|Love stronger than death!
At the tender age of fifteen, I became pregnant. I knew the father of my baby for about twelve weeks. After my first and only sexual encounter, a child was conceived. By the time I found out, I was no longer seeing the father.
I was ashamed of my mistake and afraid to tell anyone, especially my family. I also feared for the future and what changes would occur if I had a baby. What would become of me? How would I support myself? What about my education? My reputation? I couldn't believe this had happened to me.
I heard about abortion from an older schoolmate. It seemed to be an easy and simple solution, but, in fact, turned out to be a terrible mistake. The procedure itself was humiliating and physically painful. Immediately, I knew I'd done wrong and regretted my decision. But there was no going back, no changing my actions. It was done.
The memory of the abortion began to bother me. I tried to justify my actions in my mind. I changed my beliefs and attitudes as I tried to numb the pain. I denied the guilt I was feeling and turned to alcohol and drugs. I changed jobs, residences and schools in an effort to escape. I became promiscuous, looking to men for proof that I was loveable. I didn't like myself for what I had done or for how I was living but I was powerless to change. Nothing alleviated the guilt, the regret, the shame, the depression or the anger. After living a self-destructive life for five years I was suicidal, tempted with intense feelings to end my life.
Then one day, when I was at my lowest point, I called a prayer help-line on a TV program. I met a woman who genuinely cared about me and through talking and praying with her I was helped to turn my life around. She told me to turn to God, to admit my mistakes, to ask forgiveness and to start over. Pray daily, read the Bible and return to your church were her instructions. It was "amazing grace" that saved me from suicide. Little by little I began to change and to break with destructive patterns of behaviour.
In time, I met a wonderful man who later became my husband. We hoped to have a family. Finally, after seven years of marriage, I became pregnant but things were not normal. The baby was growing outside my womb in the fallopian tube (an ectopic pregnancy) and one day, the tube ruptured, placing my life in danger. My baby died (we called him Joseph) because he was prevented from travelling to the uterus by scar tissue that blocked the fallopian tube. The scar tissue was the result of Pelvic Inflammaory Disease which I had contracted during the years when I was promiscuous.
This pregnancy caused me to relive the abortion experience and this brought about in me a breaking of denial. I did not realize I was suffering from a medically recognized form of traumatic stress disorder called "Post-Abortion Syndrome" (P.A.S.) The guilt, depression, anger, anxiety, sense of loss and suicidal feelings are some of the symptoms commonly experienced by women who have had abortions.
For about fifteen years, I would not face the truth that abortion had taken the life of my baby and that I allowed it to happen. It wasn't until I lost Joseph that I faced the truth that abortion had killed my first child, Sarah. When I acknowledged this I could then begin to grieve the loss of Sarah. Abortion is a death experience that needs to be grieved the same as the loss of any loved one through death. The first step to healing is in the breaking of denial. As I face the truth, the natural grieving that I never allowed myself to experience began to occur. I faced my guilt and turned to God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I was sorry that I had allowed my daughter to be aborted.
I also needed to forgive those who performed the abortion, those who were directly or indirectly involved. There were feelings of anger that had given way to bitterness and rage, destructive forces in my life that needed healing. I needed to forgive myself, to let go of self-hatred, to receive God's mercy and to be merciful towards myself and others.-
Embracing the Pain
As I have moved through the grieving process and the letting go of the things I cannot change, which took a long time, I have experienced healing, forgiveness, freedom and peace. Although I have not forgotten, I'm no longer controlled by my past mistakes nor do I need the coping mechanisms I used to use to run from the pain inside. (I have learned to be still and feel the pain, to allow it to run its course.) Pain has had much to teach me. I have learned to unite my pain with the pain Jesus endured for the love of me. Healing is a reality that involves facing and embracing the pain and when done with Jesus, leads to the Joy of the Resurrection. But one must stand still and die first to experience resurrection.
All things work unto good for those who love the Lord (Roman 8:28). Yes, God can even use my mistake of abortion to draw me to Himself. He can also use my mistake to draw others. Abortion is not a solution but a symptom of a problem in my attitude towards my capacity to cooperate in the creation of new life. I have the free will to choose life or death... to choose to take responsibility for my sexuality. I can say no to actions that lead me away from Life.
I realized that my contra - ceptive mentality was at the root of my decision to kill my baby. I was not open to life, to the possibility of a baby, a person coming into being. As a woman, I had rejected my femininity, my capacity to conceive and bear children. I lived in fear of my own nature. With God's grace, I have experienced a healing of my womanhood, a reawakening of the maternal life-giving centre of my being. It is my hope that I may still have children of my flesh but I have come to accept that the consequences of my past choices may continue to affect my life.
If I Could Do It All Again
After the loss of my baby, I have just one fallopian tube which, I have learned, is also embedded in scar tissue. Now I've been married fifteen years and so far have not been able to have any more children. It is not easy to accept that the decisions that I made before I met my husband are still affecting my life daily. If I could do it over again I would choose chastity.... I would save the gift of myself for marriage, for that one person whom I would call my Beloved. I met my husband when I was fifteen. I didn't know then that he would be my husband, but even then I could have chosen to love him by keeping myself for him alone. Love seeks to please the other at the expense of self. The cost would have been self-restraint and self-denial. Looking back it would have been worth it!
I miss Sarah so very much. I miss Joseph too. I am a mother... of children who I will never hold, play with, talk to or read to. Children that will never know the joys of running on the beach or feeling the sun's warmth... Yes, it has taken a long time to believe that my children are with God and that they forgive me. It has been very difficult to forgive the people who helped to kill my children, especially myself. With God's graces, through confession and the Holy Eucharist I have come to accept the things I cannot change, I have forgiven myself. I have received God's forgiveness and love. I have experienced his healing touch again and again. It is true, I will never forget my children, they have a place in my heart, but now I can live with the memories.