Her name would have been Sophie.
His name would been Jack.
She/he would have been 13 now. A teenager.
A teenager who would probably have been grounded a few times by now, if they had taken after me anyway. A teenager who probably had a girlfriend or boyfriend. A teenager who would have started secondary school and hopefully be thinking about what subjects to take for GCSE’S. A teenager who hopefully wouldn’t be making the same mistakes as I did.
I often wonder what Sophie or Jack would have looked like. Would they have looked me? Would they have looked like him? Would they have had blue eyes, brown eyes, blond hair, brown hair, black hair. Would they have been tall, short, slightly built or more well built like me?
Would they have been quiet and calm, or loud and boisterous? Would they have been activists at heart like their mother and father were?
I often wonder what they would have been like.
And I, especially most recently regret massively the fact that Sophie or Jack only lived for a very short amount of weeks, inside my body.
And that I made the decision to not continue their life.
I made the decision to have an early abortion. Distinguishing the life that was starting to grow inside of me.
Why am I writing this blog? Why am I telling you this?
Why after 13 years of total silence am I breaking that silence and speaking out?
Why after years of pro choice believing am I about to probably upset some people off by saying out loud that I cannot think anything other now than that life is precious, life starts at conception, and the life I carried did not deserve to be aborted.
Why after years of silence am I writing about the abortion that I had that will probably upset some of you reading this who have faithfully followed my writing and blogs online over the years and feel like you know me?
Why after years of silence am I sharing this that will probably get the Pro Life tweeters online condemning me and my actions because in their seemingly graceless world that is what they feel they should do (with the exception of a couple of people I’ve recently tweeted with whose brutal grace put tears into my eyes)
Why after years of silence am I telling you this?
The simplest answer is because it feels like I have come full circle.
When I first started blogging years ago it was a space to write about the things I could not vocalise. It was a space to write the things that my head was screaming but that I could not express whilst sitting in front of someone. And as life changed, so did I, and as I battled life, I wrote about it. ‘Fragmentz’ the identity was created, as a blog and as a tweeter. And I talked/wrote about life. And was grateful for the support I gained and received through that season from people I didnt know as I often went to places that were uncomfortable for folks, and where there were ‘no holds barred’ so to speak.
When I became a Christian again in October 2013 life changed. So did the need to write anonymously about absolutely everything in my life that had and was happening. And I started to explore life as a more ‘cohesive’ person, joining together the ‘Fragmentz’ who could only discuss the horrors of the past online with strangers (and a very small handful of people offline who didn’t live locally to me) with ‘Helen’ who had found a community safe enough/close enough offline to start exploring them properly face to face with people.
Blogging took a back seat a bit, and I started to write much less about what was going on and what I was experiencing. I remember some of you (people I’ve connected with solely online over the years) being quite hurt when I chose not to record/blog/publish transcripts of my baptism last year. I got to a place where whilst I love and need my online relationships I also needed privacy and space to explore and ‘do life’ in relationship with people offline. Something that was a different experience for me, and at times VERY challenging. I discovered it is one thing being ‘vulnerable’ online via twitter and a blog and a totally different thing being totally vulnerable face to face with people offline.
To look people, people I was learning to trust and can say I do trust now, in the eyes and be vulnerable with. It was tough.
But its what has happened. And it has been life changing. Life giving.
A few months ago during one of my many hospital stays which seem to be frequent at the moment I remember spending most of the time reading my Bible and praying. And felt a real sense of needing to ‘complete’ what had been started in terms of vocalising my story.
A real need to complete what had been started by God in terms of accepting who I am as a person and my past.
I felt like God was saying to me that if I was going to die then I needed to have made my peace fully with Him. And in that moment realised that IF I was going to die that I didn’t want to die with out having ‘become’ right with Him. Fully.
And that my ‘story’ was largely about what people had done to me. It was about the abuse as a child. The rape as an adult. And other stuff in-between, like the self harming, down ward spirals of depression and the overdose. The consequences of what happened to me.
But what I also realised was that my ‘story’ needed to become about things that I have done too.
I’ve needed to forgive much over the years, but I have also needed to be forgiven of much too.
My ‘story’ needed to include the realisation and acceptance that I have made mistakes. Huge massive big deep profound heart ripping mistakes that have held me condemned for many years.
A mistake that some people who identity as ‘pro life’ would call murder.
A mistake my pro choice friends and people I’ve identified with for years would call a choice I had every right to make.
