Friday, January 15, 2010

What About the Memories?

Why Can't I Forget?
Chapter 4

"I don't think about it daily anymore but I probably won't be able to 'forget' about it until abortion is made illegal again so it isn't an issue anymore." Debra

Do questions such as the following plague your mind?

· Will I ever be able to get through a December without thinking
"My baby would be 4 years old, 5 years old, etc.?"

· Why do sometimes I get totally depressed and then other times I'll
be just fine?

· When will I stop missing my children I never knew?

· How long does it take before I stop thinking about abortion daily?

· Will I ever stop crying in late June (which is when the baby might
have been born) or in late October (when I had the abortion)?

· Can I live with the memories?

· When will I stop thinking about it?

Many women seldom think about their abortions. Then the anniversary date of the abortion or the anticipated birth date of the baby appears on the calendar. The woman begins to feel bad. Depression sets in. She may not even know the cause - yet she remembers.

My own abortion took place on Valentine's Day 1971. On Valentine's Day 1972, one year following my abortion, I became absolutely hysterical when Leigh (who was then my fiancĂ©) failed to recognize the day with a special gift. Prior to that time I had not cared one way or the other if Valentine's Day passed uneventfully. Finding myself so upset, I thought it was because I was engaged to be married and wanted to feel loved. I did want to feel loved. But I'd interpreted the rea­son for my hys­teria incorrectly. Many years later I realized February 14 was the anniversary date of my abortion. I have not had a similar feeling since that first anniversary of my abortion. In fact, as I am working on this book and February 14 has just passed, it amazes me that I should be able to cross such a hurdle without dwelling on the traumatic event which took place on that date many years ago. Today I remember with sadness but realize I can go on.

Why didn't the clinic prepare me for the psychological effects to follow - flashbacks, hallucinations, nightmares, and the like?

The obvious answers to this question are that the personnel at the clinic were probably unaware of or refused to believe abortion produces a traumatic aftermath. Also, had the clinic told you of such possible occurrences, you probably would have chosen not to abort your baby. That would be bad for business. But let's go a step further and explore the reason why you have these symptoms.

Your mind may be focusing on your abortion because of unreconciled trauma related to it. Perhaps you are still experiencing guilt, denial, anxiety, anger, fear, or doubt. Something is wrong and your mind is prompting you to take action to correct the problem.

Shortly following my marriage, I began to dream regularly of babies floating down drains or being pickled in jars. The horrible scenes of my dreams were in vivid color. Leigh often held me in his arms for hours after I awoke in a cold sweat from a dream. During my waking hours my mind flashed back to seeing my aborted baby lying dead between my legs after I delivered him - per­fectly formed and horribly burned from the saline. I wanted to die in order to rid myself of the tor­ment. I did not consciously call up these nightmares and flashbacks. They came unbidden and unwelcome. They signaled "DANGER! Something is wrong." Once I understood how to deal with them and took the appropriate actions, they ceased and have never returned.

Cheryl offers these thoughts: "For some time after my confession I was haunted by the thought that if I could go back, I would abort that baby again because if I had borne that child, I would never have met my husband. The Lord helped me resolve this. . . . He helped me realize it is sinful to ask yourself 'if' questions about the past. I no longer believe this about myself because I am stronger in my faith and further along in my walk with the Lord."

What does it mean to "forget"?

Forgetting doesn't mean not remembering. I have "forgotten" my abortion in the sense that I can write and speak on the topic of abortion without guilt or grief, without anger or bitterness. For­getting involves refusing to dwell on the act, refusing to rehash it again and again as a method of self-torture. Forgetting is continuing on with your life without remaining emotionally crippled by your loss.

God tells us that if we repent, He will forget our sins. Isaiah 43:25 reads, "I, even I, am the One who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake; And I will not remember your sins." God being who He is, can never blot out from His mind something which has occurred. But He refuses to call it up and charge it to our account.

I feel a kinship to the apostle Paul. This great man of God had terrible sin in his life. He was a Jewish religious leader who persecuted and tortured Christians prior to his conversion to Christianity. After recounting his life in Philippians 3:4-10, Paul continues in verses 13-14 by informing us he now lived his life, "Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead." Is Paul contradict­ing himself? No, I believe Paul wrote these verses to encourage us that although we have committed sins in our life which we will never forget, we can refuse to dwell on them and instead move for­ward in our lives. It may not happen overnight. "Forgetting" begins by consciously refusing to dwell on your abortion. Others have forgotten. So can you!

When will I stop thinking about it?

I'm going to share something that happened to me one Sunday during church. Abortion was the farthest thing from my mind as seventeen children were brought forward by their parents to be dedicated to the Lord. Suddenly, there I sat in the midst of six hundred people bawling my eyes out as my mind remembered I have one child I can never physically dedicate to God. At first this rush of emotion baffled me because I know I have dealt with my abortion. Then I realized that, just as with any loss through death, sometimes something will happen that will cause me to remember and feel sad. I'm thankful that embarrassing incident hap­pened, because it's good, occasionally, to remember. It keeps me compassionate toward others.

Liz writes, "I still have a little trouble on the anniversary of the time of the abortion. . . . And I've had trouble near the time that baby would have been born. But both are getting easier. And I don't think I'm supposed to forget. Just to learn from this and be stronger in my faith."

Why does my abortion continue to plague my thoughts?

Sometimes we aren't able to forget our abortion because we actually try to remember the hor­ror of it all. We don't want to forget. We may believe that by calling up our abortion experi­ence, we keep the baby alive. Or we may use remembering as an attempt to punish ourselves.

If you can't forget, it may be a signal that something needs to be resolved. I wish you would take a minute to read Job 11:14-20. How wonderful to know if we put away our sin, we shall shine as the morning, forget our misery, and experience peace through hope.

Your particular memory will keep returning until the problem is settled. Perhaps you haven't asked God's forgiveness for your abortion. Possibly you are still involved in sexual immor­ality. Do you still harbor anger or bitterness against someone involved with your abortion? You won't "forget" until you resolve the conflict within your mind. You can't resolve the conflict within your mind until your conscience is clear. Only God can provide a clear conscience. You might want to pray David's prayer for cleansing in Psalm 139:23-24: "Search me oh God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there by any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way" (KJV).

I trust one day this woman's words will be true of you: "I have resolved a lot of my emotions pertaining to my abortion so well through Christ, that I can't remember how I used to feel."

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Over the years my opinions have changed but this will never change: Jesus Christ, Lord, God and Savior, died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for my sin.