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The First Day   Leave a comment

Dearest unseen child within my womb:  I am your mother, by some reason.

I fear your arrival on this Earth and into my arms.  I never wanted to give life – not because I don’t love you (I don’t know you; haven’t met your spirit) but because my view of this world is dark and sad.  I am so deeply saddened by people.  I cannot comprehend their actions against each other.  I literally ache from what I see:  I suffer depression.  My depressions are as a black hole, mostly evoked by what I observe in this society, and the idea of a new life landing in my lap to be loved and cared for in this cesspool, and looking up to me in search of joy and meaning – it terrifies me.

I don’t know why I am here, and certainly wouldn’t vote in another life – much less one I would be destined to love, and so anguish to see afflicted by the ways of the people on this Earth.

However, by some Reason/Fate/God/Purpose you have come to ME, will be born of me, despite the above which I have felt every day of my life before I conceived you, through pregnancy and still now with your arrival so imminent – and despite that I was infertile; had premature menopause.

I write this memoir especially for you because I don’t know how long I will live (I have felt constantly suicidal, yet insanely challenged, in life since my mid teens).  I write for your sense of identity – to understand of whom you were born.  You see, unseen child, my mother suicided when I was 6 and all I have of her is black and white photos and my sisters’ memories.  No matter how desperately I beat against the chamber of memories within, still no more is known to me.  I do not want to coward out, unseen child, but I am absolutely terrified and so very, very alone.  If I do it, that which I contemplate so regularly, I want you to know that I loved you.  You must know that I love you.

Even so, I vow now to give you everything I can from my heart, mind and soul.  You will owe me nothing.  You may hate me if you wish.  I will simply give to you because you were borne of me, because you are tied to me, because I love you.  I love you inexplicably, even before seeing you.  I was born to love you in my time.  You will be born to have me as your parent, your guide, in your time.  This is life and its cycle.

 You were conceived around May 8 last year, the doctor told me.

At the end of April I had finished working on a student film plus ended a 3-month relationship with Chris Wong, a Chinese-Indonesian feng shui practitioner I met by calling for his services.  This was totally out of character for me as I have no interest in feng shui – zero.  However, I called Chris Wong on a whim after being recommended by an acquaintance.  Fate.  I felt like trying something different at that time in my life, and the opportunity arose.  Fate.

When I returned from filming, Chris wanted to see me, but I broke up with him.  I had in our 2 short months realised traits of his character that I just could not walk with, live with.  But he arrived at my door looking desperate, sad, begging to be with me, to be comforted by the solace that men draw from the mysterious depths of woman.  I had learned Chris had a relationship already and I was merely an affair, but he was such a sorry sight, I felt pity.  It was pathetic of me, my whole life had been an expression of compassion, and though I didn’t know it then, in time I realised I was raised with absolutely no boundaries, which obviously men took advantage of.  I did not want to be with Chris that night or ever again, but it was easier to just let it happen; then he would go. 

Also around May 8 Stuart Dale Courtier, a private investigator I had been seeing on and off for 2 years returned to town after a job, and called me.  I liked this Stuart and wanted to know him more, but he wouldn’t reveal his Self to me.  I was 3 years fled of my marriage, since which I had never held a relationship for more than 3 months.  I realised, or thought I did, that what my father had repeatedly spat at me a decade earlier was true, “Men will never want you for who you are.  They only want you for sex.  Be warned.”  It was dad’s style of fathering, mental and esteem abuses.

However, Stuart entered and withdrew from me for 2 years, which was the closest I’d come to having a relationship since my marriage.  I so wanted to be closer to Stuart but he repeatedly battered my self-esteem, picking up where dad had left off.  My father ensured I had no self-esteem, was numb to all feeling, including love, was almost catatonic in my existence, by the time I ran from “home” at 17.  Stuart would say to me, when I came to him with news of a man interested in knowing me, “Hey, if you’ve found someone who likes you, go for it.  To me, you’re just a fuck.”  I would attempt a relationship, Stuart would wait in the wings, and when it eventually, inevitably, broke of spell, Stuart would call for liaison.

It was one such hopeful call Stuart placed near May 8 1995.  “Yes, Chris and my relationship is over”, I told him.  And soon enough he was in me again as I lay back, crying for want to be loved.