But as I’ve journeyed life with people, offline, I’ve journeyed what it means. Life. What ‘life’ means. And being part of the lives of people who have become pregnant and carried their babies until they have been born, and seeing that process made me reevaluate my thinking. I remember the day when someone who has become an amazing friend showed me her first scan picture of the baby they longed for for so long. I could have cried. And just kept looking at it going ‘oh my God, theres its nose, feet, toes’ etc. It was so clear.
I realised in that moment, that very moment, in the pub over lunch that day looking at that scan picture, that having always been a pro life thinker (life in every shape or form, including the life of animals which was my big activist heart back then) I had become ‘pro choice’ in order to live with what I had done. Because by having an abortion I had gone against everything I believed in.
I had gone against the fact that I once believed life is life and is so from the moment it is conceived. I had gone against believing that all life, including the life of animals deserved to live.
And to live with myself I made myself believe that the baby I had aborted was not a baby. Just a mass of cells. Just a thing. Just a fetous. With no heart beat. With no feelings. With nothing. I made myself believe it was not life.
And I closed my heart and my head down. In order to survive. Which is what I’ve had to do numerous times over the years.
In order to be the ‘survivor’ that my twitter profile says I am, I had to close my heart and head down many many times to the horrors of life, in order to just keep on going. In order to take that one more step in front of another. In order to just make the day through. In order to live.
My baby has always been called Jack or Sophie though. So perhaps I didn’t close my head and my heart completely. Just enough to survive. Because if I believed what I had done was perhaps not the best thing back then I don’t know how I would/could have carried on.
But I also know, back then I didn’t know how I could/would have carried on when I discovered I was pregnant.
My living situation was volatile and difficult. The situation with my ‘boyfriend’ difficult. He didn’t care. I remember the day I told him, and he told me he didn’t care. I could do what I liked. I could have an abortion. He did not want to know. I could have the baby. He did not care or want to know. A week later he text me and told me to not contact him again, changed his phone number and ‘moved on’. (He lived from house to house with friends). He disappeared from my life. I’ve never seen or heard from him again.
I felt if I had gone to some of the Christians I knew at that time that they would have been more concerned about my ‘sin’ than anything. And shocked that Helen had got herself pregnant. Whether or not that would have happened I don’t know. But I felt it would.
I was alone. Totally alone. I was drinking a lot. Self harming. And still battling with other peoples behaviour towards me.
I had no money. No support. No where to go.
I was alone.
I felt like I simply could not bring a child into the chaotic world I lived in. Into the chaotic world my mind was. Into chaos.
I went alone to the clinic that day.
I went alone into the room to see the Dr’s, with just the nurse whose name I don’t even know alongside to get the medication I needed to take. I went back the day after, alone.
I walked in alone. And I walked out alone. I walked the next few days alone.
And I’ve continued to walk this particular walk alone. I’ve held this secret, alone. For 13 years.
And as I’ve come to value life more and more over the last 12 months the more painful the choice I made that day has become.
The more the condemnation and shame has hit.
The stronger I’ve got especially over the last year, the more I’ve come to realise life can be lived fully, the more Ive journeyed with people offline in community, the more I’ve become part of peoples lives, and the more they’ve become part of my life the more I’ve come to realise I don’t want to carry secrets. Because with those secrets come shame. And the condemnation. And the feeling that what I did could never possibly be forgiven by anyone. And if you read the tweets from pro life tweeters online you would be led to believe that it can’t be forgiven.
But thats not the case.
One of my favourites quotes is by Brene Brown. It is ‘shame cannot survive being spoken and met with empathy’.
And I discovered I needed to speak my shame.
And so I did. At the end of last year.
I spoke my shame.
I spoke my shame to the handful of close friends who have journeyed with my over the the years who I simply could not do life without. I spoke my shame to them fearful that this might be the ‘last straw’ in what they could cope with – having thrown lots at them.
I spoke my shame to my immediate church leaders, who have journeyed the last 18 months with me, whose baby girl changed so much of my thinking, fearful that this might the ‘one’ thing that would make them think ‘that Helen, she is too much’.
I spoke my shame to my church Pastor fearful that this would change his thinking of me, that he would treat me differently, that he would tell me this was the one thing that God could not forgive. That he would not want me in his church any more.
I spoke my shame to God.
I spoke my shame, to them all. Fearful of rejection.
But in that speaking of my shame, I discovered freedom. It wasn’t instant. But I found it.
I discovered I was wrong. Wrong to expect rejection which has been such a big part of my life, from the people I love. And who I have discovered and finally(!) accepted love from. I discovered that in speaking my shame to them, they were able to respond with love. And empathy. And its changed me.
