Rachels’s Vineyard Testimonies

Post Abortion Stress Syndrome: Two women’s stories

Tracey’s Story

I couldn’t understand my inability to maintain true intimate relationships, or even work towards having them. I would hook up with guys that I knew (somewhere, only deeply hidden away) who would not commit yet (somewhere, deeply hidden away) desiring a committed relationship . I’d act like it didn’t really matter or it was their fault that these relationships did not work out. I would just move on and subconsciously sabotage some more relationships. I had absolutely no idea that my inability to maintain true intimate relationships was in direct correlation to missing my children.

During my early twenties I had a miscarriage without even realizing that I was pregnant. I was not yet a Christian back then, but something in me believed that God’s hand was at work and that was “His way”, for ending the pregnancy. I thought I was comfortable with that reasoning.

About a year or so later, I became pregnant again. Believing that there was no way that I could be a single parent – handle the responsibility, or selflessly give up my self or my freedom,
I consulted my OBGYN. He suggested options with abortion being the most discussed one. A close family member who had had an abortion shortly before and a few close friends were supportive of any decision I had to make. I chose the abortion. Every thought concerning the abortion became very medical , and every feeling pushed away in order to rationalize logically that “after all it was only a medical procedure” and life never seemed an option. After the abortion , I stuffed all feelings and thoughts even deeper somewhere and moved on as I thought. My lifestyle was totally unhealthy (sex, drugs and rock and roll). On some subconscious level I believed that since I sabotaged my children’s relationships with myself, that all other relationships would suffer also. I had no idea as how much of a mess my life had become.

Over a decade later, I became a Christian. Five years later at a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat I realized I had nearly two decades of intense emotional pain which literally weighed me down. In 2 days God did many miracles in my life. When I first became a Christian I had begun to re-evaluate my life. Memories of the abortion came up. Through healing prayer I knew that God had forgiven me and that Christ had died for that decision I had made in my life, but deep deep down, I could not forgive myself. I hated myself.

There was so much regret. Well God and His Son met me at the retreat and through His Living Word I was truly released of all self condemnation for what I had done. Jesus showed me that my children forgave me and deeply loved me too! God even allowed me to name the child I had miscarried as well as the aborted child. Talk about a family reunion! There are reasons Jesus is called our Redeemer and these were a couple of mine. I was in a completely different place as a person then. In fact the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have done in my heart, at the core of my being, more than words can express. I am so truly grateful for His Living Word. My heart sings for my children Rebecca and Joshua!

– Tracey

Post Abortion Stress Syndrome: Two women’s stories

Christine’s Story

Being born into a large family has its challenges! I am the seventh child of eight, raised by a loving mother who learned to make things work, and an alcoholic father who brought tension and anger into our home under alcohol’s ravaging influence. Verbal and sometimes physical abuse were the consequences of my dad’s drinking. My deepest desire was to somehow find a father’s love and protection, but that was something a drunken father could not provide.

Wanting this so desperately as a teenager and unaware of what genuine male love looked like, I ran into a world of revolving male companionship hoping to fill the void. This was a poor choice and a mistake that I would later come to regret for the rest of my life.

Not being raised in a Christian home, my ability to see my actions as wrong were obsolete. I felt no guilt or remorse at that time. At the young age of 14 years I was date raped (didn’t know what that was in the 70’s) and I became pregnant and had an abortion which brought relief at that time but also a stage of denial that lasted for ten years. Hindering me in ways I would have never guessed.

During this time I met my husband Bill. We dated for a year before we moved in together. We had the same life goals and desires, so for 4 years we lived out our dreams. We wanted to travel and so we did; South America, Florida, The Grand Cayman Islands. It was fun. We had time, money, each other. We had it all, or so we thought. We were married in 1980 and a balancing act began. (One that required me to compartmentalize different areas of my life. Being a wife, a lover, a friend and deepest of deep a frightened and still hurt 14 year old, post abortive mother.)

My fear of judgment and guilt kept me from believing there was any way I could ever truly accept that I could be forgiven. My strong will and proud self sufficient attitude blinded me from my own pain and suffering. I continued living behind the defences of my own abilities until I knew there had to be something or someone who could make sense of what I was feeling way down inside. There was, and I found Him! A Deliverer and I called Him “God.” This took place in July of 1980 just 4 months after I was married.

In 1982, at what I knew to be a better time in my life, I was about to become a “Mom”. I knew I could accept the responsibilities of motherhood, but felt such a loss for the baby I first carried 8 years ago. I begged God not to hold my abortion over my head and make me pay. I had seen a picture of a 12 week old fetus and began to grieve for the 14 week old baby I had aborted. God was gracious and through my doubts and insecurities, hardships and tears, I am now a mother of 4, all of whom know, accept, mourn, and love their brother in heart and memory; Daniel.

This growth came about with group, and individual counseling I received at the crisis pregnancy centre, starting in 1987. In the winter of 2005 I was invited to attend my first Rachel’s Vineyard retreat weekend. I was apprehensive at first because I had already worked through so much of my pain. I kept an open mind and travelled to Kelowna B.C. Though each woman and man in attendance worked through different aspects of their abortions, there was such unity and security knowing our hurt was the same. Loss no one is exempt. The focus of this retreat is loss through abortion. We grieved the babies we never had and for me personally, I grieved my inner child; the “little Christine.” The little girl who tried desperately to acquire the love of her daddy. The child who would do anything so her daddy would approve of her. Any thing. The wounds that I hung on to as an adult were a way for me to hang on to a childhood I still desired. A childhood that included Daniel.

