Kinda feels like I should write about this now. And I haven’t really written anything for a year + so I apologize if it sucks.
I don’t even really know how to begin since it’s been such a weird past 3 years of life. I lived in the fear that people would learn about the worst thing I had done in my life. But now I feel like I’m ok with people knowing, because I’m starting to become ok with who I am again.
I had been on and off dating this girl for the past year and a half since I was 19. We’d break up for a couple weeks, end up seeing each other somewhere and falling back into old habits with each other. Every time it ended was worse than the last. Tears, yelling, hours of phone calls, feeling bad for myself, and every time I swore I’d never go back again. Self control was a hard thing to come by for me back then. I did what I wanted as much as I could and whatever felt good. I said whatever I had to say to weasel my way back into this girl’s life and even though I knew it would end in a massive explosion, I wasn’t able to stop. Eventually my lack of self control resulted in something that I couldn’t just end with a “We should be friends”. Up to this point in life my biggest fear was getting someone pregnant, and I think life has a way of introducing you to these fears sometimes.
Two weeks after my 21st birthday I was on the phone with her, she’s crying. This isn’t a new thing, to be on the phone for hours with her while she’s crying, I’ve grown calloused to these talks. I say “I don’t understand what problem is” and she says “Trent, I’m pregnant”. My head hits the headrest of my car seat and I can’t think of a single thing to say. She keeps talking, saying she’s taken however many test, and in my head everything is on fire. I tell her I’ll call her back, hang up. I called almost everyone in my phone book and in a kind of poetic justice no one answered, almost as to say “You’re on your own”. My whole life I lived under the knowledge that if I were to get someone pregnant I’d be on my own. I can’t even describe the level of fear and panic I was in that night. I thought about what kind of life I had growing up in a broken family, and what kind of life a child of mine would have with me and a woman who I didn’t love, or really even like, as the mother. I considered killing myself to avoid the shame of what I had done.
I called her back, sitting down on the floor in my closet. She said she was certain she was pregnant, and said “what should we do”. The first thing that came out of my mouth was “we cannot keep this baby”. I said that maybe 50 times over the next few hours, regardless of the argument she gave. To this girl who had lost so much in her life, I asked her to lose the one thing she wanted probably most of all, a family. I convinced her to go through with it, and that week we were driving to a clinic 45 minutes away from our homes so no one would see. We had 3 visits total, and on each one I can remember having this facade of certainty in what we were doing. So many times they ask you “Are you sure this is what you want to do” and she would look at me and I would look back at her with fake certainty in my eyes. I didn’t allow my mind to think anything outside of the fact “We cannot have this baby.”
On our last visit to the clinic, my name is called in the waiting room, and I go to get her. She’s disoriented, can barely walk, and I have to almost carry her to the doors out. Before I walk out the security guard stops me, he’s a large heavy set man, with kind eyes. And he looks me in the eyes and says “Don’t come back here” and we kept eye contact for a moment. I could see the concern and sadness he had for us in his eyes. I looked away as my eyes teared up, and that’s when it really hit me what I had done. I was in the car driving back to her home and thought “I just traded in a secret about a pregnancy now for one about an abortion”. I spent the rest of the day taking care of her while she regained her full consciousness. We talked about what a future for us would look like, and I didn’t know honestly. Imagine if a person threw away one of their dreams for you, I felt in debt to her. I made more promises, told her I was there for her any time of the day, call me anytime, we can talk and help each other work thru what we had just done.
I spent the next 9 months of my life in constant fear she was going to take her own life. I talked to her almost daily for hours on the phone in my car outside my house so that no one would hear. We would talk to no resolution, she would cry for hours and in my head i was dying too, but I couldn’t acknowledge that with her. How could I have hurt someone so badly, that they now want to end their life. What did that make me; a selfish, child, coward. I didn’t know how to fix the problem, I felt like I just made the problem worse and wondered if it would be better if I just didn’t exist. I lived in fear that she would post something on instagram that would be too obvious and that people would find out what I had done. Every time we’d talk it would just restart the same argument over and over. She wanted more than anything for us to just be together, and for me I wanted only to retreat into a shell and be alone. I started dating someone who was the polar opposite of her, and I prayed she’d never find out. I needed someone to “reset” me in a way. We would never have sex, and I would never call her my girlfriend or anyone else for the next 3 years. I didn’t want the responsibility of a title, or the guise of commitment where I wasn’t sure I could give it.
I retreated into myself for a while, I didn’t hang with friends as much, I didn’t trust people around me, and I started to get angry. This girl had told me that she physically couldn’t have children, and on top of that had also said she was on birth control. I took her at her word because I was young and naive and had no reason not to I guess. I felt lied to, tricked, and trapped in a way. I felt extremely sad and struggled with the concept of me possibly having killed my child. What kind of father finds out he’s having a child and without pause says “I don’t want it”. Who would ever want to be my friend or be in a relationship with someone who had made such a massive mistake. Despite all of this creeping up at times, I pretended like everything was ok, and I think that made that time in life a lot simpler than it would’ve been otherwise. Pretending like I was ok meant that for a lot of the time I had to just be ok. The time I got to not be ok was when I talked about it with her. I told her I regretted doing it, and wished we had just kept it and figured it out.
