by E. Farber
Let me start by saying that I’m not writing this essay for the purpose of publicly flagellating myself, nor am I appealing for sympathy. My purpose is to communicate the degree to which I have internalized the seriousness of Near Term Extinction and to reignite conversations about personal sacrifice in the face of a future that we know is doomed. So what if it doesn’t matter in the end? Having an open forum for discussion makes some of us feel less alone. This is a world where people judge those who make decisions based on a future that no powerful entities (governments, corporations, academic institutions, the media etc.) will acknowledge or speak about. By interacting with like-minded individuals, it can be easier to make sane choices in the face of insanity.
I have been following NBL since 2012. I can’t remember exactly how I came across it, but I did and the information blew me away. It made sense. Not wanting to blindly adapt my belief system based on the research of one person, I investigated further. I read books and articles, watched interviews, and spent a good deal of time reading online comments. Most of the latter is garbage, but sometimes there are a few gems hidden amongst the waste. I also took a good, hard look at the state of the world around me. I couldn’t help it — everything I saw screamed UNSUSTAINABLE. And that’s when I decided, for better or worse, that I would pitch my tent in the doomer camp.
From that point on my approach to daily living shifted. As someone who has had it rough in many areas of life, I was already familiar with trying to find comfort whenever and wherever I could find it. But realizing the futility of trying to carve out a more traditional, more socially-approved existence kicked my hedonistic tendencies into high gear. I engaged in many questionable activities, but I was content. I believed that my attitude towards life was fairly balanced. After all, I cared too much about the wellbeing of others to indulge in behaviors that were totally reckless. Or so I thought.
I’ll cut to the chase — this past summer I got knocked up. I’m 27, single, and in my final year of graduate school. My student loan debt is out of control and the father is broke. I don’t consider myself to be the “mothering type.” Those things aside, after I got over the initial shock of finding out that I was pregnant my feelings changed. Hormones flooded my body. I was struck with a sense of peace that I had never experienced before. Even as I battled queasiness and crushing fatigue, I felt a bizarre sense of care for the unplanned life inside me. But even with cozy feelings radiating from within, I couldn’t ignore the conclusions I had drawn. Could I really bring a child into the world when there was overwhelming evidence that she/he would not have the opportunity to live a full life? Or much of a life at all? I agonized. I engaged in mental gymnastics — maybe I am nuts and the evidence is wrong. Maybe technology really will come through. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, I’m not sure), I have never been able to buy into delusional thinking for very long. I knew what I had to do.
Fifteen minutes before I began the process of halting the pregnancy I had my first and only sonogram. I looked blankly at the tiles on the ceiling as the doctor informed me that I was carrying twins. That information generated two opposing feelings simultaneously: that I was a monster for destroying something so special and that I was absolutely doing the right thing. When the time came, I was ushered into a room and offered a pill that would stop the production of progesterone — a key pregnancy hormone — in my body. I did not hesitate. With a sip from a Dixie cup of water I swallowed it immediately and sealed our fates. The second set of pills taken the next day brought an unspeakable physical pain that I will never forget and that I fully deserved. A week later I had an IUD inserted into my still-bleeding uterus.
I have reflected on the pregnancy and termination daily in the months since. I feel deep sorrow and extreme regret for being so careless as to get pregnant in the first place. I feel a deep ache in my heart knowing that I turned down the one unexpected opportunity I had to be a mom. But after the first twenty minutes of lying in bed each night feeling self-hatred and despair, a light is switched. I remember what the world is like and where it is headed. Knowing that I prevented two lives from entering such a fucked-up place, I am finally able to sleep.
E. Farber is an artist and designer living in the Midwest. She’s currently in her third and final year of graduate school. While others might not consider it a prudent idea to pursue an advanced degree in painting, she figures that she might as well do what she loves because she’ll be dead long before her student loans can be fully paid back anyway. Although she has been forced to hide it from faculty members and peers for numerous reasons (disinterest and disbelief chief among them) her work explores the myriad feelings and experiences that come from being one of the few people who understand that the world as we know it will end in the not so distant future.