Here I am today, two and a half years after my abortion, and I know that I have been changed. Through God’s mercy and forgiveness, I have begun to heal in ways that I never thought were possible. I had full intent on bearing the brunt of my sin of abortion for my entire life, never to experience full happiness – because that’s what I was sure I deserved. I had done the unthinkable and I was prepared to beat myself up forever. I assumed the pain would be bad, but it was so much worse than anyone could ever prepare you for. However, through Lumina and Entering Canaan and an open heart things are better. Things are SO MUCH BETTER. The struggle is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face, but with struggle comes growth. There are many layers to our healing, God keeps us in check by allowing certain hardships to come our way but we have to remember that we need Him always – for everything. If we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can conquer and learn any thing that comes our way.
This sin in particular was so multi-faceted, I didn’t even know where or how to begin to look at it. There are effects pre and post-denial. I would constantly cry immediately leading up to and after the abortion. The people at the clinic read off statistics to me as to how many other women have gone through the same thing but the whole time all I could think about was how mad at myself I was that I was even part of that statistic. I NEVER wanted to be part of that statistic and hearing that “so many people do it” was definitely never going to make me feel any less pain or make what I was going to do okay.
I was aware from the beginning that what I was doing was wrong, but I was in survival mode. I couldn’t think too long about each step of the process because I felt that I’d lose my mind. Little did I know, I was absolutely losing my mind – and my child. At no point in the process did I acknowledge the life that was growing inside me. I was in survival mode – fully aware of the regret that would come afterwards, but I was willing to live a life of regret just to preserve my worldly reputation. I had no idea the extent and the deepness of the regret that was to come. I realized that I had to come out of denial because what I had done was “not okay” nor was it “the right thing”.
The whole situation surrounding my pregnancy was an out of body experience from the instant I took the pregnancy exam. I simply just got through the days until my appointment at the clinic was made. I cried myself to sleep every night, however that wasn’t enough for me to realize that God was trying so hard to get me back. The devil wanted me on autopilot. He didn’t want me to accept the life that had been bestowed to me – as a GIFT from God, not a burden. Granted, being a pregnant, unmarried, young twenty two year old girl wasn’t “convenient” but it seemed so much scarier than it actually was. The root of the matter is based on all worldly things. Things that pain me so much to look back on, realizing how insignificant and silly my reasons to abort were. I was so unbelievably scared of what people would think. I was so eager to maintain a reputation that wasn’t even faithful to protect myself that I lost sight of the one thing that REALLY matters – God’s opinion. He is the only one I should have been worried about. He gave me a precious gift that I was too scared to accept. I believe that my sin of abortion began when I was sickened by the results of my pregnancy test and thought, “I need it out”. I was in such denial it took me 4 months to finally even buy one. All of the physical signs were there, but I refused to believe it. What’s absurd is how I could think that I could bargain my way out of this? “God, I won’t have sex anymore if you just let this test be negative.” What I failed to realize is that I conceived 4 months prior so no matter what I bargained, the reality of the situation was that I had gotten pregnant. The thought of having a child would immediately be blocked out of my mind. It was like I was rejecting any hopeful or happy thoughts of life. I didn’t reach out to any of the people that could have helped me. I would Google things like “do you ever get over an abortion?” I would read blogs with responses from girls that had had abortions. They didn’t make me feel better; instead they definitely kept me on track to self-destruction. The things written on these blogs and pro-choice websites are positively the workings of the devil. The devil had me though at that point, so I wasn’t very sensitive to his presence. I yearned for God but I felt that my mindset was so despicable that I might as well just save my prayers until after the abortion. By not trusting in God’s plan, I did exactly what the devil wanted me to do – I chose death. The catch here is that, after I chose death, the devil wasn’t there to console me. Granted, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel initial relief – but after the relief wore off, then came the emptiness.
I didn’t honestly face what I had done yet so I sat quietly as people around me trying to console me told me that I did the right thing, and that it was my choice…but this never felt right. I didn’t ever want to be part of that statistic. I wanted to be the girl outside of the clinic praying a rosary. Not the one that couldn’t even look up at this angelic girl – probably my age – trying to persuade me away from the clinic. My shame and guilt were so heavy I could not look this girl in the eye. I made a bee-line for that clinic. Self-preservation can bring out the worst in someone. Self-preservation is no way to live. There were so many “me”, I”, and “my’s”. I wasn’t acting out of love, I was acting out of self. That’s always recipe for disaster.
