Saturday, January 20, 2018

One Woman’s Voice

One Woman’s Voice

so that one day
a hundred years from now
another sister will not have to
dry her tears wondering where
in history she lost her voice.
— jasmin kaur

My name is Linda and January 1970 was probably the most difficult beginning of a new year as I can ever remember. Before I could make it back to college for my last semester, I got the flu. I was really sick. So sick that I missed my scheduled college registration and returned late to campus to do late registration. At least I didn’t have to wait in long lines, but some of the classes I wanted to take were already closed. So I took the lightest schedule I ever had my four years of college. Maybe that was for the best.

My earliest class three mornings a week was an introductory speech class. I was not too new to this speech stuff, since I had been an avid debater and oratory speaker in high school. I enjoyed standing before my classmates and making presentations. Probably sometime in late January or February, morning speeches and classes became difficult. Most mornings before class I spent a few harrowing moments throwing my insides up and out in any toilet in any restroom or behind any bush I could find on the way to class.

Morning Sickness. At first I blamed it on the flu I had had back in early January. But really. There was only one reason for my Morning Sickness. I do not remember discussing this with anyone. Not anyone! Of course, my roommate Barbara must have known. Our suite-mate must have also known. But they also knew that my boyfriend and I  did not date anymore, so no one said a word. It was as if you didn’t discuss the pregnancy, then it did not exist. 

My life continued on its course in my last semester. I had a few dates with other guys. One fellow(Tommy had been my regular ride to Student Teaching for an entire semester) even noticed that I was getting a little poochy tummy when I wore a tight knit dress when we went out dancing, and he asked if I was pregnant. I acted surprised at his question and lied, of course.  Tommy must have known the truth. He never asked me out again. 

One of my girlfriends tried to convince me to enter a campus beauty competition that early spring. My dad even agreed to financing my wardrobe, etc. What was I thinking? Or was I even thinking? This situation had not only screwed me, but had screwed up my mind, too. 

Recently in late 2017, one of my best high school and college friends read my Wetcreek Blog from last January and found out about what happened back then. She was so apologetic that she had never even noticed anything or picked up on any clues of what I was going through. I even remember spending time sunbathing with her in April or May of 1970, and she never noticed a thing. Except for Tommy, no one seemed to notice or even care.

In the meantime, I had kept my parents completely in the dark. Several times when I went home for the weekend, I wanted to share. But how could I? What would they do? What would they say? Didn’t I need to finish college?

Sometime that spring my mom came up to college to spend Mother/Daughter Weekend with me. A perfect opportunity! Even after viewing together the movie “The Graduate,” I still could not tell her. Finally two weeks later I got up the nerve to tell both of my parents at their breakfast table that I was pregnant.  

There were no happy tears of joy, since I had no steady boyfriend. How quickly my mom got to work trying to plan my future, I do not remember. I do remember her somehow getting a phone number from the secretary at our church and calling the Methodist Home Hospital for Unwed Mothers in New Orleans. Momma scheduled a date before my birthday on June 22, and then we must have planned my exit. 

I vaguely remember a brief discussion with my parents about whether I would keep this baby. When I said that I could not keep it, my dad said, “We don’t want this baby either.” I don’t remember any crying or emotions. It was just matter of fact.

I finished out the last few weeks of the semester and graduated from Northeast Louisiana State College on May 22, 1970. At that moment I was five months pregnant. With the help of an elastic girdle ( yes, even skinny girls weighing 125 pounds wore them) and a puffy dress my mom made for me, I celebrated my college graduation and even attended a Memorial Day picnic with relatives visiting from out-of-state.

Then in June,  I “went away” for the summer.

(Linda’s note: I recently wrote everything that I could remember about my situation of date rape and the events that followed. I decided to spare my blog followers the details of Part 1 of my story, so this bit today was Part 2. I will be back another time with more parts. I am so happy to have finally found “my voice.”)


Joanne Noragon said...

Thank you for speaking. My name is Linda and...

Linda said...

Joanne, is this a better start? 😉Linda

Colleen Glaser said...

Thank you for sharing, Linda. I think this will encourage and strengthen others as they see themselves or someone they love in you.

Janneke said...

Oh Linda, what a story..... I had not read your post of January last year because we had our own troubles at that time. I talk easily but after reading above and your post of last year, I fall completely silent.
It's good of you to speak and share this with us. "One Woman's Voice", Linda, a good start of the year......

NanaDiana said...

Oh Linda. I have always said that it is a good thing we can't see the future because we might not have the strength to go on....and oh! the shame that was visited upon those of us that didn't fit the mold society had picked for us.
God bless you. You have found your voice and I hope you should it from the rooftops writing my book is what gave me my voice and my story.
I hope you have a wonderful Sunday night and upcoming week. xo Diana

Bridgett Moses said...

I am excited to start reading your stories. I am going to have to go back and read more! I love love love the transparency!!