Fear and Forgiveness
Case Sudy: Teri Lightheart
In 1979, I was nineteen years old. I was sharing an apartment with a co-worker. One night I went out for a drink with my 34 year old step-uncle. After a few drinks we left and the next thing I knew we were back at my apartment. I did not have much contact with him after that until the day that I called him to tell him I thought I was pregnant. His first response was how did I know it was his. His second response was “I thought you were on the pill.”
When the pregnancy test came back positive, I set up an appointment with my doctor. He told me how far along I was, when the due date was, and that he would be happy to see me through my pregnancy. By this time, reality was setting in and I was very scared. I asked him about abortion. His only response was that he didn’t do abortions. That’s all. No information at all.
When I called my step-uncle back to report all this, he told me that he had talked to several of his female friends and they told him an abortion was “no big deal.” I then went to tell my mom and stepfather that I was pregnant. By now I was really trying to reach out to find some help, but I didn’t find any. My mom and stepfather simply told me I was an adult and was my decision. Once again there was no support or information given. I was so scared. I just wanted the nightmare to end. I made the decision to have the abortion.
From the moment that I found out that I was pregnant, I had begun to shut down emotionally. This emotional shutdown became even more complete when I walked into the clinic. The people at the clinic were very cold. They showed no emotions at all; they told me nothing. I was not prepared at all for what was about to happen to me. Again, I received no real support or information.
My mother had driven me there, and she paid for it. Most of the girls there were young, and their mothers had brought them, too. I remember that while we were all having our abortions the mothers all went out for coffee, as though we were in there having our hair done.
I felt so dirty and worthless. I remember after leaving the clinic, I went home with my mother and I remember her saying to me, “You basically had a D & C. You’re young and will get over it. Just forget it ever happened and go on with your life.” I did just that. Or so I thought.
I met my husband, got married. But I didn’t tell him about the abortion. I didn’t think I could tell him or he would hate me and leave me.
We had our first daughter and I never felt the deep love for her I should have. For several reasons, I guess. The first is that I had never grieved over the loss of the child I had aborted. I was also afraid to love her too much. I felt that God was just going to take her away from me to punish me for killing my first child. We then had a second child which I loved deeply.
We were married about ten years, and the pain of my abortion was becoming unbearable. One morning I tearfully told my husband the truth. I remember telling him that I really needed to tell him something, but he would probably hate me for it. I told him about the abortion and was then shocked to hear all the support and compassion that he gave me. I feel that the support that I received, for the first time in my life, had a lot to do with my seeking help. Before this, I never felt that I was worthy of love, nor did I love myself.
I contacted Project Rachel in Omaha, who referred me to a counselor. I saw this counselor about three times. She then told me about a Bible Study group through Project Rachel which I could attend. Going through the Bible Study brought to the surface a lot of feelings which I needed to work through in counseling, which I then received.
We finished our Bible Study group and from there we have started a monthly support group. I have also talked to other groups about my abortion experience and just how it has affected my life. I feel that is so important to tell my story so people might begin to understand the true devastation of abortion.
I lost a very special child, and I will always miss and love her with all my heart. But I truly believe that this same child has shown me that it is possible to love again.
Originally published in The Post-Abortion Review 2(3) Fall 1994.