When I woke up from the anesthesia after my abortion, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel initial relief. I wasn’t pregnant anymore and had assumed the pregnancy was the problem and now I was no longer pregnant. However, the relief quickly wore off. I had this empty feeling in my stomach. I could feel it physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – just empty all over. I thought that I was scared leading up to the abortion, well now I was fearing everything. What dreams am I going to have? Will this pit ever go away? I feared God and I was never a God-fearing person. I was a shell of my once confident, loving and faithful self. The nights following my abortion were filled with anger, screaming, regret, pain, and utter sadness. I couldn’t believe what I had done. I missed my baby. I missed this person that I don’t even know – that I killed. I killed my baby. All of my reasons for aborting suddenly seemed so silly. They were NOTHING compared to the life that I had just ended. The reality of the situation was starting to sink in. I had had an abortion…but at the time and for months following I couldn’t even say or hear the word “abortion”.
When I was younger, any time I had to write about or debate a social issue, I chose abortion. I would write pages upon pages about how wrong it is. My innocence and conscience were fully in tact. I grew up in a pro-life household in an Irish Catholic family. My parents weren’t abusive or unloving. They are reasonable, extremely loving and supportive people; they were whom I went to with all of my problems. When I went to college, I was very well-rounded. My freshman year, I remember I gave up alcohol for lent – and it wasn’t an issue. A lot of people thought I was crazy, but I had no problem doing it. Drinking was something that I liked, so I would sacrifice that for 40 days. Well, that mentality did not last long. By sophomore year I was drinking and using drugs on a regular basis – it was a way to feel out of myself – a way to not feel reality. My parents were divorcing and I didn’t want to deal. This continued for years after…when I made the decision to abort I felt as if I still had more partying to do. My boyfriend and I at the time just weren’t ready and should still “enjoy” our young lives and not disappoint his parents and the people that knew us. I feared that I would miss out on a lot of things and would be held back had I kept the baby. However, once I had the abortion, the drinking and the drugs made me feel worse. They helped the abortion be buried for a little bit but they eventually made me feel so bad that I realized I couldn’t live like this anymore. That’s when I called Theresa. My abortion was in January and I was at my first retreat in June. I remember finally being able to open up to the RIGHT people about my abortion. When I first told my mom and dad, they encouraged me to go to confession and were very supportive and told me they wished I had told them sooner. When I look back and face this situation honestly, I didn’t tell them because I knew they would make me have the baby. There was no room for that in my path to self-destruction. It was a Saturday during lent, a time of repentance, and after my confession the priest asked me if I knew what today’s gospel was. No, father I don’t…haven’t been to mass in about 3 or 4 years. It was the Prodigal Son. Hearing that made me cry even harder. I’ve come to realize and believe that things in our life don’t happen by coincidence, it’s all providence. God had been waiting here all along. I was the one that messed up our relationship. His sun was and is always shining, I just had my umbrella up to block it. I need not fear Him, I have to LOVE him. I have to love everyone. I have to love myself. Then began my journey of forgiveness and hope.
There are many layers to this healing process. The one thing that’s been a driving force recently is a quote from Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical letter where he says “nothing is definitively lost”. To me, that’s so beautiful and helpful. My daughter is with God in His kingdom of heaven, the most perfect place anyone could be! She, and all of our babies are unable to be touched by the evil of the world. They are in good hands, the best actually. As for me, I’m in the best hands, too. Though I can’t see God or touch Him, I know he’s there. It took me a while to realize that, but I say with confidence today I KNOW He’s there. Jesus died for our sins, He has forgiven us, and it is our humanness that holds on to the sin of abortion. It is our egos that get in the way and the devil that tempts us to feel that we are unforgiveable. God doesn’t want us to beat ourselves up anymore. He wants us to bring our pain to Him. He can handle it. By the suggestion of Theresa, I was led to a Catholic therapist that has changed my life.
For a while I struggled with “how could God have let this happen?” Ever hear of free will? God didn’t do this to me, but He allowed me to go through with it when I chose it. He knew at some point I would be faced with the decision to abort. I know Theresa often says this, but I have to agree: my abortion was my salvation. It is both the worst and best thing that I ever went through. I don’t mean best in the way that a child’s life here on earth is gone, but that it brought me closer to God and led me back to my faith. I don’t know what other route I would have taken here, or if I would have come back here at all, but I do know that I learned so much about myself through this process and I don’t ever want to take my eyes off Jesus again. It’s scary out there. With faith in God, you can conquer any fear. The devil has no power over you if you are with God. We can be attacked spiritually, but evil will never overpower good. God has a plan for each and every one of us and although our sins of abortion hurt Him, He forgave us the instant we felt sorry. He’s amazing like that – He’s divine. I wish I could let go like that. I have to remind myself daily that God does not want me to carry this weight like this – I am forgiven and I have to forgive myself. It’s not easy though, it’s a process. I struggle with forgiveness all of the time. When I put it in terms of my daughter and think how she has forgiven me, it makes me sad but hopeful and a little more at peace. I want to be the best person I can be here on earth so that I can spend eternity with her in heaven. -BT