“Shame on me, shame on me! Shit, shame on me,” is all that played in my head as I sat on the bathroom floor of barracks room. What on earth had I done? In that moment the shame I was experiencing was not the shame my mother and sister wanted me to feel, instead it was the type of shame that been brewing under the cover of fear for years. My shame was like a slow festering wound on my soul, one that had been slowly oozing and leaking its poison into my system. All of my self-deprecation, self-anger, and self-loathing lay dormant until the very moment two pink lines appeared on the stick. When I spoke to my family and friends, I appeared courageous and competent. In reality, I was struggling with what I had done. I had broken the promise I made to my self many years before. At five years old I made two promises to myself. One, I would never have a wedding. Two, I would never have children. If anyone knew the true extent of my guilt and shame he or she would have thought I committed murdered. This pregnancy felt like a death sentence to my unborn child.
I made up my mind while in the bathroom that I was going to have this baby. Fear was no longer an option. However, I was not prepared for the intense feelings of inadequacy to take me hostage. Getting up and making my way to evening muster all I could think about was how horrible of a person I was to have done such a careless and selfish thing. I felt lost, sad, and alone. I knew I was not prepared, on any level, to be responsible for any other person. Hell, I was drunk out of my mind the day prior to finding out I was pregnant. This little person was going to be left in my incapable hands. What had the world come to?
I knew nothing about raising a child. What I did know was that good children needed good mothers and I was not good. Nothing about me was remotely decent let alone good. I had dropped out of college. I lived in a consistent state of numbness trying my best to keep a barrier between myself and the rest of the world. Good mothers were not broken their bodies had not been violated. Good mothers wanted to have babies. How could I carry life in this broken, tainted, and used up body? Why did this baby pick me to be his mother? Surely there had to be far better options for continuing human race. I hoped this child did not need more than I had to offer. I was fragile, raw, and damage. I had baggage and my baggage had baggage. How could I be expected to positively shape the life of another human being?
Shortly after getting pregnant I found sleep eluded me. When I was able to sleep I would wake up in the middle of the night panting, sobbing, and sweating thinking about what kind of person I was. I hated my self for being too selfish to abort my baby and too coward to give him up for adoption. I wanted more for this little person. I wanted for him something I did not have as a child. I wanted him to be loved. Not the love I had growing up where my presence was tolerated. Not the kind of love that was extended to make sure my mother had someone to care her in old age. I wanted my son to have love rooted in strength, courage, honesty and nurture. The problem was by this point I started to believe I was incapable of loving.
My friend was happy I was having a baby. She grew up similar to me with a mother who struggled to show love and who was oppressed and abused. A mother who passed down her pain and suffering to her daughters. My friend assured me having a baby would be amazing because I would have someone to love me. Unlike me, she was ready for motherhood ready for someone to fill her void. I on the other hand knew I was incapable of being loved. I mean, if my very own mother did not love me (this was my perception at the time) how could anyone else love me. How could my baby love something as wrong as me? I was nothing and nobody. I was already failing at being his mother and he had yet to be born. People spoke about how motherhood would change me, make me softer. I was not sure I wanted to be changed. My hard attitude and rough exterior kept people away. And there I went again failing. What kind of mother did not want to be better for her child? Most days I spent what energy I had left trying not to drown in a pool of guilt and shame.
My world of numb detachment was working for me. I could live a reckless life with little regard for myself and others. This baby challenged my recklessness. I was lacking in character, sense of self, and self worth. I knew what my lack would mean for my unborn child. I knew because I saw how my mother’s lack impacted me. Everyone proclaimed how magical being a mother was, yet I knew different. I had a mother and she was not magical. People committed about how much I looked and behaved like my mother. I was even having my first child at the same age my mother had her first child. There was not escaping the fact I was my mother’s daughter. If she could not get it together for her three children what made me believe I could change for my one unborn baby? That realization alone would have me up night after night crying, chest sunken, and dry heaving with images of how I would do to my child what my mother had unintentionally done to me. He would resent me like I resented my mother. I would fail my child like I was failed. I would be to him what I knew. What I knew was pain, disappointment and failure.
What right did I have to bring a person into this world? How could I taint his perfect pure soul with my soiled frayed soul? He needed someone to love him, cheer him on, care for him, and show him how to live a good life. He needed all the things I did not have. I could feel his call for me to be the person I did not know existed. I remember thinking one day, “If I love this child I will have to love everyone. Loving him will mean I have to forgive and love my mother who failed me. I would have to love and forgive my father who disappointed me. Then, I would have to forgive and love the men who raped me. Most importantly, I would have to love myself.” Could I do that? Could I forgive and love?” I was not ready for love and forgiveness. If I was not ready for love, then I surely was not ready to be a mother.
As my belly grew so did my sadness. I read articles about how a mother’s emotional experience, while pregnant, impacted the unborn child. My child had not taken his first breath and I continued to fail him. The article served as a reminder of how damaged I was. Each day that passed I was reminded of how poor of a candidate I was to be anyone’s parent. I believed some women were meant to be mothers I was just not one of those women. With no other choice but to have my baby I lived each day crippled by the shame of who I was not and stuck in the guilt of what I had done.
How could God allow such a thing to happen? Although, He and I were no longer on speaking terms He was well aware of my level of damage and He still let this happen. Was this pay back for being angry with him? Was He somewhere finding enjoyment in my suffering? I mean I knew He had little interest in me because of how broken I was but this baby had done nothing wrong. He did not deserve to have me as his mother. My battle with God was not new. I had always felt like God and I were at odds. Any god who would allow something so dark, deranged, and damaged to give birth to something pure and perfect could not be loving and kind. Great, it was official I did not have God and God did not have me. In that moment, I lost what little faith I had in God being a loving benevolent father towards and hoped He would do better by my unborn child.