Trigger Warning: subjects include abortion, rape/molestation Eighteen years ago today, I was sitting in the lobby of Planned Parenthood in Augusta, Georgia. Shaking, wringing my hands, my thoughts raced. That plain white door was enormously intimidating, with the knowledge of what would happen beyond it looming in my mind. A week and a half before, I had found out that I was pregnant. I had had no choice but to tell my stepfather, the man who had impregnated me, when that little pink plus sign screamed the terrifying truth at me. He didn't skip a beat with, "I'll schedule the abortion." (I'll get rid of the evidence.) I couldn't stand to look at pamphlets or books or even magazines. Every time his hand touched my leg to reassure me, I felt a wrenching, nauseous sensation, and it wasn't morning sickness. It was what I always felt when he touched me now. Yet, at this moment, I wasn't blaming him for my pregnant state, I was blaming myself. It was my fault for not standing up to him sooner. It was my fault because I still hadn't found the courage to tell my mother...to tell anyone. It was my fault because I never cried out for help. It was my fault because, at some point, I just stopped fighting back when he came to my room in the middle of the night. It was my fault for reasons that put so much fault on me that I couldn't go to anyone about it without facing my own shame. Some people make abortion sound like a simple choice, like choosing between chocolate or pistachio ice cream on a hot day. They don't understand all of the mental and emotional anguish that goes into such a decision. For me, my stepfather made the choice for me, in an instant. He didn't even suggest adoption. Adoption, they say, is an option. But when you are sitting in that clinic, adoption doesn't even play a role in the thought process. I could never give a child to another home and forever wonder if they are being loved or if they're being abused. I imagined all of the possible scenarios, if I kept it or if I went through with the abortion. The baby was a boy. He looked just like my stepfather. I couldn't bear to look at him, much less care for him. I wanted to love him, but he was a daily reminder of all that I had been through. I grew to resent him, mistreat him, until one day, children's services had to intervene and take him away. He hated me for the rest of his troubled life, and I couldn't forgive myself for the pain I caused him. I went through with the abortion. I never spoke of it. I withdrew deeper. My stepfather gave me time to heal from the procedure before becoming brazen enough to start slipping into my room once more. From there, I imagined a thousand terrible possibilities. When my name was called, I screamed that it was my stepfather's child, that he had raped me and was pushing me to get an abortion. They called the police, and had him arrested. The state forced me to have an abortion, making me feel even more violated and powerless. I actually wish I had gone with the last one, sometimes. The thing that scared me more than being pregnant, more than being a failure as a mother, more than having the state take my choice away, was going back to being molested. I couldn't go backwards, I HAD to move forward. The nurse called my name, and I freaked out. I couldn't go back there. I didn't know what to do. Panic gripped me. I ran out the front door, down the street to the truck. He climbed into the truck and started berating me, pleading me to go back. He asked me what I wanted...what I wanted to do. I had no idea what I wanted or what I wanted to do, but I had a very clear image of what I did NOT want. He finally conceded, and we drove home. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. Despite my fears, I love my child, more than I ever could have imagined at that time. It's possible that any other option could have been easier to deal with, but there's no point in dwelling on what-ifs. The man has been punished, I have become the mother I had hoped I'd be and not the one I feared I'd be, and my child is loved and protected. And that's all that matters.