I walked into the drug store in a daze, waiting for someone to pinch me to wake me up from what had to be a dream. I never expected to find myself in this position, yet here I was, scanning the aisles for the most affordable pregnancy test. It was decidedly not a dream.
I had just graduated from high school, and I’d been having sex with my boyfriend for only about a month or so. His response to my possible pregnancy was not what I’d hoped. He made it clear he had no intention of being a father.
This should have come as no surprise to me given the fact that he couldn’t even formally commit to our relationship. His life was tumultuous and messy. He was in and out of jail, doing drugs, and hopping from one job to another. He was living for the moment, and he wanted me along for the ride as long as I didn’t ask too much of him, so I never did. But a baby? A baby would be asking too much, and we both knew it.
I loved him more than he loved me, and we both knew that too. He was the elusive bad boy whose attention I was thrilled by, yet who I was simultaneously trying to reform. When our relationship had stalled out and he began losing interest, I used sex to get him back. I knew I was setting us both up for a disastrously unhealthy relationship, but I did it anyway. And now here we were with a possible pregnancy on our hands.
I didn’t even wait to get home; I took the test in the bathroom of the drug store. It was negative. By all accounts, I should have been relieved: I was unmarried, about to start college, and my sexual partner wasn’t seriously committed to me. Neither of us were ready to have a baby. There wasn’t much about that scenario that sounded promising. But when I saw the results, I immediately noticed that I felt disappointed.
I did a lot of soul searching about my pregnancy scare and my reaction to it. I realized I had been hoping it could be a way to rope my boyfriend into loving me—even if it was only through a child—forever. We would always be in each others’ lives even if he never married me, even if we didn’t stay together. He didn’t want to commit to me of his own accord; so I thought outside circumstances would get him to step up.
My misplaced hope that the pregnancy test would be positive was like a flashing red light that something was wrong. It took awhile for me to come around, but after our relationship finally ended I came to see that I hadn’t valued myself at all. I had put myself at the whim of someone who didn’t truly care for me and never considered my needs before his own.
After I matured and had gone to counseling, I decided that I never wanted to be in a relationship like that again. I knew I needed to stick up for my own worth. I came to believe that one day I would find someone who wanted to commit himself to me for life, not because he was obligated to, but because he really and truly loved me.
A few years later, that’s exactly what happened. I began dating, and later married, a guy who treated me and my body with the utmost respect. Through his choices and actions, he showed me I was the most important thing in his life. I never had to worry about keeping him; he made it clear that he was playing for keeps. As a married couple, we have been able to welcome children into our promise of a lifelong commitment with shared joy.