There is a rule I live by. When a thought keeps on coming back to you, over and over again with a certain persistence, then it’s important to act on it. Sometimes we don’t know why until we have don’t it. That’s how I feel about this blogpost. I haven’t written anything so personal for a while – maybe never, and I’m not even really sure if I want to – but I’m pretty sure that I have to. I just don’t know why yet. It just keeps coming back. It even comes at night when I’m, believe it or not, trying to get some rest. So if not for any other reason, I’ll write this now, for the sake of preserving my good night sleep.
I have one problem. I keep going back on forth between how exposed I wanna be on the internet. It’s very popular to show everything in public online these days, I’m just not sure how psychologically healthy it is. At least not for me. I guess everyone has their own personal limits and I’m definitely crossing mine with this post. On the other hand, let’s face it – nobody has ever written anything really interesting without exposing themselves. We just don’t want facts or general statistics – we wanna hear each other’s stories.
Stories are the best medicine I know and we desperately need it. Why do we need medicine if we are not sick, you may ask? Well, I think being sick is relative. And I think that cultures, that treat the human body as if it was a machine, with no respect for the deeper layers of existence, are not particular healthy to live in. That’s just my humble opinion.
So whether or not you think you are sick, I am offering a little dose of medicine in the form of a story. This story is for all men and women, but especially for women, who has suffered in the aftermath of an abortion.
November 4, 2018 I ate the pills that was going to remove the embryo I had in my womb. That’s what they call a child in the earliest stages of development. All of us was once just that, en embryo, and the same goes for all the ones we love so deeply. And when it comes to our children, when do our love for them begin?
For some it begins with the birth, with the first sight of them – but for me, and I think for a lot of women, the love actually begins with the pregnancy. Now there is a dilemma: How can you end the life of something or someone you love?
I’m gonna let you sit with this question for a little bit, cause you probably haven’t thought about abortion this way before.
Neither had I, before I had one. In fact, I knew basically nothing about the emotional impact an abortion can have on a woman’s life and those around her. No one had ever really spoken to me about this, even though I have several female friends who had gone through it. And of cause all women experience it differently, yet nothing had prepared me for the shock I was about to get after eating that pill.
The women’s clinic I visited to get it, didn’t prepare me at all. They only told me about the physiological process. Now I wanna stress out that I didn’t talk to my own doctor. Had I done that, the process might have been different – or maybe not. Nevertheless I think it’s safe to say that certain aspects of abortion is still heavily tabooed. One of the characteristics of taboos, is that you meet them in your life completely unprepared, because no one have talked to you about them beforehand. I learned that afterwards, as I was desperately looking for answers to my extreme sadness, late at night on Google or YouTube. That’s how lonely I felt in the beginning before I began open up about my feelings. There on the internet, it became clear to me that abortion was still in 2018, mainly a subject of ethics or political, medical and religious matter – even in a country so liberated from religion as Denmark. It was difficult to find material that was reflecting my feelings, all though I did find something helpful that I will link to, at the end of this post.
I was just 6 weeks pregnant when I ate that pill, thinking that this was the right thing to do (which I’m sure all women, who go through abortions, thinks – and in many cases, mine included, it probably is). That’s why it’s good that we have a choice, but this leads me to the second dilemma.
If this was my own chose, then why do I feel such deep grief? Why do I cry for hours and hours every night, missing and longing deeply for what I have just chosen to remove myself? Why do I feel such remorse and shame for my actions? Why do I feel guilt so deep, that I’m not even sure if I’m worthy of life myself? After all, I just took someone else’s life – didn’t I? I took the life of an embryo, that you and I and all those we love, also once were. And surely it felt like I had taken the life of my own child. But I could not articulate that. In my mind it sounded so extreme. Even criminal. Like a universal crime. And I’m not against abortions – or am I? And why haven’t anyone told me that I was taking the life of my own child? Why have no one ever spoken those words to me. I though I was just having an abortion!
