Let Courage Carry You

“You are not mature enough”, “you don’t have as much experience”, and “you are still too young for all this” are some of the remarks I’ve heard frequently in my journey so far. In an existence where maturity, wisdom, and courage are gauged from one’s age, I always stood out. I believe that age is just a number that although, important, isn’t a defining factor for me. From the beginning itself, I’ve always upheld progressive views about motherhood as well. I feel one doesn’t need to have a child to experience motherhood and the accompanying virtues of selflessness, unconditional love, hyper-vigilance, intuitiveness, and so on. Having said that, I never thought I would have gotten a glimpse of it; at least not within the first two decades of my life.

All the quotations and sayings we hear about the uncertainty and surprises that life comes with, are fairly accurate. No matter how much we want to or attempt to control life, there is only so much we can do. As far as this story goes, in my opinion, such occurrences are more common than we realise and not nearly as discussed as it should be.

I was in my second year of college and a few weeks before my final exams, I began to feel an odd sensation. My menses were late and I began to grow concerned, however, I didn’t feel alarmed as they have been irregular from the time I reached menarche. At the time, I was in a relationship from about 2 years and had been taking protection to ensure complete safety. But, things felt different this time. All reasoning attempts failed as more time passed, and my anxiety hiked with each passing moment. To put an end to my anxiety pangs and overthinking bouts, I decided to take a pregnancy test.

In defiance to how it seemed to me at the moment, the tough part was yet to come. The result came out positive. I vividly remember standing with the test stick in my hand. I was in sheer disbelief and shock. I didn’t know how to react, what to do, whom to turn to, what to say, or how to deal with all that had happened. A single moment seemed to change my entire life, how I felt, what I thought, my priorities, my behaviour, and even more so, my attitude.

In retrospect, everything came back to me – the early symptoms: fatigue, aversion to some food, and nausea. I brutally blamed myself for being ignorant. Although, there was a rational part of me that wanted to turn to my partner for comfort and support as it was a shared experience, but as much as I tried, I couldn’t even muster an ounce of courage to confide in him. I took a few moments to gather myself and moved ahead. I left that space aesthetically, but a part of me got trapped there and ever since, I felt this constant heaviness in my chest. I felt scared to my bones. Even though I was an adult, I was terrified by the thought that the doctor might ask for parental concern if I seek help and I, under no circumstances, was prepared to share this news with them. I was worried about the money, the procedure, after effects, and on top of that, my exams were to commence the day after and I was gloomed with the thought that I would fail the semester – as studying was not my top concern.

Somehow, I managed to find a reliable doctor for consultation. I was still petrified, but distraction worked in my favour. I had too much on my plate. I had my exams, and had a part-time job which rendered me feeling worried for my students as they had their exams too. Although, the gravitational pull was too high and sufficient for my will power to succumb to it and give in, I just knew that I had to pull through this. I saw no other way out. Also, strangely enough, I felt this strong motherly instinct well up inside me that made me feel stronger each time I felt scared. I know this can be odd to read, but it helped me sail my boat through the roughest tides. Another vital source of my courage and perseverance were my roommates who stood by me through this journey.

I took an appointment just after my first exam and my doctor reassured me of confidentiality and safety. She compassionately explained the course of action in a non-judgemental tone. The very next day, I had a preparatory leave and so I decided to schedule my ultrasound. As I lay on the bed there and looked at the monitor screen, I could feel my heart sinking slowly. To this day, I cannot articulate how I felt. It was all surreal and hard to believe. I was 19 and pregnant. Even this thought gave me chills. But I realised that whatever I felt up until that moment, was just superficial. Right then and there, I opened a pathway to a whole lot of emotions that I hadn’t felt ever before. I could feel a sense of attachment to what was inside me. I don’t know why or how – all I know is that both, me and my emotions were mighty.

This, however, didn’t change the fact that I had to go through with the abortion. No, I didn’t feel guilty doing this. But it wasn’t easy. I was profoundly confused and hated myself in that moment. Nevertheless, I persisted. Since I was not that far along in my pregnancy, I didn’t have to undergo the procedure surgically, medicines sufficed. I was slightly relieved until I had to go purchase them from the nearby chemist. Trust me, this felt like an undercover operation and the looks I received were scarring. But, I couldn’t have cared any less. I took my pill and the first one was smooth. It didn’t even hurt a bit, rather, it made me feel more comfortable. Now if I see it, it was like the calm before the storm as the pills to follow kicked in at a supersonic speed.

I had another exam the next day but I couldn’t study due to the relentless vomiting, fever, piercing pain, and cramps along with the bleeding. No matter what I did, it hurt: everything, everywhere, constantly. This went on for about a week and on following up, the doctor gave me another dose. So I bled for one and a half month straight. I got through my exams somehow with no hopes of passing. Surprisingly and thankfully I scored well. It seemed like a little ray of hope in an otherwise cloudy grey sky.

On the other hand, I was shattered when amidst this rough patch, I got no support from the one person I expected to stand bedside me. I was told that I “should have handled it better” and I internalised that. His reaction changed so much for me. It made me dip towards loneliness and self-blame again. I loathed until my roommates made me realise that my self-worth wasn’t attached to this incident or relationship. One of my favourite shows has a quote that reads, “There’s an end to every storm. Once all the trees have been uprooted, once all the houses have been ripped apart, the wind will hush, the clouds will part, and the rain will stop. The sky will clear in an instant and only then, in those quiet moments after the storm do we learn who was strong enough to survive it.” These lines helped me understand and embrace my strength and independence.

Undeniably, like other times, this too passed. But, I am grateful that it didn’t just pass me by. It taught me to value good times, to be connected to myself, to prioritise my well-being, to keep safe boundaries, to acknowledge each time I felt protected, to appreciate my friends, to understand who stood by me, to realise the power of love and loss, to persevere, and above all, it made me come to terms with the fact that healing is a journey. It’s not a destination or a one-stop goal. It’s not linear or necessarily enlightening. In fact, on some days, it’s ugly, it’s ruthless, it’s brutal, and it’s frustrating. I still feel that loss sometimes, I feel heavy, or just feel like crying. I did not have enough time to process my emotions regarding the abortion at the time when it was happening, but as time lapsed, I did sit with my feelings and I am still uncertain about them. There is still a long way to go.

One crucial realisation was the fact that a lot of girls go through this and don’t have it nearly as easy as I did. They don’t know whom to turn to or what to do either. Some may find their way out, some may give in to toxic relationships, and some may resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Regardless, this subject matter is far too stigmatised and due to this taboo, people don’t get the support they need. Today, I feel absolutely comfortable talking about it so openly because I want people to be able to share, to have access to the necessary help, and in the hope of creating a safe space.

It’s a reminder for all of you that even in the darkest tunnel of your life, you aren’t alone. And, you got this!

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Niyatee Rana
Niyatee Rana
3 years ago

You went through all of this all alone! Hats off to you girl. I feel a bit ashamed that you were my classmate but still I Didn’t had a hint of what you were going through. I know we don’t talk much but I have got to tell you that you are one hell of a women. Proud of you.