Forgive me, unseen child, it is one of these two men who is your father – I am not yet sure which.

Not wanting to bear a child, and being infertile, I lived 4 months without knowing you existed. I was in amazingly real denial.  I was sick at work, a court reporter, and left my desk countless times to lie on the tiny cubicle floor of the toilets feet up against the door, but still it never occurred to me I could be pregnant.  I hadn’t ever fallen pregnant during my 9 years with the one man – my 7-year marriage – or ever, besides which I was infertile with premature menopause (they’d said).  

Thoughts of suicide constantly baited me.  I attended work, smiled and socialised, but then fled home to my bed-sitter to write and write what I felt – I couldn’t tell what anyone my heart; no-one wants to hear sad crap.  I figured that, a former bulimic, my health was at last breaking down, my body was finally falling apart.  I simply did not consider pregnancy.  So when I found out from the doctor I was carrying a little human spirit within, I was mortified.  I told him it had to be a mistake.  He almost laughed at me.  “About 16 weeks”, he said.  “You conceived around 8 May, I’d say.”

 In the doctor’s surgery, I was in shock. The doctor didn’t know how to relate to me.  He wasn’t my usual doctor and I didn’t trust to reveal to him that this mother-would-be was shaken and shocked.  I picked up my purse, said thank you, maintained face and grace as I signed the bill, then left the surgery to flee down the back lanes to my bed-sitter, my sanctuary, my plot.    There, my cat Zoon watched as I paced the cramped space.  I wanted to cry, but withheld.  I had to ring Stuart; the father had a right to know. 

I cannot rightly explain why I believed Stuart was your father, except that my relationship with Chris Wong was over and I had not seen him for 4 months.  Stuart, I had known for 2 years.  He had visited on occasion in months recent, and so it just seemed to me that he was the dad.

I rang Stuart and he visited immediately.  I told him straight that I was pregnant and the child could be his or Chris Wong’s.  I said I felt it was his.  Stuart paced my bed-sitter and hovered over me, full of vitriol toward me just as my father used to be.  He immediately went into denial, said the child had to be Chris’, it was definitely not his.  Anyway, he was looking for a reason to leave the country and this was perfect.  I watched as he jumped ship so readily, so easily, and it was both offensive and an assault. 

“That’s it between us”, he dismissed us. 

 “But, even if you’re not the father, can’t you please hold me.  I’m, I just need someone at my side, a friend.”  True, I so desperately needed, 4 months pregnant and in no relationship, a hug, just a hug – but Stuart leapt backwards. 

 “I told you, you were just a fuck.”  Then he laughed.  It was mean.  “Heh, there goes your life.  Your life’s gunna be hell for the next 3 years at least.  Bloody single mothers, a drain on our society.”   I couldn’t believe he didn’t make the connection that there would be no single mothers if all fathers were responsible.  “Look”, he said, “I’m outta here,” and  that easily, he could go.  However, then Stuart did a double-take. “Get rid of it.” 

It?!  I told you the child may not be yours.  How dare you declare the death penalty.”

“Look”, he said, looking calmer and as though he’d found a loophole in moral law.  “If you don’t get rid of it, it’s your responsibility.  You take it on yourself.  If you don’t do as I say, what I want, that’s your choice and you take it all on yourself.”   And he was gone. I was utterly shattered.  Man, fucking man – physically able to walk away from, to abandon children, they so often did.  I wanted to separate from the intensity of the situation too, but being a woman I had no option but to carry the human being inside me, and that was terrifying.

If I had done as Stuart said, you would be dead right now – slaughtered within my womb, not reading this book.  The destruction of you, a war against a small, defenceless life, would have occurred within me and I would have had to live on despite.  But I knew I could not.  I just could not live on after snuffing a real and living spirit within.  I would have to bear you, I determined, adopt you into wealthy, stable hands, and then get a hysterectomy.

This plan, a succumbing to the fact of you, was my first concession that I was pregnant, that you were real, you existed and I would have to bear you.  However, I definitely could not raise you.  I simply feared too much the great moral challenge.  How on earth could I raise a decent human being, when I struggled to simply remain alive?  How could I protect you from this world that breaks me inside? (but how could I let you go into it and not be there to teach and protect you?).  How could I give you happiness and security and love – things I never felt in my raising?  How could I give you what I hadn’t known?  For one thing, I hadn’t known a mother.  No, I would have to adopt you out, because I loved you.

