I had grown up in a good, upstanding family. My dad was known in our community. I was his only daughter and a good girl. I enjoyed life, school, my friends, and socializing. My mom made sure we got to church and I really loved the things of God and knew that God and the church were good.
I would have preferred to be a boy most of my childhood. It seemed like they had fewer rules and more fun. I didn’t learn about nor see anything uniquely special about being a girl except for how I related to boys. I had older brothers that I enjoyed playing with, but in order to be included in their play, I pretty much had to play by their rules. That usually meant they had unfair advantage, like two of them against me. Sure, there were times when I got mad and tried to change the situation, but that usually ended in wasted energy and frustration, so I learned to accept this relationship dynamic as “normal” and went along willingly just to be included. As an adult, I can look back and see that while their intent was not malicious, it did have an impact on my future relationships. It reinforced my people-pleasing tendencies, and in particular, in relationship with men. Increasingly, my sense of self was defined by who I was with and what I thought they wanted me to be.
When a tall, good-looking, athletic young man showed interest in me in college, I allowed myself to be swept into a world I’d not known before. I found myself doing things I’d never considered before – drinking, drugs, sex, and partying. I didn’t know that a woman should be protected and cherished and that true love waited, so I willingly gave him everything I had to give, making him the god of my life. I felt loved. I was having fun and every day seemed exciting and frankly, it seemed normal. Everyone was doing it.
When I found myself pregnant and no offer for marriage came, although in my heart I felt a twinge of rejection, I wasn’t devastated. Besides, if he didn’t want me to have it, well then neither did I. I willingly adopted his rationalization that we should “just think of it as a problem we are solving.” Simple. I still dreamed that we’d be happily married at some point in the future anyway and we’d do it “right”, so this was okay.
He researched where to go, made the appointment, drove me to the city and delivered me at the doorsteps of an abortion clinic where he waiting for me in the car. I checked in and then checked out mentally, pretending that it was just another pelvic exam. We split the bill 50/50, never talked of it again. What I feared most happened when our relationship ended a few months later. Hurt gave way to anger. It wasn’t fair. I’d given everything I had, including the life of our child, in order to keep him and lost.
I was a different person after the abortion. The pain of my rejection and anger churned inside while on the outside I tried to look happy and carefree. It was like a mask I put on and wore. Heart broken, feeling used and dirty, like no one would want me nor love me, I felt alone even when I was with other people.
Not surprisingly, many years later my husband and I started having issues and I ended up seeking counseling. Up until that time I had effectively put the abortion out of mind. It wasn’t until I signed up for a Walk for Life our church was participating in, that I felt a tug of sorrow.
When I arrived, the first thing I saw after signing in was a set of small dolls showing various stages of fetal development. I stared at the smallest, with a tag that read 12 weeks. That would have been what my baby looked like. I was shocked, but couldn’t let on to the turmoil inside. No one else there could possibly have had an abortion, just me. The reality of what I had done hit me hard. I didn’t just remove some tissue from my body like I’d been told; I had actually taken the life of a person, my child. Would my double life ever end?
That’s when my counselor asked me if I was ready to deal with the abortion. Yes, it was time. She asked me if I wanted to do this just one on one or with a group. I didn’t hesitate because I knew I needed to be with other women that shared my experience. She referred me to Conquerors. Now it was 27 years later.
When I started at Conquerors, I knew in my head that my abortion was forgiven, but in my heart I couldn’t believe it. I had no real, lasting peace and I couldn’t reconcile how I could be worthy of true love because I still felt so unworthy and unclean. What else could I do to feel clean and free and loved? I was sorry as I could be, but it didn’t seem to be enough.
In Conquerors, I found a safe place to come and be released from the crushing guilt. Being completely honest and admitting what I’d done and why I’d done it had been overwhelming before, and so I’d hidden that part of me. Now it meant my freedom and brought me closer to God. I finally felt free to be who God called me to be.