Finding Compassion When You’re 23, Single & Pregnant.

Via Brianna Ecklid
on Jul 19, 2012
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My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

~ The Five Remembrances 


There was this beautiful, terrible, awe-inspiring moment of complete silence.

I heard absolutely nothing—not the voice of the person speaking to me, the sounds of the music playing in the background, nor the sound of my own heartbeat. I felt as if I had been pulled through a vacuum and now I was slowly falling down towards a bottom I could not see. My fingers tingled, my heart raced and my throat slowly closed off. The sound of my own sharp breath brought me back to the moment.

“I could care less that you are pregnant or that the child is mine.”

A blast of harsh reality rushed against me and suddenly everything was far too loud and bright. His words echoed throughout my body, bouncing off every emotion and embedding themselves deep into my mind. For the first time in my life, I felt what it meant to live in a moment. I could feel the rough grain of the wooden door against my hand, the child inside of me kicking and could have sworn I felt the earth move beneath my feet. I couldn’t even look at him any longer and yet I still felt like I needed him to hold me. I didn’t know what to say. What could I say? I shut the door quietly behind me and stood in the small hallway unsure what to do next. Should I rush back in there and beg the man I loved to please reconsider, please care, please love me again and help, or should I just pick up my feet, as much as they didn’t want to move, and shuffle them away from that door? Would you think it silly of me if I told you I stood next to that door for a good five minutes unsure of what to do? I wanted to go back, but I knew I could only go forward from here, or unravel.

So I took one step away from the door, felt my body heave into a sob and kept walking until I found myself sitting on the front steps of his house waiting for a  dear friend to pick me up.

That one step was the strongest moment of my life thus far.

I cannot express the amount of pain that comes from someone you love rejecting you and the child that you both created. I have had my fair share of pain during my 23 years but this was a new kind of pain that I didn’t know how to deal with. I sat on my bed that night and did nothing but stare at the stuffed otter he gave me when we visited his family earlier that year. There were no tears, no anger or sadness only a terrifying numbness that wrapped around me.

My mind kept replaying things he had told me: I remembered the first time he told me he loved me, recalled when he told me he wanted to marry me one day, how he would hold me while we slept and the way his eyes would light up when he looked at me. I couldn’t turn these thoughts off and they replayed over and over until I wondered if I would sincerely go mad from it all.

The night passed and thankfully, I did not turn into Lord Sauron or play Anna Karenina with a train. I stood up, said hello to my stomach and decided even though I didn’t think I could go on I had to because the little one inside of me deserved that much (and so did I.)

I told my family, friends and community about the pregnancy and that I would be doing it alone. I am not sure what I expected but the amount of love and support I received was (and still is) amazing. People took me aside and told me how strong I was and that my little girl would be just fine, others gave me clothing, cribs, and a rocking chair, and still others held me when I cried.

I saw my own strength grow as the days went on, but there was always this darkness that surrounded me. I didn’t let people see it for fear they would think less of me, but when I was alone, I could feel it hold me tightly. His words still haunted me as did the love that I harbored for him. I was angry with him, hurt, confused and sad. A part of me believed he would apologize and be a part of my life and our child’s life.

I will be very honest with you. I hated him for leaving me and this child alone. I abhorred his behavior, loathed his face and despised the emotions he was making me feel. Days after he left me he was with a new person. When he spoke to me it was only to tell me that he hated me and blamed me completely for the situation, and that he still believed I was selfish for trying to be a mother or for asking him to tell his family about the little one. He wanted nothing to do with me and didn’t want to see any of the ultrasound pictures or know anything about this child.

His new talent for crushing me was amazingly well honed and worked like a charm.

I hear people talk about compassion an awful lot, and I know I have spoken about it often, but I find that compassion is one of those things that is easy to talk about, but not easy to practice. I think that sometimes we believe that compassion should only be handed out to those that we feel deserve it and never to those that do not. The person who has been beaten down? Hell yes! What about the cruel person? Hell no!

