Peace After Abortion: a self-help book for women & men
Ava Torre-Bueno, LCSW
Leah had had two abortions four years apart. I was seeing her five years later for other concerns, when her feelings about these abortions resurfaced. She had coped well after the first abortion even though she was disappointed with her partner for not wanting to continue the pregnancy. The second abortion was with another partner and Leah found herself in the same position she had been in a few years before.
After the second abortion, Leah lost enjoyment in everything that usually interested her. She had a hard time working. She often called in sick and stayed in bed all day even though she had no physical illness. She completely lost control of her finances. She couldn't keep track of where her money went because she began shopping compulsively to try to feel better. Nothing gave Leah pleasure; she felt worthless and sad, and worst of all, she just couldn't think clearly or concentrate on anything. She found it difficult and unsatisfying to read, or watch movies. This period in her life seems hazy and unclear to her now.
In therapy, Leah could see that she had become quite depressed after the second abortion. She hadn't had an explanation for feeling so out of balance before. Just having her symptoms named and explained by me, gave her a sense of something solid to hold on to. As she got more comfortable with the idea of depression, that it was an illness we could treat together, she was able to piece together the emotional events that had led to her depression.
Leah knew she couldn't continue either of the pregnancies. She was raising her six year old daughter by herself when she became pregnant the second time. At first she only remembered feeling resigned to having the abortions, but as we talked more, Leah remembered that for a few days, she had been furious at her partner for not wanting to stay with her and raise the baby.
Over the course of several weeks in her therapy, Leah came to understand that the rage at her boyfriend was itself a cover for deep feelings of the despair of abandonment. She had needed to cover these feelings up, because they were a painful reminder of her parents' divorce and the agonizing feeling of having been abandoned by her father when she was four years old. Leah's mother couldn't tolerate Leah's anger or her despair at losing her father. Because her step-father or mother would beat her if she was angry, it was safer for Leah to become unaware of her anger.