I was 24 years old when I found out I was pregnant. I hadn't been feeling well, and somehow, I knew it was most likely a pregnancy. My brother had attempted suicide the month before, and my mother and I were visiting him at the mental institute. He had been in a coma for about a week and was finally able to do things like walk outside. It was summer, and as we were visiting with him, and I was drinking my second V8 of the day—a drink I had recently started craving—a gust of wind blew towards us, carrying the scent of pine from trees that were ways away. It clicked in my head. I'm pregnant.
I remember hoping I was wrong. How could I be pregnant when we were just finding out we would have to care for my brother with schizophrenia? Furthermore, we had a bit of a tough upbringing with an absent father, and I had just been promoted to my own office in a big company. All I would hope for was that somehow my father would hear of this through the grapevine and see what he missed out on. The next morning before work, I took a pregnancy test. Upon seeing the result, I felt complete fear.
My boyfriend at the time immediately told me I would be getting an abortion. Feeling semi-abandoned, I contemplated the challenges of being alone and having been abandoned many times before in my life the idea frightened me. He accused me of planning this to trap him, further intensifying my fears. I turned to Planned Parenthood, expecting support, but their actions contradicted everything, even their very name. The abortion process started without the promised counselor appointment, leading me down a path that I would regret for the rest of my life.
I was given a prescription of two pills for a self-insertion and then had to go to the hospital for the vacuum procedure. Feeling pressured that everything would fall apart if I didn't proceed, inserting the pills triggered immediate regret. As soon as I did it, it was too late. It felt as if I had jumped off a bridge, regretted my decision, but still had to watch the ground come closer and closer as I fell to my death. At the hospital, after being given a pill for relaxation, I was stopped to sign a form about my blood type and the fetus's potential impact on future pregnancies. It was the first acknowledgment that this was more than a clump of cells. It was a fetus, with a blood type non the less. On the operation table, semi-conscious, fear and regret overwhelmed me. Flashbacks and nightmares persist to this day.
The abortion left me feeling empty and detached, impacting my relationships, leading to self-destructive behaviors, and declining mental health. Years later, in a gynecologist's office, I heard an ultrasound through the wall. I had heard that quick beating before at my own ultrasound, but was never told it was a baby, my baby. The realization intensified my struggles with guilt, shame, and a sense of unworthiness.
My health issues increased and my ability to maneuver day to day tasks decreased. But I found solace through a prayer candle lit daily by my mother, prompting me to turn to God for healing. I still felt so guilty that I would never ask God for anything, I would only pray to thank Him. I told God I wouldn't be able to keep fighting on my own and that at this point, I would just let Him do God. Little by little I started to be able to take charge of my body again. I then had an urge to attend mass and go to church. Being plagued with debilitating anxiety, I prayed to God and for the first time in years, I asked for something. I asked God to please give me the strength and courage to go to church. To perhaps send Jesus to be by my side. And I truly believe that He did.
Attending church for the first time, I discovered a welcoming community, it felt like coming home. As I looked up to our Lord Jesus Christ, tears kept pooling in my eyes. There was such a turmoil of emotions running through me. How can I actually think I should be here? After the horrible thing I did.
That very same week, the mention of Rachel's Vineyard in the Diocesan bulletin became a sign for my journey to healing.
I was so shocked. For the first time my pain was being recognized and acknowledged. Did this mean I was allowed to mourn? So, for the second time I decided that I would ask God for something. If Rachel's Vineyard was meant for me, would He please send me some sort of sign. The next Sunday at mass the readings were about God's Vineyard. I will never ever forget that moment. It was so powerful, it felt like God was saying, please go heal, I love you and I forgive you, now go and forgive yourself. I still have a plan for you.
The retreat allowed me to mourn my child and marked a turning point in my life. My relationship with God has never been so strong and everyday it flourishes. I was able to name my son and my heart always skips a beat when I get to see or hear it.
In reflection, I've learned the importance of God, faith, and forgiveness in my healing process. I wish I had known and allowed myself to feel God's love, realizing he was the father I was seeking all along. I didn't need to seek the love of a man when I had God's love all along. I will never get over my abortion. My abortion only made life harder. Now that I am shame free, I hope this can help other women make better informed decision and that's why I am silent no more!