Terror Leads us to the Doorway of the Heart

black and white lake with a small boat

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.

Submitted by: Erica

A declaration made long ago: I will never have an abortion.

On February 11, 2020 disbelief, terror, and joy greeted me on my bathroom floor. As I glanced down at a positive pregnancy test, my swollen breasts and random morning nausea suddenly clicked. Thoughts raced through my mind – what does it mean to be pregnant? How do I move through a space that is completely unfamiliar and unexpected? What does it mean to be thrown into a reality that has no map and is filled with such uncertainty?

Much of my youth was spent on the East Coast of the USA. Surrounded mainly by liberals, I didn’t think much about my reproductive freedoms. It was an unspoken agreement in my family that pregnancy before marriage was unacceptable, though abortion was never spoken to openly. Besides, as an adoptee I decided early on that I would never have an abortion – it would simply be hypocritical.

Now, at the age of 25, finding myself on my bathroom floor in disbelief, I was being invited into new territory, a space I had only ever hypothetically entertained. Pressure was added knowing that my partner came from a religious family where this would bring great shame to them. This heightened my sense of loneliness and desperation – I had to figure this one out on my own.

At this point in time, I hadn’t known any women who had had an abortion. No one in my friend group, no one in my family – at least that I knew of. Longing to share my experience with someone became a mission as holding onto this secret was too burdensome. I started taking inventory of my ‘open-minded’ friends. It never occurred to me that although they were fairly liberal, they might have strong beliefs about abortion. How would I navigate these conversations?

I was not in a financial position to raise a child or to have an abortion. I was unfamiliar with local clinics and how the systems worked. I realized I’d have to tell my parents if I wanted financial support, and even that wasn’t guaranteed. The ‘how tos’ and the logistics were overwhelming and I lost sense of my internal guidance system. I needed someone to help me through this, to talk about options, and to help me make a choice that was best for me.

The first person to share this news with was a mentor of mine. She greeted me with laughter and tender kindness. She ignited hope within me that whatever I chose, I would most certainly be able to handle. The second person I spoke to was my therapist. She held me with loving eyes and hugged me as I expressed my fears and disbelief. She guided me to a midwifery clinic that was on the other end of the building. I believe I was met with angels that day. The women in this clinic jumped to action and set me up with one of their directors to talk through options. At this point, I was exploring what having a child would look like. Evidently, their strength gave me the courage to explore an option I resisted – abortion.

The truth of my resistance of having an abortion greeted me one early morning: my beliefs around God and death. This came as a great surprise, as my family did not speak of such topics. Yet here I was, holding myself hostage over these beliefs I picked up from somewhere. Over the next two days, I was dropped into an opening that only I had access to, one of intimacy and of grace. I was invited to contemplate these beliefs, to lean into them and really question their validity. After patience and persistence, I was met with an even greater truth: the best choice for me to make at this time is to get an abortion.

Having been met with tremendous fear from my family over being pregnant and the potential implications on their lives, as well as the silence and uncertainty from my partner, I started making calls and made an appointment. My parents were in a financial space to fund the surgery, and I was grateful to have had a choice of doctors. At the time, I didn’t recognize this privilege and now, I see how many choices I had in this situation.

The journey of healing has been one that has required a deep presence, expansive patience, and unconditional love. I wish I had known how common abortion was, especially in my inner circle. Every woman that I reached out to months later to share my story with subsequently shared theirs. A common theme among us: silence. There is nothing more powerful than women coming together to share their stories, to witness another while setting their truth free. These spaces became fertile ground for creation, where compassion, intimacy, and grace danced freely, a space that became my refuge.

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One response to “Terror Leads us to the Doorway of the Heart”

  1. TL

    This is so well expressed. Thank you for sharing.

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