Today’s post is adult reading. If you are a child reading this, please go get your mama before you read any further.
February 16, 1990, a life ended within me. I had no idea that it was also the slow death of my heart.
I walked away from my long weekend and closed the door on that part of my life and believed the abortion no longer affected me.
My boyfriend and I simply continued as if nothing had happened.
Two things changed, though: I became a strong vocal advocate for abortion rights AND my relationship with my boyfriend became vastly different.
I spoke out for the “right to choose” often, with much passion. I was still a serious bowhead, so I looked the same on the outside, but my tone had changed. My heart for sure.
My relationship with my boyfriend grew intense, at an intense pace. You might think that having an abortion deters further premarital sex. You would be wrong. It did just the opposite for my boyfriend and I. What I believed drew us closer, actually bound us to each other in a frightening way. Abortion being the reason. Sex being the rope.
As my relationship with my boyfriend became more and more sexually intense, I felt like I was losing a part of myself deep within me. Despite feeling that way, I did nothing to address it and completely ignored it.
It’s a strange truth that my mind believed abortion was simply a tissue removal, but my spirit knew otherwise.
We were a picture perfect couple, as evidenced by the photo I can still clearly see of us the night we became pinned (a fraternity term) later that year. I was thrilled and believed I was happy, despite a growing uneasiness in my heart.
Then he was activated in the National Guard for the Gulf War. When he left for training, I started to see my problem: I couldn’t function emotionally with him gone.
I remember sitting in the bathtub one night, weeping and weeping, scared to death by my intense need to have him near me.
I remember wondering if I was crazy, waiting and waiting for some kind of confirmation, slightly paused in time as I considered this evaluation and what it meant.
I remember needing to connect to him physically, evidenced by the fact that when I drove all the way to Central Texas from Mississippi to see him, I just clung to him all night and wept.
I couldn’t put any of this in words at the time and I certainly didn’t see the abortion/sex connection. I was clueless as to the root of my problem. Completely.
Christmas Eve, ten months after our abortion, we became engaged. I really believed life was good.
I had withdrawn from friends and family by this time, but that wasn’t a red flag to me. Of course I was wrapped up in him, we were going to get married. That’s to be expected.
What wasn’t expected was how I felt in my heart nearly all the time. This incredibly strange contrast of emotions : needing to be with him, but connecting almost only through sex and feeling empty all at the same time.
I kept pushing the the despair down and believed I would feel different soon.
Towards the end of the semester, I accepted that I was dying on the inside. That I felt caught in a trap and didn’t have the strength to get out.
At times, it felt as if I was watching my fiance and I from the outside. The arguing and disconnect I saw in our relationship reminded me of the season just before my parents announced their divorce. As I watched us, I didn’t feel angry, just empty.
I felt like a walking shell of myself. I’m a terrific actor, so I’m sure no one else noticed.
I wish I could tell you I reached out for help. I didn’t. Not once.
Even though I considered myself a Christian during this period, it never crossed my mind to pray, to read God’s Word, or to go to church.
Until one morning in May fifteen months from February 16, 1990.
I clearly remember sitting in my car, staring through the pine trees at my fiance’s house. I had come to say goodbye before my drive to Texas. We both worked summer camps in the same area, only thirty minutes apart, so we would see each other soon and often, but he didn’t have to leave for five more days. I just sat there.
I was at the end of my rope. The rope that was strangling me.
I finally prayed. It wasn’t beautiful, based on God’s Word, or theologically formed. It was a desperate plea.
“God, I know I shouldn’t be with him anymore. I do not have the strength to leave him, though. You will have to do it.”
I wasn’t happy or even relieved about this revelation. I was simply resigned.
Five days later, I hadn’t heard from my fiance. Seven days, nothing. I remember being shocked and staring slack jawed into the night thinking, “Not really? Not this quickly, God?!”
Things progressed from possible to probable. A month later, I called my boyfriend from the only pay phone the camp counselors could use late one night. The signs were clear that something was up between us. He stammered and paused. He didn’t want to talk about it, which was par for our course.
I remember saying, “It’s ok. You can say whatever you need to.”
As I wept on the phone listening to my fiance break up with me, someone walked into the building. They patted me on the arm, until they realized I was sobbing. The pat became a hug. A hug until I hung up.
When I turned around, it was Paul Brouse.
To say I was a wreck at this point would be an understatement. The fear that I had kept deep within me bubbled up: who would love a woman who had an abortion? Who? I was unlovable and the only man who couldn’t turn me away has just done so. Love was no longer for me.
Paul walked me outside. He said, “God loves you. You are a terrific woman. Just as He has a plan for those stars, He has a plan for you. There is someone just for you who will love you.” After a few minutes he took me to the girl he was dating, my dear friend Jennifer. She spoke kind and encouraging words.
I listened, but I didn’t cling to Paul’s words or hers because they were counseling me without knowing all the facts. Without knowing the truth. I carried the weight of my abortion all by myself now.
I had traded a rope for an anchor. I no longer felt like I was dying. I felt like the death was complete.
Until a night weeks later.
Jennifer and I were talking and she said what a great friend and person I was. The words clanged in my ears and heart. Prompted by the lack of inhibition of much alcohol, I finally said, “You wouldn’t say that if you knew the truth. What if I told you I had an abortion?”
Jennifer is Catholic and I knew what her stance on abortion would be. I braced myself for the words I were sure would come. Harsh words. Condemning words. Angry words.
I waited for the confirmation that I was unlovable.
She turned and looked me in the eye and said the most unexpected words. The words that changed my life, “Are you ok?”
How did I answer her? I started bawling. Pretty much uncontrollably.
Her unexpected answer found a landing place in my spirit. Her concern rocked my world. Her love touched something deep within me.
I had no idea that my empty heart was due to my abortion. No idea that my hopelessness was rooted in sin. No idea that I was not beyond grace.
I was as caught off guard by my reaction as I was to hers.
But something did change that night. I teeny tiny green shoot of life peaked its head out of the dark soil of my heart.
I was and am a stubborn woman, so I didn’t immediately face my sin and how it would free me. I was still bound.
But my God is all about unbinding people.
The Part 4 of My Abortion Story caught me so off guard, it’s stunning. And sounds fictional. I promise it’s not. Come back soon for that.
Know any bound people? Pray for them.
Today’s post is Part 2 and Abortion February 16, 1990 is Part 1.