Many post-abortive women suffer from psychic pain. Most have not understood the degree to which they were victimized – by a ‘dating’ ethos which insists that promiscuity is ‘empowering’, by the men who bully them into aborting, by a society which allows no room for single mothers.
Most cruelly, they are put in the position of having to accept responsibility for their abortion as if none of the above mattered. This is the underside of ‘liberation’ for women, which the mainstream media studiously ignores. A blanket of societal silence drawn over the aftermath of abortion has spelled significant pain for millions.
Now, one of these women has spoken out. A Brooklynite, a cradle Catholic, a teacher who loves children, she aborted the only child she would be able to have. REGINA Magazine accompanies Jennifer (not her real name) on her journey in this two-part article as she explains how this came to be, and the road she has traveled to heal.
REGINA: You had an abortion at age 39 because you were in the midst of a relationship which was ‘unstable'.
JENNIFER: Brian was a divorced father of one daughter. His divorce was not a pretty one, and there was a lot of turmoil and ongoing strife with his ex wife. He was also unemployed and living in his mother's basement.
JENNIFER: I couldn't tell you what I was thinking. We knew each other from our early college years through mutual friends and I hadn't seen or heard about him in years. He randomly found my contact information and contacted me out of the blue. To be honest, things were tumultuous from the beginning, and it still did not deter me. Not only was he always at war with his ex-wife, he was still unresolved with his ex-girlfriend and was often fighting with her about the details of their break up.
REGINA: And what happened?
JENNIFER: I was just…dragged into this mess, which is not to say that I didn’t also jump into it, and I thought I could handle it! I thought I would be able to love him through circumstance. But I was mistaken, while love is the answer to many questions, I had no idea what I was up against. I was in way over my head. I was called more names in this short relationship than I had in the totality of the relationships I have had in the course of a lifetime of dating.
REGINA: Not good at all.
JENNIFER: Truth be told, I had a long history of bad relationships. One co-dependent mess after the next. Trying to save addicts or alcoholics…thinking, if only we get him well, then he can love me. Most were wonderful men, suffering from the spiritual malady of addiction. It took many years in Al-Anon for me to understand these things. I was playing God, trying to fulfill my needs, by saving men who could never possibly fulfill my needs.
REGINA: But Brian sounds like bad news. How did you talk yourself into that?
JENNIFER: Brian is a highly creative, very handsome musician and artist. He could make a pencil seem like liquid when he moved it around a paper, and his singing voice was mesmerizing. He was extraordinarily talented and could be very kind and attentive at times. We shared a love of growing up in Brooklyn during the 70’s and 80’s. We shared a love of visual art and music. There were some very powerful attractions between the two of us.
With Brian, I thought I could love someone as they were. I thought I could accept negative circumstances. It was really me grossly misunderstanding acceptance. While I could love him as he was, it did not mean I could be in an intimate relationship with him. I now understand that acceptance does not mean I have to stay. Sometimes the most loving thing to do, is leave.
Early in our relationship, Brian spent eight days in the hospital for depression. Yet, I was still not deterred. I, instead, ran to his side, thinking loyalty and love and compassion and care would spare me from any negative things that could possibly happen, ignoring all of these red flags. I often tried to justify staying, by knowing that I too was not perfect, so I must also accept someone else's imperfections. In the long run, the relationship was emotionally abusive, there were always other women, or the potential for other woman (meaning flirting or social media-ing.)
REGINA: Sounds awful.
JENNIFER: We had been dating, and of course I slept with him right away. I honestly thought I had a healthy approach to my sexuality. I was not afraid to explore it or to enjoy it. I did not see how I was really harming myself. Denial is terribly frightening. I had no idea what I was doing to myself. I actually believed the opposite, I believed this was empowering.
REGINA: Many women have bought that lie.
JENNIFER: In hindsight, right at the beginning of my post abortion healing, I did see just how victimized I was. Not just by Brian, but by many of the systems in place in our society. Immediately it dawned on me that all of this has been the greatest ruse. I had been born into the post free-love generation, being a female teen in the late 70s and early 80s meant that needing a man or husband was a weakness. Feminism dumped this new theology into our laps, and we had no idea what to do with it or how to use it or what it really implied for our lives.
