Sometime around 1999 I made the worst decision of my life. I can't remember the exact date or year, as so much of that time has been blocked out of my memory. That has caused me its own grief in its own, beyond just having an abortion.
I had an abortion, because I was coming out of a failed marriage, I was having an affair with the baby's dad, who said if I ever got pregnant I would have to abort, and I was new to my job. I was told by many as soon as I started that, if I ever became pregnant, I would lose my job. I felt lost and alone...afraid to have a child with no job, no insurance, and no family support. I was too embarrassed to tell my mom thousands of miles away the predicament I was in.
I had my abortion at the doctor's office. They gave me valium to take the night before, the morning of, and after the abortion, and that is all the instruction I remember. I do remember the nurse not looking at me, and the doctor telling me not to look at the screen. I did and instantly regretted my decision, but it was too late. The procedure was underway, and I cried. The doctor rushed to turn the screen out of my view, but no one said anything to me. I was told I could leave when it was done.
Once home I felt humiliated. The baby's dad gave me $100 and dropped me off at my driveway. I was hurt and didn't want his money. I felt isolated and alone. Co-workers called to check on me after the procedure, but I had to lie about what it was for to protect my job. I was tired of lying and stopped taking their calls. I cried alone in my bed for days. Eventually, I had to go back to work and tried to pretend things were okay, but they weren't.
This just led to a string of bad relationships, if you can call them that, with other men. Things went sour with the baby's dad, which, in all reality, was probably for the best. But I had no value for my life. I didn't care if I got in a car accident or died. My life didn't matter. This is when I started drinking alcohol. Up to this point, I hardly ever had a drink. Eventually, I met my current husband, and my walls started going down and love entered my heart. But once we had our first child things changed.
I was terrified every day of my pregnancy. I was so afraid I was going to lose her and, after an emergency c-section, I was so thankful she was fine. But I still fell into a deep depression. I remember sitting at the changing table with her in front of me, probably close to a year old, thinking I should be happier than this. I should "feel" something. I slowly searched for help, but by this point my marriage was suffering.
I felt so badly about myself, so ashamed of myself, so worthless that I put unrealistic expectations on my husband to make me feel loved and appreciated. But how can someone make you feel loved when you don't love yourself? Our marriage is still shaky to this day, but I just recently went to an abortion healing retreat. Rebirth and repairing the wounds takes time. Dealing with the anxiety and panic attacks that have been plaguing me the past couple of years takes time.
I found help and forgiveness through God, through going to confession, and through attending an abortion healing retreat over a year after my confession. It has been a long journey and forgiving myself was, and still is sometimes, the hardest part. I still feel shame when I tell my story, but I tell it as I feel that is what I am meant to do. Tell my story.
I thought I was healed, but the wounds resurfaced, and I started therapy and attended a healing retreat again. The depression was rearing its ugly head, and I felt completely hopeless. I was doing all I could to try to pull my life together and save my marriage, but I was failing. I ran out of a group session but eventually came to terms with the fact I really did need to forgive myself.
I am silent no more because God loves me so much and forgave me. He has blessed me so much throughout my life, and I feel He has called me to take a stand and speak up about how abortion not only harms the child but the mother, too. The years of guilt and grief are far worse than any bad I imagined could have come from having that precious child, who I have named Grace.
But the shame I feel today is bearable and a reminder that God is loving and forgiving. The shame is nothing in comparison to the good I can do by telling my story. The shame reminds me that I am human, I make mistakes, but through confession and listening to God, I will continue to grow closer to Jesus.
And I am determined to survive as God blessed with another chance when my daughter was born in 2008. She keeps me going every single day, but she has had to learn to live with a mom who suffers from deep wounds but is determined to survive.