Today I'm going to take a HUGE step away from my normal blog material and go super-deep into the personal...because I feel it is important for someone to hear what I'm about to say. It is one of the most private stories of my life, but I'm starting to realize that if I keep it to myself for the sake of privacy, I potentially strip that chapter of my life of any redeeming value. The story must be told so that God can use my mistakes to set someone else free, to guide someone else to a better decision than the one I made over 20 years ago. I had an abortion. This is my story.
I had just turned 18. I was a senior in high school and had been dating the same boy for a year and a half before I became pregnant. Finding out I was pregnant was in one way beyond terrifying -- but I also remember feeling oddly disconnected from the whole thing. I don't even remember discussing what our plans were with my boyfriend, but we must have at some point. Honestly, so much of this time of my life is blocked from my memory or is just a blur. What few real memories I do have I will share:
I do remember being extremely hormonal. We went on our senior class trip to Washington DC and there was one night in the hotel when I was yelling and losing it over something, I have no idea what. I distinctly remember my boyfriends best friend calling me psycho, and I remember feeling like I was drowning with that statement...I truly felt psycho but I couldn't stop freaking out. Everything was out of control and I felt like no one cared, no one noticed.
I remember going to the prom, and I remember my boyfriend and I fought at the after party. I think because he went swimming but I couldn't because everyone would see my stomach was showing. I remember sitting in a stairwell, in the dark, thinking how alone I was and how unfair it was that the girl bears the brunt of a pregnancy. I remember crying and crying and crying, there in that dark stairwell, thinking I'd never be able to stop crying and wondering how I was going to survive it all.
Soon after prom my boyfriend took me to Pizza Hut for a date one night, and then afterward, while sitting in his driveway in the car, he very coldly dumped me. While I was still pregnant with his child, practically a child myself. Need I even describe the scene? I completely freaked. I'm not sure there are words, really. Devastation. I remember thinking how easily he was suddenly free...yet I wasn't. I never really would be free.
The last 2-3 weeks of high school were nothing short of torturous. I cried all the time, even while sitting in class. Making matters worse, he was in almost all of my classes, yet even while I was carrying part of him inside of me, I was suddenly treated like a stranger by him. He'd even immediately started dating a girl from a different school...very pretty, fun, carefree, thin, and most certainly NOT pregnant. Again, I was so alone. To this day, I don't know how I got through those weeks, finals, ect.
Graduation. I remember feeling so sad, so heavy with loneliness and despair. I can't look at pictures of that day without being struck by the fact that I was actually carrying a baby at the time and also carrying a burden on my shoulders like I'd never known in my short life. I am amazed that I survived it. My memories of that day are literally dim, like the auditorium lights were turned down too low, the darkness that consumed me was that overpowering.
It wasn't until a week after graduation that I finally found the nerve to call and make an appointment for the abortion. I remember that I did it from a friends house, since it was a long distance call and I didn't want my mom to see it on the bill and then know I was pregnant. I let the ex-boyfriend know the date (he'd be driving me) and the cost (he'd split it with me...I used my graduation money to pay my half, a thought that oddly stands out to me and breaks my heart) and then, finally, the day came. I believe it was June 22, 1990.
I drove early that morning to pick up the ex. I knocked and knocked on his door...turns out he wasn't even awake. Ugh. Honestly, I have the hardest time forgiving that, of all things. He didn't even care enough to wake up on time. We drove to the appointment at a clinic about an hour from our hometown. There were protesters outside the building carrying signs...and that was beyond devastating to me. Instead of changing my mind in any way, they only made me feel more condemned, more small, more alone. The protesters screamed at me as I made my way inside. I just wanted to die.
There are parts of the day that are strongly ingrained into my brain in a way I can't explain. The waiting room was sadly very full. The nurse being so nice, holding my hand and listening to me cry and babble the whole time I lay on the table. The doctor, who was simply awful. He honestly couldn't have been worse if he'd tried. Literally half way through the 'procedure' he stopped everything to make sure I'd paid the higher tier fee. (You see, I was pretty far along and no one had realized how far until that point...apparently there was a higher fee the further along in your pregnancy you are. I'd already paid the higher fee but it wasn't until after he confirmed that fact that he continued.) That part of the day still makes my blood run cold. There are no words to describe that moment. Realizing I was that far along, but knowing it was far too late to stop. And this man, this so called doctor, was only worried I hadn't paid enough money. It takes my breath away.
At one point as I was lying there, it occurred to me that my baby was a boy. Perhaps someone in the room mentioned it, I honestly don't remember. But I was sure of it, all of a sudden. I still believe it to this day.
I distinctly remember the terrible, awful sounds. The intense pain. The absolute terror I felt. I remember these things as vividly as if I'd filmed them. Please, please know that it is NOT a gentle process. It is violent and loud and soul-crushing. It is every bit as awful as you think it is, and then much more.
