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Gaining Strength
Toni
 
     

Throughout my childhood I endured emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from my father and many other people who saw how vulnerable I was. By the time I reached my teens I was starving for attention and love. Beginning at the age of 15 I lived on the streets some as a runaway and was in and out of a few girls’ homes. Desperate to escape the abuse in my home I moved from my parents at the age of 18. This is where the story of my forced abortion begins.

By this time in my life I would have moved in with anyone who would have taken me in. I choose a young man who was a few years or more older than me. His offer to move in was my chance to not be on the streets. In my own mind, nothing could be worse than the abuse I suffered at the hands of my father and the prostitution, drugs, and satanic rituals I watched and endured in the girl’s home. It also couldn’t have been worse than all the times I slept in cars with little to no money for food while always having to keep one eye open at night for whatever evil was soon to find me.

I soon found myself in a sexually abusive relationship with this man who offered for me to move in with him. Unfortunately, at the time, I was so used to abuse that I didn’t recognize it as such for it was a normal part of my life. If I could squeeze out moments of feeling loved then it made up for the pain of abuse endured. 

Within a month after moving in with my boyfriend, I became pregnant. I first discovered I was going to have a baby at Planned Parenthood, where I had made a visit to get contraception. I was so scared yet so excited at the same time about my pregnancy. Immediately, I told my boyfriend. He seemed happy and told me not to worry, that he would take care of everything. It relieved me to know he wanted the baby and it thrilled me that we were going to be a family. I imagined having a lively blond boy. I saw him running, laughing, playing. This was my opportunity to turn my life around. Drinking, drugs, partying would all come to a stop. I had a reason to live and a reason to begin trying to live right. I saw myself teaching him to respect women– something I had not experienced with men.

But my dream of family life shattered when my boyfriend told me he had made an appointment for me to get an abortion. Earlier, when he said he’d take care of everything, I never dreamed that would mean aborting our child. This harsh new reality and his news devastated me. I sobbed and cried as I told him that would be impossible! I could never do that to a child! And I did not easily give up. We argued daily about the “practical” reasons I should abort the baby. My boyfriend preyed upon my every insecurity. He could read me like a book. At the time, all I had going for me was what I looked like. My looks got me everything I needed in order to live. My boyfriend attacked my every insecurity in order to win an argument. He yelled at me daily, saying things like: “I would have never dated you if I knew you were not for abortion. No one will ever want you. You will be fat and ugly. No one wants a single mother with a kid.” His numerous insults which were told to me over and over, piled up. They were too painful to bear anymore.

The days began blurring together, and I became more and more depressed about my life and my future. My deepest wish was to keep the baby. After all, my experience as an abused child gave me a deep love for hurting children. But now I found myself on the threshold of doing something that violated my deepest desires and assaulted my best hopes. I was losing my fight for my baby. My weaknesses and insecurities grew as I was held up in an apartment knowing of no one to help me.
I had one last plan to use in this fight for my child’s life.  I would agree to go to a clinic for an abortion. But my plan was to ask the nurses to tell me more about abortions and leaving pregnant telling them I wanted to think about it more. I was relying on the clinic to help save me from more abuse and to save my baby. I felt this would temporarily put an end to my boyfriend’s constant verbal attacks. When I finally agreed to go; my boyfriend’s demeanor shifted instantly to happiness and relief. The verbal assaults stopped. The morning of my appointment, we stopped for breakfast and my mind raced at how I was going to get out of the abortion after going through the motions of a consultation. What was I going to say to him when we left the clinic? How was I going to get away with this? Where could I run to to get help? Maybe someone at the clinic could help me? I had no parents to turn to, all my siblings where too young, I had no best friends for I moved so much in high school because of all the girls’ homes I lived in. I also feared the emotional and sexual abuse that was sure to follow by going against my boyfriend’s wishes. My mind was racing for answers. I couldn’t even think straight or pay attention to where we were going. It was as if I was in a daze and life around me was a blur. My only hope was that the people at the clinic would help me for they are professionals and I should be able to trust them.