I had a choice in this situation. I could live in my emotions or I could choose compassion. I could walk alongside anger and fear or I could hold out my hand and let compassion take off the blindfold so I could see again. My ex’s choice was to walk away and say cruel words and there is nothing I can do about that. Stewing in the emotions which were brought up by that choice will not change that choice nor will it bring me any closer to happiness. Hate will only destroy me and those I love—but compassion felt like injustice. It didn’t feel right that I would be compassionate to a man who had caused so much pain.

Looking down at my growing stomach made this choice easier. I realized that I do not want to raise this child in anger and hate. The world is beautiful and terrible; it is unfair sometimes, but that does not mean that the storm of one day should ruin the sunshine of the rest. Compassion isn’t letting my ex and his words trample me. Compassion is seeing the reality of his state. It is seeing the fear, confusion and anger that is in him and realizing that I have the same in me. It is speaking in kindness and honesty even when I want to throw a rock at his face, it is seeing the beauty in change and the sorry state that we are all in. Sometimes (in my case) compassion is knowing when not to speak to him or knowing when enough is enough, for the sake of my daughter.

It hasn’t been easy. In the month since he left me, I have cried more than I care to admit and there are times when his words still sting. Many of my friends don’t understand my choice and I guess I wouldn’t either if I were them. But every time I feel my daughter stir inside of me I know the choice I am making is the right one. Every morning I wake up not knowing what the day will bring, but that doesn’t scare me any longer. I wake up with inspiration and wonder, and while I may have my (many) sad days or moments in general, I know that they will pass. I do not believe that my life will be easy. In fact, I know it will be the opposite. I stayed in the area I live in for my ex and gave up the promise of a good job and a different life someplace else for what I believed was love. Now I am left without a job, the man I loved left me and I have a daughter on the way. It is terrifying but I can’t help but feel a well of strength, hope and passion grow within me. I can’t help but know that while nothing will ever be perfect, everything will be alright.

It may sound strange but it feels as if, for the first time in my life, I can actually understand reality as it is as not as I wish it to be. It feels as if I have finally put on my glasses after a day of not wearing them. I stop squinting and trying to understand what the blurry mess in front of me is because I can clearly see what it is.

Don’t get me wrong—I still feel the pain and anger from my ex’s choices. I still think about him more than I should. The whole situation surrounding my daughter and myself is still extremely stressful and I am not downplaying that in any way. Sure, sometimes I wish life was different for me, that maybe I had made different choices, but I recognize these wishes as fleeting thoughts that should not be obsessed with. I don’t believe that compassion is a choice that we make once or twice and are finished with. I believe it is a lifestyle, a daily struggle and a teacher—one that constantly reminds me of my own darkness before I can look at the darkness in others. It is not the path for those who are looking for an easy way out or that wish to live in a bubbled existence of “everything is wonderful” type of thinking. Compassion forces you to look at the reality of a situation and that is rarely ever wonderful. But compassion is the path of intense healing for yourself and the world around you and it is the path that I have chosen for better or for worse.

And there is no way I am looking back now.


Editor: Brianna Bemel

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About Brianna Ecklid

Brianna Ecklid will be outlived by her dictator-turned-cat Bruce Lee. She has a slight addiction to Red Vines, soft yarn, and American History but has an unnatural hate of cupcakes. She lives in the literal middle of nowhere and some time fears that using a mason jar as a glass is the first step she took down the road to redneck. Most days you can find her writing, reading or with her hands in the dirt. Oh, and she probably watches sci-fi and quotes LOTR too much. You can email, or check out her twitter (@absentbree).


25 Responses to “Finding Compassion When You’re 23, Single & Pregnant.”

  1. Guest8888 says:

    Thank you for sharing this experience. I am in a similar situation with a baby girl on the way. I have felt so lost in my emotions that I have gotten to the point of looking for signs of guidance. I believe this article was a sign leading me in the right direction. I am sure I will read it many times over. Thank you agian.

