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1 Burnside Recovery and Addiction- Personal Stories

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Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict


Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict Cover

ISBN13: 9781590513200
ISBN10: 1590513207
Condition: Standard
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For years, it didn't occur to me that there was anything to tell about abortion. The opposite. There was much to forget. But I discovered that many other women were hungry to come to terms with a past scarred by cowardice and the need to cloak themselves in someone else's power. Many had a history of repeat abortions. They, like me, were eager to find a language to articulate an experience they had seldom spoken about. My testimony is not unique. Beyond the antiseptic, practical language of Planned Parenthood and the legalistic or moralistic discourse of Roe v. Wade and its pro-choice and pro-life counterparts, there are few words to articulate individual, intimate accounts. About half of American women having abortions in 2004 (of 1.5 million reported) have had a prior abortion. Close to 20 percent have had at least two previous abortions and 10 percent three or more. A considerable number of the repeat abortions occur among populations with high levels of contraceptive use.


My own account can't resolve the moral dilemma of my actions. Yet, I want to understand the spell a pregnant body exercised over me, my flawed desire to become someone, or something else. The diaries I kept guided me. My promise to the reader is to deliver an account of my addiction, a steady flow of unhappiness, the X-ray of a delusion, and ultimately, the redeeming face of motherhood.


Halfway through working on this book I got pregnant for the seventeenth time. I don't think I would have been able to give birth without the call to accountability and self reflection that writing this story demanded. My daughter became the coherence emerging from the shameful mass of thirty-five years.


Yes, I was an abortion addict and I do not wish for a scapegoat. Everything can be explained, justified, our last century tells us. Everything maybe, except for the burden of life interrupted that shall die with me.



My story is a perversion of both maternal desire and abortion, framed by a lawful procedure that I abused. My first pregnancy was a result of lying about birth control. He was inside of me when he asked: You are protecting yourself, aren't you? Later, I would take my pills and skip a day, a few, and often give up on the whole month, promising myself I would do better the next time. Not knowing how a pill or a handful of them would affect my fertility, my days took on a balancing act, and a high of sorts accompanied the days before my period was due. Half my pregnancies with him occurred during our first three years together. Each time I got my period, I was sad. Each time I discovered I was pregnant, I was aroused and afraid. Every pregnancy was a house of mirrors I entered and lost myself in, numb to the realities of a fetus, my partner's wishes, and the impossible motherhood I was fashioning.


I never craved that moment when I clenched my vibrating abdomen, feet high up on cold stirrups, and told myself never again. There was no high that came with that. My mood-altering experience was a shape shifter. At times the high took place before pregnancy, waiting for a missed period, my body basking in the promise of being in control. At other times it was the pregnancy itself, the control I embodied if only for a couple of months, and still other times it was leaving the abortion clinic, feeling that once again I had succeeded in a narrow escape. The time of my drama was my time, no one could interrupt it, and what was more important, I could not interrupt it to meet others' needs.


Feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and disorder faded in the face of the possibilities of my reproductive body. An excitement, hyperarousal, almost euphoria surrounded my maternal desire. The craving gave structure to the confusing morass of events that made up my life. I would visit Marshall's and put infant clothes on layaway. I would start a diary. I would daydream about holding a baby girl and teaching her the alphabet. I would lie in the bathtub with a smile on my face, knowing that only I knew.


Tension would gradually build as my pregnant body crowded out all other things and emotions. After a few weeks, stress would set in and grow more acute by the day and with the physical changes in me. I would go in and out of denial. At times I would forget I was pregnant. Other times I could think of nothing else. I would stop eating. By the time I lay in an abortion clinic waiting for the procedure to begin, I would feel nothing but disgust and shame. When I left the clinic, I felt a calm respite, surrender. I always said to myself then, "This has to end."


It was a violent, intensely emotional drama that kept me from feeling alone. A moment came when not being pregnant was enough motivation for wanting to be pregnant. The fantasies subsided. Soon it was no longer about the control I had craved before. Getting pregnant began to be simply a habit. If I wasn't pregnant, something was wrong, more wrong than what was already wrong. I believe this habit formed with abortion #9 and pregnancy #10, shortly after I returned from Miguel's funeral. I didn't want anything to do with my husband or the pregnancy or myself. I overdosed and woke up in a hospital. I needed another self-injury to get the high.


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AlexB, November 19, 2009 (view all comments by AlexB)
I too had the same question (re:birthcontrol). And yes, the Catholic Church bans artificial birth control, but natural family planning is allowed. Although it doesn't sound like there was room in this "relationship" for open discussions and putting off intercourse during fertile times. Obviously abortion is never allowed, and your former clients, Anne, were seriously mis-informed or just believing what they wanted when using abortion as their method of birth control.

Anyway, this does sound like an amazing, yet anger-inducing, book to read.
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Anne E., November 19, 2009 (view all comments by Anne E.)
I practice law and I once had a client in a minor criminal matter, nothing to do with abortion. But during the course of my representing him, he talked to me about the malpractice suit they filed against his wife's gynocologist for their last pregnancy. He gave me a copy of the initial complaint to read.
I was very troubled to discover that this was their seventh child and that she had had at least another seven pregnancies which she had aborted.
Their reason for doing this rather than using birth control was that they were Catholic and that they followed the teachings. This was some fifteen years ago and I am still troubled by it.
So, what was missing from the review was why Ms Vilas did not try birth control, or were all the pregnancies the result of birth control failure?
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Product Details

Vilar, Irene
Other Press (NY)
Foreword by:
Morgan, Robin
Morgan, Robin
Personal Memoirs
Compulsive behavior
Abortion -- Psychological aspects.
Abortion & Birth Control
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.54x6.28x.76 in. .61 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Medical
Biography » Women
Health and Self-Help » Recovery and Addiction » Personal Stories
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Reproductive Rights
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
History and Social Science » Sociology » Abortion and Birth Control
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict Used Trade Paper
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$6.95 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Other Press - English 9781590513200 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Nuanced, intellectually ambitious and unnervingly frank."
"Review" by , "Vilar does not mean to advocate on either side of the abortion debate...her book is a controversial and intense tale of generational and national trauma... [Vilar is] a writer of brutal honesty and profound intelligence."
"Synopsis" by , Vilar was a young college undergraduate in awe of a 50-year-old professor when they embarked on a relationship that led to marriage — and 16 abortions in 15 years. In Impossible Motherhood, Vilar looks back on her history of addiction.
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