people can answer. I am as horrible as person as they believe I am. I may lose friends and respect as people realize that I made this decision at one point in my life.. And if that is the case- then so be it. I was scared? I don’t know. I was selfish? Probably. I was confused? Sure. No matter the answer I give , someone will have a comeback. And to each his own. I made the choice. I don’t beat my self up about it, but I do think about it every Valentine’s Day. I don’t sit and wallow in sorrow- I let it cross my mind and then I let it go. It’s part of my story- it’s part of who I am. No matter my reason, my beliefs, my feelings now— it happened. I did it. I am NOT ashamed. It does not define me, but it is a a part of me. It is not something that I am extremely proud of either. It was a decision that I thought about and thought about and eventually just made. I may not shout it from rooftops, but I am not afraid to share my story anymore. And I have SOOOOO much more to share. Ask me if you ever want to know – I am more than willing to share. Maybe I will just keep on writing my story out for any and all to see.
And let me tell you- if you ever find yourself at a crossroads with any decision- you can come to me. Not for the answer- I probably won’t have it- but with all that I have been though and all of the decisions, both good and poor, that I have made — I most certainly will look you in the eyes, honestly and WITHOUT judgement, grasp your hand and let you lean on my shoulder while you work through it to come to the decision that is best for you. And with each decision you make- just know that you are creating yet another chapter for your own unique story…
In all things- find beauty,