Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm the Monster Here

I wrote about my abortion because I needed to tell that story and the timing seemed right. Some of you will see me as the murderer of a person. You might think I have committed the ultimate sin. I'm sure I have, and have been sinned against. There are many details I left out of it, but in so many ways, I was a monster. I was crazy. I have always been crazy. It was a crazy time, the mid-sixties. May I remind you all that there are details in that story that might have alerted you to my carelessness and reckless behavior without apology or judgement. And yet there have been so many times and ways I tried to imagine a better ending.

By the time I was twenty-three I was clearly nuts. I was a magnet for the wrong men, every bit as damaged as I, men who wanted to manipulate and own me. I had not been loved as a child and had no idea how to love. Almost every man in my family had sexually abused me as a child. I trusted no one. I looked picture perfect but I was batshit crazy, coiled too tightly, barely able to breath. It was said of me I was high strung. That was an understatement. I worked every second to hold myself together, to appear calm and in control of myself, but I was an anxious mess. I was a monster. I aborted my only pregnancy. I knew I'd be a terrible mother. I had never been around a good mother.

I hated myself so profoundly I knew I carried a monster just like me, just like my mother, or worse, just like my father. I did not want to spend the rest of my life continuing that tradition or connected in any way to the man who impregnated me. He was delighted when I told him I was pregnant. But I was so furious at that moment because I also had to tell him he needed to get tested for a sexually transmitted disease. And in the end when we both knew that he hadn't given me syphilis, I still didn't want to have that profound connection with him.

One of the Indian women who worked in the sewing room at Satpurush asked me one day as we were all having lunch together, "Why don't you do what you're supposed to do? You're swimming against the current of your life." I was stunned by the question. I've been pondering that one all my life.

This isn't an excuse for my careless desperate foolish life, but I was emotionally damaged by it all. I was depressed and reclusive, living in a life that always seemed to put me in intimate contact with people I'd rather not have known. Nothing was planned or thought out. I was also bipolar. But if you believe in God then God has been testing me. Have I failed the test?

I don't believe in God. This in and of itself does not make me a monster. But it does let me see that the agenda of all Abrahamic religions is the subjugation of women. So this makes religious strictures completely political to me. And I set my jaw against it. I will not be chattel. I will not be dominated.

And in the end I might be liked; I do have friends. But it will be hard for a man to love me. I'll always need to live alone.

In many ways I am still my dreadful mother. I look like her, I sound like her, I have her taste in so many things and a such a bad track record with men. You probably wouldn't like me. I barely like myself.


lexky said...

Believe it or not but there are women who can relate to you. You are not a monster. You just got dealt a shitty hand and you did what you had to do to survive. I think things get better with age. You just have to get up everyday and make the best of it.

darkblack said...

Oh, stop it.

You're a perfectly delightful monster - Perhaps you've just spent too much effort in the present time editing the written past but finding that you still...can't...change it.


MRMacrum said...

A very powerful and honest post Utah. But unlike lexky, I would say your torment transcends gender issues. Your personal baggage unfortunately is not unusual nor is it unique to women or men. The specific circumstances of each life may be unique but not the underlying dysfunction and mental quirks that create what we all become or do not become. You definitely had more of the shitty stuff piled on early than most of us and yet here you are on the other side telling your story. For what reason?

To fulfull some kind of peace? To maybe help others who tend to fall into deep pits of despair?

I say it is all of this and more. I have been reading your words for over a year now. Sometimes I find it very difficult and uncomfortable. Sometimes because I am a man and you hit a nerve I would prefer left untouched. But more often because you bring to light internal pain that I have felt myself but would rather ignore.

You are hardly a monster.

writhesafely said...

While it's clear you don't let the crimes committed against you as a child define you today, it's still true that you were a victim and that's part of it. Some kids are programmed to self-destruct and even if we manage to endure the crooked way yanks back; it's always calling, waxes and wanes. How could it be otherwise? We can't undo the effects of what happens to us, especially during developmental years but with time it's possible to prepare for what we're going to fuck up mightily, endure that too, account for any damage control, then shape these forceful experiences into skilled narrative as if to enlighten all the happy go lucky couldn't give a shit winners. I expect you know what I'm talking about, it's absolutely criminal when others don't -- that we're all similar small humans working with the hand we've been dealt, no more no less. You're doing great work here.

PENolan said...

There's a chapter in Fay Weldon's latest book, The Spa, where she says that the souls of all the dead babies are in a room full of women.

