The background picture on my phone is a photo of my would-be child’s due date. November 14th. There hasn’t been a day since last April that i haven’t stared at it in awe-this tangible reminder that I am a human existing in the world and am capable of creating something, because sometimes I forget. This tangible reminder of my courage. This tangible reminder of mistakes and their consequences.

On April fool’s day, I woke up in the recovery room of a north side Chicago Planned Parenthood and was offered hot chocolate. My initial thought was, “fuck yeah, give me all of your hot chocolate.” My immediate afterthought, accompanied by abject humiliation, was “Who put my underwear and pants on?” And Finally, a sobering realization: “it’s gone.” I took my hot chocolate and pain meds to go and peaced.

Until everything was over, I had neither the time or mental capacity to process the reality of a foreign human life (plausibly a little alien but I’ll never know) existing inside me. From the second I confirmed the first positive EPT test, all my decisions were guided by fear, frustration, shame, guilt, and anger. So, so, so, so much. anger.

I was angry my boyfriend reacted with an annoyingly stoic calmness when I told him. I was angry I had to go to the doctor to confirm. I was angry the result was still positive. I was angry when my doctor’s idea of ‘options’ did not involve termination but did involve psychological therapy ‘to cope.’ I was angry I had to pay for a doctor appointment out of pocket. I was angry i had to research reproductive policies in my home state. I was angry when, out of curiosity, I went on to research policies in other states to find that they had arbitrary differences, and if I lived somewhere else, I’d be granted fewer options and less accessibility to a women’s health clinic. I was angry at how powerless that made me feel. I was angry at myself. I was angry while ordering an uber and feeling to ashamed to put in ‘planned parenthood.’ I was angry my uber driver was male. I was angry while swiping my credit card at Planned Parenthood to pay the entire cost of something I was half responsible for. I was angry I had to undress in front of strangers. I was angry at what an isolating and disempowering experience that was.

And, in retrospect, I’m absolutely livid all that took priority over any kind of self care or self consideration. The technician at Planned Parenthood took a pre-surgery survey to ensure that no one was intimidating me into doing something I didn’t want and to ensure that the decision was mine alone and that I was sure. That caught me off guard 1) because Planned Parenthood is a blessing in a shit filled dumpster fire of a world 2) I literally had not considered what I wanted nor thought it was of any importance. Someone asking me what I wanted to do with my own body was remarkable to me.

That is a glimpse of the female experience in a society that highly polices our bodies and every facet of our lives. It is painful, complex to navigate, self dismissive, and impossible to feel empowered by. Every day since then, I think, what if I were in another state? What if someone didn’t feel like granting me autonomy over my own body? I experienced incredible distress WHILE having options. Those options still inordinately impacted me emotionally, physically, and financially more than the other responsible party. They were reminders that I’m still living in a man’s world. Albeit the “liberal” version of it.

And now, there is this. And I’m a woman and I’m rightfully upset and afraid. Afraid of how public perception of my gender will tilt at the hand of someone who explicitly believes he sees us as inferior. I’m afraid that rights that were so graciously granted to me by one party could be rescinded by another, and I’m upset that my choices are a topic for discussion at all. I’m afraid of how powerless I feel and am. I thought my vote, written word, protests, and round-the-clock tenacity to raise awareness about the horrors of men would be mirrored by the public. I was tentative, but deep down I thought it could happen. It didn’t, and it’s a stinging reminder of how impetuously our equality always hangs in balance. Nothing is a secure, inalienable right for us. So, naturally, this outcome isn’t desirable. Here is where I should end with something uplifting, something with an impressive tone of sensibility in a time of crisis. But I don’t have much except a promise to have women’s backs. And if you’re a dude who read this whole thing, I hope you have a better sense of the female experience now. But my faith in using social media as a conduit for change is crushed. And I’m crushed, as well.