On post-abortion trauma: what women need to know
A lot has transpired since the last time I wrote on Steemit, two years ago. In that time, I received my professional certification for plant-based cooking, my partner and I moved to a new place in town, I got pregnant with our first child, and we finally started construction on the Fort Galt community center, which is what brought me down to Chile in the first place. By all accounts, this should be the happiest time of my life, and for a brief period following the birth of our beautiful daughter, Kira, it most certainly was.
I felt like Superwoman after overcoming a 39-hour medication-free labor and giving birth at home and I felt nothing but absolute gratitude for the precious life we brought safely into our world but unfortunately, all of those warm and fuzzy feelings came crashing down hard in the weeks and months that followed. Old trauma has unexpectedly reared its ugly head and I’ve been struggling to cope with it ever since.
There’s been a tug of war going on inside my head for months now as to whether or not I should even talk openly about this as it’s deeply personal and the most excruciatingly painful subject I’ve ever had to write about, but I’m at an impasse in life right now that can no longer be ignored and I realize that an essential part of my healing is to get this off my chest once and for all. And hey, if my story ends up helping a fellow traveler that reads it, that’s all the more reason to share, right? That’s my hope, anyway. However, I’m also well aware that by writing about such an emotionally-charged and politically-divisive subject, I’m leaving myself open to condemnation and pushback, which I’m not particularly looking forward to but if that’s the price I must pay to speak the truth, then so be it.
There’s no easy way to say this so I’m just going to spit it out.
Eighteen years ago, I got pregnant for the first time and decided to have an abortion. I was only 16 years old and was at the lowest point in my life. I was on antidepressant medication because I was recovering from a traumatic event that took place the year before. I had been intoxicated and sexually abused by my father, whom I once trusted and loved dearly. When I reported him to the police he denied everything that happened and managed to convince the overwhelming majority of my family to side with him in court. My mother, who had long been separated from him, was the only person left standing in my corner. Worse still, the justice system had failed me due to fact that the evidence which would have proven my case was destroyed (with the help of my bitch stepmother), and my father was set free from jail as a result. Because of all of this, I fell into despair and my life took an even deeper nosedive as I engaged in really risky and self-destructive sexual behavior with grown men that I met online, some of whom were twice my age.
My mother had no idea about what was truly going on with me during that time. Despite the fact that she stood by me when all hell broke loose with my father, we already had a rocky relationship and it was particularly bad during that time. Just a few months earlier, she told me that if I ever got pregnant, she wouldn’t help me the way she had helped my older sister, who also got pregnant when she was a young teenager. She went so far as to say that she’d throw me out into the street and disown me so how could I possibly tell her the truth? There was no way I could and there wasn’t anyone else in my life during that time that I could turn to for moral support or guidance. My immediate reaction was that I had to get an abortion without her knowledge, which really fucking pained me because it was the one thing in life that I swore to myself I’d never, ever do. Yet, there I was.
I’ve been through some pretty horrible shit in my life but nothing was as traumatic to me as having that abortion. I still remember the light-blue disposable gown they had me wear as I sat with the other women in the waiting room. I remember glancing around the room and being struck by how expressionless they all appeared to be. What must be going through their minds right now? I wondered, do they not feel any remorse? Meanwhile, I’m sitting there with tears rolling down my face, thinking “I’m sorry! I’m so very sorry!” over and over in my head, tortured by the thought of what my child would say if it had a voice and knew of its imminent doom. I cried silently as I waited for my name to be called.
I remember how nervous I felt as they had me lie down on the medical table while they positioned my feet on the stirrups. I was told to count backward from 10, they injected the anesthetic, and before I knew it, I was out. Total blackness. Next thing I remember is my body jolting forward as I screamed at the top of my lungs. I was on a stretcher and I turned my head to see two rows of other women laying unconscious on theirs. They all had thick white padding covering their pelvises and I looked down to see it on my own as well. Within moments, a couple of nurses arrived and forced me back down on the stretcher, telling me to be quiet. They showed no compassion and only seemed to care about whether or not I was going to scare away their other clients. It was at that moment that I felt completely dead inside.
The pain that followed was dreadful, both physical and psychic. It was so bad that I had to bite down hard on a towel and scream so as to not alarm my mother in the next room. To this day, she still doesn’t know what happened. I’m still too fearful to tell her the truth even though my wounded inner child is desperate to cry out and still harbors feelings of anger and resentment towards her. I often wonder what would’ve happened had she not threatened to abandon me like she did. Would I have had the courage to continue with my pregnancy, even if I were to give up the child for adoption? Would she have supported that decision or would she have bullied me into keeping it instead as a twisted sort of punishment, even though I knew I wasn’t fit to be a mother at that time? Knowing how deeply irrational and hysterical she was prone to be, especially with her religious fanaticism, my guess is the latter. For a long time, I saw my decision to have an abortion as the lesser of two evils but nevertheless, my mind continued to swirl with a million “what if?” questions. I was plagued with shame and guilt for the next several years and even though I tried to bury it in the deepest recesses of my mind, I still found it unsettling to even be around children. The thought of motherhood terrified me to the point where I decided to avoid it altogether. I didn’t think I was worthy of it and the thought of bringing new life into this scary world seemed crazy to me.
It took many years of intense healing, shadow work, and self-development for me to finally reach a point in my life where I felt I was worthy and capable enough to be a good mother. I now have a wonderful, comical, and adorable five-month-old baby girl that I adore so much and I’m so happy and honored to have her in my life. Her father and I are 100% committed to giving her the absolute best of care and we’re confident that our peaceful parenting philosophy will ensure that she’ll never experience the sort of abuses we endured. The line has been drawn here.
Well and good as that is, a part of me still can’t shake the bittersweet reality that confronts me each time I look at my daughter’s precious little face. I still mourn the death of my first child and I wish I had given it a chance to live instead of handing it off to be torn up by a suction tube.
There’s nothing I can do to change the past but at least now I know better. It was never my right to extinguish that innocent life. It was the wrong thing to do, no matter how difficult and tragic my life circumstances were. It was an individual human being with its own DNA and its own intrinsic value and no amount of euphemistic language or utilitarian excuses can change that fact. By the same token, I don’t claim to have all the answers to the myriad of problems connected to such a highly complex issue but I do know that I feel a moral duty to speak out against the brutal abortion industry and do whatever I can to warn and help other vulnerable girls and women who might be faced with the same difficult decision that I was.
Breaking my silence is only the beginning of that journey. Thank you for bearing with me as I struggle through it and if you think that sharing my story with someone you know or care about can make a difference, please go ahead and do so.