Coming Out of the Closet When I first made the decision to publish with She Writes Press, a partnership publisher, I was elated. I called my husband and gushed. I told my kids when they got home from school. But that night, in the midst of menopausal insomnia, I started freaking out. I can’t publish this fall. It will be Luke’s senior year of high school. Our lives need to be about college applications, finding scholarships, getting senior pictures. And then I started to worry about the cost of publishing. In my middle-of-the-night angst, I convinced myself that this will cost me $10,000, no $20,000. My heart raced and I started to realize that I was catastrophizing this experience. What’s really going on here? I asked myself.
And then it hit me: I have to come out of the closet. The abortion closet.
I grew up a good Catholic girl. Ours was the “goody two-shoes” family of the parish. Abortion was a sin. Period.
During my 20’s I found myself pregnant. Twice. Each time I had an abortion.
Shame has had me in a headlock for years. My family is close, but my shame kept me silent. I didn’t tell my family for fear that they would be massively disappointed in me. I knew they wouldn’t disown me, but I felt a place deep inside them would be disgusted and would be repelled by me.
Through my 20’s and well into my 30’s I was single, waiting for Mr. Right and watching my family and friends have children. Each baby that was born showed me what I had given up. Shame shoved me further and further to the back of the abortion closet.
But here I am, ready to publish a book that talks about my abortions in detail. There’s no way I can’t have my children or my closest loved ones know about them.
When I told my 17 year old son Luke, it was hard to say the words without them catching on my self-judgments. My fear about revealing this part of myself was wider that the fear I felt when I went skydiving, deeper than the fear I felt kayaking in five foot ocean swells, longer than the fear I felt when I was climbing up a rock face for the first time.
But I had to tell him, regardless of my fear of reproach.
We had a good conversation about the many facets of this revelation. I explained that there could be people who feel differently about me once they find out I had two abortions. Luke encouraged me to publish. “You gotta do this, Mom.”
Luke’s was just the first of many compassionate, supportive comments I’ve received as I’ve inched my way out of the closet. I am deeply grateful for the love and support I’ve received around this issue.
You may wonder why I feel compelled to go public with this part of my past. The reason is twofold:
First, the book explores how I accepted my disability through the lens of motherhood. Part of that acceptance was saying “No” to motherhood twice. My two abortions are as integral to the story as my two births are.
Second, in my research I discovered that 43% of all women will have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old. In looking for comparable books to mine, there were few books that talked about the anguish of an abortion – both in making the decision and living with that decision – in a non-political, polarized way.
My narrative is simply honest, truthful and open. I believe that many of that 43% will resonate with that part of the story and may find ways to heal their own residual shame.
Is there a part of yourself or your past that you are afraid will repel the rest of the world? What closet have you put yourself in? I invite you to watch and be inspired by this TEDx video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSR4xuU07sc