That, for me, was the loneliest time. I couldn’t let anyone in to my secret because if they knew about it then everyone would know. I processed it all on my own, or as much as you can on your own. The relationship with the other girl ended, but I didn’t really care that it had ended. It was a relief that I didn’t have to worry about someone close to me finding out and hating me. It was just easier to be alone than to worry about if my friends or significant others would really like me if they knew about this thing. I was alone for a while after that, just kind of working full time and taking trips as much as I could to keep myself busy. I met new people, people who wouldn’t know the girl and who I could be this new form of myself that I was. They introduced me to this outdoor school called NOLS, and I decided that why the hell not do it, I needed some form of guidance in this time of my life. I got signed up for it, and was due to head off on a new journey in January 2018.
Around that time I started having vivid dreams about how my life could’ve been with this girl and our child. It wasn’t just a few, I was having these like a few times a week for several weeks. In the dreams we had kept the baby and were happy, the three of us. Those fueled my regret and uncertainty about the whole thing, and I texted her for the first time in months. She was seeing someone at the time, not unlike any of the other times we had gotten back together, but this one was more serious. I told myself that if I was going to make her life hard again, I would make her a promise that I wouldn’t leave her again. And so I did, I told her that we’d be together forever, but first we needed to work through our problems. The sad part is that I believed that two people with so much history could ever be happy together. Being together again was good initially and then more sad than before. To make it worse I was leaving for Wyoming for 4 months to go to NOLS. I told her I was gonna try and live in Colorado after the school and be an EMT, a week later she told me she was moving to Colorado. It kinda seemed like it would work out though, until I started on the road driving towards Wyoming. Our talks became rooted in the past, and we couldn’t ever seem to move past what had happened. Our conversations became less frequent and I was leaving for 4 weeks on a backpacking trip for school with no phone, so I told her we’d take a break and talk when I was done.
Walking for 12 hours of your day gives you a lot of time to think. I thought about everything in that first week, and I recognized that I didn’t love this person, I just felt guilty about what I had done to her in the past. I was trying to make myself believe that we could somehow spend our lives together when the only thing I felt for her was that I owed her. The rest of the time I didn’t really give it much thought, we were learning so much and training in skills daily that I really didn’t have time to think about anything pertaining to her or what had happened. 3 months flies by when you’re having the best time of your life. I drove back to Denver from Wyoming to see her and to kind of end things for good, I had definitely done more harm than good at this point. The next 2 days I stayed with her were filled with fights throughout the day about our relationship, our past, me being a horrible person and we just couldn’t resolve what we had been through together. It kind of all came to a head in a large argument we had that ended with her throwing a brush at me. To me that was the certainty that we had no future together, so I left. And that was the end of that.
That summer I would work up in Maine at a summer camp doing an “adventure” program where we took kids into the wilderness. Was super cool, I dated a girl up there, made new friends, used the skills I just learned to an extent and got to see a new place I had never seen before. But the best part of the summer was my friend Nick. I met Nick during what’s called staff training, which is a time where all the staff is being trained in areas before the kids arrive. I don’t really recall what initial conversation Nick and I hit it off on, I just remember instantly being best friends. Throughout the summer Nick and I spent every off time we had together, even more so than this girl I was seeing at the time. In the middle of the summer I switched to the opposite shift because Nick was switching, essentially leaving the girl I was seeing so I could hang with Nick still. We had deep intellectual conversations, and he stirred in me a want to be smart again. I hadn’t really done well in school for the previous 4 years of life, and for the first time I really wanted to be successful in a school environment. But the biggest thing about that summer and my time with Nick was that he was the first person I told about what had happened. The first person in 2 years who I trusted enough to tell them, what I thought, was the worst thing a person could ever do. And he shared a similar story he knew back to me, and I felt like maybe I wasn’t the horrible human I had been thinking I was for 2 years. Nick was a safe person to tell for me. For one he was from California, so there was 0 chance he knew anyone I did, and for two I trusted that he would never tell a soul what I had told him. I find now that my friendships are with people who I know I can trust with something as heavy as I have. Sharing that with Nick last summer was the exhale from my two year stored breath. Since then I’ve told more people, my parents know now, and even from people who I’d expected to chastise me, they’ve been receptive and understanding. I think I’m moving into a time where I can process how I really felt about it all now, because it’s ok for me to think and feel in the open about it. Even writing this to share is a form of accepting that it’s ok, and it’s scary, because I still have the belief that people will know this about me and hate me for it. But the looming insecurity of wondering how people would be to me if they really knew is tired for me now. I’d rather live in this than pretend I live outside of it.
So boom, there’s the worst thing i’ve done in my life.