I’ve been reviewing my journals which cover the last twenty years of life, I’m doing so as currently writing up a memoir about my experiences with drugs and addiction, and what factors contributed to my growth as an addict. It’s a strange old experience, revisiting days past and reminders of old selves, I knew it would trigger lots of things for me, and was mindful about how it could impact my mental health, I also knew instinctively that it was a journey that would be beneficial. I’ve reached a stage in life where I want to consolidate life so far, I need to regroup and reaffirm my lifes purpose and direction.
Ten years ago today I was pregnant with twins, I was lodging with my friend and her dog in North Devon, and life was certainly not as I expected it to be. Sitting here now I’m aware of the significance of that day ten years ago, and how I was so unaware that I was about to do something that would alter the course of my life forever. I was naïve to the implications, I was naïve about my needs and values, and my annoying Pollyanna personality and pathological optimism was in full force, little miss Brightside, hoping for the best, seeing only potential and good when really I should’ve been alert to dangers, those within me and my emotional world. I took it for granted that I would cope with the weight of my choices, I had so far in life, and considered myself to be a strong person. What I failed to acknowledge was the extreme trauma I’d faced, and how this had surfaced since the death of my mother the year before. It was that trauma that had led me to abandon a life of normality and order in favour of something deviant and reckless.
The death of my mother had released previously repressed traumas, I had spent my entire life keeping these things in check, always looking forward and striving to reach my potential, experience the world through travel, education and relationships. I was always on the go and never able to relax, I would throw myself into projects, career or relationships and obsessively work my will. I never allowed myself to be still enough for reflection to occur, and attached my value to others, my whole identity was wrapped up in the groups I belonged to, the work I was doing or the relationship I was having, I never stopped to think about who I was and what made me that way. My mothers death was a hard jolt and suddenly all the defences and strategies I’d employed to keep the trauma away did not serve me, and I became my childlike self, the one rejected, abused and abandoned. My condition was raw and I started to become undone and adrift.
I gave up my newly acquired job as a trainee CBT Therapist and became an escort, providing companionship and sexual services to a wide range of men and couples. When I read my journals from this time I feel such sadness, although the journals don’t reveal that, I write as someone totally in control and aware of their choices. I justified my decision by telling friends that plenty of people go out on a weekend, get blind drunk and have unprotected one night stands and that this is acceptable to the world, so why couldn’t my conscious decision to engage in such behaviour, and to do so safely with protection not be acceptable too, I said it was the oldest profession in the world, and that men had taken so much from me that it was time for me to take something from them. I loved the idea of becoming someone else and playing a role, I wanted to learn to enjoy sex but didn’t want to be in a relationship, it wasn’t a hard choice to make. I wanted time to grieve, I wanted space to be me, to write and walk and try to make sense of some the things that were returning to haunt me.
I’d always struggled with my sexual identity, and for most of my life had seen sex as a way to please the other, and had never really explored how sex could work for me, in some strange way escorting was an experiment about my sexual identity, by having no emotional attachment to my clients I was free to experience my own needs and wants, and as they didn’t know me I could be whatever I wanted. I approached it with enthusiasm and curiosity. I’ll explore my escorting experiences further in other posts but it’s relevance here, is that I became pregnant by a client, it was actually the last appointment before I made a change and started normal working life again.
I had been escorting for just under a year and the first anniversary of my mothers death was difficult, it ended with me in a drunken state, I came around in the park with my underwear missing, covered in mud, I had scratches and bruises all over, I was unaware of what had happened to me or how I got there but knew something bad had happened. I was told I left the pub with a chap called Frank, that he was holding me up as we left and walked down the street towards the park. I didn’t report this to the police as I worried how they would view me, especially if they knew I was an escort. It did however wake me up to the fact that I wasn’t coping very well, getting so drunk, blacking out and choosing to escort were all worrying signs, and I thought I should try to pull myself together. I agreed to meet this client one last time as he was a regular and I needed the money. I stayed overnight with him at a hotel in Exeter and got very drunk on Sancerre wine, I didn’t think much of it when I left in the morning, I was keen to get home and prepare for my interview that day with mental health charity, the interview went well and I was offered the job, it felt as though times were changing and perhaps I could salvage some sanity and get life back on track.
A few weeks later my period is late and I feel different, in that moment I suddenly remembered the night, I’d got drunk, and not insisted on using protection which I always did, shit, this is serious. Before I even got the pregnancy test I knew I was pregnant, but hoped that perhaps I may be mistaken, I wasn’t. At my first scan I watch the clinician scanning the images on the screen, I can see he is concentrating and looking closely, ‘what is it, what’s wrong I ask’, he turns and looks at me with a smile, and say’s, ‘nothings wrong, it seems you’re having twins’. In that moment I was both overjoyed and overwhelmed, I had not considered having children seriously, and had certainly not expected it in these circumstances, in my head I kept repeating ‘its not supposed to be this way, what have I done’ this thought circled for days, and I felt paralysed to act. The client in question told me he couldn’t have anymore children, his were grown now and it would ruin his family and hurt his wife, he wanted me to have an abortion and he felt it would be for the best, for me too, I was lost, I was still in shock.
“There are two things in life for which we are never truly prepared: twins.” Josh Billings
I find the experience of pregnancy quite beautiful, I wrote in my journal that it felt like trippin but without acid, the colours were richer, my sense of smell deepened, there was fragrance all around me, I could taste things more vividly, and I felt rejuvenated and refreshed, there was a spark about me that I’d not felt ever in my life, and I could feel the life inside me starting to grow and with it my connection to those two little lives and all the undiluted potential they held was growing too. I felt a bond to these lives I created, and the thought of severing that was unbearable. I pulled out of the abortion the first time it was booked, and the client continued to pressure me, I was also plagued with thoughts about how I’d cope, I had no family, I was still grieving over my mum and working my issues out, I wondered how I could tell them that they were created through such an encounter, how could I say that there father didn’t want them, that he thought they were a mistake.
I have never known my father and my biological mother had me at seventeen, she was unable to cope and I was raised by my grandmother who became mum to me, I knew how family could be complicated, and I worried that I would be like my biological mother, what if I was cruel and found it difficult to bond with them, there were so many what if’s.
On this day ten years ago, I was preparing to go for the abortion the next day and I was still questioning if it was the right thing to do, my journals detail my efforts to weigh things up, the pro’s and the cons’, the inner conflict, the ambivalence was tearing me apart, and I had no idea how tomorrow would change my life.
“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.” Aristotle