Sometimes when I have no answers, but plenty of questions, writing is a tool for me to flush some out that I didn't know where there. Sometimes, the writing becomes just words that I throw up on a page, but that too can be cleansing just to get them out of my head and then I can look at them and rearrange and try to make them make sense. The current struggle (redundant I know, oxymoron?) is my past and its intrusiveness on my life now. Perhaps just another symptom of the abortion, of the shame and secretiveness, the shoving down into the very depths of one's being all the lies and thoughts and self-hatred that goes along with having had an abortion. With all that I've learned over the past couple of years, I'm finding that no matter the way a woman comes to have an abortion, whether coerced, forced, chosen, the result is some kind of self-hatred which shows itself in a myriad of most disgusting, hurtful and utterly painful ways for the rest of the woman's life.
For me, it seems to be, ghosts of all of the time before my abortion and afterward. You would think an abortion would be enough to scare a girl into never having sex again. Nope. I don't think that happens unless she has a support system in place that guides her afterwards and this I did not have. Because my Mom and I decided that ignoring the situation all together and pretending like it never happened (like a good Irish family deals with most things emotional or scandalous), I basically went right back to how I got pregnant in the first place, and probably in a worse way. Where before the abortion sex was this new, novel thing, and I was proud of it and what I could get for it and how I could wield it like a weapon, sex after the abortion became a punishment, an ugly, dreadful thing, but I didn't know what else to do. I didn't know how to get a boy to like me any other way. I didn't even think I was likable, let alone datable. Some of my, "this one time, at band camp..." stories could have been the basis for a year's worth of after school specials on how not to treat a girl. But, this was also the 80's and sex was no big deal, everyone was doing it. The problem was no one was doing it right.
I've been with my husband for almost 18 years now and you would think that would be enough time for those bad memories to fade off into the distance somewhere just so I could have them there to call on to give informative warnings to my own girls and maybe other young women and young men on what sex at that age can and will do to you. My memories lay dormant for so long but now with the opening up of myself to the healing and mercy of God for my abortion, I'm afraid I've opened myself up to all kinds of other things I need healing for. I used to look at my past like no big deal, would brag about it to my girlfriends, wear it as a badge of honor in some circles, when truthfully it makes me sick to my stomach.
If there is one thing I would tell every young woman out there who is thinking about having sex - don't. Wait. Wait forever if you have to. You are worth so much more than just sex. I think that every time a person has sex before marriage, a part of you must break off and you never get it back. How I wish I could have been whole when I met my husband. Not that he has ever judged me for my past and wouldn't ever, but how I wish he didn't even have to ever think about it even for a nanosecond. So maybe it's part of the guilt. Now that I've found a way to live with my abortion and find some peace with Grace, there are still parts of me that tear at me trying to tear open any scabbed over scar that I'm trying so desperately to heal.
These memories of my past have become intrusive and resilient and badger my heart and mind. I can't close my eyes sometimes for fear of what I may see. I lay awake in bed one night for a solid hour or more afraid to open in my eyes because I was convinced something was right in front of my face. I know, send the padded wagon now.
My sleep is interrupted by nightmares, vivid, in color, blood and carnage nightmares. The sound of metal clanging makes me shudder. I recently had to have a minor procedure in a doctor's office, the sound of the tray, the light overhead... The nurse was a black gentlemen, nice and compassionate as can be, but the doctor who performed my abortion was also a black gentlemen. I was almost gasping for air during most of my recent appointments. In a nightmare a few nights ago I was somehow found out and thrown in a dungeon like place with some Freddy-krugerish looking character, sans the red and green striped sweater, he was in a cassock or robe of some sort and was taunting me and off in the distance I could hear metal being sharpened and prepared, then the lights went out and I woke up shuddering and sweating. The list seems endless currently as to what takes me back there. A song on the radio. A certain smell.
When before it would be a fleeting memory that I could will away or my husband could make disappear - now they are stubborn and remain and persist and they all tell me the same thing. I am nothing. I am a slut and a whore. I am worth nothing. I killed my baby.
For as horrible as all of this sounds, hope remains. I force myself to reach out for help. I write and write and write and pray whatever meager words I can eek out. I am something. I am worth something. I am married and this is not the sex from then. Nothing is definitively lost.