abortion, Adoption, defunct pregnancy, exotic dancing, guilty, hiccup in time, partial surrender, pool room, pregnancy, Repression, Stripper, Stripping, teenage stripper, Torana Sunbird
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…
Dear Svasti, this series of posts are powerful for their honesty and rawness – I feel I am witnessing deep courage and healing as you open yourself with us about these deeply personal choices, made by a strong young woman surviving as best she could. It is an honor.
I imagine the guilt about not feeling guilty is natural, but I believe not feeling guilty is a sign of your wisdom – a sign that the choice you made was the best choice for this potential incoming life and for yourself.
Thank you for continually inspiring spoken truth. love to you, Karin
@Karin – I was just chatting via GTalk with my good friend Shiv about what I’m writing… sorta… and saying how it’s a very interesting process. I’ve never written or talked extensively about this period of time in my life before. And last night, after I’d hit “Publish” on this post I lay in bed and all of the pieces came together in a way they never have before. The result of which you’ll see in part 3, which I think is the final part in the series (I think). Thanks for reading – I know it’s not the nicest material to bare witness to…
Here am I supposed to be doing my income tax accounts and instead I’m reading part 2.
It’s a compulsive read and I hope you consider a book one day – whatever you do, don’t blunt the honesty.
I can remember auditioning for a strip review. in the 70’s (several auditions in fact) goodness knows what path I would have taken if I’d got the job – I literally didn’t measure up to the part…you see I wondered why all the guys in the dressing room were playing with themselves…I was a bit dim. So out they went with their ‘weapons’ at the ready, whilst I did an impression of a cherub flying up a piano with a tiny ‘thingy’. I was fascinated however to do a dance move and when I stopped to find that some-things continued moving.
Your so right about the stereotype thing…feeling guilty about how you should have felt, when actually you did the right thing at the time…but it can be easy looking back.
I still have real problems with leaving my wife and son and it is hard to accept that it was the ‘right’ thing to do – to accept that I did it is all I can manage after all the years.
Sometimes I look to find smiles in my memories, like the cherub ‘thingy’…and the time the producer’s PA took my name and address with efficient seriousness, whilst I stood at the front of the stage with my winkle at her eye level…not one reaction from her (she didn’t react to the porno-studs either)
Life is a series of happenings which we view through a changing viewpoint to create a ‘reality’ – there must have also been funny times with the other strippers and punters.
Your a treasure
@soulMerlin – Any excuse to avoid doing tax returns, right? I have the same issue even though I use an accountant to do mine! 😉
A book you say? Not sure I have much more to add other than what I’ve written here. But never say never, right?
Yes, even when we make the right decision for ourselves, we do give ourselves grief don’t we! Funny story about your strip club audition – what led you to be there in the first place?
The money 🙂
…sorry ‘exotic dancers’
I totally relate to the guilty about not feeling guilty. When my dad died I felt guilty for not grieving. What I had to grieve was the sadness for the lack of grief.
@starrynightcoach – Thanks for popping over and commenting. Yes, I think that unfortunately too many of us suffer from social conditioning. We “should” feel certain things and if we don’t, why, we must be bad people. Right? Wrong!