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Thursday’s Child by Jacqueline Mitchell

Warning: Content may have triggers for some

Do you remember this rhyme?

Monday’s child is fair of face,

Tuesday’s child is full of grace,

Wednesday’s child is full of woe,

Thursday’s child has far to go,

Friday’s child is loving and giving,

Saturday’s child works hard for it’s living,

But the child that’s born on the Sabbath Day,

Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
Me at 1 year old with my great grandmother
First some context: I was born on a Thursday in August of 1961. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on the 22nd of November, 1963. What does the birth of an unremarked and unremarkable girl child have to do with the death of a sitting president? Just this: I remember the day he died, young as I was. I remember my mother and older brother sitting in front of a black and white television, crying; the television showed an airplane sitting alone on a tarmac. It is a remarkably clear memory for one slightly over two years old, but it isn’t my first memory. No, my first memory is of two much older male relatives performing sexual acts on me. Let me make this absolutely clear, since some of the folk who will read this know me personally: it was not my father, stepfather, brother or stepbrothers and the perpetrators are long dead and gone, past hurting another child. The degree of consanguinity, however, was close enough to make the betrayal of trust horrific.

I will not go into details about the abuse; it is unnecessary and not pertinent to the point of this article; nonetheless I will point out that unprotected, penetrative sex…no, lets call it what it really was, rape, abusively incestuous rape… began at an early age. At first the things which frightened me were the extreme pain, the humiliation, the feeling of beingdirty and the guilt. I’ve yet to speak with a survivor who didn’t feel guilt in some proportion at some point in their lives…it’s what children do; assuming they are the centre of the world and are thus guilty if anything goes wrong. Later, and not much later at that, I found a whole new world of fear. I was an early developer, so my menstrual cycles began at a young age, and other signs of my developing body burgeoned, literally. At age 14 I had to have breast reduction surgery.

Me at about 2 years old
My mother, bless her heart, tried to explain the birds and bees to me when my cycles began … unusual in that place and time … and I quickly grasped the pertinent information with a feeling of horror. I could get pregnant from what was being done to me.

I make no claims of having any deep understanding of what that meant, at least at first, other than the self-centred notion that everyone would know what a bad, dirty, nasty girl I was; it was bad enough, in my eyes, that I and my abusers knew. Later, however, it began to penetrate that it would be bad for more than just me ….

How could I … young and defenseless as I was, keep or raise a child (especially if it was a girl) knowing that it could be hurt in the same ways I was, and I would be helpless to protect it? I couldn’t even protect myself at that age! How could I give it up for adoption knowing that, even then, adopted children were beginning to successfully seek out their birth parents? How could I curse a child by telling it how it was conceived, and how could I look at it without hate if it found me?

I can’t tell you exactly when I realized that if I got pregnant I would either have an abortion, or kill myself but I do know it was around the age of twelve. A friend of the family had gotten ‘into trouble’ and gave the child up for adoption, and when the child got a bit older he began wanting to meet his birth mother so that wasn’t an option. It didn’t take me long, even in those pre-internet days, to realise I’d have to have parental permission for an abortion, and that it wasn’t likely to be forthcoming at my age and in my rural community, especially as I was determined that no one would ever know by whom I’d gotten pregnant. If, indeed, I got pregnant. Suicide, then, if I couldn’t get an abortion. Between the ages of 12 and 14, when I finally succeeded in stopping the abuse… in large part because of the aforementioned breast reduction surgery ( I was watched closely whilst healing so I wouldn’t rip the scars open…limiting access to me…and having known a brief time of freedom from the abuse, I gathered the courage to threaten my primary abuser with exposure, including contacting the police, if he didn’t leave me alone. I was terrified to confront him but I did it anyway.)

Me at about 10-11 years old

I thought about every form of suicide I knew of, and was frightened by thoughts of pain, death, and going to hell …. hell being the one thing I was fairly certain of. My cycles were always irregular, often late and sometimes skipping a month or more altogether, so the fear that I might have been impregnated was always intense, always present.

I’ve often heard or read the argument, regarding rape and/or incest, that it isn’t the baby’s fault – and it isn’t. However, I was practically a baby when the abuse began and it wasn’t my fault either. Looking back, I don’t fault myself for my decision to end a pregnancy engendered by incestuous rape in whatever way I could. It was even a loving thought, in it’s way, because I would never want a child to know that was how it was conceived. Well, at least as loving as my terrified 12 year old self could be. I am grateful I never had to enforce that decision and am well aware that, although it was the decision I’d made in advance, it could well not be the right decision for someone else. I applaud those who are able to keep and love children begun in such horrific circumstances, but I equally applaud and support those who have chosen otherwise. I very much feel we ~must~ be able to choose what is right for us to do, and that the only right thing is to support one another to the best of our ability. I firmly believe that to force anyone to carry a child conceived by incest or rape is a second rape, a rape of the soul; and that forcing a baby to have a baby tells the brutalised child quite graphically that they are worthless, and unworthy of protection. On the other hand, I am as fiercely against forced or coerced abortion as I am against it’s opposite. Choice is all, and it is my privilege to advocate for everyone’s right to choose the right path for themselves.

My beautiful daughter and I
Speaking of choices: several years later, as an adult, I did become pregnant. The circumstances weren’t easy and many courses of action were urged on me, including abortion.

