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Sunday, October 10, 2010

When I was 17...My Story...

So, it occurred to me that I may have not posted my own, personal story on this blog.  An odd oversight on my part.  With the 40 Days for Life Campaign in full swing and a Rachel's Vineyard Retreat coming up, I thought that I should rectify things.  Therefore, I am choosing to post my story now.  Here it is - typos, emotions and all - a very personal view on what I experienced as a result of abortion and how I found healing many years later.

It's important that while we must fight FOR LIFE every single day, we also remember to help those who at one time, lost their battle with self in the name of that all-too-familiar mantra of "choice."  Everything we are taught by society leads us to believe that the ability to have an abortion is freedom, makes our lives easier, keeps our lives from having to change, etc. 

My story makes clear that the only freedom I experienced was that of freedom from peace...that the way in which my life became easier was in that I could more easily allow myself to not care about the outcomes of many poor choices that followed...that the way in which I kept my life from changing was in NOT allowing myself to "change" and grow beyond that terrible moment.

I hope that this story strikes a cord in all of you.  Please share it with others.  Silence is our worst enemy.
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 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 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 cold 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 be 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 not intention of having me become a person who understood her self 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 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 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.


  1. numb ... permitting others to take over because we could not...and so that is how so many abortions are performed - by those who think they know best for us, when indeed they did not and do not.

    I am glad that RV helped you - I am still in the process of healing from my abortion forty years later...and I will be totally healed when I am gathered into the arms of Christ upon my death and see the faces of my children, Matthew and Michelle.

  2. Yes, numb is a great way to describe it, indeed. I also have referred to it as going into "auto pilot" mode. You simply go from one place to the next because dealing with the gravity and reality of it is far too difficult. That should have been my first clue that I was about to make a horrible mistake.

    I pray that you continue on your healing path. It is there, waiting for us, but we must be willing to accept it. That is a hard thing...I find it much easier to forgive others than myself.

    Your children will be waiting and welcoming. God bless you, always.

  3. Thanks for this. I also speak publicly about my "abortive past." I actually had 3 abortions---Natalie, Miranda and Luke. My mom orchestrated my first abortion too and the first thing she said to me as I was waking up was "Don't ever tell anybody about this." Of course we never discussed it. I guess she presumed I would be a good little girl and not get preggers again after that, but I went totally wild.

    I don't want to paint my mom as a bad person. She is very religious and at the time (the 70's) our church--Southern Baptist--actually favored abortion rights. The first scheduled abortion in Georgia was at Georgia Baptist (Doe vs. Bolton.) I think she was really trying to protect me and didn't see the little child I was carrying as her grandchild.

    When 2 subsequent pregnancies occurred over the course of the next 6 years, I didn't tell my mom because I didn't want to upset her. But I did use the knowledge that I had learned from my mom and the family doc who did my first abortion---and that knowledge was that as long as you took care of things within that first trimester--it was no big deal whatsoever.

    For years after that I was so callous toward it----maybe numb as you described it. I marched in pro-choice marches and I even helped prevent my nursing school class from viewing the movie Silent Scream. Truth was, deep down, I didn't want to see it.

    Well it's been a long road. Almost 32 years since that first abortion. At least now, I know I've got a shot at meeting my first 3 children in heaven when I die.

    St Gianna Beretta Molla and Dorothy Day, pray for us. (I converted to Catholicism after going through Rachels Vineyard.)

    God bless you in your work, Christine.

  4. I just realized that I posted on the feast day of St. Luke--October 18---which is the name I gave one of my aborted children. Coinky dink.

  5. It's been almost three years and there is a hole in my heart. With each passing month, it does get smaller. I don't think I will ever be fully whole or completely the same after my experience.

    Auto-pilot, numbness...those are some very appropriate ways to describe how I felt. Does anyone still feel guilty when good things have happened?

    While life is a precious thing, I can honestly say I wasn't ready to be a parent. I hate the fact I had to do what I did, but the fact remains...I don't want to be a parent.

    Thank you for letting me vent my inner-most feelings. I don't think I have the courage to share with my friends. I don't want them to look at me differently or judge. I've worked really hard at maintaining these friendships and would hate to sabotage them.

    Thank you again.

  6. @ Anonymus:
    I understand you fully, and therefore suggest you try a Rachel's Vineyard retreat. Everyone will treat you gently and with lots of understanding. You will be so very surprised at how much better you will feel afterwards. You deserve relief from your immense pain.
    I wish you all good things, and peace in your heart.
    Anne Arthur