In my life there’s been heartache and pain, I don’t know if I can face it again, I can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far to change this lonely life…I wanna know what love is…I want you to show me — Foreigner

Boyfriends. Sounded like a nice idea. All through middle school and high school my friends had them. Was I allowed to have one? Nope. Couldn’t even mention the thought of one. Because boys only wanted one thing right? At least that’s what I was told. And up until I was in my late teens I didn’t really know what that “one thing” was.

Yes, I was very naive. And my mother never sat me down and had “the talk” with me. She never explained sex to me. Or any of the subjects surrounding it, such as disease, pregnancy…you get the idea. It was tabu. Funny though thinking about it now and remembering all the men she had in her life.

The only thing she ever said was that if I were to have sex I would be a whore. Sex before marriage was the ultimate sin and that neither she nor God would ever forgive me. She also said she would disown me if she ever found out. So the thought of sex never crossed my mind because I was simply too afraid. Despite the “no boys” commandment at home, as a teenager my school friends might have said I was boy crazy. I always had a crush on someone. Seemed as though every week there was someone new to like. Looking back I roll my eyes at the amount of crushes I had.

It wasn’t that I just randomly picked a boy. If they showed any interest in me at all, I would instantly like them. A smile, a gesture, anything. But in reality some of those boys were just being nice and I took it to mean something else. And then I would be heartbroken. Almost all of the time. I was constantly searching for acceptance. I didn’t get it at home so I searched everywhere else. For boyfriends and friends. I had limited exposure to males in general. No father, no uncles, no cousins.

Before I was allowed to have a boyfriend I had a few “out of the home boyfriends”. I would only date them in school. And by date-we would hold hands in the hallway and pass notes back and forth to each other throughout the day. Maybe a call when I was babysitting, but that was it. None of them knew what my life was like at home; they just figured my mother was very strict. Needless to say those “relationships” didn’t last long at all.

It wasn’t until almost the end of my senior year of high school that I was allowed to have an “official boyfriend.”

I will call him Freddie. He was sweet. My mother liked him and we had fun. We went to the senior prom together and it was probably the most fun I had during my high school career. We only dated for a short time. He was doing all the typical teenager stuff; partying, drinking and most likely smoking weed. All the things I was afraid to do and was told not to do. Or else. So shortly after we graduated from high school I broke up with him for fear that my mother would find out his shenanigans and then punish me for it.

Almost immediately following that breakup, my neighbor who I had a crush on for a while asked me out. Talk about thrilled. Someone pursued me. I was quite literally infatuated with him. Probably because he didn’t seem interested. Every moment that I wasn’t sleeping, working or at school was spent with him. And then right after I turned 18 he stopped calling me. I didn’t understand. Finally after about 2 weeks he called and told me he was done with me. He had met someone else and she was more “fun.” If you read between the lines that meant she put out and I didn’t. I had heard later on that he was seeing her the entire time he was dating me. I was devastated. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. I made myself sick. And for a long time after I tried to figure out what was wrong with me. My first real heartbreak. It took me a while to “recover”.

During this recovery time I became friends with a boy (I’ll call him Tom) through another friend. The three of us would hang out often and I never thought anything of it. We were just friends, good friends in fact. Until one day my friend told me that Tom wanted to ask me out on a date.

And that was the beginning of our two year relationship. Tom was a really nice boy. He came from a really good, loving family. He was a good student and an athlete. A hard working, respectful person. And he treated me very well. My mother approved of him. She even allowed me to go on multiple vacations with him and his family.

And by approving him, there were still times when I would come home from spending time with him and she would be angry with me. I had no idea why, but she wouldn’t even look at me. She ignored me. And then a day or two later she would be fine as if she hadn’t behaved that way. My guess was she was mad at me because my relationship was going well and hers wasn't whether it was with Jay or Francis.

And other times she would grill me about where we went, what did we do, who did we see or talk to. I would answer each question honestly. It always seemed as if she already knew the answers, like she followed us somehow or had someone watching us. It was creepy, and it reminded me of her constant presence.

Tom and I had a really good relationship. He was very respectful of me and I was happy. We were both young and naive. And he never pressured me into doing anything I didn’t want to do. He was a good boy. Until I ruined it.

Almost immediately following our 2 year anniversary my mother told me that I needed to end it with Tom. What??? Why??? She told me I was with him long enough and we were getting too close. That didn’t make sense to me. I told her we weren’t doing anything we weren’t supposed to be doing. She didn’t care. I was told I had to break up with him myself or she would do it for me. I was crushed. He loved me. I loved him. Why did this have to happen? I didn’t understand. And I knew better than to explain my feelings to my mother. She wouldn’t even listen. But I had to do what she said, because that’s what I always did.

I couldn’t even do it in person. I was too much of a coward. I broke up with him over the phone. He was confused and questioned me as everything between us was good. I gave him the only excuse I could think of: Because I don’t love you anymore. He was crushed. I could hear the tears in his voice. As soon as he hung up I cried my own tears.

For a few weeks after Tom kept calling me, leaving messages, desperate to understand. One day, he showed up at my house (Luckily my mother wasn’t home). I kept with the same lie over and over again. The look in his eyes was enough to break my heart into pieces. And finally he left.

My mother never asked me how the breakup went and what had happened. I kept it to myself. She could see that I was upset, but she never said anything. In fact, she seemed happier than normal, perhaps because I was in misery. So I did the one thing I knew how to do, hide those feelings away and move on.

I hid those feelings, and the best way to move on was to find someone else, something else. I became desperate. That entire summer was about me finding another boyfriend or even someone to date casually so I could forget about Tom.

Late that summer I went to a party hosted by a friend of mine. I knew Tom was a mutual friend so I wasn’t surprised that he was there. It was good to see him since I hadn’t in a while. He was polite and cold at the same time.

