I feel paralyzed, captured, confused, and need to vent out of every pore. It feels like some kind of tradition for me, after more than four years on hubski. To write something, vanish, and then come back with another outpouring of emotions and brain-garbage. But, there is no other place for me, but here.
It has been exactly one week since my life was turned upside down. I mentioned in a Pubski last year that I started to date a girl (lets call her Sarah) with which I did not fall in love but liked the way I was discovering things I like about her instead of the other way around. It just felt good and we both had a good time so we went with it. After a few months she developed feelings and confronted me, asking what was my state. I liked her more but did not feel in-love. I explained that I like what was happening and that I would like to give it a few more months.
Four weeks ago I packed my bags, heading back home (Israel) for a wedding of a friend and family visits. Two days before flying back to Germany I met someone that rekindled feelings I did not feel for a while. It made me feel bad about my situation with Sarah. I was not able to give her the love she is giving me. After thinking about it for a week, I decided to talk to her. She already knew/felt it. The talk was uncomplicated and we both agreed to keep this going till August, where she would move away to start her first public position as a teacher.
One day later, after enjoying a nice Saturday in the city, I am feeling good. I dealt with the situation and it seems both sides are fine with it. I get a phone call from Sarah. Crying, asking me to come over. I arrive at her place, and see an ambulance car in front of the house. My heart drops. I go into her flat and see her sitting on the floor of the bathroom, crying.
She did a pregnancy test. It was positive.
About five weeks ago we had a little accident which lead us to the closest pharmacy to get the "Day-After-Pill". The pharmacist said that her period might be shifted by a few days, up to a week. She was 3 days late on that Saturday afternoon.
My first reaction was to panic. I felt so hot that I had to take off my shirt. I sat down next to her, looked at the test and started to browse through my memory of medicine and the internet what situations could lead to a false-positive. Many options, a cyst, urinary infection, some rare diseases... But in the back of my mind, it was there, looming, the feeling that this is our reality now.
An hour later we did another test, re-reading all the instructions in the package, it was positive again.
From that moment, the panic started and I have a bad recollection of the timeline. Already here I felt helpless, powerless. For the first time in my life I was placed in a situation that would change the course of my life completely, and I, in reality, have no say in it. I felt like I was kidnapped... Sarah is a strong woman that learned to deal with things herself, just like me. She is also a teacher for the disabled and had her fair share of stories that involve women aborting their pregnancies after a Down Syndrome diagnosis and then regretting it. Which made me shit my pants even more, as I felt I could be, in the worst case, just left out of the equation, with as simple "I will just do my thing". This feeling scared me, made me angry at her, made me angry at myself for getting myself in such a situation. Stop, no, I won't let my brain simulations take over, we don't know for sure...
The first step was to get a doctors' appointment first thing on Monday. We went to the doctor and she confirmed it. Sarah is pregnant, about the six weeks in. It was a short relief. For the first time in two days, we knew something for a fact. But as I said, it was short...
Our obvious option is to get an abortion. In Germany, abortions before the 12th week are legal. All you have to do is go to a consulting session - that is forced, by law, to be neutral - get a piece of paper from them that we had the consulting, get the addresses for the clinics, and then wait three days before proceeding with the abortion.
She called there first thing in the morning (it was Tuesday) and got an appointment a week later. A week, on this timeline is one looooong period.
From that point, a roller coaster of emotions, panic attacks, and crying started. We talked that same day and I realized she is not sure if she wants an abortion. At that point my brain sets to blank. I cannot understand why/what/how she even considers that...
We met two days after the doctor's appointment to go for a little hike, just to get things out of our system and I notice that she seems confident, not as emotional as the day before. After talking, I realize that she talked to a friend of hers that got pregnant while traveling at the age of 21 and decided to keep the child. Her friend realized that Germany is particularly good for single moms with a newborn and there are many support systems...
At this point I would like to drop the timeline and move on to a process I have been going through. My brain is forcing me to go through every possible situation and endure that pain that comes with it.
Step One: The Egoist
I am in the third year of my PhD. Earning O.K. to live but not what anyone would consider good. I have 1-2 more years in my PhD and then (after contemplating where my place in this world is) I want to go back home, to Israel, as I have not found a home in Germany. In addition to that, family wise, I am basically alone in Germany. I have an old Grandma and an Aunt (that has her own problems to deal with). Besides that I have many friends, but no "net" to catch me when/if I fall.
The first thoughts and fears that I got revolved around how much this will affect my life. She will move into a city two hours away, I am stuck doing my PhD, we are not staying together, I have no support, she barely has any support... How will that work?
I am not settled financially. As I said, I earn enough to cover myself, but never enough to pay for a child. I will feel trapped in a place I don't want to be. It would force me to stay in Germany, a place that I cannot stand anymore, after 10 years...