  2. Brit says:

    What a beautifully written piece. :)You are a strong and amazing woman. As a mother myself I can tell you that the road ahead is going to, at times, be challenging, but I promise you, having a father around would not exactly make it any easier. Raising children has its ups and downs, gives and takes, loves and BIG, squishy, huggable wonderful loves regardless. 🙂 Everything is gonna be alright. Just love your baby, love the hell out of her, every day, never let a night pass without telling her so and you'll be doin' good. <3

  3. A father says:

    For a young woman of only 23 years, you show great maturity. I'm sure you know the decisions you've made and are making, will have great impact on you, your daughter, and those around you for the rest of your lives.
    It' is refreshing and gives me hope to know in these times we live in with "quick fixes", "just get rid of it" wasn't your "solution" to the situation. It is promising for mankinds future to see there are still young adults with a moral compass that will "choose life" in the midst of difficulty. I pray you will receive much support from those around you… family, friends and others in your community.
    I believe it was Jesus who told those who wanted to stone a women, "let he without sin cast the first stone". After a short time, there was no one there but the women and Jesus. Jesus didn't condemn the women, He just said, "Go, and sin no more".
    Blessings on you and your unborn daughter as you move forward together.

  4. Brit says:

    "I believe it was Jesus who told those who wanted to stone a women, "let he without sin cast the first stone". After a short time, there was no one there but the women and Jesus. Jesus didn't condemn the women, He just said, "Go, and sin no more".

    Are you implying that she has somehow sinned????

  5. Tyler Root says:

    Bri, I am both stunned and excited at this news. The struggles and strength you expressed through your writing shows how much you care about your daughter already. She will be lucky to have such a wise and protecting mother. You are not defined by where you've been, but only by where you're going. And God can and will take you to the place you need to be. I love you and will pray nightly that you receive the support you need, and that your daughter is strong and healthy.

  6. Eric says:

    I went off facecrack last year, but I think of you often.
    Everything will be all right. You are, and will be, an amazing mother.

    As an old monk in China once said: "Sit quiet, be here."
    love and blessings,

  7. papa_tom says:

    As a single papa of three amazing kids (and part of a fantastic co-parenting relationship with their mother and her husband), i'm saddened to know so intimately what joys and wonders your ex will never experience. I sincerely hope he has a change of heart. Being a parent is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

    Best of luck …and enjoy the ride 🙂

  8. bree_e says:

    I have thought of you often, too and wondered how you are doing. I still have the CD you gifted to me 🙂

    Thank you for your kind words. I can honestly say for the first time in my life I don't feel "flightly" or confused. I actually feel fairly grounded. (Crazy I know). If you have time, you should email me and fill me in on your life. I would love to hear about it.

  9. bree_e says:

    Thank you for your comment, Tom and I do believe I shall enjoy the ride 🙂

  10. edieyoga says:

    I am impressed by your strength and insight. My grief when younger was never having my own child, never being a mother. It is a longer story, but isn't it always?
    I am 53 now. I am happily married. I have 4 cats. I'll never know the incredible blessings you have in store, nor all the challenges.
    Stand strong. You will find kindness.
    Am posting your article to the Elephant Journal main page. Don't think anyone beat me to it.

  11. mike says:

    It's even worse Brit…look at his quotes…he's just offered a paternalistic, douche-y, pro-life "compliment" to a woman whose choices and courage he couldn't begin to fathom. It's like he used the quotes to make sure his talking points were if "choose life" and Jesus in the same 3 paragraphs required a secret decoder ring…

    Brianna: your story touches me. 17 years ago at 23 years old I stood in the bathroom staring at some colored strip of pee moistened "crystal ball" with a beautiful young woman I'd known only 6 months or so and learned we had conceived a child together. As we talked it over, I already knew it was very unlikely we'd ever be a couple over the long term, but that wasn't relevant to that moment…to the magnitude of parenting a child together. I made a vow to her that night, that no matter what happened to "us" in some romantic sense, I would strive to be by her side and be a positive force in her life…forever. No matter what happened. It was all I had. I couldn't make any greater commitment, and I knew it, and I still can't (I really don't enjoy traditional relationships). I also knew it would be hard at times and that in the end it would all work out fine (well…maybe "knew" is not 100% correct, but that's what it felt like to me).

    Our first low point came as I found her in the arms of an ex when she was 2 months pregnant with our child. Talk about overwhelm and anger and fear! Despite that major event that I swallowed early on in our journey, our true lowest points came years later. We stayed together (or sort of together) for some years, but as that eventually ended, things got very ugly for a time: extorting money in exchange for access to my son and moving 2000 miles away with her new family highlight that period's worst moments.

