What People Don’t Know
This story was originally published in the Western Kentucky Catholic
You never know what someone is going through, whether they are your coworkers, friends, or family unless they tell you. Well, with most traumatic events, they are not going to tell you. So always be careful what you say and do around people, because you never know how it is going to affect them. People can look fine and happy at work, but really be confused, depressed, and torn up inside. I am a 25-year-old woman that has just realized that I deserve better than I allow myself. I am very hard on myself and judgmental. I am not like this with other people, just with myself. When you see me at the Owensboro Medical Health System, I look like I am in control of life. I am one of those people that hide things well. Nobody knows how much of a mess I am in, because I do not allow anyone.
I grew up in a good family. My parents are still married, and we did things together all the time. My dad’s side of the family is very close. My grandma is my best friend. We do things together as often as we can. I was a happy-go-lucky little girl with all kinds of energy. I never stopped. I was very caring, compassionate, just a bundle of joy. Anybody that knew my sisters and me in our younger days thought that we had the perfect family life. I was good at hiding things, especially things that I did not want anyone to know.
Things took a turn for the worse when I was 13. It was my eighth grade summer vacation. This summer changed my life forever. My family was out of town with one of my sister’s traveling softball games. We did not live far from Splash, a private swimming club. My parents dropped me off early that morning for swim team practice on their way out of town. I stayed the rest of the day. Later in the afternoon, I was getting my stuff together, because I was going to walk home. I knew a whole lot of people there. One of them had known me since I was a baby. He offered to take me home. We were like family, so I accepted his offer. Well, he did not take me home, instead he took me to an empty farm, in the woods. I was unable to get out of the car and keep him off of me. I unwillingly and forcefully lost my virginity at 13-years-old to somebody I saw as pretty much family. I was raped. After he got what he wanted he took me home and said that if I told anybody he would deny it, and nobody would believe me since I was just a little girl. Well, he had nothing to worry about, because I didn’t want anyone to know.
Things did not get any better later that summer. While on a family vacation, I was molested by my older cousin. He said that it was okay as long as we didn’t “go all the way.” Well, I didn’t want to do anything, but again, I was smaller, younger, and less powerful. He has never mentioned what happened over 12 years ago, and neither have I. It would kill my grandma for her to know what happened. This is another secret that I never told anyone.
I was able to hide all of these shameful things from my family. I went through high school without them knowing what had happened to me. I was cheerleader, volleyball player, a member of Young Republicans, FBLA, and very active in other things at Daviess County High School. I experienced the drugs and alcohol scene. I also had sex with my boyfriends; what did I have to lose? I had already lost virginity, which I knew I could never get back. I was a party girl, and I also had to be a good liar, because my parents wouldn’t allow this kind of behavior. They tried to control me, but I just wouldn’t have it. I did whatever I wanted and dared anybody to try to stop me. My promiscuity and drinking followed me to college. I was off drugs. That phase only lasted through my freshman and sophomore years. I went on to engineering school, where I had a full academic scholarship.
I was still the party girl in college, until my behavior finally caught up with me. I was 18 and pregnant. I knew I was pregnant, so I kept putting off taking the test.
Finally I took it, and sure enough I was pregnant. I went to Hoops, a local bar where I knew almost everyone. Steve, the bartender, let me use the phone to call Gregg, the father. He immediately came to pick me up and told me that he would take care of everything, because he loved me. Well, before I knew what hit me, he was driving to Champaigne, IL to the abortion clinic. I was never asked what I wanted to do about the baby, it was decided for me. I remember being terrified, mad, and shocked all at the same time. I did not say a single word to him in the car on the way there. He had borrowed money from his fraternity to pay for the abortion. When we got there, the first thing they wanted was payment in full. This was back in 2000, and then it was $600 for an abortion and another $600 if you wanted anesthesia. Well, we were both college students and broke. So, I did not have the option for anesthesia. I was 13 weeks pregnant. Anesthesia was not required until third trimester. After paying at the counter, they brought me back to “counsel” me, as they called it. All I remember them telling me was that everything was going to be fine, and that most girls are able to go out that night like nothing ever happened. Then they took me back to the waiting room, where Gregg was sitting in silence, not knowing what if anything he should say to me. Next it was time for the ultrasound to make sure on the dating of the baby. I had to beg and plead to see the screen, which they would not allow me to do until after me arguing with them for over 15 minutes. Finally, they let me see the screen, and I could see my BABY, not ball of tissue, BABY. After this I expressed my second thoughts to Gregg. He replied with honey I love you, and when we both graduate engineering school, we can be together like I want. Then if you want to have a baby we can. He told whatever he had to for me to get have the abortion. After waiting all day, I went back for the procedure.