I have discovered that despite there being absolutely nothing left to hide now, no part of my ‘story’ unspoken that these people, these friends that have become my family still love me. Still accept me. And still want to walk with me.
And I discovered I could speak my shame to God, who already knew it anyway, and still come to Him.
The last few months have been a painful journey.
The last few weeks have been a revolutionary journey.
With experiences of God that I simply cannot put into a blog, so personal and profound, that have made me fully realise and accept that I have been forgiven. And if I am gong to die, tomorrow because I’m hit by a bus or if I’m going to die because my respiratory system shuts down during an asthma attack and I can’t breathe any more, or if i’m going to die because my immune system is not working properly and my white blood cells are so high there could be something much more serious going on than we know about then actually that is OK.
It IS OK in as much as I am at peace now. I am at peace with my story. All of it. I am at peace with the people who have hurt me. I am at peace with the decisions and mistakes I have made.
If I am to die, I am at peace with God.
I have forgiven much. I have been forgiven much.
And so as I said above, we have come full circle. Having journeyed this journey over the last fews months, offline, it feels right to journey it with people online now. It feels right to speak out to people who have followed and supported me via twitter and fragmentz/helenblogs and to be fully open and transparent. Honest. About who I am as a person.
If you have shared my blogs/tweets over the year’s I’d be grateful if you were able to share this one. Because I want as many people as possible who have had contact with me to know who I am. What I have done and where I am at.
It feels especially right to be sharing this now because more recently I’ve had an influx of ‘pro choice’ and ‘pro life’ tweets being put into my timeline due to the political status in the States, and some big pro life marches that have recently taken place there.
It feels especially right to publish this blog, a blog I’ve actually written over quite a few times over months now because I am desperate to see more grace, especially within the pro life movement. A movement that seems to forget the life of the mother. A movement that online especially comes across as far more concerned with condemnation than anything else.
I beg you, if you, like I am now, are a pro life thinker that you consider love, and grace and mercy as you tweet what you tweet and say what you say.
Remember as well as the life of a baby you are ‘protecting’ you have the life of a woman to think about too.
And she deserves more than being shamed and condemned.
If you are reading this having had an abortion, there is no condemnation. you are loved.
Thank you for reading.
This is it.
This is me.
This is my story.
Helen, you are a genuinely amazing person and I’m honored to know you xxx
Thank you for sharing this. Never forget even when it feels like your walking alone, you are never alone.
When I read your blog posts I feel the need to comment and tell you how profoundly they’ve touched me, but then I struggle to find the words to express that properly.
I want you to know that I do read them, though, and that they do indeed touch me. You inspire me, in a lot of ways. I think you’re the bravest person I’ve ever met. And as far as my opinion on pro life/pro life discussion goes: it’s irrelevant. How can I hold against you what God has already forgiven you for? Well, I can’t, and I won’t. So, I repeat your own words back to you: you are loved.
Thank you for sharing your story. I always find that it’s rare to hear voices like yours in the usual pro-choice/pro-life debate. The pro-life camp doesn’t acknowledge the pain that women are often put in with an unplanned pregnancy and the pro-choice camp doesn’t acknowledge how difficult the choice can be. Thanks again for sharing and God bless.
Wow. I really wanted to write a long reply, but its raining here in the township, and that means the power is off for some reason lol. I’ll have a go on my phone.
First of all, you are a hero. Sure, you made a massive mistake, but that’s the whole point of grace. Yeh, I’m against abortion, but there’s still a log in my eye, and when you get inevitable twitter abuse for this, please just remember there is a log in theirs too.
Secondly, I’m so proud of who you have become over the last year or so. Even switching to helenblogs from fragments was such a positive step, such a sign of your maturity. I was really struck when we last met for cups of tea in Boston how much you had changed since we’d last spent time together. And it was all great change, calm, friendly, peaceful change. God change.
Thirdly, please forgive me if I’ve ever stated my pro-lifeness in a way that has hurt you, or made you feel condemned: not because of your past actions, but just if I’d made you feel condemned about your own views. It can be so hard to be a role model for love, and sometimes in trying to be a spokesperson for it, I end up sounding like a dictator instead.
Keep up the good work, keep modelling the qualities of redemptive love, and walk in freedom of forgiveness. Also, eat more avocado, because avacado is amazing.
Love, Chris, Katherine, Joen, Neriah, Heze, Pudding, etc
Helen, I found your blog from a friend. I love your honesty. And I want you to know that you are forgiven. You are beautiful and loved by God. Most pro-lifers aren’t hateful and condescending – these are the ones that make the news. Most of us weep with the mothers who have made this choice and pray for peace and grace. We hold your hearts when they feel shattered. We would do anything to help take the pain and hurt away.