We do what we have to do. What enrages me is that these F*ing Christians act like we don't think about it and we don't care.

Lately I've been wondering what this country would be like if vasectomies were legislated so that men's reproductive rights and bodies were in the public domain. I imagine a joint session of congress where all the men have ice packs on their balls.

You can't have kids when you don't have hope. You've always been hopeless (and I mean that in the nicest way).

sunshine said...

I believe that if you don't want children then you shouldn't have them.
You only had one. It's not like you were running out every six months for 10 years getting them.
You had to do what was best for you. The rest of us have no right to judge you for that. Sure we all have opinions but those are based on our own life experiences.
If it means anything at all, I believe you did the right thing. For yourself and probably the baby if you felt so strongly against it.
You are not a monster. Just a woman that had a lot of bad shit happen to her. We love you!!


Nan said...

I'm going to state the obvious: monsters don't worry about being monsters. And being likable and being a decent human being are too different things.

Fran said...

This is what healing is all about. You do look back & dig deep & find the root of the problem, not looking for blame, but to understand why things transpired the way they did.
Although there is a huge stigma on abortion, it is a very personal choice, only each individual can make. Choosing to not be a parent because you felt you would not make a good parent is a legit reason.
I often think if men had the capability of getting pregnant, the abortion rate would be much higher.
We are not all cut out to be parents.
At least you have taken the time to do the retrospective, and understand why things happened the way they did.
Some folks never do that, bringing their "baggage" from one relationship to the next, and experiencing similar problems again & again.
So now it's time to heal. You can look back & understand the sequences of events.
Now you are on solid ground, and can begin to move forward.

Tommy Salami said...

You are not a monster. The decision was yours to make and anyone judging you should mind their own damn business.

Phoebe Fay said...

If you're a monster, then we're all monsters. We all struggle and do the best we can to make it through intact. Your struggles may seem more extreme, but they're still infinitely human. Bless you for keeping up the struggle.

Amos said...

Well I like you anyway.

Lisa said...

There is no monster. There is Peggy. And Lisa. And the good and bad people who have had the fortune and misfortune to know us.

You understood much sooner than I did who you were and how best to live with those pieces of yourself that no one else can ever touch (again).

Fewer people in my life would be damaged had I recognized that I am best untethered. As it is - we do what we can to not be those monsters you speak of.

Suzan said...

You are the least of the monsters, meaning strong, gifted women, I've had the pleasure to know (or know about).

Hail glorious monsters!


Liberality said...

But it does let me see that the agenda of all Abrahamic religions is the subjugation of women.


You don't have to apologize for being a victim--you didn't ask for it and you tried as best you could to live in spite of it.

Now the work, it is always work, is to go on and thrive in spite of what the patriarchy has done to you and me and countless other women. Can it be done? Probably not but I like to try because I see myself as a survivor.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

The comparisons of abortion and murder are very unfortunate. I can't see anybody entering into abortion lightly. My suggestion would be to have RU486 sold over the counter. Sure, the far-right zealots could still blow up the buildings that manufacture it. But at least it would keep individual women (and their doctors) out of the line of fire.

Utah Savage said...

My god,what a wonderful bunch of people you are. I'm so lucky to have found you. Your kindness makes me cry. Cruelty almost never makes me cry, but kindness is always so unexpected. I love you all, my new good family. At last I have a family I can love without fear that my trusting enough to be honest and vulnerable will come back to wound me again in some profound and unfixable way.

Lisa this post was for you. Thank you for coming back and letting me know that you love me in spite of it all.

D.K. Raed said...

nay, utah, you are no monster. a system that would force you to have a baby when you felt as you did is monstrous.

women have always had abortions, all through history and even pre-history, forever and ever. the only question today is whether they will be done in a back alley with high risk of bleeding to death, or performed in a clean clinical setting. women will always find a way because there will always be a need, whatever that need might be -- it's different for every woman.

I make no judgment of when life officially begins ... or when it offically ends for that matter.

quin browne said...

you stun me with your honesty and perfection of words.

anita said...

you are NOT a monster, utah. you were, and still seem to be, dealing with the monsters in your own life who dealt you cards that you never asked for, didn't deserve, and to whom you should never have been exposed. they were monsters who shattered your innocence and destroyed your hope for a happy life.

who was there to take care of utah in the middle of all this emotional criminality? no one. you did your best. and you continue to do you best.

i hope when i tell you this that you take it in and i hope it is in some very small way comforting: you are understood in regard to this issue (by me), in a very deep and profound way.