I chose not to abort.
Why? Difficult circumstances were not enough reason for me to give up a miracle. The damage done to my body during the years I was sexually abused should have made it impossible to conceive or carry a child, and I was not going to turn my back on such a gift. Difficult was not the same as the horror of carrying and bearing a helpless child born of incestuous rape as no more than a child myself, not for me, and I knew that this was the baby I was meant to have and raise. I have no right to expect anyone else to live by my reasoning, nor do I know the wounds, horrors, or challenges another faces. None of us do. It is not given to us to judge one another, but to be patient and kind. To judge one another is neither.

My beautiful daughter, who is a Monday’s child by the by, just graduated from university; bringing her into the world and raising her during her early childhood, as a single mother, was not easy and I was not a perfect mother, but it is one of the best choices I ever made. Yes, Thursday’s child had far to go…but I’m getting there.

Jacqueline Mitchell is a grouchy, opinionated old gal with a penchant for popcorn and a more than slightly warped sense of humour. A ‘Jill of all Trades’, from being veep of an asbestos abatement monitoring laboratory to cake decorator, she is happily married to the Great Scot, mother and step-mother to one daughter, two stepsons, and three furry barkers.

16 Thoughts on “Thursday’s Child by Jacqueline Mitchell

  1. This is beautifully written, as painful as it must have been to write. I admire how honest and raw you were able to be in this piece. Thanks for sharing!

  2. You are so brave, Jacqueline. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so happy you never had to go through a pregnancy during that time. I’m even more happy that you’re here with us. As Lisa said, thank you for sharing!

  3. That must have been tough to write indeed, amazing still how you became the person you are today as well.

  4. oh, bless you, jacqueline, for your bravery – then and now. i know this was no easy feat to tell your (hi)story.

    and you are so right – we cannot judge others and the decisions they make. each person has their own mind and circumstances and struggles.

    i am so glad you did not have to make that horrendous decision as a young teen. hell hopefully holds those abusers now…

  5. I’m so sorry for what you went through yet, you didn’t write with malice and you were only truthful. Your words will hopefully resonate with others; that we are of a freewill and have the right to our own choices in life. Judging is so very sinful. I’ve been guilty of that myself at times, and always feel so badly & ask for forgiveness from God. I don’t think I’m alone in this, but then what others do is none of my business.

    God bless you and your beautiful daughter.

  6. Oh Jacqueline, I am so proud of you for writing this article. I can’t imagine how hard and scary it must have been to write this, let alone put it out there for the world to see, and I am so impressed by your bravery. I feel incredibly sad for what you had to endure as a child and I don’t see how anyone could ever judge you for your feelings back then. No child should ever have to even think about the things that you had to worry about.

    You are truly an inspiration to me!

  7. What a very brave woman you are. You have poured your heart out and so many are going to appreciate hearing your story. You are helping so many others get through a terrible ordeal.

  8. Jacqueline, I want to thank you and tell you how very much I respect your honesty and your open-mindedness. It took tremendous strength to get through that horrific period of your childhood, and it took tremendous courage to share your story.

    I had a miscarriage in 1977. Later, I had my wonderful daughter, and I became a pro-choice advocate. When I was 46, I got pregnant again…while on the pill and in the middle of menopause. A six-year relationship had just ended a few days before I found out I was pregnant. My former partner suggested that we get back together, but I knew that wouldn’t be healthy for any of us. Because of the emotional pain of my first miscarriage, I also knew I couldn’t terminate the pregnancy. Sadly, a short time later, I had a second miscarriage, but my choice had been to have the baby.

    I think it is very important for people to understand that “pro-choice” is not synonymous with “pro-abortion.” It means making a mature and carefully considered choice, based on factors only the people involved could possibly know. Under different circumstances, I might have made a different choice, and I defend a woman’s right to choose based on her own circumstances.

  9. Oh Jacqueline your strength and courage surpasses anything I could ever have done or imagine doing. I applaud you for posting this honest thought provoking story. You my dear are a Hero in my eyes and you will help others with your honesty. There are more children going through this horrible ordeal than we will ever know and more woman wrestling with the choices they have to make and the circumstances that bring them to those choices. Thank you Jacqueline for talking about something so painful and in that painful process helping many others. I now understand why you are such a giving loving person even after going through all that you made it and never let it taint your loving heart. Your family is very lucky indeed, you are a true gift..B

  10. This speaks volumes for the amazing person you are Jacqueline

  11. Oh, the courage and strength it must have taken to write this. Somehow, I can also imagine a burden being lifted, somewhat, at least. The pain from carrying this around for a lifetime, is unimaginable. You are a very brave, strong woman.

  12. You are very strong and brave, Jacqueline for telling your story for the whole world to read. No one has the right to judge the decision we decide is best for ourselves. I’m sorry for what you had to endure when you were a child. You are an amazing woman!

  13. Thank you for sharing your story. You’re a very brave woman.

  14. I have been and continue to be a supporter of pro choice and I support you for telling your story. I know it will help others. xo

  15. You went through a lot. Such a strong lady! Thank you for sharing your story.

  16. I wandered over here from Dana. That is a rough story. I am glad your little girl self at some point threatened the abusers and got them to stop. I am very sorry this little girl had to be put through such a horror with sad thoughts about very grownup things. Thank you for sharing an important story.

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