I had a difficult childhood with some sexual abuse, some neglect, and was raped at the age of 16 by my 27 year old boss, but the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to me was an abortion right after my 16th birthday. I had lost my virginity when I was 15 to a 20 year old man in the back of his van at a local park, but closer to my 16th birthday, I was in a committed relationship with a boy my own age, and we were sexually active. On one of our monthly anniversaries, we thought it would be fun to try sex without a condom, just to see if it would feel any different. A few weeks later, my period was late and we had a positive pregnancy test in our very frightened hands. We figured our options were to secretly have an abortion and hide the pregnancy, or to tell our parents and have the baby. Since my boyfriend didn't offer much help other than telling me it was my decision to make, I decided to tell my parents and have the baby. After all, we were only 15 and had no means of transportation, no money to pay for an abortion, and no idea how to go about getting one. As soon as I had made my decision, I began to think about the fact that a new little person was growing inside of me. I decided to name the baby Steve if it was a boy and Stevie if it was a girl (I was only 15, and a fan of the show, 'A Different World'). So, my boyfriend went home, and I sat down to write a letter to my parents. I felt ashamed to have to admit to the fact that I had been having sex, so I was full of anxiety while my mother read the letter, but since that's the only way I could have gotten pregnant, I knew my parents would have to finally see a small part of the sexual life I had been hiding from them. I was completely unprepared for my mother's response. She put the letter down and told me she would schedule an abortion for me as soon as possible. She said she could not hide this from my father, but she would assure him that it would be taken care of quickly, and hopefully that knowledge would help to not damage my relationship with him too much. When I tried to protest, she said, "Don't even think about having this baby". I will never forget that. When my father agreed to my mother's decision and then proceeded to act as if everything was normal, I felt betrayed by both of them, and to this day we do not have as close of a bond as we once did. I tried to call my boyfriend for help. I suggested he talk to his mother, since I knew she was a Christian and pro-life. I thought maybe she could come over and talk to my parents. He said he didn't think it was a good idea, and then he stopped answering my calls. I thought about killing myself, but I knew that would kill the baby too, and I felt like I needed to save him or her. I decided that when my mother brought me to the abortion clinic, I would talk to the counselor. I would let them know that I did not want an abortion, and they would help me talk to my parents or find another option. Unfortunately, there was no counselor at the clinic. There was only a nurse who called me to a room where I had to put on a hospital gown and a cap for my hair. Then there was a doctor who had me sign a form that said I understood that the anesthesia I was given could cause me to never wake up. I thought, 'Good. I want to die.' When I woke up, I was a sobbing mess. I was horribly mean to anyone who crossed me. I became especially possessive of my boyfriend, even though I continually broke up with him, and then feeling that no one else could possibly understand my pain, got back together with him, on and off throughout the remainder of high school. I took out all of my rage & frustration on any girl who would dare speak to him when we were together or date him when we were apart. I got quite a reputation as a very mean girl, and I'm certain it seemed irrational to everyone, because I never told anyone about the abortion. Not even my best friends. My parents took me to a psychologist because of my emotional outbursts at home, but I refused to speak to him, and the one time my father tried to bring up the abortion, I told him that if he ever spoke to me about it again, I would leave and never speak to him again. He has not mentioned it since. That was 20 years ago. Instead of a Sweet 16 party that I had been wishing for, I spent my 16th birthday pregnant and desperately trying to think of a way to save my baby. 16 years later, I finally spoke to a pastor at a church I had started attending about it. My high school boyfriend had become a pastor himself, and we reconnected on facebook. I told him that I still had regular bouts of depression and that although I had become a Christian, and understood the concept of God's love and grace, I could not forgive myself for not saving that baby. He told me that he had also struggled with depression through the years, but he had opened up to a pastor at his church about it, and he had found a lot of healing through Christian counseling. I was terrified to talk to my pastor, but I had (and still have) a wonderfully supportive husband who knew all about the grief I was still holding onto, and he helped me set up a meeting with a pastor from our church, and held my hand as I told the story through so many tears. And then the most amazing thing happened. My pastor was deeply sympathetic and understanding. He assured me of God's forgiveness, and told me that his wife worked at a local pregnancy center, and that they had a wonderful post-abortive counseling group. I couldn't believe the coincidence! I called the center and they put me into a group that was just starting. It was free of charge and met once a week for 3 months. It was led by a post-abortive woman who had already gone through the same group, and being with other women who understood my pain, and learning more about forgiveness and redemption, completely turned my life around. I have healed from all other traumas in my life, but I honestly did not believe there was any way I could heal from the heart-wrenching pain of my abortion until I went through that group. That was four years ago, and now I am thankful for the opportunity to share my story with any woman who may need healing. Everyone knows that abortion kills unborn children, but many do not realize the pain that it can cause to their mothers. I encourage any mother who is grieving over an abortion to find good counseling and begin the healing process sooner than later. Don't live with the pain for 16 years in silence like I did.
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