Stories of Us – Jane Doe

forgive-yo-self

This weeks Stories of Us post is controversial at best.

It is my desire to share this woman’s story WITHOUT a backlash of judgmental, harsh opinions and religious crucifixion.

Today’s story is about a woman who wishes to remain anonymous, so we will call her Jane Doe.

 

And it is a story about love, motherhood and loss.

When Jane was 17 years old, she got mixed up in the wrong crowd.  She started drinking and partying a little too hard.  Her middle class family and moral upbringing did not change the fact that she had wild oats to sow, regardless of how hard her parents tried to rein her in.  One night, at the age of 17 (which according to CDC statistics around 3/4ths of all high school girls have had sex), she did just that - and found herself pregnant.

There she was 17 years old.  Despite a support system in place, despite friends, despite sex education classes – her fears of being slut shamed and ‘ruining her life’ caused her to make a split second decision to have an abortion.  She walked into the clinic with a good friend of hers, sneaking out one early Saturday morning, only to pass droves of protestors standing outside the clinic with graphic sculptures of fetuses in their hands, pawing at her shoulders, telling her that she was destined to go to hell.

At just a few weeks pregnant, she felt nothing of the baby, and instead felt terrified, alone, ashamed, and desperate to end what she perceived as a nightmare.  When you are 17 – EVERYTHING feels like the end of the world.

The tears that streamed down her face that morning as she walked into the abortion clinic were not shed with sadness or regret.  They were shed with fear.  Fear of being exposed.  Fear of being tortured at school if people found out.  Fear that her parents would disown her.  Fear of what she was about to feel.  Raw, un-throttled and maybe unrealistic fear.  And of course, fear that at her young age she was destined to go to hell.

Because she only had a little bit of money, she said, “she endured the procedure fully awake, feeling that she deserved the pain it would bring her for being such an awful person.!”  “I sat there and did not move, and never once looked at the doctor performing the procedure.’

Back in those days, there were no laws in place that required parental involvement when a young girl sought an abortion.  When she left the clinic just a few hours later, under the judgmental glares of the protestors, she felt empty.  But mostly she admits that she felt relieved.  A few days later, that experience – that she dealt with completely on her own in the sort of way a 17 year olds deal with things was filed way back into her psyche.  Never to be thought of again.  Over.  Done.

From time to time, she would see a baby in the arms of a mother and wonder, but Jane did her very best to push any feelings to the back of her mind.

Fast forward a decade and a half later and this same woman, now successful and in love, married to the man of her dreams - became pregnant.  When the paperwork at her OBGYN asked her how many times she had been pregnant, she lied and said that this was the first time.  She spent the entire 9 months of that pregnancy paralyzed with fear that God was going to punish her by hurting her baby or killing her during childbirth.  She felt undeserving of the baby that grew inside her.  And she went to sleep every night feeling the cold abortion clinic table beneath her, as a doctor who had no name pulled a life from her womb.  Even her husband did not know that she had an abortion at 17.

Today, Jane has 3 kids.  2 boys and 1 girl.  She is a fabulous mother.  An amazing person.  And yet, she tortures herself for a decision that she made in haste so many years ago.  According to the CDC, in 2009, there were 2.6 million Jane Doe’s – many of them young and others older, who chose to end a pregnancy for one reason or another.  It is not up to me or you to decide what is right for someone else.

And these people suffer. 

These people become Jane Doe, the PTA president, the CEO of a company, the parent of healthy kids, the wives of awesome fathers, the so-called ‘perfect people’ who carry a secret deep within themselves.  Many of these women punish themselves daily for their decisions.  Suddenly, when they become mothers and realize the love that they have for their children, they start believing that they are truly monsters for having an abortion – regardless of the circumstances that they were in at the time.

When Jane told me her story about her abortion, she heaved heavy tears of pain that shuddered through her body like thunder in the valley.  We sat at a playground, watching our kids play – and her mind was on a child that she never met, and she felt blood on her hands.  Even though she thought she had filed this away with the millions of other mistakes we ALL make as teens, she never realized the impact it would have years later.

Personally, my opinion of Jane did not change when she told me had an abortion at 17.  I reminded her that walking around among us, some our neighbors, some our sisters, some our cousins, teachers, friends and woman we respect - also carry the same secret.  I reminded her that we, as woman, change constantly.  I remind her that at that moment in her life, she did the very best that she could do with the resources that she had.  I reminded her that she deserved her children, her family – and that I did not beleive she was destined for Hell.  I held her in my arms until she let go.

That day, as we left the playground to continue on to Chic-Fi-Le for lunch and some playland – Jane said, “He would be 21 years old this May?”

I have no idea why she said, ‘He” but I was glad that Jane trusted me enough to tell me her secret.

The reality is this. 

We all have opinions about abortion.

And yet, there are millions of us – probably some of us reading this blog, that have had one ourselves.  Our ‘shameful little secret’ that we hold deep inside ourselves because we live in a world that is so quick to judge and crucify one another.  And while I will keep my opinions about abortion private - I will say, that whatever mistakes we make in our past, need to remain in our past.  No matter what you did one day back then, no matter how awful you thought you were, you are a vehicle of change and growth.  Our pasts do not define us, unless we allow them to.  Our pasts make us who we are today.  My parting words to Jane that day – and this was the last time we ever spoke of this, was the same parting words to you that I will end this blog with.

