“Abortion changes you…”
In their own words, these stories reveal something of how the experience of abortion has changed the lives it has touched.
Three older women share their experiences. One has since attended a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat weekend.
I used to think I went to Church to be good… but now I realise I go to be loved.
If you think that being from a good Catholic family is a safeguard against having an abortion, then think again. I’m from a good Catholic family, but it didn’t help me. When the test came back positive, I just went along with what I was told and went off for an abortion – just like everyone else that day.
I have told very few people about it since, but those who know me well, know that there has always been something a bit random about me, which they probably put down to being an expression of my personality. There is, however, more to it than that.
I am still a practising Catholic and even though I have taken my abortion story into Confession about heaps of times and I know that that whole painful chapter of my life has been forgiven, somehow I haven’t been able to move on.
I don’t regret my life, but I regret the mess my life has turned into in lots of ways.
When I first began to sneak into midday Mass, it was because I knew no one else I knew would be there. I liked being completely anonymous but on familiar ground.
It has taken a very long time, but I have begun to join in a few things and feel as though I am beginning to be part of something again. I have always enjoyed the singing at 11am Mass and the special Carols and Easter events that the Church puts on and don’t mind talking about them to others. But I still don’t really admit that I go to church every Sunday. I’m not really sure why, but it all feels too personal to talk about and I don’t want other people’s opinions.
I don’t really fit into or belong to any particular parish but I do have a sense of ownership – a sort of a sense of ‘being allowed to be here’ in every Catholic Church I go into. It’s the only place that I can be alone and be calm and even though my attempts at trying to reconnect with the faith haven’t really worked in some respects, I do have a sense of knowledge that I’m on safe ground.
What it comes down to this: I used to think I went to Church to be good… but now I realise I go to be loved.
Printer-friendly version: Circling Shark
My experience of abortion is so long ago… but the effects of it have been with me all my life.
I’ve had numerous counselling sessions for all sorts of other issues as well as careers advice, skills training, leadership and management training to help me sort out what my true calling in life is. Certainly it has all helped and I have managed a fairly credible career, but there remains a part of me that just doesn’t believe I really am who I say I am.
I’ve told very few people about this experience – partly because I don’t want to become one of those people who ends up trying to justify abortion and partly because I can’t face having my friends and family, even after all this time, looking at me and just knowing.
It’s like an invisible neon sign. I can spot the same experience in other people a mile off and I am terrified that they will recognise it in me. It staggers me that even my closest friends haven’t picked it up yet and part of me knows it is only a matter of time.
I once heard someone describe alcoholism like a circling shark and I’d describe carrying the knowledge of abortion in the same way.
It really is like a shark that circles around then goes away again. You know it will be back, each time a bit closer and because I am ‘trailing blood’, it always knows where to find me. My hope is that, over time, something will work and I will finally get beyond it.
Realistically, I know that for me, this particular shark is always going to be in my life and even if I stopped trailing blood, I know that sooner or later it would find me again. What I hope for now, is that when it does, it will no longer be hungry – it will just swim away.
Just Make It Go Away
I didn’t want choices – I just wanted the whole thing to go away
All my friends seemed to be with someone and I was really beginning to wonder why I found it so hard. By the time I was in my final year, I still didn’t have any kind of special relationship with anyone and basically, I just wanted to finish with study and get on with my life.
The problem was, I didn’t finish. When my period didn’t come, I went into shock. I had been careful but obviously it didn’t work. I didn’t want to hear about being pregnant or about choices – I just wanted the whole thing to go away.
In the end, I just blocked it all out. When I went to the clinic, they asked me some basic questions and took the paperwork away for someone to sign. I don’t remember anyone talking to me very much – all I remember is being told not to talk to anyone apart from the clinic staff and to take it easy for a few days afterwards. Everyone seemed to think that I should be able to put it all behind me and focus on my study.
It didn’t happen that way though. I didn’t settle into work for my exams. I didn’t tell any of my friends and it was too late to tell anyone in my family. The clinic organised some counselling but I didn’t want to go back there or have anything to do with anyone from that place. They were all OK with what I had done, but I wasn’t.
It has taken a long time to begin to think about any of this and I can honestly say that I have never really settled in my life. I know that my behaviour back then after the abortion was unsafe and reckless, but I didn’t really care.
How do I feel about it now? It’s the part of my life that no one can know about. It’s not something anyone could feel proud of and even when you hear people say that they support a woman’s choice, you know that it’s not really a proper choice. It’s like running away from something that’s never going to stop following you.
I have never married or had children which I don’t think is a bad thing – family isn’t for everyone. But I have never really done anything big with my life either, which is a disappointment.
A partner’s experience of abortion can have a huge impact on men and change a relationship forever. As the father or step-father of an aborted child, men are often excluded from finding healthy expression for their grief. This story is from a man who speaks of his son’s abortion loss, and later his son’s suicide.
“No one gave them a chance…”
What upset me most about all of this, was how (my son) ended up as the bad person and how things changed with his girlfriend after that. Everyone else got in there and said that they were both too young – which they were. But even so, no one gave them a chance to grow up. We could have helped but we never got the chance to.
He found out the next day when it was all over. He was kept out of the picture so he couldn’t pressure her, but really he didn’t know what to think.
Eventually they split up for good, but it was too late. No one had any hope for them and then after the abortion my son didn’t even have any hope for himself.
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