I saw you again tonight while catching up on Girls. (Which permit me, if I may, to take a moment to shout out to Lena Dunham about how much I have grown to utterly adore this show. Watching these characters grow season after season makes my heart glow with love and light.) I first met you, Jenny, on Saturday Night Live. You were super funny (DING DONG!) and I LOVED your hair (LYLAcurlyhairedS). Not too long after, I saw you again with your Marcel the Shell With Shoes On work. ADORABLE. I have a LOT of silly voices that I use to animate objects around me. It enriches my life.
The next time I saw you is really the most important time. It was in an amazing local nonprofit cinema called The Nickelodeon. A friend had asked me to check out a movie with you, “The Marcel the Shell” girl! Of course I wanted to go! You’re so funny, remember? I bought my ticket, a beer, and settled into my seat to watch Obvious Child. I hadn’t the slightest clue what it was about.
The film was so good. Beautiful. But I got fucking gut-punched in a public theater. After the movie ended, I dashed to the bathroom and cried my best silent ugly cry while my friend in the next stall rattled on about how great the movie was. I mustered a few “uh huh”s and flushed the toilet. Twice. I swallowed deep and delicately wiped my eyes. I never imagined that this would be how I would come to terms with my own abortion nearly a decade ago — watching some young actress on a screen and crying in the bathroom of an independent film house. But there I was. Seeing you portray a young woman who is brave and thoughtful and strong in a situation where women are most often made to not feel those things was LIFE CHANGING. More than anyone else in my life — my husband, my friends, myself — you helped me to find a level of healing I have not felt before. I cannot thank you enough.
I have often thought about writing you to tell you about what a profound impact you had on the life of a thirty-something wife and stay-at-home-mom living in the South. I guess I actually have Lena Dunham to thank (thank you!) for providing me with the opportunity to connect with you once again. Because when I saw you on the screen this evening while washing dishes in my dirty kitchen, I froze. Your face invokes a strong reaction from my brain. It took my consciousness a moment to catch up. Honestly, I was a little scared. Last time, you poked a deep wound. Hannah wasn’t so sure she was happy to see you either.
It seems almost fitting that your role in this recent episode of Girls portrays you as a ball of warmth and honesty and, as always, bravery. I imagine that if I were to sit down with you and share all this face-to-face, we would embrace the enormity of this emotion with mildly hysterical tears and laughter like you did on the steps with Hannah. Once again, your performance encourages me to live my truth, and this time, pushes me to share it.
I want other women to know that there is no need to feel shame about having an abortion. Living in a conservative Southern town, this message of degradation is stamped into our minds over and over again. But, if I endeavor to encourage other women to abandon these archaic convictions, then I have to let go of mine. So I will lean into my belief that I MADE THE RIGHT DECISION despite what other people may believe (people that I love and respect and are all around me). I will remind myself that I am a smart and passionate woman who made a difficult decision. Because ultimately, my life carried on. I graduated with my Masters. I got married. I started my own private practice as a Mental Health Counselor. I had a beautiful little boy. I got grey hair. And I finally learned to appreciate how delicious olives are.
Opening up in this way is not an easy task for me, but I am steadfast in my resolve to speak because I am tired of the suffocating weight I feel as I write all these words. I don’t need to live in this shadow of shame. No woman does. Let’s step out into the light together. I see Jenny Slate over there. And Lena Dunham. And Gillian Robespierre. And a multitude of other brave and brilliant women I admire. I am forever grateful to them for sharing their strength, encouraging me to be at ease with living my truth.