I grew up with a neglectful, domineering father, consumed with his career by day, an alcoholic drug abuser by night. I also had a mentally ill mother, so from my earliest years, I had been expected to handle very adult realities. Such things as my father’s infidelity, exposure to pornography and illicit drugs, molestation by my brother’s friend, and daily physical and mental abuse by one of my own brothers were all part of my everyday life.
I sought out friendships with neighboring families, trying to escape my daily life. The shame of my family weighed heavily on me, as I compared them to the seemingly “normal” families. That shame lead to a hopeful exchange with the Lord – possibly a classmate’s family could just envelop me, as I attended church with them Sunday after Sunday morning. I recall feeling the presence of God at certain churches, but would return to my own chaos soon enough and it would all fade away.
Over time, my heart hardened as I realized that that life would never be mine and I rejected God. Dealing with the pain of my family life seemed unbearable and no amount of counseling or support in school were changing that, so in my teens I became entangled in a lifestyle of alcohol abuse and self-destructive behavior that eventually led to becoming pregnant.
My boyfriend didn’t want to deal with it at all, and told me to “take care of it.” I was convinced the only solution was to have an abortion, a decision I have regretted every day since. I recall driving home the night I officially found out I was pregnant and I was never so afraid in all my life. I remember having my first REAL conversation with the Lord. I pleaded with Him that I didn’t want to die. I had told myself I would take my life if I found out I was pregnant, however I now found myself lacking the ability to follow through because strangely, for the first time in my life, I had someone to live for.
When I later found out that I was pregnant with twins, I literally felt all of the life drain out of me. I became completely numb and robotic, completing the necessary paperwork and enduring the painful procedure. I left the clinic a shell of a human being, and within a month, I was in a teen psychiatric center for suicidal tendencies and depression. I thought I might be able to TELL someone about what had happened with my abortion, but the very first hour I was there, I was put in a group with a pregnant girl who had been kicked out of her house. She spent the entire hour talking about how horrible those who had aborted babies were and I felt every ounce of courage to speak the truth leave me.
Years of self-destruction, damaging relationships, and utter confusion followed. I began to attend a church I considered my own for the first time in my life, spending the first six weeks crying through every service. One of the first things I asked of God was forgiveness for my abortion, and to the deepest part of my soul, I knew He had. I was able to talk freely about this forgiveness for the first time in my life and felt like a completely new person, because I was.
Years went by and after getting married and later having kids, I felt my life should be complete and yet, it wasn’t. It was if there was an invisible wall between me and God, me and my husband, and especially me and my children. Anxiety had a hold on me in a way that I didn’t understand, and I was completely panicked about being a perfect mother. There was never any feeling of satisfaction that I was doing “enough”. I had been trying so hard to be what I thought I should be, but felt like I could never quite grasp peace and was actively driving others away in the process.
It was then that I heard about Conquerors. Through the weeks in group, I came to realize the pain from my abortion had never left me and I was stuck in a place of grief. I carried self-loathing with me wherever I went. I had neglected and punished myself, continually throwing myself into work and stressful situations in an effort to make up for what I had done.
My time in Conquerors helped me view forgiveness differently. Through studying the Conquerors materials and asking God for his forgiveness, I was able to release the unforgiveness I had against myself.
I had spent twenty years of my life living in grief and unforgiveness, only realizing later how my pain, fear, and guilt could be connected to this life-changing event called abortion. Embracing this forgiveness prevented it from continuing to destroy myself and the relationships I was in. I am now able to walk more free than ever before – free to love my husband, free to cherish the children I have, and free to fully live my life as the Lord intended.