I want to share a story with you. It’s a story of pain, tragedy, death, love, and redemption. It’s a story that, until now, only two people have heard. It’s a story that I have hid in my heart due to my fears of judgment or condemnation from other people. A few weeks ago, God placed it on my heart to share this story and I have been reluctant to obey. After much prayer and attempting to bargain with God, I find myself sharing the story of my abortion.
I’m not sharing this for sympathy or attention – but to acknowledge the glory of God and how He can and will redeem us from our darkest sins.
Whether you choose to believe it of not, the psychological scars of abortion are devastating.
I was twenty years old. I was in college. I was in love. I drank a lot and I didn’t know that I was hiding behind hundreds of masks to hide my true self. I didn’t know who my true self was. I didn’t believe that anyone loved me for who I was. I believed that I only deserved love if I was “good enough” to earn it. I believed that he only loved me because I did things for him. I had no faith in God. I didn’t understand who He was. I pretended to be someone whom I thought others would love. I didn’t trust people. I was lost, but I didn’t know I was lost. I thought that my boyfriend was the only person who was looking out for me and I worshiped the ground he walked on and I would have done anything for him.
I always wanted a family. My own family was dysfunctional as child and I longed to have a family of my own – a family that included a mom, dad, and child(ren). I thought, if I could just have that, my life would make more sense and I would be okay. I thought I had found true love. I thought he was the man I would marry. He seemed to be the first man I had ever been with who was interested in more than just that “one thing”. I was broken though. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but my life was in shambles and I was grasping for control.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was scared but I was elated. I thought that he would be happy and that we would become a happily ever after family. But I was very, very wrong. When I told him, he said that he would support whatever I chose. But he kept pushing for abortion. I was terrified of losing him and I didn’t want my child to be raised the way I was, without a father. If we had this baby, I would disappoint my family, I would never finish school, I would never amount to anything, I wouldn’t be a good mom. In short, I would be a failure. I had never given much thought to the topic of abortion in my past. I always thought I was pro-choice. I didn’t see anything wrong with it, but I always thought it wasn’t for me. The more he suggested it, the more I wrestled with whether or not I was okay with it for me. But if it was legal and our government said it was okay, I figured it couldn’t be that bad. Abortion was a way of making sure that I didn’t have to give up on my own dreams. After many weeks of coercion, I agreed to “take care of the problem”. He never seemed to give any thought, and nor did I, to how going through with this would change our lives forever.
I sat in front of my computer, very hesitant. I didn’t know how hard it would be just to type the words “abortion clinic” into the Google search bar. The results appeared quickly and I had the name and number for the place I needed to call. I picked up my phone and dialed the number. I just stared at it for a minute, trying to give myself the courage to press send. When I did, I felt like the line rang for eternity. I was finally greeted on the other end by a young woman with a chipper voice asking, “how may I help you?” I stumbled through my words and I struggled to get them out, “I-I-I-I n-n-n-need to have and a-a-a-bortion.” She responded in that same chipper voice, “Okay, no problem. We can help you with that problem.” She then proceeded to tell me what I needed to do, how much it would cost, and how I was doing the best thing for my future. She set up my appointments and told me not to worry. She told me that everything would be back to normal once it was taken care of.
The clinic required a “pre-op” appointment. I went to that first appointment by myself. I was young, scared, and confused, but I was convinced that if I ever wanted a chance to have the life I had always dreamed of, I needed to go through with it. That appointment was overwhelming. I heard all the scientific facts of the thing growing inside of me and how this was the best thing I could do for my future. But no one ever spoke of the growing mass in my belly as a baby. No one told me that my baby had a heartbeat. No one told me that my baby could feel pain. No one told me that my baby was a baby. These are things that I wouldn’t learn until after it was over; after I couldn’t change my mind. They tried to prepare me for what my body would experience as a result of the procedure. They explained that there would be some pain involved but that after a few days I should feel pretty normal again (what they didn’t know, and neither did I at the time, is that I didn’t know what normal felt like). They explained to me that I may experience a little sadness but that would simply be the result of my hormones getting back to normal. But what they didn’t try to prepare me for was the emotional distress that would pour into my life after “my mistake was taken care of”. No one told me that the abortion really meant ripping my baby limb from limb from the warm, secure home he had, had for 11 weeks in my womb. By the time I left that appointment, they had convinced me that I was doing the right thing. The doctor and nurses promised me freedom and happiness once they had “fixed” the mistake that I had made. I was sure that if I let the thing developing inside of me turn into a baby, my life would be ruined.
