I can't claim that I was too young to know what I was doing at the time of my abortion—I was 30 when I had it done. I was not in a good place mentally, emotionally, or spiritually when I had my abortion. To make matters worse, I was laid off from my job two months before I found out I was pregnant. At the same time, I was still of the mindset that abortion wasn't a big deal "because it wasn't really a person yet". I learned immediately after I had the abortion how wrong I was about that. The pro-life people were right, abortion doesn't solve any of your problems; it just makes you the mother of a dead baby. And one that you don't get to memorialize, bury, or properly grieve over. I'm ashamed to admit that I was only thinking of myself and how the pregnancy was going to affect me at the time. I had no job, no savings—if I have neither of those how long will I have my house? I have no siblings, my mom was long dead, my dad was never a part of my life, and my relationship with my grandparents wasn't good. The father was in even worse shape than I was, and we were both substance abusers at the time. Basically I'd end up being a "welfare mother".
The people at the clinic were nice enough, but in the end you're still left to your own devices to figure out where to go from there. I didn't go to Planned Parenthood, but the staff was very friendly and tried to be as comforting and informative as possible. I had a D & C abortion, and there was a nurse with me throughout the procedure, which was nice since I went alone. I healed well and had no complications, although the nurse that did the follow up exam made the comment that she wished it went that way more often.
After the abortion I went into isolation, ended my relationship with the father, and became a full-fledged alcoholic. I stayed as far away from men and kids as I could. Really, the best way to describe what I was doing was the old saying about addiction being the same as committing suicide on the installment plan. Which was basically what I was hoping would happen—I didn't even want to live anymore. I was one of those high functioning alcoholics. I kept my house, kept my job after I got recalled from layoff, even finished graduate school. Still, I was just going through the motions until the alcohol did its job.
It wasn't until a few years later that I realized that help was available and there were opportunities for healing. It's not something you just go around asking about or telling people about. The one good thing that came out of the abortion was that it drew me back to God. I went through a 10 step counseling ministry and attended a Rachel's Vineyard retreat. Both were vital to the healing process and got me in touch with the reality of what abortion really is and how damaging its effects were on me. It even got me to the point where I decided to seek treatment for my addiction. Which I did—I have since been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder as well.
I did well for a few months, and then I relapsed. That lasted a few months, and I got more distressed about it as time went on. I took it to confession, and the priest told me to write a letter to my child, apologize, explain the situation that led up to the abortion, and anything else I felt needed to be said. Keep the letter for a day or two—and then burn it. As the smoke rises—let it go. God has forgiven you, now you have to forgive yourself. My psychiatrist also made the suggestion to make a memorial on my property or backyard—wherever makes sense—and treat it as though it were an actual burial site for my child. These two actions brought my healing process full circle and have finally brought me to the point where I can forgive myself and move forward with my healing. I've learned that healing from any major trauma like abortion isn't a linear process with a beginning and an end, it's a continual process. In my time in recovery I have learned a lot on the 12 steps. If you know anything about them, you know the 12th step is to carry the message to those who still suffer. It is no different when recovering from the pain and trauma of abortion—and that is why I am silent no more!