    But through it all, I refused to even consider going into a fight mode…refused to consider lawyers…refused to consider giving in to the anger and fear that came at me in waves and placed major obstacles between me and my young son. I chose the long term vision of that first night over and over again. I chose compassion (most of the time at least…I had some bitch sessions with my inner circle at times of course).

    Today my son lives close to me again for some years. He is a truly amazing almost 16 year old, and he is an immense joy to be around. His mother has 3 other sons and is happily married. She and I, despite differences on some very deep matters, have come full circle and are very good friends. She says "best", but I just smile that one off, as I confess I still make slow progress forgetting some of what went on between us. I do care deeply for her and love her as a good friend.

    Like you, I saw the fear confusion and anger in her from day 1 of our unexpected lifelong bond and I knew I had the same in me too. Like you, I made it a personal mission in my life to not give in to those dark feelings, when the simple joy and awe of creating a life was just as available and was only a slightly longer road, paved with the compassion strive for, and with a far nicer destination.

    It's impossible for me to convey to you how perfect things are now, nor how difficult they sometimes were at times over the years. There have been dire periods financially that have only recently abated (I offer this to assure you that the compassion melted anger and fear DESPITE frequent financial pressures). In short, the choices you describe above, to the extent that they relate to my very different role in a somewhat similar situation, might just eventually start paying you amazing dividends of warmth and love from whoever emerges alongside you and your child 5, 10 , 15 years from now. That is how it now feels for me, and I encourage you to keep trusting your instincts and keep your head high.

    Your strength and the effect that children have on people who are initially conditioned by society, religions and fear around children conceived outside of the dubious "sanctity" of marriage, will prove more powerful than you can imagine. In fact, be sure to know what your true assessment of your daughter's father is should his anger and fear dissipate and you find him at your doorstep begging to be more involved in one or both of your lives. In hers he'll have every right. In yours, let's just say you sound like even as you get over your feelings for him, you've shown yourself to be out of his league. Certainly not above showing him compassion though as you have already done in your wise, wounded heart.

    Deep respect Mother. The light in me, salutes the beautiful light in you.

    Single Dad

  12. mike says:

    with the compassion you* strive for

  13. Hemani says:

    I am proud of you. You have made the best choice. I was in a similar situation. The only difference was- The father (long distance relationship) accepted and loved me for having his baby, till his girlfriend found out about his"loving family in India".I had hardly any money, no support from the father except for "I love you". I had only two friends who were by my side during and after my pregnancy. I have a wonderful 5 year old son. Papa_tom is right. The father will miss out on the millions and billions of wonderful moments. And as a jilted, single mother, (when my son was a year and a half , the father chose to be with his girlfriend in Moscow, no responsibilities or social stigma attached, you see… ) I can tell you one thing, my child is the best thing that happened to me. Forget the father. He made his choice. You made yours (yours being better 🙂 ) I wish you the best times. I wish you a safe and delightful pregnancy and motherhood. My love to your little girl inside you. Giving life is always better than solving the "problem". This whole experience is worth EVERYTHING. Lots of love and light. Be happy.

  14. Erin U. says:

    I am struggling to find this place, and this piece too. I was married to a Russian man who it turns out only married me for a Greencard. I am pregnant with twins and he is the father, but the second he found out I was pregnant he abandoned me. And he is also refusing to acknowledge his part in any of it and planning to go back home. I am unemployed and having to live with friends. I have very few resources and I struggle to stay calm but too much of my energy goes to very angry thoughts about this man. I loved your writing and hope one day I find this place you have found. For now, it is a daily struggle.

  15. Jack Daw says:

    Good Luck, Bree.

  16. guest says:

    Hey "a father" I feel a bit offended by your post. Are you seriously implying that an abortion is a quick fix? Have you ever spoken to a woman who had an abortion? Only crazy pro-lifers believe that women chose abortion like they chose a new shirt. It's a heartbreaking, difficult decision to make. Either choice (keeping or not keeping) is difficult and should be accepted. I agree with the other poster, your comment is judgmental and paternalistic.
    grow up! grow some balls for gods sake.

