The Judas Option: How One Man’s Self-Sabotage After Abortion Came Close to Taking His Life

The Judas Option: How One Man’s Self-Sabotage After Abortion Came Close to Taking His Life

David Story:

Self-Sabotage…You probably don’t think of it as abuse.

But it can be the most pernicious form of abuse.  It’s abusive to yourself and to those who love you.  I know this subject well. For most of my adult life I did nearly everything I could to thwart my own happiness. It came very close to taking my life.

I came from an emotionally abusive home where my job was to be the peace keeper. I was set up to fail in this impossible task in a dysfunctional and crazy home environment. 

As I failed as a child and young adult to restore order out of this chaos, my parents, especially my mother, continuously reinforced a message within me – I wasn’t good enough.

I left home for college as a man with incredibly low self-esteem and not a lot of self-confidence. I managed to hide all of that under a façade that I presented to the world.  I was blessed with smarts, a good sense of humor, and not a bad looking guy.  So, I learned to act like a person who had those qualities…though deep down, I believed none of it.

My freshman year of college I began dating a beautiful lady named Karen. Karen was pre-med; she was smart, attractive and seemed to come from a good family. In the last semester of her senior year, we got pregnant.

To have the baby would mean giving up medical school for her and force me to drop out of college. Planned Parenthood assured us that there was no baby yet, it was just a blob of cells. For only $300 they told me, our lives could go on, as planned.

We stayed with my parents during this time and went to the Planned Parenthood center for the abortion. After the procedure she was still foggy from the anesthesia. Karen was crying and through her tears she said “They took my baby. I saw them take my baby.”

Our relationship began to decline from that day forward. Within a year we broke up.  I blamed myself for being such a loser that I couldn’t take care of her or my kid.  Not a day went by that I didn’t think about the abortion.

When good times would come in the back of my mind I would have the thought, “Yeah, times are good, but don’t forget you killed your kid.”  I would not allow myself to experience joy.  If that joy did break through my wall of self-hatred – I did not to trust it and certainly did not to feel I deserved it.

A few years later, I met Kathy.   I’ve never met anyone as honest and decent-hearted as she is.  I felt Kathy was out of my league.  I really felt that I in no way deserved her. Even after we married, I lived in constant fear that she would find out who I really was.

Here’s the thing about self-sabotage. It’s not something you consciously plan out.  I didn’t wake up in the morning thinking, “Here’s how I’m going to screw up my relationship, today.”

Rather it’s a slow progression of selfish acts that build upon each other, fed by the inner demons that reinforce the lie that you’re a worthless human being. My fear that Kathy would discover the real me led to me create a false world for us to live in.

I didn’t tell her that we had money problems because I didn’t want her do without – that would reinforce my sense of being a loser. So, I took out credit cards that she didn’t know about.  The net result was that I bankrupted us twice.  Through all of this, I thought about the abortion every day.

I only told Kathy about the abortion with Karen. I lied about of a lot of other things to keep up the false front.  But as Kathy uncovered the truth, it began a process of slowly, steadily, eroding her trust in me.

On top of that I had this weird, irrational anger that would come up.  I would be verbally abusive, passive aggressive, and well, to put it politely, a real jerk.  I would try to make her think that she was the one with the problem.

Fortunately amidst all this suffering Kathy had converted to Catholicism after 15 years of marriage. I was raised Catholic but had been away from the Church since college.  Her embracing Catholicism inspired me to return to the practice of my faith, and I came back in a big way.

I became active in my parish and served as a Eucharistic minister, lector, I helped teach RCIA, I was on the Respect Life Committee, and served on various parish councils. People were constantly telling me I should become a deacon.

While I appreciated the respect and regard people had for me, in my heart I knew it was a façade. If these people knew that I had abortion in my past they would disown me for sure.  I was living a lie.

All that pain from childhood and abortion loss continued to hurt Kathy and attack our marriage. We finally hit a tipping point where Kathy told me I needed to get help, or she would have to leave.

I went to speak with a priest, Fr Peter. I told him what was going on, and he asked me if I had ever been involved with an abortion. I was shocked he knew to ask that.

I confessed to him my story and Fr Peter told me about Rachael’s Vineyard.  I was so tired of thinking about the abortion every day for the last couple of decades and I was ready to get help.

I expressed to Fr Peter that I was worried I would be the only man on the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. He playfully punched me in the arm and said, “Well, if that’s the case, blessed are you among women.”   Kathy was kind enough to attend the weekend with me.

