Arlene’s Story – Some names have been changed to respect confidentiality
“I left home at 21, and a year later, started dating *Jason, even though all of my friends told me it was a mistake. I told myself it was a mistake. He wasn’t nice to anyone. He was rude and calloused and went out of his way to make people feel small. But when he liked you….wow. He could make you feel as if his whole universe revolved around you. So much so that I started believing that I had been wrong about him, and so was everyone else. He was just misunderstood. He was blindingly passionate. It was enough to get you blissfully tangled in his web. But then, he’d pounce-call me names, degrade me, especially in front of other people. He put me on a pedestal just to shove me off of it and he how badly he could wound me-how much I’d allow. I’d break up with him only to get ensnared again.
In November of 1999, at 22 years old, I found out I was pregnant. I had always wanted children, so although I wasn’t married to Jason, I was happy. He didn’t share my joy. All of the happiness I felt turned to brokenness in an instant. We were living with his brother and sister in law. I was working, and he wasn’t. He wasn’t even really looking. He told me we couldn’t afford to have a baby, and that I needed to “get rid of it”. I begged him to let me keep my baby. He said that if I didn’t have an abortion, he would push me down the stairs or punch and kick me in the stomach until I lost the baby. I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood for a termination. Just before I had it done, I talked to a counselor there. She asked me if I was being coerced and I denied that I was. She asked if Jason was supportive, and I waffled on my answer, so she asked if he was abusive. I told her that he could be mean sometimes. She told me she could refer me to organizations that helped women get out of that, and suggested I keep my child. What?? And go against what I was told? Go against him? No. He’d find me if I left and he’d kidnap my child, for sure. Or kill my child and me. No. No. No. I HAD to do this. It was the only way out.
Jason came with me that day. He had just gotten a job, but went in late to come with me. I think he really came to make sure I actually went through with it, but he made it seem like he was being supportive. He refused to hold my hand–to comfort me at all. I went back into the clinic. A lot of the details are fuzzy, but I remember asking to see the ultrasound before the procedure, and they said, “No. We don’t want you to change your mind.”. The nurse told me what they were going to do–very matter of fact, clinical. She told me what it would feel like—that it was no big deal, “it” wasn’t really a baby, that I “caught it early”.
And then it began. I remember the sound of the machine when they turned it on. I remember them telling me to relax. Then, sudden, blinding pain that made me scream out ripped through my body and soul. Tears streamed down my face. The doctor said it was “successful”, and that was that. My baby was dead, and I killed her. I felt like I was made entirely of broken glass, and every move tore me apart.
They wheeled me into a large, white room with other women who had just had abortions. Some were crying silently, others were sobbing. No one looked proud or relieved. I remember the girl next to me had long, red hair like me. They gave us juice and a snack. When I was able to leave, Jason went to work. I went home. Alone. I cried for days. Jason told me to stop so no one would know anything. I took my brokenness, my guilt, and my shame and put it away-like it didn’t exist, but a couple of weeks later, when Jason’s sister in law asked me if I had just had an abortion, the pain came flooding back and I sobbed on her shoulder. She told me that God forgave me, but I was Wiccan at the time, so I didn’t even hear that. Jason was furious that I told her, and forbade me to tell anyone else. I didn’t. Some of my friends knew, but he didn’t know that. I just kept the pain to myself.
We got married February 10th, 2000. My 23rd birthday. He started hitting me shortly after. I was actually surprised. He had built me up so much before we started dating and in the beginning, that I held on in the hopes that that man would return again. He didn’t—until I decided to leave. I told him I was leaving him in May, 2001. I vowed to never return to him. I started divorce procedures for cruel and inhuman treatment. I took out a restraining order through Family Court, and when he violated it, I had him arrested and he spent a couple of nights in jail. But where I was living after I left him wasn’t a healthy environment, so when I saw him in court while he was trying to file a restraining order against me (for nothing, of course), we started talking, and he roped me back into his web again. He promised to get counseling, go to anger management. He did none of those things, but promised me he would until I moved back in—just before September 11th. He told me he loved me so much, that he missed me, and that he was sorry for how he had treated me.
Then, September 30th, 2001, I found out I was pregnant again. I was elated. Jason told me after the first time that he’d never make me go through that again, and I believed him. We were married. We could have a family! We had just been talking about starting a family in about a year. It would just be sooner—awesome!
Jason told me he wasn’t ready yet. He told me I’d be fat and disgusting if he “let me stay pregnant”. He said I’d be huge, and that he couldn’t handle that. He told me to get rid of the baby. Again. All of my hopes and dreams were being crushed again. I told him no. I refused to this time. I was putting my foot…down? He reminded me that he was stronger than me, and that he would follow through this time and kill the baby if I didn’t. He threatened divorce and to plant drugs to have my child taken away. He threatened to smear and slander me in court—to make me look bad in any way he saw fit to ensure that I did not get to keep my baby. I caved. I put all my past brokenness, guilt, shame into my backpack of despair and anger, and went to another clinic. This time, they let me see my baby on the ultrasound, and I wept. I touched the picture. Then I was on a gurney, counting backwards from 10. I remember getting to around 6, then black. When I came to, I was hazy, in terrible pain, shattered—and alone. No one was there for me this time. I was given antibiotics and sent on my way. Once again, I had killed my child. I was a murderer. But I had to keep a brave face. Tell no one. Hide. Keep the secret. Act ok.
I was very, very far from OK. I thought about taking my life almost every day.
A few months later, I finally left Jason. All I ever saw when I looked at him was pain, anger, violence, resentment—and more pain. I hated him. He tried so hard to lure me back in, but I managed to escape. Then I escaped to Montana for the next 12 years.
I came to the Lord March 23rd, 2004. I felt such joy, forgiveness, and love that it overwhelmed me. How could God forgive me? Me? I killed two innocent children, among other things. How could I ever be good enough to deserve His forgiveness and love? But that was the point! I couldn’t ever be good enough, but Jesus made a way for me! I have a beautiful 8 year old son—a precious gift from the Lord. I have a wonderful husband, and terrific friends. I am so blessed. But that deep, dark secret I have that caused those wounds upon my heart—that I worked so hard to suppress and hide, it’s still there—the wounds still open and festering. It’s time to let God get the poison out of these wounds so they can finally heal. I know that I am forgiven, wanted, loved, cherished—a daughter of the King. Because I now not only know, but believe I am dearly loved and forgiven by God, today I can surrender my heart, mind, and soul to Jesus and forgive those who have hurt me. I have forgiven Jason, and most importantly, I have forgiven myself.
I know that God will do something with my pain to bring me healing for His glory. I know that He wants me to share my story, and that I don’t need to be ashamed anymore, because He is bigger than my shame! That is worth surrendering my secret.”