Let’s Talk Abortion: Jessica’s Healing Journey

Note: The Exhale Pro-Voice After-Abortion Stories Hub includes people’s stories of their experiences and emotions, exactly as they have written them in. We do not edit these stories at all, and the content that follows this message is exactly as we received it. We know that people’s experiences are complex, and these stories reflect the many emotions they may be feeling after their abortions. From relief to grief, and everything in between, and all at the same time, we’re here for you.

Jessica is a Chicago-native, entrepreneur, and storyteller.

Jessica speaks with purpose, and her experience has taught her that healing takes work. While it ebbs and flows, and doesn’t arrive overnight, it is possible.

Nina Pine: Can you tell me about your abortion experience?
Jessica: I was on the pill at the time, and had been dating someone for awhile when I found out I was pregnant. I always identified as pro-choice, but didn’t know if I would make that decision for myself. But I did choose to have an abortion because it was the logical thing to do at the time. After the procedure, I went to work the next day, and there was an anti-abortion protest outside of my office, and I remember seeing the images of aborted fetuses on their signs. It was an emotionally challenging experience, but I trusted my intuition.

NP: What is something you wish someone had said to you while you were in that emotionally difficult place?
J: I wasn’t sharing this experience with anyone really, and so it’s hard to imagine what someone could have said to me. I did confide in my cousin, and I told her “I just can’t believe I’m in this situation.” She told me, “it’s not what has happened, it’s how you handle it,” and I found that really comforting. I still think back on that. I also met a healer, and she told me that I didn’t have to carry the weight of my abortion with me. She said that that soul wasn’t meant to be born at that time, and I never forgot that.

NP: Why didn’t you tell anyone?
J: I didn’t share because of the stigma associated with abortions. I didn’t think my friends would understand, and I didn’t want to deal with any judgement around my decisions. I really felt a heavy sense of guilt and shame, and so I don’t know if I really could have told anyone.

NP: What would you tell someone who is facing emotional distress around their abortion?
J: Whatever you do, you have to make the best decisions for yourself. You need to make your decisions with integrity, and one that will allow you to love yourself and live without regret.

NP: Can you tell me about how you began finding healing?
J: It was really, really hard. My emotions were very raw, and I was feeling intense depression at the time. I initially turned to coping mechanisms such as alcohol and sleeping medication. I felt that I deserved the pain I was feeling. I was functioning in the world, but I wasn’t participating or contributing. But then I began keeping myself busy with work. I was at an unpaid internship, so I began working on the weekends to save some money, and having a routine helped. I later started at a job which I didn’t like at first, but I really excelled at it. And as I grew into that position and received positive feedback, I started looking forward to the next day and the next day. I also began growing into my spiritual practice, and joined a sangha (a Buddhist community). I really began working on my own, internal healing.

NP: What is something about your story that you want people to know?
J: My abortion experience really showed me the power of self love. As a result, I examined how I interacted with the world and the impact of not feeling spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, or financially safe. And it made me wonder, how do we live a life where we’re safe in all senses of the word? My experience has taught me that: a) Safety is holistic and interconnected, and to feel truly safe you need to think about all aspects of safety: emotional, physical, digital, psychological, communal, mental, and spiritual. b) You have to set boundaries with others and yourself, and have a strong sense of who you are. It’s important for women to feel like they don’t have to back away, and that they can bring their full, complete selves to the table. c) We are all responsible for creating safe spaces for ourselves, and women in particular need to be proactive in creating these spaces for themselves. The outside world influences this of course, but we have more influence than we think.

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after-abortion support.

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