The invaluable Post-Abortion Review published Finding Grace in its April-June 2004 issue.
This article is by Kristey Walker, the director of CPC Southeast Houston. (CPC stands for Crisis Pregnancy Center.)
Kristey's story describes with searing honesty the years she spent denying her abortion history. She writes,
The [CPC] application was simple enough until I got to the part, "Have you ever had an abortion?" My heart started to beat faster and I wanted to take the application and run. Why were they asking me this? Surely it was because this was a pro-life ministry and if you had had an abortion, they would not want you here. I lied and wrote, "No."
As her work at the CPC begins,
I even started counseling clients about their own past abortions. I could talk all day long about theirs, but my heart was tightly closed about my own. I kept it a secret for fear of being judged. I did not want to be grouped with what I thought of as "those women."
Later on, Kristey becomes director of her CPC and is expected to attend training days in post-abortion ministry. Her first such training was sponsored by Ramah International.
I had to go; it was part of my job and there was no way out. I thought, "I can do this; it won't be a problem for me." I was so very wrong.
The first day of the session I had my first panic attack. I could not focus on the material. I felt sick and kept holding back tears. With those I could not hold back, I only hoped that this roomful of women would think that I was so moved and touched that I cried for others.
Truly, I was weeping for myself. I sat in the back of the room and prayed that God would not make us get into small groups, because I could not tell these other Christian CPC directors that I was suffering from post-abortion syndrome.
That night in the hotel room, I became so physically sick I almost went to the emergency room. I had heart palpitations and cold sweats and felt like I wanted to faint. I realize now that it was all due to the fact that my own past abortions were resurfacing and I was not mentally or physically ready for it.
Kristey eventually does participate in a post-abortion program:
It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. The first few weeks I almost came to despise my group leader, Karen. She made me truly seek out what was so deep in my heart that I could not stand the sight of myself...I walked out of those twelve weeks free from guilt and understanding the true meaning of God's grace.
I wish that every volunteer at every CPC in the country would read Kristey's story. I don't know how often other CPC volunteers follow a similar path, but I know it happens. As Kristey writes:
I speak to pastor's wives who are still holding it in for fear of being judged, and other CPC counselors who hear me speak and then, weeping, come to me and say, "I lied on my own application."
When Kristey talks about the fear of judgment--which is certainly shared by many others--part of that fear is projection (we expect others to judge us as harshly as we are judging ourselves) and part of it is reality. Prochoice and prolife people can and do offer scorching assessments of women who have had abortions.
That fear of judgment holds people back from seeking help, even help they know will be confidential and nonjudgmental.
Another theme that comes through in the article is the overwhelming anxiety Kristey experiences when some of her deeply-buried emotions start to surface. The fear of being overwhelmed by those feelings is what holds some people back from participating in a recovery program. All-in-all, I think the fear of being overwhelmed by one's emotions is a fear that goes much deeper than the fear of judgment.