The retreat was overwhelmingly amazing. I named my child.  I also became the godfather of the unborn child of a dear college friend whom I had driven to an abortion center when she became pregnant from a one-night-stand.

I’ll never forget Saturday evening of the retreat, standing around the bowl of lit candles floating in that holy water, each one representing our children lost to abortion. For just for a brief moment, I heard my child’s laughter.  I started to believe that they forgave me as much as Christ had.

I wish I could say that the story ends here, that we went on to live happily ever after.

The truth is, the retreats exposed the light of truth to the lie I had been living, but my old habits and beliefs were not miraculously cured.  I struggled to fully embrace the forgiveness of Christ and that of my children.  But I believe I drew upon the grace of that healing weekend, of my renewed faith, during a coming time of dark and dangerous temptation.

Things got better for Kathy and me for a while, but gradually the inner demons began their endless reminder that “Okay, Christ forgave you, but that doesn’t change what a loser you are.”

The pattern of self-sabotage returned along with my abusive behavior.  It was too much, and Kathy I separated.

I had a three-month assignment for my work. It was Easter Weekend and I was alone.  No one in my family invited me to spend the holiday with them even though they knew Kathy and I were separated.

I went to the Easter Vigil Mass and wept for joy for those people coming into the faith.  But I also wept with despair at the reality that I was alone.  I had sabotaged my life so bad that no one wanted to be with me.

The darkness of that rejection and pain took hold of my heart and I set out on a path of anguish and temptation.

Rather than focusing on the Resurrection and the forgiveness of Peter’s denial in the Easter story, I became preoccupied with the experience of Judas Iscariot. Judas had sold his soul for some silver.  Not all that different than me selling my unborn kids out, selling my marriage out…all for my own agenda.

And what was his solution? Yes, Judas killed himself.

Finally, an answer I thought. What do I possibly have to live for?  I’m alone with no prospects of a better life in sight.  I have a job.  So, what?  In betraying Kathy, my kids, myself, I ultimately betrayed Christ.  Yes, the ultimate act of self-sabotage must be the answer.

I deserved the same fate as Judas.

I didn’t sleep much that night. I just kept thinking about Judas.  Christ had forgiven him, but that wasn’t enough.  That’s exactly where I was.  The next day I walked along the river-walk that runs through my town.  I crossed onto a bridge that spanned the river and stopped in the middle.

I looked down into the fast-moving current.  I knew the water was very cold and deep.  I figured I would probably succumb to hypothermia within five minutes.  I imagined what drowning would feel like. The suffering wouldn’t last too long.  I just had to work up the courage to take the leap.

Suddenly, in the distance, I heard the church bells of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church where I had attended Mass the night before. I could see the parking lot about a quarter mile away from the bridge.  I watched families all dressed for Easter filing out of the church.

And then the thought hit me.

Is this how I want Kathy to remember me? Is this really the way I want to meet my kids?   Could I really kill myself in a river named after St. Joseph?  I stepped away from the edge of the bridge and quickly walked off it. I found a park bench and wept.

Soon after, I went back to St. Joseph’s church and confessed to a priest, Fr Kevin, about my experience. Fr Kevin helped me more than the countless therapists I had seen over the years.  He helped me see that the negative self-talk I engaged in need not have such power over me or define who I was.

This wise priest awakened me to the reality that the negative thoughts were like a flock of birds flying overhead.  I had no power to stop the birds from flying over, but I did have a choice of whether I allowed them to land on me.

My future meetings with Father Kevin all included the sacrament of confession. While it was Father Kevin talking to me, Christ was the true counselor in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Once a week, I would go to confession and sit down with Our Lord.  His grace led me to realize that I may have negative thoughts, but I always have the power to not engage them.  With God’s grace, I simply choose not to engage them.  The more I don’t engage the less power they have over my life.

In time, Kathy and I reconciled. The two years we were apart we both used to get the help we needed.  We had kept in touch during this time and managed to stay friends.  I know the love we had for each other never went away, but we could not stay together while I was continuously sabotaging myself and our marriage.  I’m happy to say our marriage is better than it has ever been.

The inner struggle? Yeah, it’s still there, and maybe always will be, but I have those negative messages under the power of Christ and his love so they have no power over me any longer.

To Learn More about the impact of abortion on Men:

  • A father shares this moving song of faith, hope and love to honor his son Jacob lost to abortion. Music and lyrics by T.R. Glass
  • The Men and Abortion Network    Our Mission:  To promote emotional healing for men who have lost a child to abortion, and to create awareness among the counseling community, the pro-life movement and society as a whole regarding the impact of abortion on millions of these hurting fathers.

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