There are not too many of us who have not had the experience of being frightened as a child thinking there were monsters under our beds or in our closets.
My parents always used to leave my bedroom door ajar when I was little. I can still remember the fright I felt thinking a monster was under my bed, or in the hallway about to barge into my room to devour me. I ultimately would tell my parents about my fears and they would assure me he wasn’t really present as we checked out each space to my satisfaction until I felt safe enough to go to sleep.
Years later, the presence of another monster began living in our house. This time we all knew he was real, but no one spoke about him. We all felt his presence. NO matter how much we tried to ignore him, he affected each of our lives, but we each stayed in denial as if that would make him less real or make him give up and go away.
Unlike my childhood days, there was no talk with my parents to alleviate the fears, and the safety I once felt within family was no longer present. In fact, being with my family became the place where I felt most threatened and most unlike myself. I could not believe, in spite of his huge presence, we all acted as if he did not exist. Was I the only one seeing? Was I crazy for being upset? Did it really not bother them? We lived a facade of closeness but in reality my family did not know me or what was going on within me for years. Having been forced to abort my unborn child by my parents when I was in my teens, the abandonment, and isolation I experienced carried into our relationship on a permanent level. The monster of abortion does that in countless families.
Having had a saline abortion, the picture of my unborn child was literally burnt in my mind. The resulting fear, guilt, shame and self hate lived with me for years. I suffered from panic and anxiety attacks, and suicidal ideation was a constant companion. After all, I had killed my own child.
I picked a spouse poorly, (you pick what you think you deserve), and for me that meant abuse. Each subsequent pregnancy I experienced brought with it a terror of being punished for my sin, but of course, I never spoke of it. I stopped going to church and receiving the sacraments. In my mind, I had committed the “unforgivable sin” and I was convinced that the walls of the church would cave down around me if I entered, or that the neon sign I was sure was affixed to my back would make my abortion known to everyone. I lived in the constant fear of being “found out”.
After years of suffering and living in denial with this monster that controlled my life, I decided to confront my abortion. I returned to church and began spiritual direction under my parish priest. As I came to know Jesus, I learned of His mercy and forgiveness even for this horrible sin. I refused to live in denial anymore, and although I did not directly confront my family, they were very aware I was addressing my abortion. When I began speaking out about my experience years later no one in my family said a word.
I was sure they had just moved on. The abortion was never mentioned. In fact, there was an unspoken rule never to speak of it, but in truth, it touched all of our lives.
Years later I found out my mom carried around guilt for years, convinced she too was headed to hell because they had forced me to abort. She also experienced that same terror of punishment by God each time I was pregnant. What should have been a joyful time for us had been filled with fear and dread, thinking God was going to get us back.
My siblings were affected by my abortion as well, and future family members would later tell me “We knew there was something wrong in our family; we just did not know what it was.” My own living children reacted with a resounding “Now, our life makes sense” when they learned of their aborted brother, and a natural healing process had to take place for them as well as they mourned the brother they never met, aborted many years before they were even born.
For the past fifteen years I have been doing post abortion ministry. I have witnessed abortions destruction in many families. The parents who is a change in their daughter but do not know why. The husband and wife who have become strangers because they believed abortion was an answer. The teenager who knows her mothers secret and is desperate to help, but afraid to let her know she knows. The sibling who feels guilty for being alive. The father mourning the loss of the unborn child he did not even know he had until it was too late. The list can go on and on.
Over the years many new ministries and outreach programs have been formed to help those suffering from a past abortion. The church too has become more vocal in reaching out to those suffering. More people are confronting the impact abortion has had, not only on the mother and fathers but on entire families and on our society. Countless women and men have, and continue to find, healing through the mercy and forgiveness of God.
It took many years, but the monster of abortion was finally addressed in my family. With God’s help we finally chased him out of our heads and hearts and filled them instead with His mercy and forgiveness.
Lumina/Hope & Healing after Abortion
Theresa Bonopartis is the Director of Lumina/Hope & Healing after Abortion, a post abortion ministry of Good Counsel Homes. She also is co-developer along with The Sisters of Life, of “Entering Canaan- a Sacramental Journey to an Inheritance of Mercy” a post abortion ministry. (article originally published in “Celebrate Life“