I guess these contradicting feelings and questions that I was asking myself, creates a third dilemma. And I don’t have the answers to whether abortions are good or bad – right or wrong. They have always been going on, and I’m sure they will continue to do so. Taken this into account, I think it’s a good thing that women get help to do it in a safe and (at least physical) pain-free way, but it’s certainly not a black and white question, and I do think we, in Denmark at least, do not treat this subject with enough respect and care.
In the beginning I didn’t share my feelings with anyone. I developed an emotional numbness that got worse day by day. I remember during the two weeks that I was bleeding, I would stare into the toilet, with this extremely weird sensation that I wasn’t looking for something – I was looking for someone. I wouldn’t have seen anything. At week 6 the embryo is too small to be seen with the eye. But the presence of his soul in my body was never to small to be felt, and I also felt very clearly when it left me.
As my general sanity was going down, pressure from my upcoming exams was going up and it soon made me break. I went to the doctor and told her just enough to get a sick leave from the University for a couple of months. I could probably have been given the diagnosis PASS (Post abortion stress syndrome) which I also had never heard about, until Google enlightened me. My doctor did mention anti-depressives as an option If I didn’t get better soon, which in my at that point highly sensitive and reactivate mind, was perceived as a threat (all though I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way). But the idea of taking another pill, to dull my emotions didn’t seem like an option to me. Instead I did something else.
As soon as I took my mind of the exams and the attempt to keep my outer life going, It gave me space to completely surrender to the grief. I went all the way down, to places in my psyche that I have never been before. I overcame my shame and started talking about my experience with other people. Suddenly I found myself sharing my story with people I barely knew. I spoke to a therapist, I read books and articles and saw a ton of videos on YouTube about abortions. I wrote a facebook post about it, that generated an overwhelming positive response and many private messages from women who shared similar stories with me and who could relate to my feelings. These women are in my thoughts, as I’m writing this post. All whom I spoke to, cried with, hugged or wrote with about this, has helped me. Thank you! You know who you are.
I painted a picture of my experience of the abortion. The little blue flower Forget me not, became a symbol of the unborn soul, because it has been one of my favorite flowers since I was a child. It’s blooming now, and this is why I am feeling called to write. I know that every year form now on, when this flower bloom, I will be reminded of him. I think of the soul as a him and I named him Adam.
I began listening to a guided meditation that was extremely powerful to me (I’ll link to it at the end). It’s wasn’t great, but it was the best one I could find, and it allowed me to connect with the soul of the child. I did it a few times in the beginning, but it was so extremely painful for me. I cried a river every time, while expressing my love and begging him to forgive me. And the message I got, time after time, was so clear: There was nothing to be forgiven. – this soul had full understanding and compassion for my choice. Yet I kept asking for forgiveness, until a point where I got a message to stop. It was time for me to move on, and to let this soul move on too. It was time for me, to forgive myself. After that, I didn’t try to contact him anymore. I slowly began to feel acceptance.
I felt better day by day, but it took me 9 months, about the length of the pregnancy, to fully move on. The last time I really cried over it, was around the time he was supposed to be born.
Now I think of him with so much love and thankfulness for the lessons I learned, and a small quit sadness in my heart, for never getting to know him. He changed my life radically. There was a me before and a me after this experience. It has matured me and made me feel myself deeper, in so many ways. It also made me promise, that I would put my energy to good use and not let fear rule in my life. It’s a daily practice. I promised to use the energy, that I would have used on him, to create other beautiful things for myself and for others. It’s also a daily practice. But it‘s something that I’m committed too.
Now after writing all this I finally know the why. I thought it was to help other women, and it is, but it’s also to honor his soul one more time. His and all the other unborn children that are with us. And to drink my own medicine of expression again. Because expression is what made me heal.
This blogpost is written from a deep and personal place – I’m not sure for how long I will leave it out here. I pray that those who need to read it will find it. Today I am feeling better and more like myself than I have ever felt. Sometimes we need these kind of traumatic experiences to wake us up in news ways. Time is the great healer.
Book: The healing choice
Meditation for grief and loss after miscarriage