I had to wait three days before I went back to the clinic for “the procedure” as they called it. But those few days felt like an eternity. I felt like an inmate on death row who was waiting for her sentence. I was terrified of what was going to happen, but I was sure that once it was over my pain would be gone. Those days dragged on in a haze of confusion and alcohol abuse. I was sure I was doing the right thing. I was sure that everything I was feeling would go away once the problem was gone.
It was like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and everyone around me promised that if I stepped off the edge, I’d find happiness, freedom, and peace. But the voices I kept hearing all around me were 100% contradictory to everything I was feeling. I didn’t know at the time that what I was feeling was love and compassion for the life inside of me. I thought I was feeling contempt for it and would be glad once it was gone. I felt trapped and I didn’t know whether to listen to the voices or my feelings. Most of my history had taught me that my feelings couldn’t be trusted, so I was quick to disregard my feelings.
I was a control freak who felt like I had lost all control of my body and my life.
So I stood on the edge of the cliff and looked over the expanse. I didn’t want to step off the edge because I didn’t know what I’d be falling in to. All I could see was endless darkness. But I also didn’t want to walk the winding path that was behind me. As I turned to assess what the scene behind me would behold, the twists and turns horrified me. I saw wild beasts that looked ready to attack if I tried to take even one step forward. Thorns and thistles lined the path and darkness consumed it. It was intimidating and terrifying, but I could see the terrors and could prepare for how to handle them. The voices inside of me told me that if I went down this path it would hurt, I would disappoint and hurt other people, and that I would fail; but those same internal voices told me that I could and should take the risk. But then there were the louder, more tangible, external voices that urged me to step out into the vast unknown oblivion. They promised me love, security, freedom, and acceptance if only I took the step off the cliff. They promised me that what I couldn’t see in the unknown was a better life, a life free of my “problem”. They told me I could trust them. In a desperate attempt to find love, safety, and acceptance, I abandoned my own feelings and decided to step off into the oblivion. But that one step left me falling into a darkness that I didn’t know how to handle.
It’s funny, really, the lies you believe when you have no foundation of truth.
The night before the “procedure” he had promised he would be with me, he promised that he would support me through the whole experience because, as he said, we were doing the right thing. But that night, I experienced the first in a long string of broken promises. He didn’t show up and I was left to wrestle with my confusing emotions on my own. I was unable to sleep as my mind kept taking me back to that cliff and the fear of the unknown that I was about to enter into. When he arrived at my house the following morning to take me to the clinic I was filled with anxiety. My thoughts were running in so many different directions that I didn’t understand what was going on with me. I felt alone, scared, and out of control. I placed my physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being into the hands of the man that I thought loved and would only do what was best for me, not knowing at the time that my safety and security were the last things on his mind. He told me we were doing the right thing, and I believed him. But if this was right, then why did I feel so wrong? If this was right, why did I feel so condemned? If this was right, how come I felt so ashamed? If this was right, how come I felt like, from that moment on, I needed to guard this secret with my life?
Entering the clinic was overwhelming. I was walking in, a scared, twenty year old, pregnant young lady and I was promised that I would be walking out as a freed and happy young adult with a bright future. I was consumed with confusion as I was greeted by smiling faces. How could they be smiling about something that felt so wrong to me? I was deceived and I didn’t know that behind those smiles were people just waiting to take the life of the unborn mass of cells that lay within my abdomen.
