Learning to Accept Healing
I was 14 years old, the middle child of nine, and lost in the confusion and shuffle of parents trying to raise four teenagers older than me during the 1970’s. I was accepted to a prestigious private high school, two city bus rides away from home. Going from the suburbs into a large metropolitan area every day helped create a false sense of maturity and countered feelings of inadequacy generated from being a kid from the wrong side of the tracks at such a wealthy school.
This sense of maturity allowed me to think I could handle what I unconsciously knew were dangerous situations. I found myself in a situation of being with a much older man who was feeding me alcohol to the point I could only submit to what he wanted to do to me. Feeling ashamed and guilty and that I deserved everything that happened, I denied I was pregnant for four months.
My girlfriend, who was sexually active, got me into Planned Parenthood. It was all so surreal. I was told to go here, go there, do this, and then placed in a room with a counselor who went through the motions like a robot. She took my adamant refusal to talk to my parents at face value and moved on to the abortion referral.
I remember looking at the list of doctors and her circling the name of the only doctor who would perform such a late abortion. I was amazed that it all seemed so easy, and I could have an abortion, which included a hospital stay, without my parent’s knowledge. It was pricey and my brother paid for it.
Never once did the counselor at Planned Parenthood mention adoption. If she did, it was cursory and pro forma and I was in a daze, stressed by the need to keep all these activities secret.
It was a saline procedure. I was injected with a solution, sent home and told to go to a hospital when I went into labor. I was alone in the hospital room the entire time, waiting for the dead baby to come out. My screams of pain were hushed by a nurse who chastised me for making so much noise and scaring the women who were really having children.
Finally the baby came out; the nurse quickly wrapped it in a large paper bed-pad and threw it in the small trash can across the room. I saw a little blue blob, maybe an arm or a leg. I was told to call whoever was picking me up and that was that.
I am surprised I remember this much. I have blocked so much of this experience and four more abortions–I think four more; I lost count–out of my memory. I went on to a very promiscuous lifestyle, having sex with any man who thought me attractive, feeding my self-esteem. I was looking for love in all the wrong places, desperate for someone to cherish me for who I was. Sex would guarantee they would stay with me longer, at least until they got tired of me.
Drugs and alcohol went along with this lifestyle. The ironic fact is I was a good student–intelligent, liked by all my friends’ parents, dutiful. My bosses loved my sense of responsibility. I was leading a schizophrenic life and pretty proud that I could handle this. I loved being a contradiction. I loved amazing people by showing them that a slutty drunk could be smart, responsible and socially savvy. This is where I got my self-esteem.
I finally got married. Years of struggling with intimacy and finally, hating sex, has put a strain on our marriage. I came to know the Lord only after the live birth of my first child. It has been a rocky walk.
I once heard a radio program in which the guest made the statement that women who have had abortions may struggle with intimacy. I was floored. It instantly made sense. All the pieces were put together.
I sincerely believe that if I had had my first baby, I would have had a healthier concept of sex and my womanhood. I sincerely believe I would have understood sex for what it truly is and wouldn’t have misused it. I sincerely believe that by being allowed to shut my parents out of the whole process, I denied them the opportunity to truly parent me. I cannot predict how they would have reacted, but I really, really needed adult guidance.
I often wonder if my mother suffers guilt as she hears bits and pieces of what I went through. I have never given her the whole story for fear of what it may do to her mental health. I give her reassurance that my faith has saved me and she marvels at my resiliency.
My brother who helped with my first abortion struggles with guilt. I imagine all the boyfriends after who helped with the other abortions struggle with guilt–I don’t know. My husband is married to a basket case in dire need of good thorough counseling, but feels inadequate to help a seemingly strong woman who has always taken care of herself.
There is much, much more. Suffice it to say, I am still struggling. I am 41 years old and this all happened 20 years ago. I am reawakened to this struggle because God has told me this pain can and will be used for good. I just need to be obedient; I just need to accept His healing. He has given me two beautiful, wonderful children whom I know I don’t deserve. They are now teenagers and love Jesus too. When my season as a parent has passed, I feel the Lord will direct me in the way I can use this pain.
I am appalled that so-called feminists deny that women suffer from abortion. I am appalled at the energy spent to dismiss post-abortion stress syndrome. I am appalled that organi-zations will sacrifice the mental health of young teenagers to push their political goals for choice. How can people who say they care about young girls so adamantly deny them the reality of their suffering?
As a parent, I live in horror knowing that there are young girls going through this pain without their parents’ knowledge. Parents are faced with a shell of a person and have no idea where they lost their child. How easy it is to chalk it up to moody adolescence when the reality is that teens are suffering adult-sized pain with a child’s coping skills. The only outside source of help they may know–Planned Parenthood–tells them to “get over it.”
My dream is to get this pain out in the open. I want to help give women the freedom to acknowledge that abortion hurts.
Originally published in The Post-Abortion Review 10 (3) July-Sept. 2002. Copyright 2002 Elliot Institute.