“There was the me that everyone knew and then there was the me that I knew.”
October 26, 1991, was the day of my abortion and the day that changed my life forever. Before the abortion, I had known that it was wrong and at first, I was sort of happy about having a baby, although scared. But because of my circumstances and I have to admit, my own selfishness, I had decided to go along with my baby’s father’s desire to abort.
It wasn’t until I woke up afterwards, when I felt the complete emptiness and utter sadness of what I had done, did I realize the gravity of my sin. The Planned Parenthood worker woke me and told me to get up and get dressed, they needed the bed. I couldn’t move and as I slowly came out of the anesthesia, I was overcome with such feelings of loss and desolation. I just sat there and got dressed…I couldn’t even bring myself to get up and go into the bathroom. I was so full of shame.
I suppose that was my first acknowledgement of my sin, however, I tried to hide it and then bury it. With that came the consequences. That first day I cried and just wanted to be alone. The baby’s father tried to console me and do what he could to help but he didn’t understand, and I didn’t want to make him feel bad because after all, it was ultimately my decision.
I had made horrible choices and sinned terribly before this. I chose to not have God in my life. I still believed in Him and I knew He was there watching me, but I wanted to do things my way because I just wanted to do what made me happy. I liked my life and got lazy about my morals…I didn’t go to Church regularly at that time, I prayed very little and tuned out my parents whenever they tried to talk to me about God. Since I ran from God before I even got pregnant, the thought never even occurred to me to run to Him for help after becoming pregnant.
This choice, this sin, however, was the most heinous. The only way to continue on with my life was to not think about it, at least not all of the time. I had to bury it and move on. It was just too painful. Aside from telling 2 family members and a friend, telling other family or friends was not an option, after all, what would they think of me? I think most people had a certain opinion of me and having an abortion did not fit with who I was. At that time, I was very concerned about what people thought of me. Plus, I was too ashamed and didn’t think they would understand…how could they? I didn’t understand or believe that I could do such a thing. I thought they would hate me and think I was some horrible person. I couldn’t deal with that from all of them…I already knew it to be true and I didn’t want anyone else to see that part of me, the part that could do something so terrible. So, I pushed it down and hid behind the façade that everything was fine. By pushing it down and not letting anyone in, I could still pretend to be the same old me, on the outside anyway. I went through life as if nothing was wrong or different. I was still with my boyfriend, we went out and had fun, I worked and did what I had to do. It was like living a dual life. There was the me that everyone knew and then there was the me that I knew.
But then there were those times when I was alone and let myself think about the abortion. It was always just below the surface. I wasn’t really able to push it down too far and while alone, I could take it out and examine it. Sometimes I would purposely take it out and other times it would just come out by itself. And I always felt the same way. I hated myself, was disgusted and angry and full of self-loathing. I cried often. I felt so isolated and alone in my feelings. When I looked in the mirror, I hated who I saw. I hated me!!! I hated myself for killing my child and for being so selfish and afraid. The effects this sin had on my life didn’t create physical consequences for me. At least, not that I am aware of. It may be the reason I had such difficulty getting pregnant afterwards, but I’ll never know. The price I paid was emotional and spiritual. Never being a confident and secure person to begin with, my sin of abortion added to my low self-esteem. It was so hard to believe that I could actually do such a thing as this. What was I thinking? How could I be such a coward? I was a fake and a sad excuse of a human being. Why was God so far away? No, why did I push Him so far away???
It was at those times that I cried and begged God to forgive me. I ran from Him and the abortion when I needed to. I didn’t go to church or pray much and lived life for me. I suppose in reality, I didn’t really want to own up yet. But when I felt broken from my sin and all of the pain that I was hiding, I cried like a baby and begged Him to forgive me. However, I didn’t think that I deserved forgiveness. After all, I took my own baby’s life. It was right for me to feel this way. I had no right to feel any differently.
But I wanted forgiveness. I had admitted and repented a million times to God when I was alone. But that wasn’t working. I knew I had to go to confession but that was going to be hard. Actually, admitting out loud to the priest what I had done. Where and how to find the courage to own up to my sin? So, I went to confession. I went a number of times actually, but I don’t think that I ever left the confessional at peace. I would try to feel better about it but the same thoughts always came back. Although I knew in my head that I was absolved of my sin after confession, it just wouldn’t let its grip on me go. I would end up feeling broken again and undeserving of God’s love and forgiveness.
Years later, one priest that I spoke with gave me a Lumina pamphlet. He urged me to call but I just put it in the drawer. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make that call. However, at that time, I had started to let God back in my life. I really started looking for Jesus. I really wanted to change me but I couldn’t do it alone. I went back to Church, eventually I started teaching Religious Ed classes which started me wanting to learn more about my faith, and doing volunteer work. But I still couldn’t let go of my abortion.
Then one day, I had this sudden urge to call the Sisters of Life. I had seen them on EWTN, went on their web-site, had even pulled out my Lumina pamphlet and read it again and again. I still hadn’t found the peace that I desired. At this point, I knew that God had forgiven me, but I still couldn’t forgive myself. I was still miserable inside. There was no time to think about it. It was as if God Himself was controlling my fingers to dial the phone. It was as if He had said ok, enough! You’re ready now. This is what you need to do.
Things changed in me from that very first phone call. Suddenly, I felt filled with hope and I could not wait to go to my first Gathering. It was an amazing experience. After so many years of feeling isolated, not only did I meet other women who knew what I was going through, God put women of such compassion in my life, I just could not believe the love that surrounded me.
After that, I went to an Entering Canaan Retreat Weekend. As amazing as it sounds, it was during this weekend that my healing took place. It was then that I truly felt God’s mercy and grace. After hearing Theresa and the other women give powerful witness during the conference, I had the most amazing confession with Father Mariusz. By examining my conscience through each commandment, I was able to confess not only my abortion but even sins that I had already confessed. For the very first time, my soul felt clean and the huge burden of all my sins, especially my sin of abortion, was taken off my shoulders.
I learned through the weekend that I needed to accept God’s forgiveness because He had forgiven me and He wanted me to be at peace knowing this. I learned that I should not refuse this great gift of His but embrace it and know that He does love me, no matter what. I learned that I’m not the monster that Satan told me I was. While I still hate my sin of abortion, I can finally look in the mirror and not hate me. One more very important thing that I’ve learned is that I do have a voice. I know that God is with me, and He gives me the strength I need to not worry about what people think of me and to speak up for what is right, especially when it comes to abortion. Now when I have a problem, I know that He is the answer and I go straight to Him.
The peaceful and amazing retreat weekends that I’ve spent with Theresa, the Sisters of Life, the priests and every single woman who I met along the way have helped change my life. God put each and every one of them in my path to help me. All of this and everything that I felt, every tear, every painful memory, every agonizing second of time that I’ve thought about my abortion has brought me closer in my relationship to God and my healing. With God’s grace, I was finally able to accept His forgiveness. I am now closer to understanding the cross and Jesus’ excruciatingly painful death for us so that we may live. I understand that He hates my sins but loves me dearly and longs to heal me.
I am so very thankful to God for all that He has done for me. While He must have been very saddened by my sins and my choice to run from Him, He stayed with me along my journey and helped me learn from these sins. As my journey continues, no matter what happens, I know that Jesus is always beside me and that I can always trust in Him and His mercy.