It seemed like it took a very long time. Time stood still. And then suddenly it was over.
Afterward, I lay in a recliner in what they called a recovery room. What a joke, the word recovery. As if 30 minutes of rest in that chair was going to bring me back to normal after having my own child violently ripped from my womb. I remember feeling quite empty, both physically and emotionally. I recall that the girl lying next to me told me it was her third. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that she had put herself through this again and again and again. I remember it seemed like my brain was shouting: Just get me out of here. I. Must. Get. Away.
Finally they let me leave. I remember wondering if I would be able to walk. I even remember walking through the parking lot to leave. It felt like I was watching myself, kind of an out of body experience. Something inside of me was broken. The feeling scared me.
Driving home, there was silence in the car, except for my cries. I was looking out the window, sobbing uncontrollably. I literally cried the whole hour home. He had nothing to say.
My life that summer was a horrible jumble of emotions...until one day there were none at all. Believe it or not, I actually had two other major life traumas happening that summer on top of the abortion (perhaps another post...it was truly a bad summer) and I think I just became numb to all of it out of necessity. It was either that or completely lose my mind. Thoughts of my child and the abortion were pushed completely from my brain. For awhile, that is.
A couple of years later, there was a song called 'Tears of Heaven' on the radio. The very first time I heard it, it brought thoughts of that child back to me, and completely I lost it. I'd cry each and every time that stupid song came on the radio...and it was pretty often, let me tell you. This was perhaps the first time my numbness began to crack and I began to truly grieve. (To this day, I have to turn off the radio if that song comes on or I begin to cry.) I had finally started to work through the whole ordeal...but then it became too hard and I started drinking heavily and doing drugs for the next couple of years. Avoidance reared it's ugly head once again. There's a lot I could tell you from these years, but I'll just skip ahead to the healing.
Thankfully, I found God in 1996 and He helped me start to truly recover. He has forgiven me and convinced me that there IS no sin big enough to separate me from His love. That is so huge, you guys! NO SIN is too big. Am I completely set free from the effects of my abortion? Truthfully, no. Not yet. But I have hope that with God's help, there will be a day when I can answer yes to that question.
To anyone who reads this who is pregnant and is thinking of having an abortion: Listen to someone who knows. Abortion isn't the easy out they preach it to be. It is not going to solve a problem or fix your life. It is ugly, soul shattering, and unbelievably hard, and in the end it just replaces what you see to be one problem with a lifetime of other problems. Self hatred. Loathing. Shame. Fear. Loneliness. Terror. Grief. Regret as deep as you'll ever know. It isn't fixing anything, it's messing something inside of you up in a way that you'll not understand for quite some time. Please, do something for me. Put your hand on your heart for a minute and feel your heartbeat. Seriously. Do you feel it? Now, PLEASE, take a minute to consider that your baby (and it is a baby, make no mistake) also feels your heartbeat right now, this minute. He is being comforted by it...already being nurtured by you! No one else in your life is as close to you as that child is right now. That is a gift, a treasure, a blessing. Please, don't throw it away. Abortion is NOT the easy road, on the contrary, it is exceedingly hard.
To those who have already had an abortion and are struggling: Nothing or no one will truly heal you but God. Truly, self-inflicted pain and loss may be the hardest to overcome, because the hate and anger you feel is all internalized. There is no one else to lash out against...and the guilt and shame are overwhelming. BUT. God's love truly covers all. He wants to be the one to comfort you, to fill the hole that seems likely to swallow you, to hold you when you feel like no one else will. He doesn't hate you and His forgiveness is unconditional. Please, even the simplest of prayers can connect you to the God of great forgiveness and love. Just give Him a chance, that is all I ask.
Now, to the rest of you...I ask that you not only focus on the babies who are being aborted, but on the mothers as well. Perhaps some of them do go into it casually and come out the other end unscathed, but for the most part these ladies are the walking wounded, casualties of their own decisions, perhaps decisions they already wished they could take back before they even get off of that table. Don't hate them, judge them, or shame them...just love them. Minister to them the love of God, truly the only thing that will heal them. Give them a shoulder to cry on or just be an ear to listen. Above all, remember that these women are not the enemy. The enemy we are to fight is far, far worse. 'For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.' The real fight isn't won using protest signs and shouts of condemnation outside of an abortion clinic, the real fight is won with many prayers and supplications while we are down on our knees.
I know that this post was long and probably a bit disturbing, but I pray that someone will be changed by my story, perhaps someone will choose life for their child, or if it's too late for that, reach out and find forgiveness and new life with God. At any rate, let's all pray this week against the real enemy of life, the devil and the evil forces in this world who are working in ways we can not see and can only imagine. God is stronger...but we must pray.
This post has taken me literally over four hours to write. I am petrified to hit post and I don't even know for sure if I'll be brave enough to leave it up once I do...but if you are reading this, I do hope it has accomplished it's purpose.