Stuart’s absolute abandonment of me, of you, of the situation, of his (possible) responsibility, crushed me like tonnes of pain bearing down – tonnes.  I do not know how I got through days at work, a child within me and my not telling anyone.  My depressions and desperation were heightened as I despaired in want of my child to have a father.  It was so horribly against my ideals that a child should have one parent only.  I would do anything to give the child a father, but the more I attempted some support from Stuart – surely he felt something for me after screwing me for 2 years??? – the more I allowed him to abuse me.  He became so much like my father, battening my self esteem, being vicious and cruel.  He did not want to know me,  I had been just a fuck, that was all I was, and he dispensed with me. 

It struck me so severely that this man could abandon is own child to the world, to me (whom he didn’t know the heart of), to strangers, to welfare, to whatever happens to unwanted children in this world.  God, it hurt.

There I was carrying you, crying into the night under the weight of it all.  I didn’t want to tell friends or work or family – just Stuart.  The most important thing to do was to bring the father around to acknowledge his child but, God, day after day, harsher word after harsher word, he broke me down, crushed me, and I had to let it go:  my child would have no father.   I felt so isolated, so absolutely alone in this world.

Stuart had continually asked, “Why don’t you tell Chris?”  but the truth was, I could not bear another such reaction from man.  Two desertions over the one issue!  Everything Stuart said hurt and I just couldn’t take it twice.  It was like lining myself up to be lashed, by his tongue, his hatred, all the frustrations of his life.  Whyever do we intimately link with people like our parents???

At about the 6-month mark, when I was really beginning to show, I told my boss that I was pregnant.  I expected to be sacked on the spot.  A 29yo woman, fairly well travelled and lived, such was my regrettable Catholic upbringing that I expected to be sacked and shamed for the way man had left us.   On the contrary, my boss warmly told me that as an employer he would support me throughout, and carefully asked if the man was in the picture.  It took all my self-composure to say only ”no”.  It would be extremely humiliating to cry before my employer, and I held it all back. 

My boss, I thank him to my grave, told me I could work as long as I felt able to, could take time off as required, and he would keep the word silent until I told people at my own readiness.  I thanked him, brought almost to tears for his kindness.  How strange and confusing, wanting to cry for the tenderness this grown man was showing me.  I was in such a mess.

I told one colleague at the coffee pot one day, and word spread quickly.  I also told my family in Melbourne, my few friends, and my old school friends in Melbourne.  My family urged me to come “home”.  I had slim relationship with them, however, and returning to where I had fled from was no answer.  Running to Western Australia, the opposite side of the country, still was not far enough from my father.  Whyever should I return just because I was pregnant?  I was under no illusion they would be supportive.  I was, despite my state of desperation, wise enough to know that everything between us wouldn’t suddenly be okay just because I came back with a baby in my arms.  After all, still present in my head was my father’s words when I was 15, terrifying me against pregnancy, “If you ever get pregnant, just remember, just remember there’ll be no 11H to come back to.  I’ll disown you, that’ll be it.”   Problem was, he never told me how you “get pregnant”.

My friend Kathy in Melbourne desperately urged me to see a counsellor.  “What you’re going through isn’t exactly normal, Noeleen”, she said.  “You’re under a lot of stress and you need to admit it.  If you ask me, you should have been to a counsellor when your mum suicided, and when you got your stepmother, when he child died, when she died, when your marriage broke up.  I know you’re against counsellors because of the way Diana (my sister) ended up, but if you see one only once in your life, make it now.  For your child’s sake.” 

I figured I was under stress, daily contemplating suicide, dreaming of how I’d do it once I’d done my duty of bringing forth life, but struggling with the conflict of leaving you as my mother had left me.  I wrote in my journal, begging your forgiveness if I couldn’t see the journey through. 

 The people at work asked me daily how I was and though some days their continual interest was annoying to me (I don’t like answering questions; especially not repeated ones) it did keep me in touch with the fact that I was pregnant, which I had so long denied.