I was seven years old when my older brother started sexually abusing me. This abuse continued and intensified to include his friends. He got married and moved away when I was 15 and I thought the abuse had stopped. Unfortunately, less than a year later, my mom allowed he and his new wife and baby to move back in with us and the abuse started back up again. Just a few months after he moved back, I found out that I was pregnant at the age of sixteen. I was so naive and sheltered that I didn’t even know how I had become pregnant until I went and looked it up at the library.
Despite the circumstances surrounding my pregnancy, I instantly fell in love with my baby. I felt from the beginning that it was a girl and I named her Lydia Grace. I made so many plans for her and promised her so many things. A couple of weeks after finding out about my pregnancy, my mom told me to get ready because we were going to the doctor. She and my brother drove me and it wasn’t until I was inside the building that I realized we were in an abortion clinic. I was confused because I had grown up in a religious family and had been taught my entire life that abortion was murder.
Unfortunately, the need to cover up my brother’s acts was greater than the need to save the life of my baby. My mom filled out all of the paperwork and then I went alone into the procedure room. It was cold and uninviting but the nurse actually seemed kind. I remember that she asked me if I really wanted to go through with this and I told her that I had to. I couldn’t imagine what might happen if I refused so that day I allowed my baby to be killed. Very similar circumstances happened a couple of years later and I allowed my second baby to be killed when I was eighteen. After the abortions, I hated myself and felt like I could never be forgiven for what I had done.
In my early twenties, all of the guilt and shame from the years of abuse and the abortions became too much and my mental health began to decline. For the next fifteen years my life consisted of a cycle of deceit, self-harm and attention seeking behavior. I had two suicide attempts, one of which the doctors said that I should not have survived. I had kept so many secrets for so many years but when I was 40 I finally began to open up to some friends because my mental health issues had become so debilitating to the point that I wasn’t even working. They called a pregnancy center in town that referred me to someone who was leading a “Surrendering the Secret” study. That leader suggested that I also begin attending Celebrate Recovery. The Lord began to work greatly in my life and I was able to reveal things that I had planned to never tell another living soul. I also attended a Deeper Still retreat about a year later which was an amazing part of my healing journey. I wasted so many years of my life burdened by shame and regret that I would never want another person to feel and that is why I’m Silent No More