  17. T. says:

    Beautiful and thank you.

  18. david Mynch says:

    Son of a bitch. I feel the same way about a "spiritual teacher" that took advantage of me sexually and very few people know. He is saying it's not his fault and that my anger is tainting his "Dharma mandala." It's sick because he is an actual trained lama and teaches a small group of people but secretly he took advantage of my naive youth and got me for a year. I couldn't imagine having a kid with him. If that were true I would have wanted him to leave me. Cause he's full of himself and a jerk. I have trouble finding compassion for him cause his view of compassion isn't real if he did that to me and still thinks he didn't do anything wrong. I have to follow real compassion which I'm not really sure what that is but I'll be going to therapy soon and hopefully will work this out there. Thanks for sharing because I felt like I was alone in feeling such….I don't know how to say this but really disturbed by everything. I think about him way too much also although it's starting to get less and less. I wish it were a clean break too, he's still attached to me and I guess I am still attached to him. But at least I know other people got screwed by another person and their seemingly perfect relationship turned rotten and now, you, live with Compassion. That is unreal. Very few can do that. But maybe if you could do it then I can too?. I'll keep you in mind next time I'm bitter about what happened.

  19. Kitara Byerly says:

    Hey Brit, as a single Mom raising 2 kids, I can definately say, I don't know if she sinned, but I did. Yup. sin seems to be a part of this world. I am here because of sin, I had 2 babies, 2 different dads out of wedlock. Sin. Are they sin? NO WAY! They are incredible, challenging wonderful gifts! God has blessed my life all my mistakes and sins included. God loves me right now as I am and not as I should be! God loves us all RIGHt now and not as we should be. I now think sex outside of marriage is a sin. The baby is not. Brianna's choice to rise above that, to rise above the attacks of the one she had trusted and loved, "the broken boy" is incredible grace and compassion in this world. Ps not to say that marriage is the solution to avoiding jerks and lost boys, but I'm waiting till I get married, sex just clouds your vision!
    Thanks Brianna, this article spoke to my heart you are incredible and you will be an amazing MOM! Even when you think you are not!

  20. A father says:

    Yes… I believe sex outside of marriage is a sin. I too was active sexually at that age (unmarried) and could certainly have been in a similar situation on several occasions. That being said, my point was that we shouldn't condemn as all of us have sinned and fall short.

  21. A father says:

    "guest"… I agree with you in that abortion IS a big deal, and I'm sure the decision to have one can and should be a very difficult one to make. Many people however, talk about abortion as a means of birth control, like it's no big deal. Abortion is not birth control and it is a big deal! Not having sex,, the rythm method, condoms, the pill, the sponge, etc… these are forms of birth control.
    Yes, I'm pro-life. That doesn't make me any more crazy than you or any other… it means we have a difference of opinion.
    And for the record, I'm grown up, and my balls are just fine, thank you.

  22. Eric says:

    BREEEEEE!!!!!!!! (sorry, just had to yell it because I obviously couldn't spell it 🙂

    NOT crazy. nothing else will ground you like bringing forth a child into this world. or someone loving you just as you are, for who you are, no expectations–

    butt-loads of love,

  23. kco says:

    If only we could dislike comments…

  24. This was truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing your strength. As for your ex… I don't think he deserved you. Yes, I had to say it. 😉

  25. 1 Mother says:

    HI Brianna: That was beautifully written. You do have the strength to make it and carry on. I 100% relate. I was 21 when I found myself in your situation, even though I appeared to move forward I could not understand why "he" did not love me anymore and it seemed as though I cried an ocean of tears. The most interesting part is this didn't happen once but 3 times (My joke is you can tell how many times I have tried dating in the last 15 years by the number of children I have). They are 13, 9 and 4. They are my light and have helped to define my purpose in this world. So…. from one Mother to another I will let you know that the sadness will pass the strength will shine through and one day you will wake up and all that will be left is the Compassion. Because of his fear and anger he will miss out on the greatest gift he could possibly enjoy and that is LOVE. Enjoy your new Journey!