Forgive YOURSELF!  In the words of Maya Angelou, when you know better – you do better. 

 

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Comments

  1. Molley Mills says:

    WOW! So eloquently put. it is nobody’s decision or business ever but the person who is going through it, thank you for writing this. It brought tears to my eyes.

    • admin says:

      Im glad. This has been sitting in the file for quite some time now. And as expected, I am getting unliked and nasty messages for posting it. My aim with this piece was not to condone nor preach, nor take a stance – but simply to tell a story. And there are likley millions of women in this world among us today walking around with the same secret.

  2. Dani says:

    This is a wonderful, powerful piece. Never be ashamed of your decisions. There are some issues that no person should judge another on and this is one of them.

  3. I don’t know you… but I <3 you! I am grateful that their is someone like you walking around –this person is suffering and deserves someone kind to lean on! We can debate the issue of abortion all day long, and yes as a part of a society that still fights for the right to choose we still get to make decisions we get to use our voice. I'm not even going to debate the issue. What I read here is spewing with compassion –this woman already feels the pain from her decision.

    I just recently blogged about my own secrets and posted a quote, I hope you don't mind me sharing it… but I think it is very appropriate, it is from the book To Kill a Mocking Bird “You never really understand a person
    until you consider things from his point of view —
    until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

    I wish your friend peace. Bless her heart.

  4. Liz G. says:

    Thank you so much for these words of encouragement for all of us who have had to make this same, scary decision! This is why I love your page so much! You speak truth!

    • Lenochka says:

      I think abortion is all right. Abortion is ONLY all right in the case of the child may not live very long and will sufefr throughout it’s short life, the woman is going to die due to complications of delivery [the child that may be born will also be motherless], or in the case of ****.Many people think that if you are ***** and have conceived that putting the child up for adoption is okay, but the reality is that how can a woman who has been been used and discarded like an old shirt have that child, it was no fault of hers, so then the choice should be available if she decides to keep the child or not. Plus if the child is put into adoption does it really have hat high of a chance of even getting adopted? Aren’t adoption percentages like 25%? So if that child has to live like an orphan throughout its life, what kind of life is that?In my faith we believe that the soul enters the body shortly after birth, so abortion to me is okay.-That’s my take on abortion

  5. RLR says:

    If you only knew how many of us have dealt with the same thing. That secret.
    The only thing that makes it heal, somewhat, is Gods loving Grace.
    When you know better, you do better..
    My family & friends would never believe that was me as well, it was.
    I’m healed and forgiven…but you will always carry the scars. Always. They are to remind you , not of the error of your ways, but to remind you,there are others like you, who need healing as well. to remind you to help others., who are just like you, but still suffering. Never allowing the wound to heal.
    Thank you for sharing. God makes EVERYTHING for good…even the scars.. Never forget..always forgiven.

  6. C.C says:

    Very well written.

  7. Bethany says:

    Even as someone who does not believe that abortion is never the right choice. I cannot and will not condemn someone who has had one. While my beliefs about abortion are strongly founded on my belief that the baby should be protected I also have a huge concern for the mother who receives the abortion. There can be no mistaken that this decision will have lasting impacts on the mother and in those cases where the father is aware of the decision on him as well. Once the decision is made and the action has been taken a true christian will not condemn but rather show them the same grace and forgiveness that God shows each and every one of us each day.

    Those who would unlike your page based on the post above are weak in their own convictions (whatever those may be) or they would realize that while others will make decisions that are against our beliefs that we are not called to judge but to help those around us.

    It is my personal opinion that you did a fantastic job of simply bringing attention to the lasting consequences of a decision such as this and the need for compassion and forgiveness. As you said you maintained a secrecy of your own personal opinions and simply exposed the turmoil and lasting consequences of decisions made in the past.

  8. Teri says:

    Stef this is a beautiful and well-written post. Ultimately it is a woman’s decision what to do with her own body and she will deal with whatever consequences come from her choices. Personally I am pro-choice and am of the opinion that no one has the right to judge until they’ve walked in someone’s shoes.

    Great post!

  9. It’s been ages since I’ve touched your actual blog itself. However, I do love your comments on Facebook. Now I remember why I started following your blog to start with.

    Your an amazing writer who shares thoughts similar to my own. This story was very moving. You wrote it so well that I felt like I was that woman.

    Very good moral to this story that we do have to forgive ourselves. No one can change their past mistakes as much as we often wish we could.

  10. Evil Joy says:

    What an amazing story. And Jane is an amazing woman. As are you for sharing her story and in such a caring and understanding way. I totally <3 you!!!!

    Forgiveness is huge. Especially when it is ourselves we need to forgive.

    Love you for putting this out there.

    Joy

  11. Shefali says:

    What a heart breaking story and you tell it so well! Just found your blog and have been hooked for the the past hour. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. It takes courage to speak out on this issue one way or another.

    It is so true. As women we have the hardest time forgiving ourselves.

  12. Roshni says:

    I’m sorry that you’re getting nasty comments about this because this is a very eloquently put post that should appeal to our basic humanity…to support the woman who had to make a very difficult decision.

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