What’s the other half of your story?
What If I told you that behind my #happy #livingthelife #Ilovekorea #blessed #travelforever hashtags was a girl that was filled with #guilt #pain #confusion and #loss.
This is the other half of my story, the one that I have kept inside for a long time.
Last year I was faced with the situation that so many other women have faced in their life time. The lines on that little plastic test that you never saw coming end up transforming you in ways that you never imagined.
The guy was my boyfriend at the time, a Korean, but I had already realized quite early on that the relationship would not last due to his aggressive, forceful and slightly abusive side. Although I had said “no” numerous times that night because I wasn’t ready for it, he chose to ignore my request and his forceful side took over. My various other requests that I made that night were also ignored. Requests that could have prevented this life altering situation from happening. But one month later and here I was, a foreigner in Korea carrying a Korean man’s child. Being a female in Korea can be and has been incredibly challenging, especially being a female expat. Not only am I living in a culture that tells me that women need to submit to men but I am also living in a culture where few women have the courage to speak up about their situation. Whether that be rape, abortion or domestic violence. These are all huge issues that are swept under the rug here and my situation just became another one of those stories.
How could I openly talk about it when my situation in Korea is regarded as taboo and utterly disgraceful? A western woman carrying the child of a Korean man out of marriage is not something that is taken lightly here. I was faced with having to make a decision that I thought I would never have to make nor did I want to make. I was the well-educated Catholic girl that had always said I would never do such a thing. Isn’t it ironic how we are so quick to form an opinion and judge a situation about something until we are faced with the situation ourselves?
To this day I still sit in guilt and pain and wonder if I did the right thing, but I knew that had I gone through with the pregnancy in Korea I would not have been able to give this child the life that it so deserved nor did I want to have to spend the rest of my life with a man who had already started to show abusive and aggressive tendencies towards me. The thought of staying with him with a baby and knowing his aggressive nature was too much for me.
It was incredibly difficult finding a hospital that would do it as it is illegal in Korea. It was the most emotional two weeks of my life as we searched endlessly trying to find any doctor that would help. At times I wanted to give up and just go through with the pregnancy as the guilt and confusion continued to pile up in my mind but by far the most emotionally draining part was the fact that I was in a country where the English is incredibly limited. Eventually we found someone who was willing to do it. Not being able to communicate my feelings and concerns with the doctors was incredibly stressful. My boyfriend offered little support and told me “not to worry”. Not the words I wanted to hear when I was about to hand over my body to someone who couldn’t even communicate with me what exactly was about to happen. I was at the mercy of this doctor. I had no choice but to just pray during the surgery and put all my faith in God that nothing would go wrong. I remember very little about that day but I will never forget the overwhelming emotions that flooded through me. As I lay there tied to a bed and being put to sleep with gas I cried out and prayed to God asking him to forgive me. Twenty minutes later I was in a recovery room. I woke up in such a daze unsure of where I was. An hour later I was told to leave and life went back to normal. Monday I was back at school teaching as if nothing had happened the day before.
Post-surgery the next few months were the hardest months of my life. I guess no one can understand what a woman feels unless they have gone through something like this nor can someone prepare you for the flood of mixed emotions that come after. I had read stories of how terrible the post psychological and emotional trauma can be and here I was now experiencing those exact emotions and feelings. For the first time in my life I truly felt hopeless and a sense of complete loss.
When in doubt pray.
I never went to speak to anyone about my experience and perhaps I should have but I didn’t have the courage and so instead I resorted to what I had been taught to do my whole life, pray. I was part of a church here in my city and it became a place of refuge for me during that time.
I spent the next few weeks waking up at five am and attending early morning prayer until I felt healed and forgiven. It was the hardest few months of my life. I spent so much time on my knees crying asking God to forgive me for what I had done. It is during this time that I believe my faith and relationship with God became unshakeable.
I sit wondering now how I can use this experience of pain and turn it into something of value to help other women who have faced similar experiences.
My story is one that I have not even shared with the people that are closest to me and now here I am sharing it with the world. For a long time I have been wanting to write about my story but what held me back was the very reactions and judgement that I would get from others. Because there is nothing #instagood or #instafabulous about posting stories of your pain and reality. But we are living in times where that’s exactly what we need to be posting and sharing with the world, the #truth behind our picture-perfect posts.
My experience is one that challenged me emotionally, spiritually and mentally but I do believe with my whole heart that it is such experiences that transform us. My greatest hope is that I can somehow use this experience to help other women who have been through similar situations.
This is for all the women of the world who have suffered in silence. This is for the women who continue to carry the guilt and pain from their decision that they had to make. This is for the women who said “no” but were pushed into having their bodies used as objects for sexual satisfaction. This is for the women who despite their pain and suffering continue to press forward and remain strong.
This is for my girls all around the world.