I was in my 2nd year of college and found myself pregnant. I had a boyfriend back in my hometown and would come home on weekends to visit him. I was in total shock when I found out I was pregnant, I knew it was his child. I didn't even think twice about not getting the abortion. I knew it was wrong, I grew up Catholic. I knew how precious life was. I stopped going to all my college classes, drank even more alcohol, and had to wait until I was far enough along to get the abortion. I was numb.
The boyfriend made the appointment for the abortion in the city and gave me the money for it. My friend drove me to the appointment, and I will never forget the sad and depressing waiting room. So many girls were there and lots of different ages. I was numb, trying to block out what was about to happen. I think I was in shock that I was actually going through with it. I recalled that a girl I knew had an abortion, and she seemed okay. It couldn't be that bad, it was legal. I was sadly wrong.
The last thing I recall was the doctor coming in for the procedure, and I had tears running down my cheeks into my ears. Nobody wiped my tears. The nurse just said, “Don't worry, it will all be over soon.” I woke up in recovery and recalled being in a horrible amount of pain. The escorted me out the back door (I entered in the front) and got into my friend’s car. She drove me to my boyfriend’s house and left me there. Immediately after the abortion, I recall feeling alone and in so much pain. I was cramping something fierce. I thought to myself, “What the hell have I done?”
I returned to school the next day and pretty much drank and did drugs until it was time to come home for holiday. I told my parents I had failed out of college (I had) and that I was moving home.
The 20s brought a lot of sex, drugs, and alcohol. I seemed to hide it all well from my family, and I even finished school. I bought my first house and was dating a lot. I eventually met a man 11 years my senior and moved away out of state to be with him and marry. We continued the alcohol and drugs life and five years after that I found myself completely depressed, on antidepressants, and feeling like I had nowhere to turn.
I turned to the Catholic Church down the street from our house. I started attending alone and heard about a retreat called CRHP. I went on the retreat without knowing a soul. I heard testimonies of women from all walks of life and a few of these had included their abortion story. It was like a ton of bricks hearing this. Had I forgotten? No, but I had pushed it so deep down that I rarely thought about the abortion I had. I gave the next CRHP retreat and included my abortion story. I also confessed the abortion for the first time in reconciliation. I cried so hard and to hear the words that I was forgiven felt like a weight had been lifted that I'd carried for 13 years. I really thought I was healed and okay now.
Fast forward, and I am happily divorced and clean from drugs and rarely drinking alcohol. I am active in my church and closer to God than I ever have been. I met a wonderful man, and we got married in the church. Months after marrying and moving away, I found out I was pregnant with a child. It all came flooding back. The abortion. The same. I feel regret. What if… I prayed that the baby would be healthy and that I had not done anything to hurt myself from the abortion.
We had a healthy baby, and I struggled with postpartum depression after her birth for about a year. I couldn't help but wonder what would have been. Having this baby with me now, I knew that I had done a horrible thing with the abortion. There was a great regret stirring in me.
We moved again, this time to my hometown. We found a church and were active, doing well. Then I heard from my mom that an abortion clinic had opened a mile from my house and in my son's pediatrician's old office. It was like a trigger that I could have never expected. I couldn't drive by the building. I was having nightmares about the abortion. I felt helpless, like I had to do something to get this place shut down. I even went and held a sign out in front of the clinic one morning and that made me feel like a huge fraud. It pained me to see people walking in the clinic and the young girls getting dropped off by their parents. A few weeks went by and my husband, son, and I were at church. The mass was over and the priest announced that we had a guest speaker that was going to talk to us about her abortion. I froze. I looked at my husband and started to cry. The woman boldly stood up in front of the church and talked about her abortion, the regret, and then the healing. She started sharing about God's forgiveness and that there was a program that helped her find mercy and healing, and it changed her life.
I avoided her after mass, but, at my husband's prompting, I went to talk to her. However, I only talked about the clinic that had opened. She told me about PATH—that she worked for them and that they did Rachel's Vineyard Retreats and Bible studies.
The next day, I was looking at our local Catholic diocese paper and saw an ad in the back for PATH and the Bible study. It was starting in a few weeks at my church. I took that as a God nudge, that He wanted me to hear Jody's testimony, and He also wanted me to finally get some healing. I called the number and Jody answered. We set up a meeting soon after. I had not told anyone the entire story about my abortion ever. It was like a flood gate opening. I soon started the PATH bible study of Forgiven and Set free. It was a wonderful journey week after week, to dig deep and meet with the other participants and leaders. I also signed up and attended a Rachel's Vineyard retreat four months after starting the Bible study. That was a complete game changer. I felt so much mercy, healing, and God's compassion on that retreat. I knew that I would never be the same. God and my child were shining down from above on me and cheering me on!
That was almost two years ago, and I am not the same woman, mother, wife, sister, and friend. I have found my voice, and I have found the most amazing healing. I am no longer afraid to say "abortion," and I have truly found healing through the grace of God and the PATH team. I am free of shame and regret and share my story when God nudges me to do so. I am honored and so proud to be SILENT NO MORE!