I grew up with a Catholic father...

“I grew up with a Catholic father and went to a Catholic high school. My father took away my voice by never allowing me to speak up for myself, and was taught that being respectful meant never talking back. So I was incapable of vocalizing my anger and disgust when the priest's at my high school showed the entire school community a pro life film. I was horrified, but because I had never learned and was never encouraged to speak my truth, I kept my anger bottled up. Instead I vowed to myself that if I ever fell into a situation where I became pregnant, I would never allow anyone to tell me what to do. I was so angry I convinced myself that I would have no problem having an abortion.

To my discontent I continued to study at this high school as my parents refused to transfer me. We were never taught anything about sex or contraceptions at this school, and there was no way I could talk about sex with my parents. Abstinence was the only thing that was encouraged, and slut shaming was an extracurricular activity.

I started dating. I fell in love with the wrong guy, we had unprotected sex because we were stupid, and I got pregnant. Having sex was stigmatized. Pregnancy was stigmatized. I was doomed to deal with this on my own as I felt like I couldn't tell anyone about my situation.

So, I secretly had an abortion. For years I told no one. I burned the medical records, and I pushed the abortion into a deep place inside me. I suffered with guilt and shame, and I felt completely alone. I felt guilt not only for having the abortion, but for also being nonchalant about abortion. Depression, self loathing and fear consumed me for years. Social anxiety took over. I had a hard time getting together with friends. It became awful to live with the guilt, and I convinced myself that I was not worthy of ever having children.

I was 18 when I had the abortion. I'm 46 now. It's taken me a long time to come to terms with what happened 26 years ago. I've always wanted children, but my education (or lack thereof), and the shame and guilt felt by a Catholic upbringing ripped that away from me. I'm now too old to have children. And even though I'm married to a wonderful man, I never will.

I don't believe that abortion is wrong, but lack of education is. Institutions need to prevent ignorance and teach sex ed to all students. Gender issues also need to be taught in all schools. Organized religion needs to stay out of education, and parents need to raise their children to have a voice.

I encourage women everywhere to share their stories. Silence instills fear and shame. Organizations like this one exist to protect women and help guide them. No women is ever alone, because there are millions of women like us all over the world. Thank you to My Abortion, My Life, for connecting us.” —Mary-Lynn

#religionandfaith #guilt

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