The Secret Pain of Abortion
So she takes me back to that summer afternoon two years ago. It's odd, the things Carolyn remembers-what she wore (she threw the clothes away when she got home), what was on TV, what the clinic staff said.
"Ben and I went to the clinic in the morning. We used his graduation money to pay for the abortion. We had to borrow some from my parents, too. I remember watching The Price is Right in the waiting room. I can't stand that show now.
"When it was finally time for the abortion, the nurse tried to keep me calm. She told me they were just getting rid of a blob of tissue. She told me it wouldn't hurt."
Carolyn stops talking for a minute. She turns her eyes to meet mine. Softly, she says, "The pain was unbelievable."
She takes a slow sip of cider and continues. "When I finally went home, I didn't want to talk to anyone. I just went straight to my room. I felt sick, physically and emotionally. I felt so dirty.
"It's weird, but no one in my family talked about the abortion. It became our big family secret. Ben and I talked about it a lot, since we couldn't really talk about it with anyone else. But a month and a half later, he left for college. Then I really felt alone.
"To be honest, the rest of that summer is sort of a blur. I think it was all just too much for me to deal with. By the time school started in the fall, I'd pushed that dirty feeling so far down, I had almost forgotten the whole experience. I was totally in denial."
The First Steps to Healing
After graduating from high school, Carolyn headed to a college near Ben's. It had been more than a year since her abortion, and she still hadn't told anyone. But at college, Carolyn found a friend she could trust. That friendship started Carolyn on the road to healing.
"Amanda lived down the hall from me. We had classes together and we just connected. She was a strong Christian and I knew I could trust her. She was the only person outside of my family I told about my abortion. Even though I still didn't let myself think about the abortion, it was pretty clear to Amanda that I was really hurting. I would start to cry every time the subject of abortion came up in a class or in conversation. She was the first person who encouraged me to talk about my pain. It felt so good to know there was someone who'd listen to me and not judge me. She made me feel like I was still worth caring about. She's still my best friend.
"By the end of my freshman year, Ben and I had broken up, so I moved back home and transferred to a nearby Christian college. But even there, I didn't dare tell anyone about my abortion. I felt big-time shame.