Randal Graves said...

If you were a monster, you'd have claws and fangs and bat wings and bolts sticking out of the sides of your neck, and I've seen no evidence of those things.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

These posts have been inspiring and dedicated to a self expression not many are able to even approach. You are supported and nurtured in all of the acceptance and admiration. [I've reposed these these last two to a recovery group down here.] And if that's the least, know you are making a huge difference in some young woman's life / in how to find a courage to be self accepting. BRAVA, Artemis!

Comrade Kevin said...

I think almost all religions, particularly the monotheistic ones are paternalistic, certainly. But I distinguish between the original intent of them and they way they were co-opted to to serve Patriarchal purposes.

Jesus, and by that I mean the historical Jesus kept close company with women, incorporated them into his inner circle, associated openly with prostitutes (a controversial decision even now), and never felt any compulsion to dominate or exploit his female followers. His spiritual purpose was far more important and he had no intent of establishing an earthly kingdom in the role of a monarch.

Your life experience shapes how you see and view other people and I am sorry for what others put you through. The other day I was thinking about the women I dated who, once I had a manic episode, broke it off with me altogether, making what had been already a traumatic situation even worse. I was bitter for a long time but upon reflection I recognized that at those instances their true colors showed and I knew then I could have never had a healthy relationship with them ever.

I also realize that I myself believed that I was so emotionally unstable that all I deserved were people who had problems similar to mine, albeit with a strongly selfish streak attached that placed their own concerns far above my own. It took maturity and effective medications, plus therapy to push past that belief and there is always the temptation to fall back into my old ways.

You're no monster and I wish a world of peace and a quiet mind for you.

Freida Bee, MD said...

Utah- I think, in light of feeling some of these ways about myself at times, that being bisexual is a wonderful gift, because one of the things that stands between me and a supportive lover thing is trauma, and I don't have the same amount of trauma associated with women, so I see some hope in that realm. I'm sure it will be dashed, but still....

I don't think you do, but please don't feel guilty for having an abortion. About 85% of my issues are due to my mother's getting pregnant at 16 and "ruining" her life. I know, I know, her choices are hers, but she would have had to have gone out of the country to have an abortion back pre roe v. wade and the stigma was much greater. I always hated that burden, even if I'm sure she would hate to know I carry it. The truth is cold. I wasn't wanted and you didn't do that to a child.

Mauigirl said...

Utah, you are no monster. If you are, there are a lot of us in the same place. And I have no doubt if I met you in person I would like you as much as I do in the blog world!

I just linked to you in the discussion of abortion in my blog post today. You said everything better than I could.

Ghost Dansing said...

hey there delilah

Samantha Thomas said...

For the first forty years of my conscious self-concept, I too felt I was a monster, for many of the same reasons You had, as well as a few different ones. One thing we had in common was that there was no one at home who was trustworthy or trusted. Through the years, I suffered about being a monster, resisted being a monster, tried and tried again to be something other than a monster, and no matter what, I was always a monster to me, and I assumed, to everyone else.

Only in embracing my monstrosity, recognizing the perfection of it, as a skillful means to survive, was I able to have a choice of being someone: a Human Being. Then I could Live. Then I could Love.

You are intelligent and sensitive, a brilliant woman, but on one point, You are clearly mistaken (and perhaps not even in a position to speculate, let alone be certain). I know You -- not superficially, not in an ordinary sense of knowing. I know You profoundly, and extraordinarily well, including Your monstrosities. I like You. I Love You.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

I just came her a few days ago. Your story resonates in my heart.

I almost had one 14 years ago. While I decided not to and don't regret my choice to have her and raise her, (she is awesome and I have bunches more,) my choice to have her flew in the face of logic. I was a college student getting ready to go everseas, already a single mom, her DNA dad had his issues, etc. The situation and it's resulting consequences (people's reactions in my religious circles-- I was damned no matter what I did!) shaped me in profound ways.

You made the best choice that you were able to make and you moved on. This isn't a choice made easily.

Non Je Ne Regrette Rien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Non Je Ne Regrette Rien said...

some of us are even more monstrous monsters...we're wild things and this life has made us so. but we run in packs, and a fine group we are my dear.

Sherry said...

no monster. you knew what was the best and you sucked it up and did what you had to.

as i say, ozzie and harriet and father knows best destroyed a lot of happiness that might have been.

no one was them. they were fiction and an impossiblity.

we play the hand we are dealt.
nope, you are no monster.