Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Musings Of A 17 Year Old Mormon Me Suffering From Post Abortion Stress Disorder

I can't sleep. It's six in da A.M and I can't sleep. Max's paw kept thumping my rib cage as he chased squirrels through dream land and The Surge kept drunk texting me from a bar somewhere in Washington. He seems to have forgotten I'm three hours ahead of him. Last text I got said "I'm okay! Just a flesh wound." Good lord. What exactly is it boys do when celebrating the Super Bowl anyway?

Finally I stopped kidding myself and crawled groggily out of bed. The jig is up. I ain't sleepin' no more tonight. For the past hour I've been entertaining myself by reading through my old journals.. One in particular caught my eye.

I've never mentioned it but after this incident in my life, I immersed myself in all things Mormon. So much so that I nearly drowned.

Because of our 'outrageous iniquity', Matt's freakishly devout Mormon parents wouldn't allow him to start high school if I was there and threatened to move him to Salt Lake City. Because he was a football star at our high school, I opted to let him stay and moved to lonesome exile at my Aunt's house in Idaho.. That lasted about two months, but was long enough for me to lose my mind a bit.

Ultimately I moved back to Orem to graduate from my hometown high school.. and get involved with Matt once again. That's where the following journal entry comes in:

Wow. It's 1995. The year I graduate. I'm so embarrassed about the events that have taken place in my life. I don't even want to admit them. I came home from Idaho after first term of school. I got home in the first week of November so I've been home for going on four months now. Idaho seems like a distant dream. Another person. I've gone through such a range of emotions since I've been home. I saw Matt and we decided that we wouldn't see each other outside of school. That quickly changed. He's my best friend. It's so hard to stay away from him. I should have stayed in Idaho but I was so miserable. It's hard on both Matt and me. Because of what we did, his parents absolutely will not allow him to be with me so he has to lie about where he goes. I can't call him. He has a bishops interview every week. Today, in fact. I don't know what he says to him. I don't know if Matt lies about us or what. I try not to think about it. I know I'm gutless, but it's like I've given up because I just screw up over and over again. I feel like it's worthless to keep trying. I'm beating around the bush because I don't want to say something but I'm going to be completely honest in this journal. Matt and I have done bad stuff again. A lot. We haven't done IT, but we get close. After every time we are so disgusted with ourselves but we can't help it. I guess this means I'm not sorry, not repentant, but I am. I don't know what's wrong with my. I try and talk with Heavenly Father and I am so apologetic but then I do bad things with Matt. We know we are bad for each other when it comes to morality, but we love each other so much. I think so much about the baby I gave up. I wonder if he automatically goes to heaven or if he gets to go into another mothers life. Did I give up the right to my baby forever? Did I know him and love him in the pre-existence? My baby would be due about now sometime. Does my baby hate me? I need so much to repent of this. If it hurts now, what about when I stand before God? I am so ripped up inside. I am so ashamed. Things at school are okay. When I came home everyone asked me why I went to Idaho. I just told them I had to get more credit to get back into Mountain View High School. Most people believe that. But there is a rumor going around about what I did. I guess if I really did it, it's not a rumor. Guess who started it? None other than this guy. He kind of figured it out. We were kind of friends when I came home because we sit next to each other in Biology. I can honestly say Landon Bye is one person I dislike and that we will never get along. I give up trying to like him. There are a couple people at school who bother me but other than that, I really like people there. If yout take the time to get to know people there are some really neat personalities out there. I'm doing school work like crazy to make up my credits that I missed at the end of last year. I'm going to do it though. After all the stuff that's happened I'm actually going to graduate. I'm glad that I wrote in this journal finally. It's good to have someone to confide in. Before this I haven't talked about it at all. My friend Jen Freese is pregnant and getting married. Her bridal shower was yesterday. I'm jealous that she is having a baby. I am jealous because she chose the right way. I'm not really jealous, but I wish I would have done that. You know? I don't know what else to say. I'm so lost in life.

Reader Comments (16)

Monica, I can't even imagine what you went through. Not only did you have to endure your own heartache and pain, but the judgement of an entire community. How horrible! I'm crying for your 17 year-old self.
February 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterchrissy

I think it's human nature to question decisions we've made in the past. I remember reading the post about the abortion and thinking at the time how incredibly strong/mature you were for your age. I wondered what happened after you returned home... now I know. Your life would have been a very different one had you made the decision to keep that baby.

When I was younger, much younger, my long distance girlfriend phoned me to tell me she was pregnant. She told me the baby wasn't mine and asked me to pay for an abortion. I did. That was the end of our relationship but many years later I spoke to her about it and she wasn't so sure that the baby hadn't been mine.

In my 20's I became sterile because of a medical thing I went through. I've had regrets over the years because I've wanted children and they may have been my one chance to have one. But, I also realize it was her decision to make and one I fully supported because she/we were not capable of raising a child at the time. I know at the time that although I loved her, she didn't love me.

It still hurts. I feel your pain.

February 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStFarmer
Thank you for your comment... Wow. Your story is unbelievable and raises a decades old question about fathers rights. If it was your baby, was it only "her decision to make"? I don't mean to imply she made the wrong decision.. I just wonder if you had wanted to keep the baby and she didn't - what would have/should have happened... Interesting to view the situation from a male perspective.
February 6, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonica

The problem is that at the time she was pretty emphatic that the baby wasn't mine. It happened 26 years ago... did DNA testing even exist back then? How would I have proven I was the father?

At any rate, my regrets stem mostly from no being able to have kids later on.

As for a father's rights, I tend to believe that those rights come after a baby is born and with a committment (not necessarily marriage) to support the child. I don't think it would be right to force a woman to have a child she didn't want.

