Dealing with Emotions

Dealing with Post-Abortion Emotions

When Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome begins to surface, so do many feelings. Troubled feelings. Angry feelings. Feelings of sadness, numbness, fear, anxiety, regret, guilt, and emptiness. Flashbacks catch you unaware. Dreams become very unsettling.

Why is this happening?

Think back to just before your abortion when you first found out you were pregnant. What were you feeling then? Sad? Scared? Overwhelmed? What were your circumstances at the time? Who did you tell about your pregnancy? Who didn’t you tell and why? What was the reaction of the people you told? How did you come to make the decision to abort? Who was all involved in that decision? While these hectic first weeks were upon you, when all these decisions were being made, many feelings were beginning to be stuffed. Think for a minute about your ride to the abortion clinic. Do you remember stuffing even more feelings? You had to stay strong, or so you thought, so that your life could once again return to some form of normalcy.

Now, fast forward with me to the present again. One thing you must come to understand about “feelings” is this:

When any feelings are buried, they are buried alive. The hope in all of us is that we can bury unwanted feelings dead, but this is never the case. If they are not dealt with, if a crisis is rushed through, or if you ignore your conscience these feelings will be buried alive within and, in time, will emerge in some way, shape or form in your life.

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Buried feelings may emerge….

in dreams. They may emerge as angry outbursts with family, friends, or co-workers. They may take the face of an increasingly troubled marriage relationship. They may emerge as anxiety/panic disorders, depression, or eating disorders. They may surface as a wall that is put around yourself so that you can more easily isolate yourself from others. They may show themselves as emotional numbness because when one feeling is buried, all feelings are buried. Not only is anger and grief submerged, but tender feelings, the soft, loving side of you will also stay buried at a convenient depth to avoid the possibility of further emotional pain. In other words, you do yourself no justice when you attempt to bury feelings. It is these buried feelings surrounding your abortion experience that are now emerging in your life in various ways and forms.

So… what? Will this merry-go-round of eruptions ever stop?
Yes, they will, but time alone will not stop them. You must be an active partner in your post-abortion healing process. Just reading about post-abortion stress syndrome will not help. You may gain in understanding, but your life will remain troubled. You must take the lead and work through it. There is no pain-free way of working through any troubled times in anyone’s life, but healing and wholeness are just beyond the pain. Trust me.


Where do you start?

For one thing, I would suggest buying yourself a notebook. As you make your way through each manageable step in this healing process, you will have this one place to write your thoughts, your questions, your feelings, and your “light-bulb moments!” For those of you who do not like journaling, do not despair. You can write as much or as little as necessary—a sentence, a phrase, a word or two is sometimes enough to jog your memory, to list what you are feeling, to write down questions you want to email to us about. This journaling investment is one of the best means to the road of discovery! Read through the series of articles at your own pace. Take your time with some of the pages that involve more thought or have suggested ‘homework.’ You soon will be having many ‘light-bulb moments’ that will bring needed healing.

So, notebook in hand, let’s begin. 

1. List all your feelings that are emerging.

2. Describe your dreams as you remember them.

3. Answer the question: “What is the worst thing for you right now?”

The following pages may be helpful:
They list the stages of grief and the process of resolving that grief. Keep your notebook in hand as you look at it and take notes about anything with which you might identify.

Stages of Grief