Because I have shared my story publicly, I often receive questions like this. Since many post-abortive people work to forget this choice, some emotional triggers can send them into a whirlwind of anxiety.
My first after abortion trigger came 7 months after my abortion – on my child’s due date. I never connected the horrendous evening I spent locked in a dorm room crying as the night I should have been giving birth to my child. I thought I was losing my mind as there was no obvious reason for such an intense emotional reaction.
The next morning my eyes were swollen shut from crying. I went to the campus health center in a deeply demoralized state and discovered I had pink eye. But my inner pain was not related to that infection. For many months I felt like I was on the verge of insanity.
Eleven years later I read about how abortion can cause long-term trauma for some women. I was relieved to discover the reason for the angst a felt every year around the third week in March when my child should have been celebrating a birthday. I came to think of that time as post traumatic stress from my abortion. Embracing an abortion recovery program brought God’s peace back into my soul.
Once I realized this date was a trigger to my pain, I was able to tame that trigger and plan ways to cope. Here are eight options to offset obvious triggers of abortion-related stress:
- Document your trigger dates on a calendar – If you have had more than one abortion, or don’t remember exact dates, don’t worry. Record dates when you felt depression or experienced pain that seemed to have no source.
- Develop distraction strategies – Sitting in a dentist’s office, overhearing the drilling sound, can transport me back to that abortion clinic where I hear the sound of the machine that sucked my child out of my body. Realizing that truth, I now arrive at these appointments with a headset to listen to worship music to offset any triggering noises.
- Participate in positive life-affirming activities – Writing a tax-deductible donation check to and/or volunteering at a pregnancy center can comfort your tender heart. Encouraging those continuing an unexpected pregnancy with thoughtful gifts or lunch or aiding another life affirming effort can also be beneficial.
- Soothe your heart with Scripture – The Bible is filled with redemptive stories that help us to understand God’s forgiving heart for sinners. David’s unexpected pregnancy with Bathsheba, found in 2 Samuel 11-12:25, demonstrates that we are not alone in the taking of an innocent life. David had walked with God yet he ordered Bathsheba’s husband murdered. God sent Nathan to help show David his sin. After David repented, God gave him another son – Solomon – who would succeed him as King of Israel.
- Control your anger – You may become irritable when you hear individuals promote abortion as “safe and legal.” Deep seated anger can even result as our abortion wound erupts. While outrage can feel justified, we can still sin in our responses. Remember how God responds to us: But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15).
- Writing out your story – Reviewing your life experiences can help you realize how unexpected pregnancy and an abortion decision became part of your story. That can provide perspective that God can use in the healing process. Then document the dates of deep pain.
- Pray to seek God’s help directly – The Creator of the Universe offers the best comfort. Seek Him with an open heart and a sincere, “Help me, God” prayer. Acts 17:27-28 outlines, God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’
- Discover Supportive Friends – Others have walked this path and are ready to walk with you as you journey to recovery. Many pregnancy centers and some places of worship have abortion recovery support groups led by expereinced faciliators. If you haven’t completed an abortion recovery program, please prayerfully consider one.
Understand that many emotions can become stronger when they are ignored. Ramah International is a safe and confidential ministry that can help you begin to process this pain and find local support. Please feel free to contact us if we can help in any way. Please share this blog to help others struggling with unwanted turmoil after abortion.
This post is adapted from content that originally appeared on Sydna Masse's Blog
Sydna Masse is the founder of Ramah International. A post-abortive woman, she experienced God's healing touch eleven years after her abortion through a crisis pregnancy center's ministry program. Upon hearing a recent statistic from the research arm of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the world that "... 33% of women will experience abortion at least once by the age of 45 years," she began efforts to minister directly to these hearts. For more information on finding healing after abortion, visit ramahinternational.org.