Dear Erynn: Abortion Support

Welcome “Dear Erynn,” a place to seek and receive guidance and support. Below is our first entry. If you have a question you are struggling with, please submit it to ebstherapist@gmail.com. If possible, we will answer it here on the blog with your anonymity preserved. As always, if you have an emergency or are in need of immediate support, please call 911 or 1-800-lifenet for an appropriate referral.

 

September 2, 2015

Dear Erynn,

About a year ago, I made the decision to have an abortion. There were a lot of good reasons for it, but it wasn’t an easy decision. Even when I was at the doctor, I almost didn’t go through with it. But my friend who came with me (who has also had anabortion) was reassuring. She said it was the right thing to do, and afterwards I would feel free of the stress. For me, after, I felt kind of numb. My family was relieved though, so I said I was too. Later, I felt really awful… full of sadness because I really want a baby, I guess this just wasn’t the right time. When I think back on it, I am pretty sure I would have made the same decision to not have the baby, and I know it was my decision, but why do I still feel so sad?

Signed,

Lost

Dear Lost,

It sounds like you worked hard to make a difficult decision. It is not often that we are faced with needing to make a choice that is so complicated, but has such black and white outcomes (continue being pregnant or stop being pregnant) and when we are, it is normal to feel lost and torn. This is especially complicated when it comes to seeing a pregnancy through, because there are often other people involved in what is ultimately a deeply personal choice.

In addition, access to legal abortion itself is a political issue. That means that we have been raised with a lot of rhetoric and mixed messages about what abortion even is. For some, it is there termination of a life, for others it is the removal of cells that could grow into a life, but haven’t yet. Further, motherhood is a political issue! The media and even our friends and family are open about expressing what it means to be a mother, and the opinions are often conflicting. Then there’s what goes on in our own heads. Many women (and in my experience MOST women) are at some point conflicted about becoming a mother. Even when they feel sure they want children, a life change that significant brings with it lots of opportunity for mixed feelings and questioning.

So back to your question. Why do you feel sad? Because loss is sad, and this is a loss. Regardless on where you stand on when life begins, abortion can still be a loss of a possible outcome, the loss of the potential to play a role you are clear you want to play eventually. To feel numb and sad does not mean you made the wrong decision, it simply means you are experiencing the natural grief that comes with loss. Though it is true that some women will not feel this way, it is also true that many more women do feel grief after an abortion that are willing or able to talk about it. You are not alone in your feelings.

Allowing space for this complicated and challenging feeling of grief can go a long way in helping it pass into the background. Like the sadness or grief you may feel over other losses in your life, it may be a feeling that reoccurs over time, but by allowing it’s existence instead of pushing it down or talking yourself out of it, you give your self the opportunity to take care of yourself and your feelings at a time when care is needed.

Be well,

Erynn