A few weeks later I was online and he sent me an instant message asking if I wanted to go out. Even though I knew my mother would be mad, I agreed. I don’t remember where we went or what we did but he said that he did still have feelings for me. I told him I did as well and we agreed to be “friends” and see where it would take us.

So we talked on the phone a lot over the next few weeks and went out a few times. I could tell he was different, that his guard was up. He had definitely changed in the months that had passed since our breakup. He constantly mentioned that he had dated various girls over the summer and wasn’t as innocent as he used to be. I’m not sure if he was lying or just trying to make me jealous. He also told me that his parents didn’t think I was good enough for him anymore after what I had done to him. But I didn’t really care. I missed him and at this point would do anything to be his girlfriend again.

My mother was not happy. She told me every chance she got. But I told her that we were just friends and we were going to keep it that way.

About a month or two into our new “friendship” I asked him where this was going, if we were going to get back into what we had before. He said we could, but made it clear that he needed more out of our relationship since he was “experienced” now. Basically he told me I needed to put out if I wanted to be his girlfriend. Desperate me, wanting him to stay interested in me, agreed.

Quite frankly, it was terrible. And I’ll just leave it at that.

We saw each other a few times after that. But the mood was definitely different. He was even less interested in me than before that moment. And I couldn’t understand why. I had given him what he wanted, but it just wasn’t enough. Sadly I had heard about this kind of thing happening with young girls and their first love. But I never thought it would happen to me.

One afternoon I was at his house and in the middle of our conversation I almost fainted. I had never experienced anything like that before and it scared me. I recovered quickly and left.

About two weeks later I realized my period was late. I honestly didn’t think much of it because it had always been irregular. But I noticed I was sleeping a lot more and my body seemed to be different. I thought I was sick. Until I overheard someone at work say she was pregnant and mentioned all the symptoms she was having, which was everything I was experiencing.

I stopped dead in my tracks. No. This could not be happening to me. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not me. I was terrified. I had no idea what to do.

That same night I told Tom of my symptoms and that I might be pregnant. He dismissed it, saying we’d been careful. And we only did it once so it’s impossible for me be pregnant after my first time. But because of my fear, we went to the drug store out of town to buy a test.

I went in myself. I’m not sure how I made it to the pharmacy counter because I was paralyzed with fear. What if my mother found out? What would I do? She always made it very clear that she would disown me and throw me out. I kept looking around to see if she was there, because somehow she always knew. And the fact that I had to ask the pharmacist for a test just made things worse.

When I got back to the car Tom asked “Now what? Where are you going to take that? You can’t do it at my house and you can’t do it at yours.”

The only place around was the Burger King up the road. Yes, I took a pregnancy test in the bathroom of a Burger King. And 3 minutes later I had the answer I already knew and my very first panic attack. In a dingy, disgusting bathroom. I had no idea what I was going to do. All I knew was that I was the most afraid I had ever been in my entire life. Up until then, nothing had come close to the fear I was feeling in that moment.

I managed to collect myself to go back and share the news with Tom who looked shocked, and asked, “What are you going to do about this?” I stared at him. He said, “There’s no way I can have a kid. I’m in college, I’m working, my parents would be pissed at me. I can’t have this. You have to decide what you want to do.”

I didn’t know what to do. Up until now my life was lonely, but I had never felt more alone than in that very moment. I needed help and I had no one to go to. I was about to make the biggest decision of my life and I had to do it all by myself.

A few days later, I overheard my mother on the phone with her best friend. She was raging with anger. When she got off, I asked if she was ok. This is what she said:

“Her daughter just came home and told her she is pregnant. Can you believe that ungrateful little tramp? After all her mother has done for her? She goes out sleeping around and comes home pregnant? Disgusting. She should know better than to whore around. If you ever came home and told me you were pregnant I would beat your ass and then throw you out of this house. If I were her mother I wouldn’t help her at all. Make her suffer through it and get what she deserves by disrespecting her mother that way.”

I was speechless. Right there in that moment I saw what my future could be. I had no where to go, no one to offer advice, no money and no one to turn to. Tom didn’t want me or the baby. He already stated it was my problem that I had to deal with. My mother wouldn’t want me or the baby either. She made that very clear. I didn’t have a father, my brother and I weren’t on speaking terms and I hadn’t seen any other of my family members in more than a decade. There was no one. Yes, I could have called my best friend. But she was away at college and there was no way I could burden her with yet another one of my problems.

I didn’t have any idea how to raise a child. I had dreamed about having kids one day. But it would be when I was ready; with someone who loved me and wanted me; someone who wanted to create a family with me. Not created out of desperation. I wanted to have a child with no fear of retaliation. A child created from pure love. One I could love unconditionally and provide for and be the best mother I could possibly be and give that child all of the intangible things I never had. I couldn’t do that now. To be honest I didn’t think I would ever be able to. Not in this lifetime. I was afraid for myself and for this child. I couldn’t let them live the life I had lived. And I knew I couldn’t offer them more than that.

So what were my choices? I really didn’t see any choices or options; but in this moment, in this life; in this fear; I didn’t see any other way.

I made the appointment from information that a co-worker had given me. Then I called Tom to let him know. He reluctantly agreed to take me.

He drove me over two hours in a snow storm to my appointment. And while I went in, he waited in the car.

The waiting room was filled with women and girls just like me. We were all there for the same reason. The only difference between them and me was they had someone with them. None of us made eye contact. Even the doctors and nurses hardly looked at us.

The nurse didn’t say much to me. Neither did the doctor. Once it was completed they guided me to a recovery room where all the other patients were waiting to be cleared to leave.

I sat with my head in my hands and cried until I couldn’t breathe. It was the second time in my life that I wished I had never been born.

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