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Journey of Healing
Lauren
 
     
My story began two years before I was born.  My parents had to endure the pain of losing their two year old daughter, my older sister.   It was clear that they never got over their grief.  As it often happens, they blamed each other.  When I came along, I know that they were thrilled, because after having three boys, I was the little girl that they wanted.

I remember early on that my dad and I had a very special relationship.  I was his princess and we spent a lot of time together.  I remember my dad's warm hugs and how he would sing me to sleep at night.  My mom, on the other hand, kept me at arm's length and was very quick to use the belt on me if I did not behave.  When I needed comfort, it was my dad I ran to, and it was my mom I avoided.

My relationship with my dad abruptly ended when I was nine after he passed away suddenly.  My mom, who had been fighting cancer, passed away ten months later.  My world quickly turned upside down, but I was way too young to even process what had happened.

My aunt, who was dealing with her own hurts and disappointments in life, came to take care of us.  She did not have a husband or children, so she had no idea what she was getting herself into.   I was a confused little girl who needed comfort, love, and acceptance.  I needed someone to help me process what had happened so that I could grieve.  My aunt, sadly, could not give me something that she herself did not have.  She did teach me that it was not safe to trust anyone, especially men.  She taught me that everyone who was kind to me had an ulterior motive.  Not only did this increase my loneliness, but I also felt unlovable.  I was stuck in a vicious cycle until I found a way to ease my pain.

When I was 16 I discovered drugs, mostly pot.  That led to having friends who also liked drugs.   Drugs and friends to hang out with helped numb the pain in my heart.  This new-found life style included sleeping around.  When I was with men, I felt normal and accepted.  The problem was that they never stuck around.

By the time I was 18, I had my first real boyfriend.   His name was Matt.  After we were together for 8 months, I started to worry that I was pregnant.  Back in 1975, they did not have home pregnancy tests so he drove me to a clinic out on Long Island.  I had no idea that it was an abortion clinic.  I remember as Matt sat in the waiting room, I was led back by a friendly woman who told me not to worry as she gave me a pregnancy test.  Using a tone of compassion, she told me that I was pregnant.  I immediately asked her what I should do.  She said that an abortion would be quick and easy, and no one would ever have to find out or get hurt.  She said that I should schedule one as soon as possible.  She did not talk to me about any other choices.  She did not even tell me to talk it over with Matt.  I knew many girls that had abortions, so it seemed like the normal thing to do.  When I told Matt, he was in complete agreement.

A week later on Feb 6, 1975, Matt drove me back to that clinic to abort our baby. There was no one to stop us from making what we thought was the only choice we had.   I do not remember very much of what happened during the abortion but afterward I remember feeling relief that my little problem was solved.  Matt was very quiet. Thinking back, he was probably very upset.  We never talked about it.  A few months later, we broke up and never spoke again.

When I was 20, I moved to Greenwich Village.  I had a decent job and my own apartment.  I hung out with my friends and got high on the weekends. I continued to use men to fill my loneliness.   

One night I went to a party with some friends.  There was lot of drinking.  I do not remember what happened at that party but the next morning I woke up in my apartment with Eric, a man I barely knew, next to me.  Thinking back, it was clear that he took advantage of me, but I did not care.  As long as I had a man with me, I felt loved.  He got up and left. He never contacted me again.

A few weeks later, I found out I was pregnant.  I felt stupid for letting it happen twice.  I do not remember much about that abortion, but, again, there was no one to tell me what other choices I had.  

For my friends and me, abortions were just a normal part of being a young woman.  We all believed the lie that they were safe and no one got hurt.  We never talked about our experiences and feelings.  We were expected to just get on with our lives as if nothing happened.  There was no need to grieve over what we were told was a bunch of cells.
A couple of years later, God brought a wonderful man into my life.  Rich knew about the abortions, but like the rest of us, he believed the lie that they were no big deal.  We never talked about it because we honestly thought there was nothing to talk about.  We were married in 1980.  In 1983 Rich and I met this amazing couple who had the peace and joy that
I desperately longed for.  They shared the redeeming love of Jesus Christ with us and we gave our hearts to Him.  We have never looked back. Jesus immediately showed me what real love is, and I never felt alone again.   I have never regretted one second living for Him in His love and care for me.