Birth control was something I was born into. I remember being given my first pack of pills at a Planned Parenthood when I was 16. It was presented to me as freedom and strength and independence and self- empowerment.
The truth? It had a negative effect in my life. It benefitted men, far more then me, as I used sex and booze in high school, college and beyond to masquerade for real love. That is extraordinarily painful if you let it sink in.
REGINA: What reason did you give yourself for having this abortion?
JENNIFER: In the first place, you should know, I had my first abortion when I was 16. When my first love and I got pregnant, we were massively in love, but were young and afraid. We both agreed to get an abortion. It screwed me up royally, but I was young, and could sweep it under the denial carpet, when I wasn’t using it to destroy and hate myself.
Because of the abortion when I was 16 years old, I had sworn I would never have one again. And Brian knew that, as well. He knew my stance on abortion – I was against it. However, we still continued to have unprotected sex, during the moments that the tumultuous relationship was on-again.
There were a few things that I told myself to get me through the clinic’s door. I did not want to do it alone, I didn’t think I could handle being connected to this relationship with Brian forever, it was too hostile, and I told myself my family could not help me (not true,) I told myself that I had no choice.
Isn’t that funny? In a world where this is supposed to be ‘choice.” I only did it because I felt I had no choice.
REGINA: But at 39, did you feel that you had no other choice — that you were incapable of raising a child on your own?
JENNIFER: Brian was immediately against having the baby and I was upset about having an abortion. I was crying, and he was telling me that God was okay with abortion, that this was unplanned, that he just started grad school. I argued against God approving, and said that this was all selfish. But mostly I just cried, and had a friend make the appointment.
On a Monday, the appointment was made to get an abortion the following Saturday. I went to work as a teacher in my classroom, seeing hundreds of children a day. I could only think, even the worse behaved of these children deserves the right to live. I barely ate that week. I barely made it through the week.
REGINA: Sounds like you were over-stressed.
JENNIFER: I made many phone calls from the abortion clinic. I really did not want to do it. One friend, who knew about the relationship said, “You can’t handle this.” And that was the truth for me. While I thought I could handle being a single mother, I did not think that I could handle having Brian in my life forever. The relationship was that bad/scary. Mental illness, depression…the head games he played with me, I knew I couldn’t handle that. I was afraid enough of him, and that finally made me concede.
REGINA: Did you want children?
JENNIFER: Yes, I had always wanted to have children. I am a teacher. I have always loved children. But I also have never imagined it actually happening in my life, I’ve never had a healthy relationship-never had relationship standards.
REGINA: So, did you think this might be your last chance to have a child?
JENNIFER: It’s funny because, my parents were each other’s first loves, and they were married up until my dad passed away in 2014. I did think that this might be my last opportunity to have a child. This is the wound that hurts the most, and that I still tend. I didn’t think about it before the abortion….I was too caught up in adrenaline and fear and time and money. But I sure thought about it afterwards. And I think about it every day still. Thankfully, I tend this wound with a merciful and loving God by my side. It makes all of the difference.
REGINA: Did you ever consider trying to change your life in order to raise the child?
JENNIFER: I did consider speaking with my family, a quick daydream of everyone pulling together to help me raise my child. But that thought quickly dissolved in to reality. They have lives and responsibilities and problems of their own, I couldn’t really count on them or feel right burdening them.
I considered having it on my own, but it scared me. I was in the middle of buying a small vacation home, how could I afford a child? In the middle of this, the mortgage fell through. And it thought to myself, “Is this God giving me the means to support my child, should I keep it?” But I ignored these thoughts, and pressed forward with a different lender.
If the father was a loving man, if the relationship wasn’t so volatile, I would have kept our baby. He was clear he did not want our child. One evening, during the week I had to wait for the abortion appointment, I called him crying, “Where are you?” I said. “I’m dying here!”
That infuriated him, and he told me that I “should have been aborted” and that I was “harassing” him. In any other relationship, where I wasn’t dealing with abuse and neglect and insanity, I think would have kept my baby. I was scared into getting an abortion. Bullied even.
I have heard Teresa Bonapartist of Lumina say in her witness of her abortion recovery, that she “was abandoned by the people that wanted her to get her abortion.”
The same was true for me. The main person who wanted me to get this abortion, up and left, completely abandoned me. It just elicits more fear. Gets you one step closer to the clinic.
REGINA: Did you seek anyone's advice?
JENNIFER: I avoided any friend, person or organization that might appeal to my heart, who might offer me what I truly wanted — to keep my baby. I only spoke to people who would help me get it done, or would not judge that I was getting an abortion.
At one point, I had to attend an event with my older sister, who was a stay-at-home mother. She said to me, while I was pregnant in her car, “My babies are all grown up! I have empty nest syndrome!” I knew I could tell her that I was pregnant right then, and I would have had offers of daycare by her and help. It would have been an offer that I could not have resisted, because it would have been what I really wanted, to not get an abortion, so instead, I said nothing.
REGINA: Whether or not they will admit it, most post-abortive women feel guilt. Those who realize that they were victimized can't understand why they chose the men they did, and blame themselves for ‘poor choices'. This can make for an endless vortex of self-recrimination, etc. Abortion advocates short-circuit all that by brushing it aside and saying ‘it doesn't matter, it's your right'…but that doesn't address the anger, the hurt and the loss.
JENNIFER: I recently tried to explain my stance to a male pro-choice friend. Of course he could not believe that I did not “stand with planned parenthood.”
I said, “I’m sorry, it’s been my personal experience that abortion actually hurts women.”
He said, “But don’t you want to be able to choose to hurt yourself?”
JENNIFER: That should be the pro-choice movement’s rally cry today, “We can hurt ourselves if we want to!” It is so painfully ironic to me, what they have convinced women to want for themselves.
REGINA: You take care of yourself, are physically fit, attractive and self-motivated. Why do you think you stayed with a guy who would put you in that situation?
JENNIFER: Desperate for love. Denial. Denial. Denial. And a complete misunderstanding of morals, of standards. It will sound trite even as I write it….no self esteem, false perceptions of what is acceptable in a relationship and for myself. Also, this crazy belief that things would change. Or that I could handle it.
REGINA: What effect did the abortion have on you?
JENNIFER: Within 24 hours of the abortion procedure I was done for. I had tried to make things comfortable for myself before getting the procedure. I went grocery shopping, had knitting supplies nearby, tea, just self care comforts.
REGINA: It didn’t help?
JENNIFER: Within a day of coming home, the truth set in. I picked up a scarf I was knitting to pass some time o on the couch, and God showed me my son’s face. Some women report this occurrence; others do not. For the first two months or so I was still in shock and despair, and so all the symptoms did not surface, or rather went unidentified.
REGINA: Sounds terrible.
JENNIFER: My 40th birthday was four days after my abortion. Brian offered to take me out for my birthday, to which I responded, “I’m not celebrating my birthday, are you crazy?!”
For many years I brought my mother flowers on my birthday, grateful that she gave me the gift of life. On this birthday, I struggled knowing that this woman had had the strength and courage to bring me into this world, but that I had failed at that. It wasn’t an easy time.
REGINA: What did you do?
JENNIFER: I am a teacher, so I told myself to hold on until the end of June. I shelved my symptoms as best I could. After teaching by day, my nights and weekends were spent balled up crying on my couch with my dog. And with God. I asked Him to be with me and He did get me through.
After two months I was desperate to get help. And when I say desperate, I mean DESPERATE. Suicidal ideation, depression, fear, anxiety, crippling despair, crying spells, lack of interest, and more.
You see, I wasn’t in denial. I couldn’t be.
I was facing the truth. And it was a way more debilitating a truth than I was armed to handle. I knew I had to reach out to professionals of every and any sort. Some were more helpful than others.
REGINA: And Brian?
JENNIFER: The relationship went from bad to worse. I mostly tried to be forgiving of him and me, which seemed like a good idea theoretically and spiritually, but I was not capable of doing it amidst all of the other elements and responses that came with the abortion. My anger and despair.
Things got ugly. I saw a therapist, eventually had to go to the police and see an attorney. Fighting, calling the police. It was a lot of nonsense to try and overshadow the facts of what had happened. He called the police on me, when I once questioned one of his trysts. I was just short of trying to get an order of protection.
And even still we did not stop seeing each other. We tried counseling with a few different therapists. One would not even speak to us because of ethical concerns. I was still so angry, and he was still sick in his ways.
NEXT: Click HERE to read the rest of Jennifer’s Tale.