An aside... I have been known to be wrong a time or two.

Some other time I'll share a story or two that I attribute to that experience.

February 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStFarmer
I couldn't imagine at your age what went through your mind or how you were feeling, Monica. I know it must have been tough. I'm sure you've thought bad and maybe regretted it sometimes to. It's not jealousy it's just the what if questions.

St. Farmer, how sad reading what you posted. I could have never called someone even if at the time she says you weren't the father to ask them to pay for an abortion.

You are right though a father does tend to have more right's after a child is born. Whether it's to support the child and/or be there in the child's life.
February 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
"I try not to think about it. I know I'm gutless, but it's like I've given up because I just screw up over and over again. I feel like it's worthless to keep trying. ... Matt and I have done bad stuff again. A lot. We haven't done IT, but we get close. After every time we are so disgusted with ourselves but we can't help it. I guess this means I'm not sorry, not repentant, but I am. I don't know what's wrong with me."

This is EXACTLY, EXACTLY how I felt all through high school and college. We were teenage girls, for crying out loud. Isn't that hard enough without eternal guilt thrown in? I get really angry and regretful when I think about feeling that way. The way you refer to it as "bad stuff" was exactly the way I thought of it and talked about it too and in turn was made to feel like a bad person.

I know religion makes some people happy. It didn't make me happy, it made me feel like you described above. And that is why I feel so strongly now about not being a part of the church, I never want any of my daughters (if I have any) to be made to feel that way about themselves.

Thanks for posting this.
February 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnother Monica
Despite what this journal entry would lead you to believe, once I got my head out of the Mormon funk, I have actually never regretted the abortion. I think about it a lot.. and it's still painful.. but I also know that if I had it to do all over again, knowing what I know now.. I'd do it all the same.. except this time I wouldn't have told Matt.

StFarmer... I would love to hear your stories.. Keep the "your stories" section of this blog in mind.. It would be amazing to hear a man's perspective.. additionally - if you've never written about it.. you won't believe what will come pouring out.. Stuff you didn't even know you were thinking...

February 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
Wow, wow. I have only just come across your site in the past week or so but I sat with tears in my eyes at the older post. I can only imagine those feelings. I know I have felt loss and confusion and misdirection and envy in my life. Never like this...

I strongly believe that religion should direct us, never consume us...
February 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJasika
My god, how hard. A girl I lived with in college had an abortion and I remember how insanely difficult it was for her -- largely because she had two decades worth of Catholic guilt/teachings in her system -- and how every year after she had it, she'd walk to the pro-life parade/rally on the main street of campus and stare at it from within the cover of trees, crying. She said the same thing you did -- that she doesn't regret it now and would make the same choice again -- but I think it's still one of the single hardest things she's ever gone through. Or continues to go through, rather. Not helping was the fact that her asshole (by then, ex-) boyfriend, of several years pre-abortion, often called her and said things like, "you know, our baby would have been about two this month". After basically telling her he had no interest in the baby when she found out she was pregnant.

In any case, glad you came out on the accepting-self end of things. Takes a lot of strength.
February 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersandra
It's amazing what we can handle as teenagers, isn't it? Such a gut-wrenching time of life, yet even with the all the painful memories, we seem to make it out OK. Most of the time, anyway.

Do you know where Jen Freese is now? Is she happily married? Not that she necessarily has any reason not to be, but I'm curious...
February 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteramanda b
I'm curious about your relationship with Matt. Did you continue to see each other on the sly? How did it end? Are you still in touch? Is he still Mormon?
February 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTracy
Jen Freese divorced her husband, lost custody of her daughter, got addicted to drugs.. and I don't know where she is now. that is a long, crazy story. Suffice it to say, he married a girl in the Mormon temple..
February 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
I need to spend more time on your site, but I read this post and the backstory. You are a brave and incredible writer. I mean woman.
February 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
I was directed to this site from an article on Utah's continuing abortion-rights tragedy in this week's SL City Weekly (Feb 16). Reading the posts was eerily like reading excerpts from my own journal: I graduated from Orem's salt-lick shaped Mountain View HS in 1999 and I can say it was, it is, like the Happy Valley it serves, a bastion of religious hypocrisy. How poignantly you captured what it was like to grow up in Orem and to be torn apart by its omnipresent religion. All of my own Young Women's lectures, feelings of guilt and frustration and despair and anger and suffocation came rushing back to me. We always heard in church that the apostates weren't *really* happy, they just thought they were. The day I finally released myself from the mental anguish of making doctrinal Mormonism, and the weird monstrosity that is cultural Mormonism, fit into any rational or reasonable conception of the universe was the day I finally felt happy, and better than happy, clean and honest. Thank you for your posts, Monica.
February 16, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLucy
I was also lead to this site by SLC Weekly, and I am sooo glad that I was, I love reading your posts. I can relate to a lot of the topics you write about, especially this one. Growing up in Davis County Utah, and having an abortion at 16, the thoughts in this post are so eerily familiar to me. Not many people, other than my friends, knew about the abortion, and my parents are the only ones in my family that know about it to this day (it's been about 8 years). I have a good friend that got pregnant shortly after my abortion, and at first I was kind of sad, it made me wished I'd had my baby too. But I think in the end seeing her raise her child, and knowing exactly how different life would be, has really helped me confirm that I did what was right for me. I'm no longer confused by my choice, or ashamed of it. I'm glad that you aren't either, thanks for sharing.
March 1, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWendi

Hi Monica, I found your article recently in the net.... I could tell you so many things about what happened but I only would like to share this information in case you are interested and want some help. What you feel is part of what you are, a human being, this is regardless of what religion or faith you profess... It will never go away until you face it with your heart. There is always hope. 866-575-0075

May 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLili

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