Abortion causes complex emotions and healing is not something you can turn on with a switch. A reader asked if I could describe the steps of my healing process to this day. This chronological account includes a few obstacles to healing.
Late 1990s: Healing Milestone
I heard on the radio: “Aborted women are mothers too.” A little bit of truth about my pain had been revealed and it was comforting.
A gynecologist reproached me with my two abortions (“that’s one too many!”, pounding on the table) and told me that I should be sterilized. I felt judged and condemned (and no it wasn’t a pro-life physician).
2004: Healing Milestone
First date with my future (Pro-Life, Catholic) husband: I broke into tears and told him I was a bad person because of my abortions. I didn’t understand why but I needed to say it.
The first year of marriage, I was having panic attacks when my periods were late. Pregnancy equaled Choice and I didn’t want to go there but abortion was all I knew (I was still a pro-choice atheist).
2006: Healing Milestone
I saw Silent No More signs and heard an abortion testimony for the first time. Both events shocked me but I felt some relief. I was not alone.
2006: Healing Milestone and Obstacle
I started to discover and trust God and I was afraid that people would find out about my abortions. I was attending Pro-Life events with a heavy heart, feeling that I was not being honest with myself and others since I had done “it”. I started to look at pictures of aborted babies to torture myself.
2006: Healing Milestone and Obstacle
I became pregnant with our first son and I was depressed and suicidal. To my surprise, I shared about my abortions in a church women’s group. We were talking about what we can’t forgive other people and the words escaped me: “I can forgive anything to anyone but I could never forgive myself for my two abortions“. Someone sent me a letter with a list of religious counselors but I was too ashamed and scared to dial a phone number.
In the third trimester of my pregnancy, I was agonizing mentally and I had to take psychotropic drugs. I was referred to a psychiatrist. In tears, I told her about the abortions that were consuming me and she said: “What do you mean? That you are pro-life now?” It was clear that she didn’t acknowledge my pain and I couldn’t go to counseling there.
2007: First Big Healing Milestone
I made a huge effort to call a religious counselor from the list I had received. She taught me to look in the mirror and say: “God loves me and I love myself, God forgives me and I forgive myself.” I named my children and we had a session where I visualized a ten year old boy with golden hair opening his arms and hugging me. I realized that there was a God bigger than me and that there are no sins that he cannot forgive.
2008: Spiritual and Healing Milestone
I received the Sacrament of Confirmation of the Catholic Church. I became a Silent No More regional coordinator. I started to share my testimony in churches and pro-life rallies.
2008: The biggest Healing Milestone so far
I attended Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. I felt accepted and I was able to deal with self-hatred feelings, which helped me to forgive myself. I wrote letters to my children, I met them mentally. We had a farewell ceremony and it was crucial for me to acknowledge Alicia and Gabriel, to ask their forgiveness and to entrust them to the Creator.
Two days after my daughter was born, I was flushing blood clots in the toilet and I thought they were tiny aborted babies. I cried to God why he let me give birth to a healthy girl and why I couldn’t save these babies. With the support and prayers of my husband and friends, things went back to normal.
2011: Healing Milestone
I attended a retreat for healing. It was not specifically about abortion but it helped me deal with spiritual attacks.
2012: Healing Milestone
I started this blog 400 Words for Women and it has been a wonderful experience of writing and getting to know incredible, courageous women.
2013: Healing Milestone
Holding signs at the March For Life with Silent No More and sharing my testimony in front of the Supreme Court was a powerful experience.
This is an ongoing process. I find strength in the Sacraments, devotions such as the Divine Mercy and having people praying for me. One of my favorite Bible passages is the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8). Every journey is different and I am thankful for the safe places where women from all walks of life can share their story without being judged and where their feelings of grief are validated.
EDIT: I am told that secular, non religious people and people from non-Christian faiths have attended Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat to find peace as well.