But the other thing I lived with was the dark dirty secret of my abortions.  God's Word showed me that what I did was very wrong, but the pain was buried deep inside of me.  No one but Rich knew anything about it, and I really believed I was OK.  I would occasionally hear Pro-Life messages at church, but no one ever talked about women like me, except to occasionally label us as murderers.  For many years I thought I was the only one in the church who ever lost a child in an abortion.

Women and men who have lost children to abortion often suffer from post- abortive stress (PAS), which is very much like post-traumatic stress.   This can be a serious condition that develops after a person has suffered a loss due to an abortion.   Even families of victims can develop PAS.  Symptoms include thoughts of suicide, eating disorders, infertility, inability to bond with their own or other babies, and avoiding anything that might remind them of their abortions, such as driving past the clinic. These are just a few of the symptoms.   We live each day knowing that there is something not quite right.  This could last for years, especially since the shame causes us to bury the trauma deeper and deeper.   But then one day something happens to bring this intense pain and repressed memories to the surface.

For me, it happened a couple of years ago when I heard that Matt had died suddenly, leaving behind a wife and daughter. When I heard this news, I found myself grieving.  I began obsessing over trying to find out about his life and what happened.  I thought I was going crazy because in all the years leading up to this, I never had any thought or desire to reconnect with him.  Then, a few months later, I found myself crying and immediately went to Rich.  I told him that even though Matt and I had not spoken in over 35 years, we always had a bond.  That bond was our baby.  I was shocked to hear myself finally speak the truth.

From that moment on, I became a mom grieving for her two babies. Instead of being someone trying to deny and bury the truth, I became someone who sought after it.  I finally began to talk to God about what happened all those years ago.  But most of all, I was finally able to hear Him talk to me about it. It was as if He was waiting for me to come to Him.  It still remained a secret because I thought that I was the only one in the church who had this loss deep in my heart.  

It was only a few weeks later when I was listening to an interview on a Christian radio station.  A woman by the name of Pat Layton was talking about her book.  She shared about her own abortion experience and went on to say that there are many of us in the church who are too ashamed to talk about it.  She said that we need to tell our stories so that His light can dispel the darkness in the church.  I knew at that very second that the Lord wanted me to tell my story. He told me that my pain would not be wasted, and that there are many who need to hear the truth.  

I began searching for a way to do this, so I contacted a local pregnancy center to find out if they needed volunteers.  I still did not feel comfortable telling anyone, but the woman on the phone read between the lines.  She told me that before I could volunteer, I needed to go on my own healing journey.  She told me to contact Rachel's Vineyard.  

It was a long, long process but God led me down a path of love and compassion in a way I never experienced before.  He brought some amazing and caring people into my life to bring me to the point that I can now start to understand how deep and how wide His love and forgiveness has always been, even back in those darkest of days.   

Since Rowe vs. Wade in 1973, there have been almost 55 million abortions performed in the United States alone.  That comes out to over 1.3 million a year.  We hear a lot about the baby whose beating heart was abruptly and violently put to an end.  Until recently, I never heard about the mom and dad who will always carry the secret, shameful scars along with the grief that is buried deep in their core.  They live with the lie that they have committed a sin that not even the cross can forgive.  The doctors and workers in the clinics have to live every day numbing themselves to the reality of what they are doing.  The families and friends know that there is something missing, but they cannot identify it.  Grandparents continue grieving over grandchildren they would never get to hug and spoil.

The list goes on and on.   In the short time I have been on this journey of healing, I have met many women and men who have lost children to abortion.  They sit in our pews and behind our pulpits. They attend our Bible colleges and seminaries.  They grew up in the suburbs, the inner city, and on Amish farms.  If we all finally knew the truth, we would find out that the majority of us are connected to someone who has been deeply wounded as a result of an abortion.

 I can say that because of the blood and forgiveness of Christ, I no longer have to feel ashamed of my sin.  The one thing that will never change is that, like any mother who lost her children, I will always carry the grief that stings so deeply in my being.

Praise the Lord I am free from the lies and shame of my abortions and this is why I am silent no more!  

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