Republished from Nov 14, 2014
Scrolling through my newsfeed on FaceBook before bed, something which I should likely refrain from doing if a good night’s sleep is on my to-do list, I came across an article from a well-known and (generally) respected news outlet that covered several points regarding abortion.
This subject can tend to polarize folks, and I am not writing this entry to add to the shouting match. However, one item on the list caught my attention and I immediately felt drawn to write about it. The writer opined that post-abortion trauma is not a substantiated disorder, and that women who experience or describe experiencing it usually had other factors in their lives that gave rise to PTSD symptoms.
Any person contemplating this action is in a compromised position in their lives; it is not a decision that is made lightly, such as paper or plastic, or the decision to stop eating sugar for a week. I wanted to contact the writer and ask if she had been in the position of making such a choice, but then that is a personal matter and none of my business.
It was 1979, I had just finished up with my sophomore year of high school and I was looking for love and comfort. My dad was out of the picture, not so much by choice as by geography and living across the country, my mother was an addict and serial dater who went through men like socks. I found comfort in physical closeness but did not fully understand the consequences and wound up with a positive pregnancy test in late July.
Of course I called my best friend, who, with her mother assured me they could help me with whatever but that I needed to tell my mom. I remember walking into the living room, stomach in my throat as I told her. She immediately clicked into damage-control mode, telling me that we would be seeing her doctor to arrange for the “procedure” that would take care of this. I stepped back, and became a passive participant in my life and its direction. The procedure was done in a hospital. I came out of anesthetic in so much pain I could not bear it; I began to shake the bars of the hospital bed and cry out for someone to help. The nurses did not seem especially empathetic and the pain gradually subsided. I had to stay the night, as I did not come through the 1st trimester abortion process very well.
I spent the rest of the year in grief-mode. My heart was broken in so many pieces I couldn’t seem to find them all. I turned to drugs and other mind-altering substances, which provided temporary and incomplete relief. There was no escaping the ache in my heart.
As the years reeled on, the ache grew less, but was always with me, and certainly grew sharper when I was in a church meeting where the evils of abortion were expounded upon. I felt like God was disappointed in me, as much, if not more than I was in myself. I did not share with anyone what had happened; what would people think?
Finally, I found and went through a post-abortion healing study group with a several other women which dealt with the anger, grief and pain that had persisted.
These women had similar stories with respect to the issues of their heart; even though their circumstances may have been different, the emotions and pain they felt were real and an ongoing limitation to true freedom and spiritual growth in their life.
Whatever the politics of this issue are, whatever a persons stance is, all I can say is, talk to someone who has traveled the way of grief and loss, and then healing and restoration. I am grateful that I am now able to share this experience with others that still struggle in the valley of sadness and pain. There is light, love and healing on the other side of this, if you are willing to step though the process.
* You can search the web for support in your area if you are looking to join a study or ask your pastoral counseling staff.