The doctor came in and there were several nurses. The first thing he said to me was, “Don’t scream. You’ll scare the other patients.” Then he clamped the tenaculum on my cervix. This is a metal device with huge pointed teeth that go into a woman’s cervix to pull it down and open. At this point I told him that I wanted him to stop, but instead he just told the nurses to hold me down and reminded me not to scream. Keep in mind, with me being 13 weeks pregnant, they did a D & C on me without any anesthesia. It felt like they were scraping and cutting out my insides. This took several minutes. I was drenched in sweat. After they killed my baby, they told me to get dressed and they took me to a room in the back for about an hour. In that room there were several women with the same empty look as I had on my face. When I returned to the waiting room to meet Gregg, he never said a word about it. This started my downward spiral of self- destruction.
I had stopped eating. I would go out all night drinking, and then in return I would sleep all day. From Nov. 13, 2000 when I had my abortion to Thanksgiving Break, I had gotten down to 82 pounds at 18-years-old. My mom thought I finally looked good, but everyone else thought I looked sick with my huge black circles under my eyes. My spirit was gone. I was filled with guilt, self-condemnation, hatred, distrust of the world, especially men, my self-worth was gone. I had no self-esteem or self-worth. So I dropped out of engineering school and got back with a boy I dated in high school. He was an alcoholic, hot-tempered, verbal and physical abuser, and was lazy. He never kept a job very long at all. After what I had been through in my past and just done, he was all I felt I deserved. I was content in my punishment that I had given myself. We have now been married just over 5 years, he has ruined my credit and beat me down inside and out. I am now in a situation where I am financially unable to get out. I have no where to go. I am now stuck in a miserable life that I gave myself and stayed with because I thought that was all I deserved.
In February 2006, I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat for post-abortion healing. This was the first time I had reached out for help. This was a turning point in my life. I got back my spirit. I found my purpose in life. I was able to get closure to my abortion and meet my child, Gracie Marie. She would have been born May 20, 2001. Today she would have been 6-years-old. I love her with all my heart, and I will never forget the day I killed her before I even knew her. I know now that one day I will see her again in heaven. Rachel’s Vineyard gave me my life back: my self-worth, self-esteem, happiness, direction in my life, a new Christian family, purpose, and healing. I finally got myself back, which I lost 10 years ago, when the sexual abuse occurred. I am still stuck in an unhappy marriage, but as soon as I can find the means, I am going to get out. I have to find a place to go first. It is hard with my busy schedule to find time to restart my life, when I haven’t told anyone how bad it is to begin with. I am always the one at work helping everyone else, and nobody knows that I desperately need help. I don’t trust anyone enough to let them in. I got all this inner strength on my Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. I am on my way to getting my life back. It is a tremendous weekend. I am unable to out into words how much the retreat helped me on my healing journey and also with the rest of my life. I was able to see God’s healing for the first time in my life during my weekend retreat. I would recommend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat to anyone suffering from abortion, whether you are the woman that has had an abortion yourself, the father grieving over his actions and influence on the situation, or another family member mourning the loss of a sister, grandchild, niece, etc. Rachel’s Vineyard is for everyone.
In Loving Memory of My Lost Child: