Saturday, July 14, 2012

Healing the trauma of abortion - an 11 year journey.

I am writing this with the knowledge that I may not actually publish it, it could just be something I write in order to help along the therapeutic process and be the final chapter in what has been a long journey... 11 years in fact of letting the past rest and my recovery from the trauma that is abortion.

While I am not one for public confession this is more about getting the events and thoughts out of my head and onto paper... well screen.  Yes I had an abortion. Yes even just writing those words leaves me a little uneasy still, and I wonder how many of you will take this revelation, though I have no control over what you will think of me once you read those words I can't help but still fight a tiny part of me that fears your judgement. This has been a closely guarded secret for many many years, many of you, my trusted and closest friends do not know this about me, I don't talk about it.. well I never used to but I am starting to now. Shame, guilt and disgust have held my lips silent for too long and over the past month with the help of a wonderful couple I am letting go, in fact I have let go handed over my lost son to the hands of God and forgiven myself for a decision made under intense pressure a decision I didn't realise at the time would be the beginning of the undoing of my mental health.

 Already a young mum to my beautiful daughter I found myself in a fairly messy relationship with an emotionally unstable man, whom I will not name because that would not be right,  I thought he was all I deserved, we had not become intimate under the best of circumstances, he was already in a relationship when I met him and he left his partner to be with me, I was a mess, as our relationship behind closed doors became verbally abusive I found out I was pregnant. Utterly horrified, overwhelmed and literally sick with fear that I would be forever bound to this man I sought council from an older woman (someone whom I thought wiser at the time)  who advised me the best thing I could do was terminate. I told the baby's father I was pregnant and he also suggested abortion - desperate, utterly totally desperate I could not see any other option then to go along with his wishes and have the pregnancy terminated.

Appointments were made, examinations had and within 3 weeks I was walking into the ** Hospital (again not going to name names) I was booked in and told of the fee I would need to hand over, (which was more then expected) rummaging through my bag my partner came up with the cash and I was
told that I would need to cook him a nice dinner that night to make up for the fact that he was spending more money on me... which gives you a small indication of the calibre of arsehole we are dealing with here. Completely disillusioned and completely terrified I headed into the operating room hefted up onto a small cold bed and blissfully I was knocked out. I say blissfully because I no longer had to deal with the 25 voices in my head telling me 25 different things, the voice of my parents telling me how shameful I was, the voice of my friend telling me I would not cope with another child, the voice of my partner telling me how he didn't want this child... and my voice in my own head just screaming over and over.. screaming and not being heard.

I was roughly woken up by a nurse and informed I needed to get dressed and move along to a quiet room where other woman recovering from their abortions were seated. It was horrible. I was in a drug fuelled haze and stumbled about getting dressed and then waiting to be picked up. Finally I was taken home where I forced a smile for my mum and baby and acted like everything was normal despite the fact that I was bleeding heavily and felt dizzy and sick.  Afraid to tell my mother and too worried about my baby daughter to let her see me fall apart I pushed aside the hurt, the incredible pain and mental anguish and carried on like nothing had happened. Outwardly I was the same. Inside though I began to feel like I was dying... in the days and weeks that followed I forced myself to interact with my daughter though it was so difficult.  I was shutting down emotionally and began to battle massive waves of guilt and shame, I felt like I did not deserve my daughter knowing that I had willingly given my unborn baby away. Thoughts of suicide came and went frequently and for a while things got very very dark for me. I continued to stay with my partner...almost a form of punishment for myself, again what I felt I deserved. The only glimmer of light was that through a former neighbour of his I began attending church which somehow helped. Don't get me wrong, it didn't help right away and it was difficult for people to reach me given the black hole I was living in and the pain that  hovered over my heart constantly, but eventually (over the space of maybe 12-15 months) I let down some of the wall that I had built around myself, I gave my life to Jesus and ditched my partner.

 Things got better, I got a job, became a better mother, became busy with church activities and friends and met my now husband. Things were going well until I switched on the computer at David's house (then boyfriend now husband) and was searching the web when somehow an abortion website popped up on the screen... kind of like a pop up ad thing and I began screaming, flashes of the hospital room, the smell of sweat and blood filled my nose and the memory of the nasty infection I was ill with for weeks later came flooding back to haunt me, and haunt me it did. Filled with shame and humiliation I confessed to David that I had had an abortion and that what had appeared on the screen triggered some intense trauma for me. I will forever be grateful for his response to me, which was sadness for my pain he held me tight, never judged me but let me cry and shed tears along with me, he was and remains my rock, my soul mate and best friend.  Putting that experience aside I again swallowed my feelings planted a smile and got on with life. We got married and within 8 weeks were pregnant with our first child together. Memories of the abortion came flooding in again when I found out I was pregnant and  although we were thrilled to be having a child together I could not help the times where my mind would wonder  to what would of happened if I had given birth to my son rather then terminate his pregnancy. My emotions continued to be a roller coaster after our son's birth and 6 months later we decided to begin trying to conceive another child. We wanted our children to be close in age and grow up together but I could not seem to fall pregnant again as easily as I did with our first son, in fact after 2 years of trying I was really beginning to despair and blamed myself, I convinced myself it was a punishment that because I had had an abortion I would not be able to have another baby, again things got pretty dark for me and again my husband supported me through.

 I fell pregnant again and it was a time of big celebration for us we were thrilled to have what we thought was our third and final child, however God has a sense of humour and 4 months after I birthed our second son I was pregnant again.  God is good, so very good and we have been blessed with 4 children 2 girls and 2 boys, perfect.

It's been about 11 and a half years since my abortion and only over the past couple of months have I been dealing with it. Eaten up with shame and guilt and heart ache over my decision dealing with random triggers that set off spirals of depression and shame, I knew I needed to let the past go, forgive myself, forgive my partner at the time, even forgive the doctor who took my son out of my body. A very tough ask. I had attempted to let go several times before but this time as I have gotten specific with God about the things I have needed to do in order to let go I finally feel as though I have made some real progress. Guided through prayer I realised that I am still the baby I aborted's mummy, he is still my son, and I believe I will see him again, he waits for me in my saviours arms until he can be handed back to mine. I have given him a name and I have said goodbye for now. I have forgiven myself for a decision made  many years ago when I was nowhere near the person I am today, different from the inside out, slowly transforming into the woman I was created to be.

Abortion was not the quick fix we thought it would be, for me anyways. I thought once the "problem" was gone it would be as if it never happened, how very very wrong I was. I would never have an abortion again, under any circumstances, however I would never ever judge someone who did, who am I to judge,... who are any of us for that matter, unless you have been put in that terrible situation where you actually have to make the choice when you get so desperate and can see absolutely no way out then you have no right to judge. Do I wish I could go back, yes I would of made a different choice if I knew then what I know now, I would of birthed my son and perhaps raised him or perhaps given him up for adoption, either way he would of had a life, a chance to grow, to experience, to love, to laugh, to live, but instead I took his life away from him in one terrible moment. I have lived with the trauma and shame and guilt of that for a long time and now I am finally ready to speak about it, to let it no longer consume my thoughts on Mothers day and what would of been around the time of his birthday. To now have a memory of him safe in Gods arms is what I can focus on. To know not only am I forgiven by God and  free of judgement, but have been able to forgive myself allows me the freedom to heal and restore the hole that has been eaten into my heart by shame and guilt for over 11 years.

I came upon this website a couple weeks ago and it really spoke to me, it is a  loving christian website that I found helpful, I know some people probably won't agree with the content, but the stories of other women working through their abortion trauma really helped me face mine and the video clip was incredibly beautiful and encouraging.

Thank you to my husband, who has as always held my hand as I walked through this journey, for his encouragement love and unfailing support, I will love you always. To my Son Mathew, I love you and will run to you when it is time until then remain safe in God's arms.


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