When I was 17...
When I was 17, about a month before my 18th birthday, I found out that I was pregnant. I couldn't believe it. Complete fear and shock went through my body. I immediately began to cry uncontrollably. What would I do? I felt sick. I went into total shutdown mode. Reality no longer applied. This couldn't be real, could it?
Not long after that, I began to get all kinds of support from my friends. Yes, I was supported...in the choice of abortion. They all told me how I was too young, what would I do with a kid, where could I go, etc.? I even had someone tell me that adopting the baby would only make it hurt more because I would always wonder where the child was. It never occurred to me that this was also the same girl who was the ex-girlfriend of the guy that got me pregnant, with whom she still shared a close connection and that perhaps, he motives were not altogether good.
No matter. I was numb. I was frightened and too terrified to tell my father. He had always told me he would throw me out of the house if I got pregnant. Going to him would only make me a homeless person on top of everything else. So, I called my mother in New York. Her immediate response was that I would fly there and have the abortion done. Simple. She would take care of all the arrangements - I just had to pay for it.
My mind was racing and I further numbed myself with alcohol. I denied any acknowledgement of what was about to commence. I simply determined it wasn't really happening and that the child inside me was not really there. It was a defense mechanism.
I arrived in New York and within a day, was at an abortion clinic. While I waited in the small room with other women, I tried justifying what I was doing. I actually convinced myself I would most likely miscarry because I had felt a few pangs of pain in my lower back. This was the fool proof way of getting through this - or so I thought.
Going under, I was scared, but felt there was no way out, now. I didn't want this and I didn't want to be there...I kept pushing those thoughts to the very back of my mind. Hoping that I could eventually push them out, completely. Never did I imagine that they would be there, waiting for me, as soon as I awoke and then still, for the rest of my life.
Waking up, I heard my own voice...it was screaming. I had tears running down my face, I grabbed at my abdomen and screamed for my baby!!! I screamed and screamed for her. They all tried to calm me down, but all I could do was ask for my baby. I complained of pain and they could not calm me. It was as if I knew...I knew at that very moment the horror of what I had just committed. I knew and there was nothing I could do to change it. Immediate remorse and regret. I was changed forever.
The doctor reluctantly put me back under to see if I had any damage. None that he could see. No, he was thoroughly irritated with me and made no bones about showing me. Because I had been put under twice in such a short time, my recovery took twice as long. Now, my mother was irritated because she surmised I was doing all this for attention. It wasn't that big a deal, so why was I acting this way? I needed to stop it. What? Seriously? Was this happening?
As we were walking out of the building and I was leaning on her for support, she announced that we would never speak of this again. No need to talk about it -we would just forget it and move on. I was shocked...I needed to talk about it. I felt my chest compressing and a weight was placed there...a weight that wouldn't be removed for another 17 years.
I spent a lot of time trying to push the events of that day out of my mind. I suffered from nightmares and a spiraling self image. I wanted my baby and couldn't have her. I was worthless and everyone knew it. I wanted to feel safe...to be safe...to have someone come in and make it all better. Enter my ex-husband. He initially came with all those wonderful things...he took care of me...he gave me safety...I didn't have to make anymore decisions - it was easier this way.
Fast forward to our marriage. It was cold and demeaning. I wasn't allowed to be a person; I was there to do as I was told. I was watched and all of my decisions...ALL of my decisions were to be made by him. It spiraled out of control and my self esteem was beaten so low that I nearly forgot who I was before we met. I am at fault for that part because I allowed him in...I allowed him to take control and then, I allowed him to believe it was ok.
After a year, I began to fight back by regaining my own personality. I began to snap out of the haze that had been my existence for so long. As a result, our marriage suffered and he had no intention of having me become a person who understood herself worth. Our relationship and marriage failed and then, I went onto several failed relationships afterwards. I didn't understand love - I didn't even really love myself...not enough to think I deserved better than what I got.
Slowly, I began to get pieces of myself back. With every piece, I was able to gain more confidence. With every piece, my bad decisions became less traumatic. Eventually, I found that I could take care of myself and decided to live on my own. It was a good step - a necessary step. Did I make all the right decisions? No. But, I made better ones and learned more quickly from mistakes.
Enter my husband...the man to whom I've been married for nearly 10 years now and with whom I have built a healthy and wonderful life. Not for lack of trying to mess it up on my part, but luckily for me, he is a good and patient man. He saw my pain and looked past it...he's the first person who saw ME and helped me to realize that I was worth every good thing I had previously denied to myself.
After several years of marriage, he convinced me to attend a Rachel's Vineyard Retreat. He knew it was time for me to finally deal with the pain of my abortion...a pain that had always haunted me and a pain that was becoming more and more visible to him every day. He attended with me and to my amazement, participated in all the activities fully. Not only did I receive the most compassionate and loving healing through that weekend, but in breaking out of those chains that bound me, I was also able to be completely and trustingly open to my marriage for the first time. What freedom! I actually felt in control of my pain...it no longer controlled me. I was free and on the road to a true recovery.
I now work with others to help their healing. I use my pain and experiences as a way of reaching others. But, I wish always that I could have made the RIGHT choice all those years ago. Regardless of my healing...I would change that decision in a heartbeat if ever given that chance. The years that one moment took from me will never be replaced. No one should have to go through this...no one should have to lose their child in such an unnatural and horrific way. Telling people that murdering a baby living inside your body is ok is one of the most irresponsible and selfish things a person can do.
A child's life is precious. All life is sacred. We must protect it and let our voices be heard. The children need us to speak for them until they are given life and can speak for themselves.