We had a seat in the waiting room and it felt surreal. I was buying into the promises of freedom and I couldn’t wait to reach the other side of this, to be free of the feelings that this pregnancy had brought upon me. I had been convinced that everything I was feeling was not negativity toward the procedure but actually toward the pregnancy. My name was called; I squeezed his hand, and walked through the doors that I would never walk back out of. After several needle pricks, my arms were left sore and bruised. I was asked to change my clothes and have a seat in another waiting room. This room was full of terrified girls and young women. We were all waiting to hear our names called so we could get this over with. The room smelled of shame. At the time, I assumed we were all just ashamed of our pregnancies. If you don’t know what shame smells like, step foot into the waiting room of an abortion clinic, it’s an unmistakable smell that one can never forget. A few of the ladies tried to make small talk, but mostly we all just kept to ourselves, trying to hide our faces.
One by one, our names were called and one by one our babies were murdered. Finally, it was my turn. Finally, I would be getting that freedom that I was promised.
I followed a nurse back to the “exam room”. I think death chamber is a more appropriate name. I’ll never forget this doctor as long as I live. He was wearing sky blue scrubs and a face mask. I have often wondered what he was hiding behind that mask. But what horrified me were his eyes. His eyes were like ice and it chilled me to my bones. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was in the presence of evil and my consciousness shut down. I had made myself become numb; I felt like a zombie. I had absolutely no control over my body. The doctor and nurses spoke to me and my body responded to them, but I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. I followed orders and laid down on the table. I watched as the doctor pulled the stirrups out, placed my feet in them, and strapped my feet down. At the same time, a few nurses were on either side of me securing my arms. One nurse injected a medication into my arm that would sedate me and I felt a cold sting run through my veins. I felt as if I had just been injected with the ice from that doctor’s eyes. The medical team was busy with mindless chatter as I lay there helpless and afraid. It was as if what they were about to do to me meant absolutely nothing to them. But I still thought they were helping me. One of the nurses urged me to close my eyes and promised I would be asleep before anything started. That’s when I felt the doctor touching me and I felt a warm tear streak across my cheek. The doctor said, “this will be cold,” as he pushed the frozen ultrasound probe inside of me. I felt like I had been penetrated by the evil I saw in his eyes; but he was helping me, right? My mind was starting to feel cloudy and I was beginning to lose consciousness and that’s when I heard the doctor’s voice again. “Wow, that’s a strong heartbeat. Oh, no wonder, there’s two.” It was in that moment that I changed my mind. I tried to speak and struggle free. My mind was screaming, “let me go, let me go,” but the drugs they had given me had done their job; I was too weak and disoriented and my eyes closed. The last thing I heard was the distinct sound of two very strong, very healthy heartbeats.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up to extreme pain and I heard the humming of the torture device that was ripping my babies from their home. I tried to scream, but nothing would come out. Then I felt that cold, evil sting in my arm once more and I was again unconscious. The next time I awoke, I was being forced from the exam table to a wheel chair. One of the nurses pulled on my arm and almost yelled for me to “wake up and move.” I groggily followed orders, still unable to comprehend what was happening. Was it over? Was I fixed? Was I free? As I stood up, I was overcome with pain and I nearly collapsed into the waiting wheel chair. This was their first time in my life that I had ever been blinded by pain. This is when I first realized that I was falling and I couldn’t catch myself. But I was sure that those promises of freedom, love, and happiness still waited for me.
I was moved to a recovery room where four recliners sat side by side. Three of the chairs were already filled with shamed and hurting young women who had, like me, unknowingly just committed the biggest mistakes of their lives. I painfully made my way into the chair and quickly fell back to sleep. I was only vaguely aware of the busyness around me as everyone else seemed to go about their business. As I opened my eyes again, a male nurse approached me, sending me into a panic. He had the same icy eyes as that doctor; however his voice was much gentler. He told me that it was time for me to get dressed and leave. My head was foggy and my legs were unstable, but I felt sure that as soon as I could get out of this place, I would experience the freedom I was promised. No one had prepared me for the amount of physical pain I would be in. I got dressed and was only able to half listen to the instructions the nurse was giving me. He then walked me to the back door and led me out of the building where I found my boyfriend waiting to take me home. At the time, I wondered why we weren’t allowed to leave out the front door after the procedure, now I realize that they don’t want the young women in the waiting room to see the pain and despair on our faces – that might lead them to change their minds. That’s why they made us use the back door.
