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Feeling Guilt After Abortion
Q: I am 18-years-old and I have had the same boyfriend for three years now. When I was 16-years-old and a junior in high school, I got pregnant. My boyfriend was a sophomore. He is four months younger than I am. I told my mother and I explained that I did not believe in getting an abortion and she agreed. The next thing I knew I was at the doctor's office getting an abortion. It has been about 2 1/2 years since this took place. My boyfriend and I are still together, but I think about it (the abortion) everyday and I hate myself and my Mom for not being there to support me. Neither my boyfriend nor any of my family members were there to support me in my decision. Everyone thought that an abortion was the right decision. I have always regretted it and I always will. I know I want to get pregnant again so I can finally have the baby that I wish I already had. Please help me understand my feelings and my depression.
A: I feel so badly that you had to go through an abortion you didn't want. I have counseled many girls and young women who feel as you do, that they were rushed and shamed into getting an abortion as the only way to "fix" their being pregnant. I am sure at the time you were so vulnerable and overwhelmed that you got swept up into having the abortion because everyone wanted you to, assuring you it would be the best thing for everyone.
Well, every day since that abortion you have felt angry, very sad and yes, you probably have had some degree of depression. I am concerned that your anger and disappointment at others (and yourself) will allow you to make a decision to "make up" for what you consider to be a huge mistake. Having a baby now, at your age and level of depression, confusion, and hurt, would not be a healthy decision for you or any life you would carry. Marriage and having children should ideally be entered into when you are feeling strong, joyful, and confident at all levels. You're not in that place now, Christy. Having a baby now won't make your pain go away about the abortion, it's the wrong way to approach your depression and angry feelings.
Please research a good therapist you could see to begin dealing with these long-held emotions. You deserve better feelings than you are capable of feeling now and I guarantee you it's possible to feel better, more alive, and free from chronic depression. It will take work but I know you are up to it. For some good advice on therapists who would really understand this special issue, I'd suggest calling your local or regional Planned Parenthood office listed in the phonebook. They are a compassionate organization who will understand immediately what you are talking about and they will have some good referrals for you. Keep me posted if you think I can help further.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.