And then, the effects this will have on my family at home. You must know, I grew up in a conservative town with comparably liberal parents. In that town (and larger family), everyone is connected and is governed by tribal rules and traditions that anyone in the west would consider archaic.
If my father found out that I have a non-marital child, his first reaction (after getting furious) will be to force us to get married (which will not happen). The second step will be his choice but both options have large implications.
Either, he chooses to stand by my side and risk getting my whole family (my mother and two sisters) to be excommunicated and shunned by the whole city. Or, excommunicate me. Each of these actions will carry further ripples through my family with outcomes I don't even want to think about, as I am getting nauseous writing it down.
Eventually, I thought, "fuck it, let him excommunicate me!". I knew I will have my fights in life, maybe I can stomach this one, its only me that is suffering, right?
Step Two: The Child
After, kind of, taking into account what could happen to me, a thought popped up, which I first ignored, and it was "What about the child?".
I had/have a troubled relationship with my father. He was never able to show emotions and love. It might be due to the way he grew up, as one in 11 siblings in a farmer family where a man is not supposed to cry and show emotions. His father was also hard on him and even though he might have tried, he was also hard on me. I suffered a lot under this. I did not turn out the boy/man my father wanted. I am not particularly masculine or tough and as a child I was much closer to tears than my pals. My mom once told me that my father was worried that I am gay and that he was very relieved to know that I found women attractive...
When I was in Junior High School a group of guys started mobbing me. After telling my father, he arranged for me to move classes into a better one. In the new class, things did not get better,rather worse. It got to a point where I would be beaten up every day after school. I remember packing my bag 5 minutes before the bell rang just so I could sprint out of the classroom so no one could catch me. When I told him about it, he just told me to "man up!", not realizing that I was, after 3 years of it, suicidal.
My childhood is littered with stories like this where I was not the boy my father wanted. But still, I am his first-born son. So I was always a source of shame when I grew up.
I swore to myself, that, when I have a children, that I would be a much better father than he was. I will be there for my children, whatever happens. Accept them, however they are. And shower them with all the love that I did not get from him.
And how can I do that in the situation that I am in right now? How will this child grow up?
"You don't have to be there, I can take care of it alone".
Do you think I could live with that. Knowing that I have a child, sitting 5 thousand kilometers away, wondering why his dad is not there? The child will grow up knowing that he "does not belong". Without a real support net and with a heavy baggage on his back.
Not belonging. A feeling I am very familiar with. Of being "not here or there". The Arab, the Israeli, the German, the Polish. Everywhere I am a foreigner. With time (a lot of time) I learned to wield it as a shield but it was hard, very hard. Who am I to wish that to an unborn child, in addition to all the other problems? At least I had a net, a family, to fall back to.
And what happens when the child wants to see his father? his grandfather? His family he doesn't know? He will be faced with disgust and shame, just adding to that feeling of "non-belonging" that he grew up with.
I can't be the father I want to be. I can't.
Step Three: Her
I have had all the possible emotional reactions towards her. I sympathize with how she feels and then I am angry at her for not choosing a rational choice. Then I realize that she is pumped with hormones leading to all kinds of emotional reactions. I try to be there for her, more than ever. Try to ease her suffering. She is nauseous all the time and moody.
And she sees it as me trying to push her into aborting the child. That my help and efforts are bound to that decision.
In a way, she is correct. When I think about the possibility that she decides to keep the child, she is basically saying "fuck you" to every thing I want and and the future of the child. It feels to me as if it is a purely egoistic choice of her to keep the child, not caring about what impact that choice has for the child and me. And honestly, I do not know if I want to spend another second with someone that acts so selfish...
She is making me feel guilty for asking her to abort the child. She is afraid of the complications, the effect of this abortion on her future chances of getting pregnant, about the guilt... I wish I could take that burden from her. I wish I could, Sea Horse style, take over the child and do the decision myself. But this not how things work in humans...
I wanted to know for sure how bad an abortion is. Going through the scientific literature showed me that the complications are very very minor and there is no scientific support for a reduced chance of fertility after abortions. Is she lead by misinformation? Is her fear false?
What do I know. I am just the onlooker from the side that is dealing with his own fears.
What is killing me this time - compared to all the other challenges I faced in life - is that this one; first, is not in my hand and I am simply sitting there and suffering, and second, it affects more than just myself.
Every other time, it was mainly (in the end) about me dealing with the situation and finding a solution (and live with the consequences).
This time, I feel like all my limbs are cast in concrete and all I can do is stare into the abyss and suffer.
If you got this far. Thank you. Thank you for dipping into my fears and suffering. Thank you for being part of it, even if it was for 5 minutes.
And now I feel horrible for posting this on mothers day...