I had expected him to take me in his arms and tell me how much he loved me. I had expected him to embrace me and tell me he was sorry for my pain. I had expected him to comfort and protect me. But all I really got was silence. More broken promises. Where was my freedom? I felt more bound, confused, and ashamed than ever. I couldn’t even look at him. On our way home we stopped for lunch and I looked at him, with hatred in my voice and said, “it was twins.”
I didn’t realize then, how much I already loved them.
The weekend was a blur of pain, sleep, and crying. I hated sleeping because I was overcome with grief in every nightmare. I caught glimpses of the baby boy and girl that I had just killed. They wanted to know why I didn’t love them. They wanted to know why I had killed them. They wanted to know why. And so did I. But when I was awake, I was in such a tremendous amount of pain that I could barely move. I was sure though, that I deserved this pain. The babies in my nightmares told me I did too. Being awake and facing the physical pain was better though than being asleep and having to see their small, mutilated bodies crying at me. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t think I would survive. I truly believed that this pain would literally kill me. And a part of me hoped it would. I didn’t believe in God at that point. I thought God hated me and had forsaken me many years before. But I cried out to Him, asking Him why He was doing this to me.
He stayed with me for most of that weekend. I probably would have taken my own life if he hadn’t. Two days was not enough time to heal, but I told myself it had to be. Monday rolled around and I had to convince myself that I was fine. I had to forget the pain and move on. After all, I had been promised freedom and I was determined to find it.
The promises were all broken. My boyfriend’s support quickly dwindled as did my trust and faith in him. I had placed my body in his hands and allowed him to control me and he shattered every fiber of my being. I was determined to never be that vulnerable again. I was determined that no one would ever have that kind of control over my life again. I was determined to regain control of my own life.
The promises that the doctor and nurses made to me about love, acceptance, safety, and freedom were all lies. It was never about love, it was about death. It was never about acceptance, it was about alienation. It was never about safety, it was about fear. It was never about freedom, it was about bondage.
In an attempt to cope with and hide my pain, I turned to drug and alcohol abuse and I also struggled with self-harm and bulimia. These things only deepened my shame and left me bound in my despair. I did all I could to avoid feeling the pain.
This story took place just over 6 years ago – January 11, 2008. In these past 6 years I have hidden and run from much of the pain I have felt.
I stepped off that cliff and I started falling. I was terrified by what the impact would look like once I finally hit the ground. Would I break and shatter and lose it all once again? Or would God’s loving arms catch me before the impact could ruin me?
I choose to believe that God will catch me. No other promise has felt as secure as that one.
Facing the pain of the abortion was hard. It was, after all, a choice that I made. I cried many tears and yelled at God many times. But trusting in myself and what I could do had obviously not been helpful, so the only choice I had left was to trust the God who said He could heal me.
I think we get so bound by our shame that we convince ourselves that IF God is real, He can’t forgive this and that we are hopeless. But that’s why I wrote this, it’s not hopeless and you are forgiven. You just have to trust Him. Trust is hard and can sometimes be painful, but it’s worth it.
It is only by trusting God and allowing Him to show me the depth of my sin and shame that I have been able to find freedom. I have worked through the “Surrendering the Secret” Bible study and Celebrate Recovery step studies. Those, along with lots of prayers and tears, have helped me to understand who God is and who He says I am. The shame of abortions is real and it is deep. Most women hide it so deep that they don’t even realize how much they’re still hurting.
I hid it for 5 years before I realized how much I was still hurting from it. After 5 years of hiding the pain so deeply, I had forgotten how to feel it. It’s taken this past year to work through and process all of the shame and emotions I’ve felt.
It’s odd really, when women choose abortion they choose it because they don’t believe that they have any other option. We’re promised freedom, but what we find is the furthest thing from it.
I’m sure there will be controversy about the topic of this post, and I’m okay with that. My goal isn’t to make everyone happy, but to simply share my story in hopes to help someone else. I want it to be known that I will not engage on any arguments or debates and any condemning comments will be deleted.