"The past is strapped to our backs. We do not have to see it; we can always feel it. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
I picked up my hand written diary from 1985-1986 the other day. I could only get through a few pages before I had to put it back. The pain and confusion in it is palpable. I start the diary fairly confident (if not naive) with my plan to keep my baby and run away. At those points, its very clear that it is the two of us against the world. Then my parents enter the picture, the agency joins the crowd, and I suddenly dissociate from my child. She turns into "the baby". All references to her are "the baby". No longer is she my baby. She is "the" baby. An object. An alien invading my body. I am deeply attached to the caseworker and my notes beg for her to call me, for her to talk to me, for her to make arrangements for me to come to Chicago. I am struggling with the shame and guilt and "the looks my family is giving me".
Many pages later, written from the maternity home, she is mine again and I writing to her, making up names, and planning to let her go. I am acting like she had some voice in the matter, like she would approve, as if I was looking for her approval even in utero.
This shit hurts like hell to read.
I can look at it from the POV of the 40 yo female that I am and I want to just hug that girl. Pull her close to me, assure her she is okay and that she can take care of her baby. Yet, I am that girl. As such, all I can muster is a constricted chest, sobs and a river of tears.
Consider this entry?
Note how I go from talking to her, writing to her, and then I go, well, somewhere else.
"December 28, 1985 –
I am almost five months pregnant. I am showing now and noticeably heavier. Very few people (that I know of) have noticed. I am overweight to begin with and I suppose the extra poundage concealed it for a while. That is, up until a week ago. One of the girls I work with, Carole, asked me if I was pregnant. I was taken back at first, but not much, I said yes and she and I spoke breifly about it. she disagrees with me about putting it up for adoption bit its not her life. It is mine and it is yours. I have to think what is best for both of us. I am very scared now that I will run into your father, or even my friend Louanne. I dont want anyone to know what I am doing. I would be ashamed if anyone found out. I couldnt handle what they would say or what they would think. People in this town have a very false image of me. They see what I want them to see, not what I truly am…whatever that may now be.
I can feel the baby kicking now. It sort of feels like gas..only lower..its kind of like when you get a twitch in your eye. Just a flutter. Its difficult for me to conceive that there is something living and growing in side of me. I suppose in some odd sort of way I am still denying its presence. I am trying to convince myself that its not there, that YOU arent there, that if I pray hard enough that it will go away, but I know it wont. You are there and you are mine."
Why didnt someone help me? Why did they only help themselves to my child? Why didn’t they see ME? Why did they only see dollar signs on my stomach and a way to hide the family secret?
Why, oh why, did I let them?
Will this ever stop hurting?