God bless you Helen. May your story help bring healing to many.
~Joy and Elijah.
Reblogged this on Partakers WOW Disciple… and commented:
A powerful blog from an amazingly gracious and strong woman…
Helen, you’re amazing.
So many things we have experienced in common. So many more you’ve had to endure.
Go on being you. That’s just how we like you. 🙂
I notice the bit when you said you where ‘alone’ eths,( in that so far as you could see there was only one set of footprint)..guess you where being carried as even in our darkest lowest moments we are not forsaken even though it might feel like it to us at the time. Lotsa love,do miss our times in the JA chat room but each thing has its season. much love honey xx
Helen. I love you so much. You’re one of the most courageous people I know. Your honesty is so refreshing. I’m so glad that God brought our lives together. You are a gift to have as a friend. Always. Wendy xx
Helen, it is so good to have met you and to increasingly see the grace of Heaven in your life. May the Lord strengthen and encourage you, and provide you with good friends to stand alongside you, for all the road ahead.
Helen, thank you for sharing this powerful story of God’s healing forgiveness, while revealing some of the real and common factors that so often surround a woman getting an abortion. A vulnerable, powerful piece.
Thank you for sharing and I am truly sorry for your pain. I too went through an early stage abortion almost 18 years ago now and was unfortunately outed on Twitter by someone professing to be pro-life, but who used my experience to try to claim that I was somehow secretly pro-choice.
This was then picked up upon mainly by pro-choice advocates who gleefully claimed it as hypocrisy, saying that I wanted to deny others the very choice that I had exercised. This has also been seized on in public debates and used to smear, but never by pro-lifers who understand, that like you, and in fact like so many women, I too had very little ‘choice’ in the matter. It was my experience of abortion as opposed to any innate religious conviction (at the time I categorised myself as agnostic) which made me realise what a terrible, hurtful and damaging experience this is for mother and baby alike.
Perhaps I’m fortunate in that I haven’t witnessed pro-life hate and condemnation, although I do believe that some tactics leave a lot to be desired, but I wonder how much of the imagined hate or lack of forgiveness is pro-choice projection?
For myself I always try to avoid the word ‘murderer’ not only because it is emotionally loaded, but because it denotes some sort of intent, which I believe that many pregnant women seeking abortion, do not possess. Quite simply for most women the decision is one taken out of necessity in the genuine belief that in the early stages of pregnancy, this is not a baby, child or human life which is being talked about.
I think post-abortive women come to know, more than most, the concept of God’s most severe and loving mercy. But of course, the one word that rankles amongst pro-choicers is ‘forgiveness’ because that implies that a woman has does something wrong in the first place.
While pro-lifers agree that abortion is a dreadful thing, most of us also accept that there are mitigating factors and that hectoring women or name-calling does not act as a spur to healing or reconciliation. But it is the need for acceptance, healing, forgiveness and reconciliation which I think, so angers certain pro-choicers.
We have to accept that we played a part in something very terrible, while trusting in God’s infinite love and mercy, not beating ourselves up, but neither denying that what happened was of no consequence. It’s a tricky balance. But pro-lifers should be aiming to help, encourage and support women on their journey of healing and obviously we have some way to go if the impression given is one of condemnation – it certainly hasn’t been my experience. Ultimately if post-abortive women are murderers than that makes me one – a description I reject, because at the time I did not believe that there was a baby to kill.
But God Bless and thank you for sharing
Well done Helen. You are correct. For God, nothing is unforgivable. If you are in need of help, we are here for you.
Healing Hidden Hurts
Helen, I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your children. Thank you for bravely sharing your story and for tweeting it to @ProjectRachel. Part of my job entails educating pro-lifers about the need for increased compassion and sensitivity for those who’ve been involved in abortion. Your honesty has allowed me to learn so many things today. May God comfort you and keep you on the path to healing. You will never forget your children, but I hope and pray that you will make peace with your past.
You are incredibly courageous in posting this, well done! Your writing is clearly very sincere and can reach people on a deep level, that’s rare these days and rather refreshing. Again thanks for posting!
Helen, it was lovely to meet you last weekend and we want you to know that we are here for you, if you want.
Once upon a time I took the “morning after pill” …if I had conceived then this was an abortion.
Years later I miscarried. He would have been about 10 and his name is Philip. Yes I’m sure it was a boy.
Was this justice? Was it chance?
I mourned for him and maybe for the unknown other possible child….
We make mistakes. We get it (badly) wrong. Our God is bigger.