“Will this affect me, emotionally or psychologically?” I asked the attendant at the abortion clinic before signing their required intake forms.
She responded almost with glee, “Oh no. It’s just a blob of tissue. This will make your life better! You have plenty of time to have babies!”
Working to embrace her words as truth, I mentally repeated, “Abortion will make my life better… abortion will make my life better.…” I would use that same sound bite in my mind for years when thoughts of that time came to mind. It took me many years to realize that I had not aborted “tissue” at all but a tiny human.
By asking this question, I believe I had a good idea I would regret this choice. God gave me a heart that is filled with love and compassion for others. There was no way that type of heart could pass through such a procedure unharmed emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. When I later encountered infertility, I hit regret at a physical level too.
When I exited that clinic as a newly post-abortive person, I began a mental process to deny or “forget” my abortion ever happened. Denial after abortion was the only way to proceed — by separating the agony of my heart from the logic of my mind. That denial process worked until several “life” circumstances started dismantling the part of my heart that contained abortion memories.
The first life event was falling in love with my husband four years later. Being honest with him about my abortion was essential for our future together. If he was going to leave me over that choice, I’d rather it be early in our relationship. If that happened, I wouldn’t want to marry him anyway. Thankfully, my future husband received my truth with love, compassion and understanding.
While relieved by his acceptance, the effort of sharing my abortion truth took a toll on my heart. With the story vocalized vividly, the denial after abortion – or forgetting process – was harder to restart. The only way to kick it back into place was to stop thinking about it entirely. After several years, my husband started to wonder if we ever had that abortion conversation because I never spoke of it again!
Refusing to acknowledge that abortion is wrong helps women initially cope with any emotional conflict, stress, painful thoughts, threatening information and/or anxiety. We often remain in denial because discussion of our abortions makes us feel vulnerable or threatens our sense of control. Individuals in denial often won’t acknowledge their abortion was wrong. They don’t face the truth that abortion took the life of an unborn child. We can also downplay any consequences of the issue.
The denial after abortion process is tricky to maintain because it’s deeply dysfunctional! We often take one step forward towards healing and then twenty steps backwards. The pain of a past abortion may arguably be the worst form of self-torture existing in the world. Many women falsely believe that in addressing this pain directly, they could become suicidal.
One day God ended my ability to forget my abortion was wrong. It happened with a rush of blood when I was sixteen weeks pregnant with a very wanted second child. Realizing my child could be dying, I instantly got down on my hands and knees and asked God for help. I went on to ask His forgiveness as well.
Within a half hour of that prayer, my physician’s ultrasound screen revealed a fully formed boy inside me that was sucking his thumb and kicking with all his might. At sixteen week’s gestation, my unborn son was very much a human being. The ultrasound’s grainy image trashed my “blob of tissue” theory forever.
After that ultrasound broke down my ability to forget, I was alone in my pain. The grainy image haunted me. Several months later, when this baby was placed in my arms, I was overwhelmed with the depth of love I had for him in an instant. That love suddenly brought back the abortion memory. I had to wonder, “How could I have done such a thing?”
Eighteen months later my friend and neighbor, Dianne Hood, was murdered. The grief over her death pitched me into mourning for the first time. Future deaths of loved ones often trigger unresolved sorrow from the past. When I cried for Dianne, I finally allowed myself to cry for my lost child as well. It wasn’t long before God led me into an abortion recovery program and healed my heart.
While many can forget and never feel any pain over their abortions, others find that time changes their peace level. In working through the emotions of healing surrounding the loss of my aborted child, I ended the denial after-abortion process forever. By naming and memorializing my lost child during my abortion recovery class, he returned to take his rightful place in my heart.
Take a moment to record the moments when God has broken down your denial after abortion. List the ways that this occurred and any Bible verses that may have helped you in those moments.