She told me she was pregnant on my 18th birthday, and of course, it being me, my first reaction was to burst into tears. I looked at the floor, trying desperately not to cry, and in the meantime put a balloon, kindly given to me by a 60 year old investment banker who shared my birthday, in front of my face to hide my tears. This was clearly a selfish reaction and she ended up comforting me, which made the situation even worse as that was the complete opposite of what was meant to happen. I didn’t cry to get attention or anything, I just couldn’t bear the fact that someone I cared deeply about was going through something so completely horrific and life changing. I had kind of guessed already, I had a list on my phone of 10 reasons why I thought she was pregnant, and I had already written up an elaborate pros and cons list about her options, but all of me desperately wished I was wrong and that the reason she wasn’t drinking was due to her being on antibiotics or some other soothingly benign explanation.
From then on I was in the incredibly frustrating position of watching her go through emotions and feelings I couldn’t even imagine, and I couldn’t even offer her a nice solution. There are only so many times you can say, ‘I’m sorry everything is so shitty’. I’m normally pretty decent about helping my friends with their problems, I’ve gone to STD clinics and mediated arguments and sat in a hundred bathrooms stroking the backs of girls crying about shitty boys, but this was a whole new level that completely dwarfed those now seemingly insignificant issues, and I couldn’t help but feel utterly helpless. In a somewhat twisted turn of events, I was dealing with insomnia at the time due to my A levels, and she wasn’t sleeping either for other reasons, so I was able to try and support her during those endless sleepless nights, even if I just let her know that she wasn’t alone and could obviously talk to me whenever she wanted. The timing was horrific. Every day when she didn’t turn up to the library I worried she was just sitting at home crying and throwing up instead of revising. I could throw myself into revision but that was a luxury she didn’t have. I was honestly probably not as supportive as I could have been due to the timing, as obviously I spoke to her whenever she wanted, but all I wanted to do was throw my textbooks in a bin and go give her a hug.
I remember the day of the actual abortion well. I sat with my phone on loud next to me, and anxiously checked it every 10 seconds, my heart leaping and falling with every irritating Facebook notification. Due to some fuck up with the surgery times I wasn't able to speak directly to her for hours since she was in a waiting room, but I spoke to the boy who accompanied her occasionally for news. One of the more traumatising moments was when I got a text from him starting ‘there’s been a problem…’ and my immediate reaction was ‘she’s dead’, being the slightly melodramatic person I am. In reality the only problem was that the surgery was delayed but I constantly on edge, unable to relax until I was able to speak to her a while later.
Trying to help her through this didn't stop after the abortion. I think she still thinks about it constantly, and even 6 months later she turned up at my front door at 3 am, her face blackened with running mascara and we slept in my bed together and chatted until she felt a tiny bit better. In all honesty, though I’m not sure exactly how, I probably could've been a better friend. I still cant even begin to comprehend what she went through, and is still going through today. Watching her go through the whole process was painful and messy, but I know whatever worry and concern I went through was barely a fraction of what she would've felt. The only thing I could try and do was be there for her for whenever she needed me.
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