It’s just like getting your tonsils out or going to the dentist.
The first abortion became a dream-like blur that I pushed and shoved deep into dark tunnels beneath the ground where I grew up. I grew up on land with abandoned mines underneath them. You know what they say, what you do to the earth, the earth does unto you. I feel like people here are like that sometimes… mined of their riches and abandoned and forgotten. I’ve always felt that a lot of difficult stories reside beneath the earth in those mines. There was a lot of suffering and depression in the area and the miners who lived there before me had to endure rough and dangerous work conditions.
My second pregnancy was an accident too, but I felt ready for a child. I was 28 and my partner was lovely, but the egg didn’t fertilize properly so I was told I needed to have an abortion as the egg would not develop into a foetus. The thing about that pregnancy was that it caused my partner and I to realize we had divided beliefs and feelings about having a child. He didn’t want one while I did. We were a bit relaxed in our protection. But at that point, I thought, “just like getting your tooth removed,” an abortion was no big deal, right?
It was a bitter lesson in terms of getting to know the compatibilities between my partner and I. since I wanted a child and he didn’t, I ultimately decided to leave the relationship and then moved on. The abortion didn’t fill me with regret, shame, pain, or anything like that—at least, not that I was aware at the time as I went along with what they told me: “kind of getting your tooth removed.”
The third one was more recent and much more complex. I was ready to have a child and yet, there was an element to the situation that was terrifying. I was a lot more aware of my inner self and emotions and challenges, as well as strengths. I felt that I had a lot of unfinished work to do and deal with some internalized pain from my relationship with my mother. I was afraid that if I had a child, I would pass along some of my unresolved pain to him or her, and like my mother, abuse him or her emotionally, as I had felt abused as a child. The relationship too was not ideal. We did not plan to have a child, but I was deeply in love with a man who wanted a child, but was not ready to be in a monogamous relationship. He made it clear he would be with me, but he was also in love with about four other women. Je was asking me if I’d mind “co-parenting” so that the child could experience some kind of village upbringing. You know, the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. It sounded very idealistic but terrifying at the same time.
I didn’t want to share my partner with other women and yet I desperately wanted a child to love. I also thought the child would help keep that man with me, but he was clear that he wanted to live freely. I felt that if I was to be a single mother like my mother had been, it would be really difficult. I might be forced to live on survival mode, jus like my mom, simply make ends meet. I might feel abandoned, just like my mom, by her lover. It felt too threatening because I was finally becoming aware of my childhood pains interms of my relationship with my mother and my absent father. No, I don’t want to do that to my child. I don’t trust myself enough.
When I visited the abortion clinic to talk about my options, they told me, “it is just like getting your tonsils out or going to the dentist.”
I disagree. I mean, the surgery in itself is not a dangerous one so, in that sense, it is like going to the dentist or getting your tonsils out. However, in terms of the emotional implications, I do feel that an abortion carries a different complexity as compared to having a crooked tooth removed.
Depending on a woman’s religious background, an abortion can be such a terrible secret, something to be ashamed of and to be hidden and buried beneath the earth. I was raised to believe that abortions would send you to hell. Even if you don’t consciously believe in this, it is indeed a part of the emotional consequence mixed into the decision of having an abortion. Society is divided vehemently about abortion—some are pro-choice others say that you will be condemned to hell, and in between, we are told it is a simple surgery, like getting our teeth removed.
There can be recovery for women, but it might be laden in religious language.
Some sanctuaries offer resources to women to support them in the process of healing. They offer a space for stories to be shared, art to be made, and tears to be shed. Sometimes, you just need to cry for awhile because there isa kind of sadness to having an abortion that is often hidden in society. But what if you don’t have that? What if there were no language to let you know it is okay to hurt after an abortion an that it will take a lot of time to heal emotionally? For me, the healing process took two years! It came in waves, but when it hit, it hit hard enough for work to be impossible.
We have to spread our legs and let them use alien instruments to take a living organism from our wombs—what I consider to be our creative life force. However, you may way to look at it, we are still growing a life inside ourselves and then we decide to take it out. But if we just take it out without feeling the emotions surrounding the process, we may be inadvertently dissecting a very beautiful part of ourselves and hurting it in the ground or avoiding contact with it and finding that it leaks out in all these strange ways.
I am not saying all women will feel pain after abortion. A lot of them feel relief cause of the situations and predicaments that led to them making the choice. They feel empowered by their decisions. But what if you made the choice and still fail to be empowered? What if you were hurt but do not know the reason why?
I’ve read that there is a much higher rate of suicide attempts, mental illnesses, and drug abuse among women who have had abortion(s). For me, the reason for my pain was simple. I did not know I had deep feeling to listen to and honour, and I did not know how or what do about them. No one gave me a place to do it and no one told me that it would even be an issue. It was all so matter of fact, just like getting a tooth taken out. For me, one of the ways I have supported myself through my recovery was to write and express my feelings in a journal.
I have also felt that, by saying no to a baby, I was, in essence, saying yes to a different life, a different kind of baby. I had to look deep inside myself and take control of things that were difficult to call your own. I had to find ways to nurture ad love the parts of myself that were in so much pain, and my fear in having a child. I had to dig deep into my creative, and spiritual, and emotional resources to carry myself through the process. I didn’t want to be medicated or have to drown in drugs or alcohol or sex just to deal with things. I wanted to know what else was living in my womb with that potential life force. There were a lot of feelings I had buried there and didn’t know about. Who knew that having an abortion would be like cracking an opening inside of me and having a searchlight to do my very own spelunking right inside my soul?
An abortion may be considered by some to be some sort of rite of passage, or initiation into a healing crisis leading to the rediscovery of ourselves, our deeper gifts and hidden resources. It may be an opportunity to look at issues that we wish to avoid, such as what inside of us that led us to getting pregnant in the first place and then choosing not to continue with the pregnancy. Maybe we have some unconscious things to take greater responsibility for. Maybe we were victimized in the past and have relinquished our ability to believe in ourselves and recreate our destiny. Perhaps an abortion is away to look at these things in greater detail under a moral microscope.
Personally, the most remarkable thing, now that I’ve worked through the challenges, is that in looking back, I saw it as having been victimized due to my own childhood conditioning. I felt that I was a victim to love and life. Now, I see that I chose to do what I did and I have seen so many more things inside of me. I’ve been giving myself tools to support my self-esteem, self-love, and self-worth. Eventually, I do not feel worse from giving made the choice to have abortions. There were times I wanted to die from the pain that opened up inside of me. But now, I see that I was choosing to give birth to something new in myself, something that has taken a long time to nurture, as if this part inside of me were a newborn, waiting to live life.