Sadness after abortion can catch you by surprise. Here are some tips for closure.
Dr. Christiane Northrup, a noted author and gynecologist, speaks about the topic of grief after abortion in her revised edition of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom (2010). A former abortion doctor herself, Northrup takes the bold step of agreeing that women need a chance to grieve a voluntary pregnancy termination.
She writes, “Since the first edition of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, many women have written to me expressing their gratitude that I have addressed this issue [processing abortion grief]. And they have written about how their willingness to tell the truth about their abortion experience has healed them.” She goes on to say that during the many years she performed abortions, she observed that “not having fully grieved a pregnancy termination can be a setup for pregnancy problems in the future” because of the unresolved feelings surrounding the choice.
What I am seeing from my clients is the existence of an intense loyalty to the abortion secret that is driven by an incredible sense of fear of disclosure. With decades of guilt and shame as an emotional backdrop, many women never adequately process the deep grief aspects of abortion. As long as the cloak of shame surrounds this issue in the hearts of women, they will stay loyal to their “dirty little secret.”
If you have an abortion secret from your past, you should be encouraged to know that you are not alone! There are resources available to help you walk through and resolve your choice decision. Staying in your self-imposed prison of silence doesn’t help. Here are some suggestions to help you move out of your abortion grief without fear.
Find a safe place to talk. If you do not have a close, trustworthy friend, spouse or partner, you can always make an appointment with a professional therapist. There is a cutting edge resource, called Choice Processing and Resolution Therapy specially developed for the professional setting you can let your therapist know about. The two of you can walk this journey together. Professional therapists can be a good place because you are assured 100% confidentiality.
Again you have to make sure your source for sharing is safe. Personally, when I was looking for resources to help me I ended up having even more angst. Sometimes going to a good friend or unqualified source only brings you more invalidation. I went to three professionals who did not understand my situation. Two validated my choice but not my grief. One condemned my choice and completely invalidated my grief. So make sure you go towards safety and caring and compassionate people who understand abortion grief.
Admit you can’t keep the secret anymore. As in any path to healing in life, it is important you be honest with yourself. Give yourself permission to re-visit the “abortion-box” no matter how long you’ve had it stashed away in your mind. Face the truth that keeping the secret is requiring much more energy than you have available to give to it anymore.
Give yourself a break. Many times if we can’t find others to condemn and punish us, we will take over the job ourselves! Understand that abortion can involve many losses even separate from the pregnancy. Give yourself permission to label the losses and feel the emotions of those losses.
Don’t confuse the legal, political and religious debates with your own personal journey. If you listen to all the rhetoric from both sides you will become paralyzed with fear and confusion. Know that walking this journey will be worth it from your own personal perspective. Freeing the space taken up in your heart and mind with this secret will help you move toward positive outcomes in your life.
Be encouraged! Know that you are not alone! Many other women are caught off guard after an abortion choice. You are not alone in your quest to process through the sadness you may be feeling and the confusion you experience when you look for answers.
C.P.R. ~ Choice Processing and Resolution, endorsed by Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D., F.A.C.O.G and author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, is a great resource you can use to begin the journey of looking at grief after an abortion choice. It has a concise plan you can follow to look at the sadness. You can work through the entire book in the privacy of your home or with the help of your professional therapist guiding you.
This article was originally published at PsychCentral. Reprinted with permission from the author.