At the moment of my abortion, I felt a spirit of life physically leave my body.
That “clump of cells'' was my baby and I had just ended her life. A piece of me died right alongside her and great sorrow and regret shattered my heart. Shaking and weeping uncontrollably, I was overcome with great grief as it was now too late to change my mind. I was a murderer. I took my child’s life. That was unforgivable.
For months, every sound, smell, and detail of that day replayed over and over in my mind like a movie. Regret weighed heavy on my heart and all I could think about was every missed opportunity where I could have changed my mind. I felt my vulnerability was violated, that I had been misinformed about my options and the abortion procedure. I never saw an ultrasound screen, or heard a heartbeat. I was silenced by fear and felt rushed by the medical staff to make a decision.
After the abortion I quickly resorted to denial. It was the only way I could survive the pain. Things in my world were suddenly meaningless and I became numb. Avoiding my sorrow was the only way I could go on living.
I did not know how I was supposed to live my life because, how could I grieve something that was my choice?
Within a few months, anger began to rise within me. I was angry at myself and that anger eventually turned towards others. I would quickly react or say hurtful things to my family or friends. I was still in deep denial. My pride told me it was ok to react harshly because expressing my anger let steam off my chest. In reality, I ached so deeply on the inside, I wished I could take back what I had said to hurt those I loved. All I wanted was to have the courage to apologize and say the truth about what was going on.
The sorrow and regret I help onto went deep.
I thought there had to be a way to make it better. I thought I could fix it and fix myself.
That is when I began to bargain with my pain.
I thought, “Since I’ve had an abortion and I am in pain, I will help others to make sure this doesn't happen to them.” Shortly after, I found myself working at a local pregnancy center. I thought the more effort I put into serving, the more my pain would go away. But since there was no healing yet, I had the hardest time serving with excellence. I left the pregnancy center as fast as I had started. I felt as though I did not deserve to be around babies let alone say or speak the word “abortion” to a woman in crisis.
As I tried to steer the ship of my life, without any navigation, I became severely depressed. My grief became greater and I was emotionally shipwrecked. I swerved in and out of denial, anger, bargaining and depression for months. The cycle would start over, and in my need to control my grief, I eventually found myself unable to commit to priorities, plans, friends or family.
This cycle was my life now. I wasn't sure of who I was anymore or if I would ever be who I was created to be.
One Sunday morning at church, a representative of the pregnancy center I had worked at began sharing. The woman said, “Did you know 1 in 3 women in the church have had an abortion? So, don’t look at your neighbor!” My heart pounded fiercely and then sank making me feel nauseated. The truth hurt and my guilt stirred up and the memories started to flood through me all over again. The speaker invited women who had been suffering, in silence, to join a small post abortion healing group. As soon as I heard the invitation, I felt a bit of relief because I knew I was not alone. My spirit leapt with this unexplainable new hope that desired to come alive in me.
I fought fear as lies began swirling in my mind. I thought I could not attend the group because I had to keep my abortion a secret. In fact, I knew the woman who had given the announcement that day, and she knew my Mom.
Would my secret even be safe if I reached out for help and healing?
It would be an entire year before I joined the group, yet within that year I stepped into acceptance. Little by little, I began to readjust. I found myself in God’s word every morning and wrote down my prayers in my journal. I found ways to begin to enjoy life again and there were more good days than bad. I knew I would never be able to take back what I had done but, God put some amazing relationships in my path to help me start listening to my need for healing.
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” - Romans 12:2
The group I joined was called, “Surrendering the Secret.” There were about 5 women in my group and I knew both of the leaders. (One being the woman who gave the announcement about a year prior.) I felt comfortable, yet fearful as I had no idea how this would turn out.
Part of the healing journey began with sharing our story and once I started to listen to the other women’s stories, I began to feel as though my story was not worth sharing. (I've since learned that this is known as “disenfranchised grief”.) I told myself these women had been through worse trauma than I had and they probably needed this class and to share their experiences more than I did.
But, God worked an unprecedented miracle… One by one, each woman began to leave the class. Eventually, I was the only one left and that was the first time I told my abortion story out loud in detail. My heart pounded heavily and I wept while my body trembled from the trauma and pain I had held onto for so long. My two leaders just held my hands as I spoke out every word.
The relief I felt that day is truly unexplainable.
For the first time in years, the heavy layers of pain I wore were lifted off of me. I never knew my voice carried such power and that it would launch my heart and soul onto a stepping stone to healing. I will be forever thankful to God for placing those two women in my life. He knew how sensitive and scared my heart was, and He knew these women would hold a safe and confidential space at my starting line.
His timing is always perfect.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12
Healing from the sorrow and regret of my abortion has been a long and intense journey.
Instead of living in the shame and guilt of ending my child's life, I am reminded that Jesus looks at me as His own precious child.
I have repented from my past and His Word says that as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed my sin and shame from me. That while He was on the cross, I was there right next to Him and it was me He looked upon and said that my sins were forgiven. No longer am I called “murderer” but “forgiven”. It was not easy, but I came to know that I was truly forgiven because of Jesus Christ.
Coming to the place of forgiving myself took its own time as well. But God is such a gentleman. He is loving, patient, kind and gracious while He tends to our wounds.
To this day, there are moments to this day when I still need to process through the cycles of grief.
Especially, on the anniversary of my abortion and due date. However, because I now know how not to stay there, I don't. I simply turn my focus and fix my eyes on Jesus. He reminds me where my baby is and, He reminds me where He has brought me to, today.
No matter what your circumstance is or has been, I want to let you know, it is okay to mourn and grieve the loss of your aborted child. That was your child and you are their Mother. Nothing will ever change that.
It may seem easier to hide the pain and grief but, Jesus wants you to invite Him to sit with you in your grief.
Invite Him into every thought, emotion, pain, and every fear you experience. Once there is a moment to acknowledge it, He walks with you THROUGH it. You are never alone. He will not leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
I don’t believe it is about just getting over the grief of abortion and simply moving on, it is about the process to the palace. It is a journey that breaks you through the invisible wall of fear. It is that moment when we can see Jesus walk with us every step of the way, and in that, the journey becomes the true starting point for healing.
Breakthrough is yours.
Although I am now in the stages of acceptance, I know that I will always live with the regret of having an abortion. That is simply a part of life. There are certain turning points that I wish I could go back and change; and I believe God was trying to show me those opportunities in the moments leading up to my abortion… but I know that I cannot change what has been done. Moving forward and trusting God with my destiny is all I have left to do on this earth.
Because I have walked through the process to heal, I have begun to live my life again; forgiven and set free.
I am forgiven. I am set free. I believe you will be too.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
Song lyrics Judah. The Getting Through
Take me to my trials
And teach me again
My joy is waiting
At the other side of them
Take me to the waters
With my enemies close behind
And I'll be like Moses
"Waters be opened wide"
'Cause maybe the point is not the getting over
But the getting through
'Cause when I surrender
All of my trust is fully in You
Then the waters open and then close
When I get to the other side
And I'll look back at no bridge
So my enemies can't follow behind
~ Stefanie Rodriguez