Róisín Ingle on . . . “coming out” with gratitude

I am sitting at my desk, bursting with gratitude for so much since I “came out” about my abortion in last week’s magazine

Thank you everyone in the last week who has taken the time to support and talk about the women in this country who for so long have been denied the right to choose and to be part of that conversation

Thank you everyone in the last week who has taken the time to support and talk about the women in this country who for so long have been denied the right to choose and to be part of that conversation

 

If you will excuse me, this week I am going to write one of those list-based articles. Listicles, some people call them. There is this notion that columnists only write these types of pieces when they’ve run out of inspiration or are being lazy. I swear I am full of inspiration and I can’t blame laziness. (This time.) But I do have an awful lot of thank yous to write and I think they’ll work better in list form. I am sitting at my desk, bursting with gratitude for so much since I “came out” about my abortion in last week’s magazine. I kindly beg your indulgence for my, by no means exhaustive, thank you listicle: Thank you to

. . . . . . Sinéad O’Connor. Once I’d made the decision to write about my abortion I had no regrets, but it would be disingenuous to say that there weren’t wobbly moments along the way. During one such wobbly a friend I confided in talked to me about courage and truth and facing our fears. She sent me a link to a Sinéad O’Connor performance I had never seen before. It was in 1992, not long after she had caused controversy by tearing up a picture of the pope on American TV. The YouTube video was filmed at the 30th anniversary Bob Dylan tribute concert. To see her standing her ground like a shaven-headed warrior in front of that hostile, booing crowd was deeply inspiring. I was scared, perhaps more scared than I was admitting to myself, about speaking my own truth. And she, like the hero journalist Mary Holland before her, is one of the few Irish women who in the past has felt able to “come out” about her abortion story. Sinéad’s strength gave me armour. I’d recommend that video to anyone in need of a shot of courage.

. . . my Mum. And all the Mums and Dads, sisters and brothers, friends and family members who have comforted and supported women through abortions. Because they are out there, you know, even if they don’t get much of a chance to talk about their experiences. I didn’t feel able to tell my Mother at the time of the abortion, not because I feared her reaction, I just didn’t want her to have that burden of worry until I had dealt with it all and come through it by myself. When I did tell her she was, as I knew she would be, loving and supportive and protective. Last Saturday when she tweeted about being proud of me and of all people who respect a woman’s choice, there wasn’t a happier, prouder daughter in the land. . . . Tara Flynn. Comedian, author and all-round legend, she talked about her abortion at the Electric Picnic a full week before my story was due to appear. Seeing the overwhelmingly positive reaction to her story and being able to talk to her about what was to come, did a lot to ease my nerves. (Me nerves!)

. . . Alicia Florrick. Her off The Good Wife. There were a few times leading up to my abortion article being published when I needed to completely distract myself. At these times of crisis I turned, as so many have, to the TV drama The Good Wife. The sight of Alicia in her kitchen skulling back the red wine is the antidote to almost everything, I find.

Listen up

. . . the people against abortion who got in touch to say that while they don’t agree with what I did, they respect a woman’s right to choose. There are more of these people than you might think. Irish politicians please take note. ... the Abortion Rights Campaign Ireland. Please, if you believe this is an important issue for Irish men and women, join them and me and Tara Flynn at the March for Choice, the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin, 2pm on Saturday, September 26th.

. . . ‘Closer’ magazine. Last weekend they did an online article about my “coming out” calling me “brave” and all sorts of lovely things. They used a photo of a heavily pregnant woman alongside the article which is never a good idea when illustrating a personal abortion story. (Generally these stories are about not wanting to be pregnant.) But apart from that, my relations in the North were very impressed that I had made it into a magazine of that stature – I mean The Irish Times is all very well but you’re not likely to find all the details about Tulisa’s drink-driving case here. Closer also wrote the line: “Roisin is now happily married”, at the end of the article. Which means that anytime my-mother-in-law-in-waiting Queenie gives me hassle for not being married I can show her that and say “but it says we are married in Closer magazine”.

So thank you Closer. And thank you everyone in the last week who has taken the time to support and talk about the women in this country who for so long have been denied the right to choose and to be part of that conversation. Let’s keep on talking.

roisin@irishtimes.com

Roisin’s book Public Displays of Emotion is now available to buy at irishtimes.com/irishtimesbooks for €14.99

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