I seriously have been through it all: abortion, miscarriage, infertility, the adoption of a Russian baby and one complete pregnancy that ended with an emergency Caesarean section. I’ve had a hysterectomy. I had an affair, I caused a horrible car accident and was arrested for DUI. I got a divorce and I am married again. All in that order.
I’ve been to many psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and counselors, as well as the usual gynecologists and infertility specialists. I’ve been treated for bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, severe anxiety, severe depression and chronic insomnia. I have abused alcohol and prescription drugs. They never could tell me why I had four miscarriages in a row, though, even after extensive and invasive tests. Not one of these doctors, ever, asked about my abortion, even though I told each one.
At times, I have been suicidal and on the really bad days, I considered not only killing myself, but also taking my two small children with me. To heaven. Where there is peace. Where I could only imagine I’d finally be at rest.
Can all this be blamed on one day of my life, the day I chose to have an abortion? 30 years ago, on a cold, rainy December Tuesday? You can make your own decision, but I truly believe that yes, all of the pain that I have endured comes from that day when I destroyed a life to try to save my own. And isn’t that ironic?
The lies of abortion begin with the one that says “you’ll never have to think about this again.” The truth is that I did think about it: immediately afterward, how I felt lying on the table, silently crying, with no anesthetic because the father and I could not afford the extra money. I thought about it years later, when I miscarried for the first time. And then again, with the second miscarriage, and the third and then the fourth miscarriage. Eventually, not a day went by that I didn’t think of my horrendous sin.
My closest, dearest friend began working with a crisis pregnancy center in Ohio a few years ago, and she knew about my abortion. She had been my best friend, even then. She suggested I talk to Jill, who leads the post-abortion recovery sessions, and learn about what is involved, but I strongly believed that I was alone in my quiet guilt and sorrow, and I was resistant to talking to someone about it. She continued to gently push me in the direction of talking with Jill, but I pushed back, scared to death to share my worst secret, afraid of being criticized or judged. But when Jill reached out to me, and graciously accommodated all that I asked for, I realized maybe it was time to let go of the past.
I met her for the first time on a wintry Saturday morning, and she encouraged me to share a little about myself and my experience. Although I was terrified to talk to her and tell my story, I knew if I was going to tell anyone, it would be her. I trusted her from the start, and after she shared her own story, I realized I had never heard anyone else admit that abortion had affected them. I knew that millions of children had been aborted since 1973, but I swear I lived my life thinking I was the only person who had ever had one. When she handed me the booklet we’d be using for the sessions, I read the title, Surrendering the Secret: Healing the Heartbreak of Abortion. I thought, “Yes. It’s a horrible secret. It’s time to share it. It’s time to heal.” Jill prayed over me, and I could feel peace beginning in my heart.
My first session was a week or so later, and I had read and worked through the first chapter of the book. Jill began with a prayer, and she turned the television on. Beautiful music filled the room, and I saw women on the screen, who were just like me. They were sharing feelings and emotions that were identical to mine. They began telling their stories, and while they were all different, they were all the same. My story was different, but it was the same. We were all keeping a secret, too ashamed, too guilty, and too afraid to tell anyone. For the first time, I knew I was not alone. It would be awhile before I felt hope, but at least I knew I was not alone.
Over the next few months, we watched more video of the women sharing their experiences, we read from the Bible, we prayed, we shared, we cried. I told her how I would hear songs of forgiveness and hope on Sundays, but I didn’t believe they applied to me. I thought my sin was too great to be forgiven. But, I heard over and over through prayer and psalms and Gospel how loved I am and cherished by God, and I began to reject the lies I was told: the lie that I am worthless, the lie that I am not loved, the lie that I could never be forgiven, the lie that I am nothing more than my abortion. I saw how beaten down I had become, I saw how I hated myself, and I saw how it affected my life. I recognized how despair, regret and anger affected my relationships and ruined my first marriage. At church on Sundays during this time, I would listen to the sermon, and every Sunday, it was as if God was speaking to me through those words. Sometime during those snowy, cold Tuesday evenings, as I cried in that room with Jill, and I felt all the emotions I could feel, I also accepted God’s forgiveness. I actively accepted how wrong my abortion was, I loudly said I was sorry and asked for forgiveness, and when God quietly offered it to me, I humbly, gratefully accepted. I healed.
But my parents still did not know about my abortion – I had never told them. God loves me exactly for who I am, but my parents? I truly thought that if they knew my full story, they might not see me as the daughter they thought I was. It took me almost two more years after meeting with Jill to work up the courage, and I repeatedly asked the Holy Spirit for guidance and a “good time” to talk to my mom and dad. That “good time” happened just a few weeks ago, over breakfast and coffee at my home. I told my parents about my abortion and I asked for their forgiveness. I don’t know why I would ever have doubted their love, but like God, they assured me their love hadn’t changed and never would. It’s only because of their love and God’s that I can share this today. It’s only because they know, and it’s no longer a secret, that I am able to write about this and share it publicly.
Early in our work, Jill once told me that abortion was like a scar. When the injury happened, it was painful and it bled. As it healed, if you touched it, it might open and be bloody and painful all over again. But once it was healed, the scar was only a reminder. You could touch it, and know it happened, and remember it all, but it didn’t have to hurt anymore.
She also gave me a photograph of what I now know abortion is: a woman with her face in her hands, on her knees, in front of a child. The woman is clearly weeping, and the child touches the woman’s head. “Peace, Mom. You are forgiven.”
Postscript: I no longer take psychiatric prescription drugs of any kind, and I have not been treated by a therapist or psychiatrist since spring 2014, after I completed STS.
Thank you for the opportunity to share both a written testimonial and a video that were done for the crisis pregnancy center where I completed both the STS journey as well as the STS leader training.