Then, the Navy happened. I saw the Navy as a way to get far away from everything and everyone. Little did I know the one person I was running from I could not actually escape no matter how hard I tried. No matter how far I ran there I was. No matter how fast I ran, damn, there I was. Eventually, I ran right smack into a baby. Not just any baby, but my baby. Straight out of boot camp and there I was pregnant. Kids were never an option for me. I never wanted to be responsible for another human being, ever. I knew, all too well, the impact a parent could have on an impressionable child. I knew I was not cut out to lead another person. How could I give to a child what I never received?
Having a child was not an option until it was an option. That boyfriend from college also went to the Navy. Although he joined the Navy several years before I did, as fate would have it, we ended up at the same place at the same time. Had I went to the Navy a few months earlier we would have completely missed one another. By this point I had developed some insight. I use the word “insight” very loosely because what I really developed was a case of the “me first mentality”. I learned to live in the numb blank space that existed between all things, the space between the drinking, the partying and between relationships. You know the fringe of all things, that space just before you actually touch or connect. This place where true selfishness lives. Here I was only doing enough to obtain pleasure often at the expense of others. In the fringes, if it did not meet my specific needs or wants it had no value. Here, in this place, the objectification of others was the how I survived. I was the wounded victim and everyone owed me.
Nonetheless, I found myself in a hotel with my ex-boyfriend having sex, or trying to have sex. I think he was having sex while I was trying to figure out how I ended up here yet again. At this point I had engaged in enough sex to actually find the act enjoyable. What he was doing on top of me was not enjoyable. Sex with him did not feel violating or hurtful just empty and disconnected. I found I was not all that interested in laying there pretending to enjoy this man humping vigorously on top of me. I did try to communicate my needs but he seemed uninterested in having a mutually enjoyable experience. Shoving at him, I told him to get up. I was done. Done with all of him and his touching.
He and I had kept in touch through the years so talking to him after the thing he called sex was nothing new. I suspected early on that I might be pregnant. I told him up front that I would under no circumstance have his baby. Having never been pregnant before I assumed I could make the decision of whether or not to have a baby in the same fashion I made all other major decisions in my life; detached and impulsively. I was wrong. The moment I confirmed I was indeed pregnant my whole world changed. I wanted, for the first time in a long time, to be connected to another human being. I wanted to be the mother to this baby. I wanted to give love without fear and receive love unconditionally.
I remember telling my friend I was pregnant and she looked me in the eyes the best she could standing all of 4’11” and said, “Tell me what you want to do, Danell. I know places we can go if this is not what you want”. I told her I was good and I was going to have my baby. Although she was familiar with my many late night what if conversations, she was not aware I had changed my mind the moment I saw the pink cross appear on the pregnancy test. She did not know that as I sat in the bathroom holding the positive pregnancy test I felt saved. Sitting in the quite of the bathroom warmth washed over my body. I had never been baptized, but in that moment I felt restored, renewed, whole and pure. For the first time I knew it would all be okay. I no longer had to live for myself. Instead I could live for this baby. I could be better for this baby. I could do all things because of this baby.
I don’t remember exactly when I told the father the pregnancy was confirmed, but I remember his initial response was excitement. He was joyful and talked about having a baby boy. I recall how hearing his joy created sadness and fear for me. He starting making plans about what this meant for us, saying things like “we can” and “our son”. I wanted to puke. I wanted to keep my baby without having to keep him. I was committed to my relationship with my unborn baby, however, I did not sign up for this life long relationship with another adult human being. I heard my voice as I spoke the words, “Uhm, this does not change anything, I still don’t want to be with you. We can figure out how to raise this baby together, but I don’t want more than that.” At the time I did not know the power of my words. I was completely unaware of the impact my rejection would have on him and eventually my son.
Shortly after our conversation, the father began to act weird not returning my calls and avoiding me all together when in public. His passive efforts to communicate his hurt only served in supporting the fear that I was alone in all things. Later conversations resulted in him telling me he doubted I was pregnant with his child because I did not act like a “baby mama”. My lack of attachment proved to him I was being dishonest. He attributed my resolve and disconnect to the belief that he was not the father and I was trying to pawn another man’s child on him. In reality, I was not able connect with him or any man in a way requiring vulnerability and companionship. I lacked the skills to tell him my disinterest was not personal but universal towards all beings. I wanted to tell him how important men were to their sons. There were things I needed him to teach our son. I wanted him to know we could be friends as we raised our son. None of my truths were spoken just as none of his truths surfaced. To my disappointment, I soon found that if he could not own and control me he wanted no part in raising our son.
When I told my mother I was pregnant she was helpful in pointing out I had no business having a baby. She reminded me, in detail, how I was not good enough to be a mother. My sister who I loved and held in the highest of esteem (I still love and value) shared with me how disappointed she was in my pregnancy. She told me how getting pregnant destroyed my chances of achieving. I was angry that SHE of all people thought I could not succeed because of my child. She thought my baby was going to be a burden to me like we were to our mother. Didn’t she know this baby saved me from myself? He gave me purpose He picked me. She didn’t understand how being his mother made all the wrongs rights. He provided proof that I was not broken. He showed me I could give and receive love. Even in that moment when everyone else doubted me he loved me without judgment. He was offering me Grace, Mercy, Love and Compassion. My baby offered me a chance to stand courageous in the face of fear. It was the first opportunity I had to leave fear and stand in something much greater, love.
This was the very first time I can remember not succumbing to fear. The first time I declined the comfort and protection fear offered me. I stood willing to take a leap of faith trusting I had what it took. I was not sure what would be required of me, but I knew I had to say yes. If I wanted freedom and salvation I needed to be washed in love and bathe in forgiveness. My soul needed me to accept the invitation to motherhood an invitation the required I leave fear at the door. As much as this invitation required it gave tenfold. Saying yes to my son meant saying yes to love.