Looking in the mirror I rolled my eyes. I’d no need for bigger boobs – they were already huge before raging pregnancy hormones had kicked in. They were a little tender, too. It was the one visible sign of my now defunct pregnancy and I fervently hoped they’d shrink again, eventually.
But otherwise I was fine, and with a few days rest I was back to ‘normal’. Only, no one knew I’d been pregnant except for my best friends. And we didn’t speak of it ever again.
It’d been all too easy. Thanks to my rather lucrative-if-seedy line of work, paying for the procedure wasn’t a problem and I could easily afford the time off.
But all the literature and movie portrayals of women having abortions had sucked me in. I believed the hype and found myself feeling guilty for not feeling guilty about what I’d done, as opposed to feeling guilty or remorseful at all. There were no tears for my lost child. No sadness at its ending. I never imagined how old it would be over the years, what it might have looked like or any of those things. From a very deep place within, I’d known all along it was the right decision for me…
And so I went on with my life as though it had never been, except of course for feeling bad about not feeling bad. Was I normal? Was I totally cold hearted? I couldn’t be sure. Of course, it never occurred to me that no one has the same reactions as another person, and that feeling bad about not feeling bad meant I couldn’t possibly be cold hearted. I just thought there was something wrong with me. But then, when did I ever think there wasn’t?
I was still working as a stripper although the fiery anger with which I’d danced had gone – a side effect of one too many stereotyped oafish men paraded in front of me as I (another stereotype myself), removed my lacy lingerie and pretended to be interested in the bug eyed men from all walks of life ogling my flesh mindlessly. Football clubs. Private events held by rich men for their friends’ amusement. Working class pubs all over town. Huge money-making events in Melbourne or interstate where strippers were just a side dish to the more extreme sex shows on offer. Married men at bucks parties. Ermm, yeah…
And then the 21st party I was booked for. Must’ve been someone’s idea of a bad joke because it wasn’t just a bunch of randy post-teen boys, but mums and dads too. Everyone was gathered in the pool room – literally a room with a pool in it. Completely. Unsexy. And just kinda naff.
I can’t recall the exact trigger that made me go back to my parent’s house or when. But it wasn’t the abortion. And I still hadn’t quit the “exotic dancing” industry. My sister was in the last year or two of high school, the same one I’d gone to and I know she was copping flack from the rumours that flew around the school.
Possibly it had something to do with wanting access to the car my parents had bought for my sister and I – my great aunt and uncle’s old Torana Sunbird. Maybe there was another reason, but to be honest I can’t remember.
However before I could move back into my parents’ place there was a Conversation To Be Had. Or maybe it happened the night I returned: Lots of Hard Questions and Answers, and plenty of Berating of My Actions.
Your boobs will sag down to your knees, I recall my mother saying… You dropped out of high school and you’re stripping? You never finish anything you start… think they both chipped in on that one…
Oh really? Are you sure about that? I challenged, I had an abortion, you know.
Probably wasn’t as long as it felt. I could almost hear them regain their composure… Well yes, I guess you could say that’s something you finished… What? When? How?
More silence after brief answers designed to give away as little as possible.
Of course, I didn’t think about it but my mother’s emotions right then must’ve been intense. She’d been only a year younger than me when she nearly died giving birth to her first child and was then forced to give him up for adoption.
Two more people who knew about my abortion, and I’ve never talked about it with them since then either.
That was that, so I thought. A hiccup in time that didn’t mean anything to anyone. Not even me. Except for the guilt about not being guilty, of course.
And so we tentatively negotiated the terms of my partial surrender return to the family home, none of us sure what would happen next. No trust in any corner. No Conversations That Matter. I wasn’t giving up stripping, not yet, although my parents were opposed. Oddly though, I was asked to pay rent and I agreed.
Yeah, take the money I made by selling the right to look at my naked body and be damned…