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This topic is for personal experiences or dilemmas; to debate the ethics of termination, please go here or here.

Help me- Plagued by guilt following abortion 19 years ago

(7 Posts)
Mitzicoco Mon 25-Apr-16 14:12:29

I wonder if anyone can help or offer some words of wisdom? Actually I feel so dreadful about it I hardly believe that I am in a position to ask for help sad I was in a relationship in my late teens to mid twenties with a highly abusive and controlling partner. I got pregnant (by mistake) and had an abortion. My partner did not want to keep the baby and I stupidly went along with it, partly because I was scared of him and partly because I didn't have the guts to stand up to him. Since then, I have married a wonderful man and have two lovely children who I adore. Bit I am plagued by the fact that I terminated a pregnancy. It is made worse by the children I have. I fully appreciate now how amazing the creation of a human life is. I feel like a murderer. My therapist tells me that in reality I had no choice but I can't accept that. I have become severely depressed and at times suicidal about it. How can I ever forgive myself? I don't feel like I deserve to. The funny (not ha-ha) thing about it is that I am totally pro-choice and would never ever judge a woman for doing what I did, but why am I unable to apply this rationale to myself? Anyone?

Stroopwaffel Mon 25-Apr-16 21:03:59

I could have written your post. It resonated so strongly with me I had to reply...
I had a termination 13 years ago and I honestly feel like it has ruined my life and cast a shadow over everything ever since.. That sounds so over the top melodramatic but it's truly how I feel...!
I especially relate to what you say about your children making it worse in a way- I always thought having children would heal me but it has made it worse, as I know what I lost now.
I have no advice as I have tried counselling numerous times and it hasn't helped me.. I think part of the problem is that I don't feel that I deserve to get over it, maybe you feel similarly.
If you would like to pm me please feel free to. I'm sorry you feel like this too x

Mitzicoco Tue 26-Apr-16 09:18:47

Thank you so much for replying Stroopwaffel. I feel exactly that- that I don't deserve to get over it. I am in therapy at the moment and my therapist has told me that I need to somehow move on from it. But where am I meant to move on to?! I think about it all the time. When I give my kids a cuddle I think of my other baby who I should also have in my arms. I suppose the perverse thing is, and the only little bit of redemption is, is that if we hadn't have had the termination all those years ago, we wouldn't have the children we have now. Have you ever been to a support group? I can't seem to find one anywhere near me, which seems strange as I am convinced there must be a lot of women out there who also share this experience. Is it shame or something that stops people talking about it?
Again, thank you for replying it means a lot to me as I just feel so isolated and sad (understatement) about it. And thanks for the pm offer too. xx

Stroopwaffel Wed 27-Apr-16 12:19:13

Yes, i feel like if I 'get over it' or make peace with it then I am forgetting that baby's existence which only lives through my sadness and guilt as I never talk about it to anyone.. Well except rarely my partner, he has said before actually that if it hadn't happened we wouldn't have met and had our children.. I do try to take comfort in that. But I always think about the teenager I should have now too.
It sounds like our circumstances at the time were similar in that we were both pressured into the abortion - you by your boyfriend at the time, me by my father as I was still living at home.
I think the fact it wasn't a clear cut choice makes it a lot harder to recover from.

I do think a lot of women feel like this - I came across a whole forum in fact, called 'PASS Boards' - it wasn't really my kind of forum but it highlighted to me that this really does affect women for the rest of their lives.

I haven't come across a real life support group though - I'm not sure I would have the guts to go if I did.. I suppose I do feel ashamed..

DoYouLikeBirds Wed 27-Apr-16 12:41:11

I had a termination with what would've been my third child in 2011 when I knew for sure I was going to end up as a single parent. It took me a long time to make the decision, I cancelled 3 times, and was then basically told 'this is your last chance to have one' by a woman at the hospital. That finally pushed me into it at 13 weeks.

I spent a day feeling totally ecstatic and like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and then several years after this in a deep depression. I remember waking up years later and just bursting into tears. It was really awful.

What helped me, was realising that you can never revisit the situation you were in that caused you to make a decision at that time. Once the moment is gone everything changes, your feelings, your mood, the people around you. It's so easy to look back (hindsight is wonderful) and berate yourself for doing the 'wrong' thing, when in reality it was the right thing for you - at that time. I guess respecting why I did what I did, even if I don't really understand it now is what helped me to make peace with my choice back then. Although I still feel sad, it's more a sadness that I ever had to go through that in the first place, rather than never having the baby. I don't see it as a good or bad thing that I didn't have the baby, but more that my life would have taken a different path than it has now.

Stroopwaffel Wed 27-Apr-16 21:51:21

Thanks for your post, doyoulikebirds, i hope to come to feel at peace with it as you seem to.

MHnurse16 Sun 05-Jun-16 15:20:16

I totally get where you're coming from, as I got pregnant at a young age, listened to my Mother and spent a good 5 years living for her instead of me.

It has taken me until now to be able to finally move on. I spent years fantasising about the way she/he would have looked; sounded like; smelt like. It was torture for the best part of 7 years..

I suppose it is just different for different people in regards to why nobody speaks about it.. But I can truly truly understand the guilt you feel, because I also felt it for years. Totally understandable.

One thing someone said to me which really stuck in terms of 'moving on' (though you can obviously never forget), was this:

Acknowledge the pure fact that you actually FEEL so bad about it. To me, it shows you why you actually shouldn't be. To elaborate: you are feeling guilty. This shows you are a GOOD person, because if you weren't, you wouldn't be so affected by it to this day.

The way you move forward is by accepting the decision you took at the time. What I did was write a list of the reasons you made the decision. Don't write the benefits of having kept that child because the point is to help yourself move on, plus you already know what the benefits are 'cos you have children.

I also wrote a letter to my unborn, which broke my heart and triggered an emotional breakdown. But once I was finished writing it, I felt much more free and as if I had truly laid the baby 'to rest'.. Don't forget that it is still a loss, particularly when the decision to terminate isn't 100% your own. Maybe you never fully addressed the grief?

Hope this somewhat helped.. It's good to know that others felt the same as me tbh, because I thought I was being melodramatic for all those years, due to the culture of abortion and amount of people who use abortion as contraception in this day and age :/... When I was at the clinic, there were two girls. One getting the abortion and her friend. The pregnant one made the most horrific comment related to coathangers and doing it herself if they didn't hurry up, and was messing around and laughing in the clinic.. This was the most horrific thing to hear by someone who didn't even want to be going through with it sad

Good luck with everything and let me know if you did try anything I suggested! Xx

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