I’ve sat here for a while wondering how to begin this letter. I think part of the reason I am struggling is because I don’t actually want it to be a letter. I want you to be sitting next to me in my living room, I want us to be drinking tea together, and I want to be looking into your eyes when I say these words. I wish I could hold your hand and squeeze you in a hug.
I am not a hugger, so that really says something about the heart that I have for you, for all of us.
But you aren’t in my living room with me and we can’t look into one another’s eyes, so I’ll do my best to write the words that I wish I could speak out loud to you.
I’m writing because you and I share something, we are connected in a way that only we can understand, we have felt something that we cannot explain.
You and I have had an abortion.
We share that experience, but we do not share the same story. I am not here to interrogate you about your story or your reasons. I am not here to measure our pain or our grief. I am not here to compare notes.
I am only here to love you. To tell you that you are seen. To allow you to hold up your feelings about that choice that you made and know that whatever those feelings are, they are valid and real and you owe no explanation for them.
Whether it was just this morning or 50 years ago when you sat in that waiting room bears no weight in regards to how you are allowed to feel. It doesn’t change the words that I want you to hear.
Friend, you are a good person. Can we just start there? You are not bad or ugly or dark. You are full of goodness and light. Abortion and all, you are FULL of goodness.
I once had a friend change my life and the way that I love with a single sentence. I was sharing something with her and I referred to the “ugly parts of who I am.” She stopped me, looked into my eyes, and said “Chelcie, every part of your story is welcome at this table, none of it is ugly.” And she has spent the last five years loving me in a way that showed me just how much she meant those words.
That is what I want you to know. Every part of your story is welcome here. Every inch of who you are and how you got here is loved. You are not broken, your story is not ugly.
No matter how you feel about that choice you made, all of it is welcome here.
To the friend who feels relief after her abortion, I see you. You are not wrong for the relief that you feel, you do not need to apologize or explain away your feelings. You do not need to pretend to feel things that you don’t feel. Give yourself permission to let out a big sigh, allow the weight to be lifted from your shoulders. Feel your relief. Remember your reasons. You are not selfish or heartless. Don’t feel bad about enjoying your life, about continuing down the road that you had paved for yourself.
To you who feels grief, I see you. I am so sorry. I think the heaviest grief in the world is the kind that you have to carry alone. The kind that society refuses to acknowledge or tells you that you’re not entitled to. You are so strong, you carry the weight of the world in silence. If you have ever felt like you didn’t deserve to mourn, like you didn’t have the right to grieve, you do. This was a loss, you get to feel that loss in whatever way your soul experiences it. You don’t have to defend your grief here, you don’t have to justify it. You can just feel it, you can cry, you can lay on the bathroom floor and let your whole heart ache. You can feel every fiber of that loss and it doesn’t need to make an ounce of sense to anyone else.
If you feel regret, I see you. When someone tells you to “have no regrets,” as if that little slogan mends anyone’s heavy remorse and you feel a strong desire to gut punch them, I understand. I am so sorry if you feel regret. I promise to never tell you to move on or to let go. I promise to never say the words “it is what it is” to you. Your regret is welcome here. I do have one request though, please friend, if you haven’t already, please forgive yourself. Please remember that you were doing the best that you could do. Please go sit with the former you that made that choice, look into her eyes with compassion, and forgive her. Please don’t put salt on your wounds in the name of remorse, don’t punish yourself. You don’t deserve that. Love the you who chose to have an abortion and love the you who sits here today, even if those look like two different women, lets cover them both in grace.
If you feel shame, FRIEND, I SEE YOU. I hurt for you. I am angry for you. Shame is not a moral failing, it is not a reflection of who you are. The great Brene Brown says that shame needs three things to survive: secrecy, silence and judgement. Those things feed and grow it until it is so big and all consuming that we can barely breathe. Unfortunately, abortion is the breeding ground for secrecy, silence and judgement.
The good news is that we also know what eradicates shame. We know that telling our story and having it met with empathy makes it impossible for shame to survive.
How often have you been able to tell your abortion story and have it met with empathy? How often have you kept it to yourself out of fear of judgment? I am sorry for all of the times that your shame has been able to feed off of the silence and to grow from the judgement. I’m sorry that the world tells you to keep your story to yourself.
When you hear the voices in your head that perpetuate your shame, please let these words be louder… You, friend who had an abortion, are worthy, loved, whole, beautiful, kind. You are a gift to the world, not a burden. You have a heart to be proud of, not one to be ashamed of. Your story doesn’t need to be hidden in the dark, we can gently walk it into the light. Let’s douse it with love and empathy together. You are safe here.
If your abortion was an easy choice, that’s okay.
If it was a hard choice, that’s okay.
Maybe you feel all of these things at the same time, maybe you feel none of them.
However you feel about your abortion, its okay.
But you don’t have to carry those feelings by yourself, we can carry them together. You can remove the gag that’s been shoved down your throat and give your story a voice. You can assign words to how you feel.
Whether you are sharing them them with an audience, writing them in a journal, or whispering them quietly to yourself in the shower, please let your feelings about your abortion exist somewhere outside of your body.
And if you need a space to do that, friend, I want to offer that to you.
I am not just saying that. I mean it. What do you need? What can I offer you?
I am not just saying that I love you, I really really do.
I am not just calling you friend for the hell of it, I want us to be friends to one another.
Friends are safe.
It doesn’t always feel safe out there, but in here it is.
In here with each other where we can drink tea and hug and cry and laugh and say hard things.
And sometimes say nothing at all.
You’re invited into this space.
You are your abortion are invited and loved here.
Every part of your story is welcome at this table.
None of it is ugly.
Come on over.