The Mourning After
In high school, I was the captain of the cheerleading squad and the track team. I had good grades, a boyfriend, and I was pretty popular. I was proud of my reputation in school. What else could an 18-year-old ask for?
I can tell you what I wasn’t asking for: a baby.
I’d been sexually active since I was 15 and my high school sweetheart and I thought we had a pretty good thing going. Starting a family was the furthest thing from our minds. Right before graduation, I was surprised that I’d missed a period. Two ominous lines on a home pregnancy test confirmed what I was dreading.
Keeping the baby wasn’t an option for me. It never even crossed my mind. I had hopes and dreams for a bright future and a baby would definitely be in the way of all that. By the time I was 10 weeks along, the father of my child and I made a trip to the abortion clinic. I remember the scene so vividly: the sights, the sounds, the smell. My senses – and even more so, my emotions – were in overdrive. The procedure was over before I knew it. The counselor at the clinic had all the right words to say and I remember feeling so relieved that I was finally rid of the burden that had been weighing on me for the past couple of months. Everything felt right. I could finally breathe easy!
To say that I was unprepared when the emotions started flooding in would be an understatement. If everything felt so right when I had the abortion, why did I feel like I was in the midst of a storm now? All the walls around me came down. Shame, guilt, regret, anger – you name it, I felt it. I felt like I was haunted by a four-headed monster. I didn’t know who to lean on to for support. My parents didn’t know about the pregnancy and the abortion and I couldn’t tell my friends. I had no safe place. My heart was so raw. I had nowhere to turn.
I remember the scene so vividly: the sights, the sounds, the smell. My senses – and even more so, my emotions – were in overdrive.
So I ran. I was an avid runner and running kept me busy. It gave my mind an opportunity to rid itself of all the emotional jabs that my heart was experiencing. Maybe some part of me felt like I was trying to run from the pain that was haunting me, because soon after I would stop running, it would come back again. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional rollercoaster that would ensue after the abortion. Hoping that it would help solve some of our problems, at 19 I married my high school sweetheart, and within a couple of years we had two more beautiful children. Through the first few years of our marriage, I knew we still weren’t properly dealing with the latent emotions from the abortion. When my husband had an affair, my world came crashing down again.
I experienced a very positive life change through my grandmother’s influence, but dealing with loss – first the loss of my child through the abortion and then the loss of my then-husband through divorce – was a lot for a mother’s heart to bear. I tried to focus all of my energies into my two children. I was their mama bear. I was determined to raise them and care for them with every fibre of my being. Even though I knew I still had a lot of emotional wounds to deal with, I focused on being the best mother I knew how to be.
Five years passed and I met a wonderful man, who is now my husband. But I still distinctly remember struggling with the fear of rejection. How could this wonderful person love me? I struggled with my self-worth and I was scared that what I had to bring to the table would be too much for him to take. He knew about my baggage and my emotional wounds, and yet he loved me all the same. When we got married, I was excited about this chance to start over. However, I knew that something still needed to change. I had unclosed chapters and deep wounds and I knew I needed help. I started seeing a counselor a year after the wedding, and like a story book, one page after another, I poured out the weight of the pain that I’d been carrying for a decade.
Since my first marriage and now through my second, I’ve been privileged to become a mother to 11 (yes, 11!) more children. Each pregnancy has been different, but it is amazing how far-reaching post-abortion pain is. I am still stirred by sadness every time I bring a new child into the world.
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