As I moved from being a child into an adult that weekend I experienced two consistent truths: 1) Jesus loved “little Christine” and 2) Jesus still loves the grown up Christine. No obligations, no expectations, and no reasons to believe this will ever change. See, Jesus loves and remembers Christine like I, Christine, have come to love and remember my son Daniel. Forever; for always.
Following is the letter I wrote to my inner child at the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat.

Dear Christine:
Christine, you are your mom’s namesake, her fifth daughter, seventh child of eight. You came into this world in Saskatoon when things were still pretty good with Mom and Dad, so I have been told by my older brothers and sisters. Then we moved to Winnipeg when you were two. We went through some very hard times financially. I remember that we lived on MacAdam. We had very little money for food, so in the summer, for a treat, my mom would give me a bowl of sugar and a stick of rhubarb and I would sit in the sun on the back step and enjoy that so much. My mom was loving and nurturing to me.  I knew mommy loved me by the way she spoke to me and by her actions. Daddy on the other hand was hardly ever around. I have no memories of daddy being loving to me or being kind to me. I remember trying to love my daddy by baking cakes for him and cleaning the kitchen really really well so I could get some praise from him, but all I got was the silent treatment or verbal abuse. “You’re such a damn brat! Can’t you do anything right? I like June’s cakes better than yours.” He would get drunk and it would be worse, he would swear at me and sometimes hit me. One time I remember when I was about 12 or 13 years old I came in late and he was home drunk. He beat me with the belt so bad I couldn’t go to school the next day because I couldn’t sit down. I also remember the house rules ‘Hear nothing.  See Nothing. Feel Nothing.’ So I complied and took my beating without complaining. Oh Christine, you were so shut down but you covered your pain by putting on a big smile. Everybody called you Smilie. I remember trying to make the people around me happy by doing things for them or by smiling and being happy. I was tired of living with the abuse so I started going out and looking for love in all the wrong places.
Then I found out more about mom when I came home from W.K. Park with D.M. (Trinidadian guy) from school, favouring a hurt ankle. He gave me a piggy back ride home and when my mom saw us she went crazy. She yelled at me and told me there was no way I could be seen with a black guy. She blamed my dad but I really think it was her racism and being concerned with keeping up “the image.” My mom was always concerned about how things looked to others. What all this did to me was shut me down inside. I learned to cope, but I was desperate for love. So as a teenager I went looking for love in all the wrong places. I was neglected spiritually and verbally abused. I was emotionally dying inside but covering it all up with smiles and acts of kindness. I wanted to be liked, to be loved, to be noticed. No one could see my pain. The only One who knew was Jesus, the real “Lover of my soul”, but I didn’t get to know Jesus until I was 21 and started my long journey of recovery until today, January 23rd, 2005.  I’m 46. Through healing prayer and wonderful mentors, God’s word and His truth, I have been set free. That little girl is healing and I’m grieving all that I lost, but I know I’m going to be okay and that God is healing all my wounds from the past for a purpose. I feel it. He wants me to follow Him where he leads and I want to go with Him.
I Thank my Lord. I have found the love that I needed in Him.
Love Christine    

The Secret

I was thirteen and in grade nine when my life changed forever. I was the oldest girt of 5 children. Years of alcoholism, chaos, abuse and neglect left me deeply damaged. I was a prime candidate for sexual abuse. As I approached my teen years I had dreams of pursuing an art career. I was attractive, outgoing and intelligent with the possibilities of a promising future. But I was also deeply damaged. A young teenager that has not had the emotional need for love fulfilled by her parents is at high risk of coercion by sexual predators. My life changed when I became pregnant through coercion by an older boy. The devastating and degrading experience left me pregnant. I felt guilty, dirty and shameful. I felt used, abandoned and betrayed. I was in shock that such a thing could happen to me, and yet I imagined the baby inside my womb. It was 1971. Abortion was illegal. The authorization of three doctors was required to perform an abortion. The coercion persisted. I was told I was too young to carry a child, it was a blob of tissue; I was having a D&C; there was no baby, form or spirit. The secret was being ingrained. I sunk deep into a pit of depression and confusion. I had no control over my life. Time became urgent. I became pregnant in February, the abortion took place in May. The secret was buried. I returned to school to complete grade nine, but the will to live was gone.

My own life had been aborted along with my baby. For the next 34 years I suffered in silence and experienced Post Abortion Trauma symptoms. This included depression, anxiety and volatile anger, substance abuse, emotional numbing, divorce, lowered self-esteem, distrust of males and sexual dysfunction. Sorrow, grief and guilt pursued my days. I was unable to bond emotionally with my children and I was waiting for my life to be over. The freedom to truly love others and enjoy my life had been taken from me. The abortion affected every area of my life and it changed forever.

There is hope and healing for Post Abortion Trauma. Millions of women and men are suffering because they were told that after the abortion their life would go back to normal. But it will never be the same again. When my fifth child was 3 years old I finally received healing. I was 43, a mother of 5, grandmother of 2 and divorced 3 times. On my healing journey I attended post abortive counselling through our local Crisis Pregnancy Centre and a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat weekend.

This allowed my to grieve my loss and dignify my baby’s life. Today I am not afraid to tell the truth about life in the womb. I am not afraid to say that abortion hurts women and men and kills their babies. There is hope and healing for the wounded in our land. My secret is no longer buried. I want to help other men and women find healing and I want to tell the truth about life.

Article 6, of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
“Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law”.

– Heather

Post Abortion Stress Syndrome: Two women’s stories