Before I knew it we were there. We drove up to a red brick building and walked upstairs. As my boyfriend knocked on the locked door, I slid down the wall into a crouching position, pondering why such an imposing cold, steel door was even necessary. In moments, the door unlocked and we walked into a big room with chairs lined against the wall. I noticed a small box of toys on the floor and wondered who would bring their children to a place like this. At this time I was pro-choice in my political views, but when I found myself up against that steel door that seemed better suited for a prison than a portal of liberation, I found myself decidedly pro-life. I did not think it right to tell others what they should do with their bodies. But as for myself, I did not want to have an abortion. But the events of that fateful day raced away from me. I signed in at the front desk and sat in silence with my boyfriend.

 When the lady behind the window called my name, I went to the back alone, where a nurse led me down a long hall to the very last room. Once in the room, I noticed the dingy yellow walls, the tall cabinets that lined one wall, and a padded chair in the corner. The nurse gestured me to sit in the chair. But as I began to sit, immediately I broke into tears. I sprang off the chair and shouted repeatedly:
“I will not do this! I have to leave! I want to go! I can’t stay here!”
 But she stepped in front of me, barring my escape. Clutching both my arms, the nurse forced me back into the chair. I begged and pleaded like I knew what was going to happen next:
 “Please don’t do this to me! Please don’t do this to me!”
But she pulled a needle out of her pocket and penetrated my arm. I vaguely remember feeling someone lifting me from under both arms and someone else carrying me lifting both my legs.

I later awoke to the nurse’s stares. Seeing my eyes open, she yelled for me to wake up and pounded her fists on my chest to keep me conscious. Groggy and unfocused, I felt someone lifting me from the chair. I tried my best to walk, but stumbled back to my waiting boyfriend. We sat for a moment, and then he carried me to the car and drove me home.

I was now childless.

For over a decade, I blamed myself for walking into that clinic. If only I had not tried to appease my boyfriend, my child would be alive today. If only I had been stronger and stood firm with my “NO!”, I’d have never walked into that clinic. For years, these “If only I” statements haunted my mind and shrouded me in shame. I didn’t dare talk about it to anyone. After the abortion, I stayed in bed for a week or more before I gathered the strength to pack up my belongings and leave. Not knowing where I was going; I couldn’t bear to be in that apartment any longer.

About two and a half years ago I walked into a program called Celebrate Recovery, I finally got the courage to tell someone and seek out healing from what happened to me. Through my healing I learned that it wasn’t my fault. I had convicted myself guilty for being weak. I accepted that I murdered my baby. But what I learned in my healing was the words, “No Condemnation!” and I was not guilty. It wasn’t until I gave my pain to God that I began to find healing. As I was driving through my city one day; I noticed people with signs in front of an abortion clinic. I would have never known that it was there if it wasn’t for them. The building they were in front of has the red brick that I recall in my memory of the place the abortion took place for me. I decided then that I needed to let my guilt and shame go. I wrote a letter and placed a pendent in it that said “mother.” I drove to the abortion clinic and walked up to the entrance. I noticed a steel door at this place too. I froze for a moment as the memories of crouching up against the steel door came to my mind. Scared, I proceeded towards the entrance. I stopped by some bushes that lead up to the door. I couldn’t make myself touch the wall, which is what I wanted to do. I sat down by the bush and began to dig a small hole. I buried the note I wrote to my baby and then walked back to the street. I couldn’t leave yet. I still felt all the guilt and shame on me like a heavy weight. There is a red brick mailbox on the side walk. Shading the mailbox was a tree and some bamboo. I sat up against it and under the brushy trees. Crying, I stared at the clinic and prayed. I told God I am not leaving until I feel free of this guilt and shame! My husband came and joined me; we sat in silence as I cried. Suddenly, the sun’s rays came piercing through the trees. I could see each individual ray of light shining down on me. The light stayed for what seemed like 10-15 minutes. I felt God was shining his love down on me taking all my pain. I immediately felt loved, forgiven, and peace. Then the rays of light disappeared. I then told my husband I’m ready to go. My husband, worried about my emotional state, began to encourage me about the four wonderful children I have at home that love me. I stopped in my tracks, looked at him, and said, “No, I have 5 children.” That was the first time I said that with joy, pride, love, and acceptance. I said it every day after that for a few months. As I continued to heal I became stronger. I was able to see my co-dependency on keeping others happy. I learned that I had a right to say no and a right to my body. I began to instill these new ways of living in my children. Although it has been difficult, for my fear still creeps up on me, I have been successful with moving forward and gaining strength.

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