Sharing Your Story, Or Not

Your story is just that: yours. You don’t owe anybody any explanation. No one deserves to hear the details of your life. Anyone whom you decide to share your story with should be both proud and thankful, because your story is a gift that should only be given when you want to give it. If you don’t want to share, you can always tell the truth without filling in details. “I’m having some health issues — please pray for me” is always a great way to engage people without telling them more than you want to share. If they press you for details, remind them to respect your privacy and tell them that you’ve shared as much as you want to share.

Dear friend,

After my abortion, it seemed as if there were a million messages being sent my way about how I should feel, think, and behave after making such a momentous decision. It was hard to pinpoint exactly how I felt about the experience because my emotions were not neatly fitting into any of the narratives thrown my way.

I felt relief. But it was also bittersweet that this decision was the conclusion of a relationship that should’ve ended months ago, happy that I was able to make a decision on my own and access the care I needed, proud that this was the first time in my young life that I truly felt like a grown woman, angry at all of the paperwork and waiting that took place over the three weeks between finding out I was pregnant and the actual procedure, and blessed that this moment in my life truly drew me closer to my God.

So yes, I experienced a blend of emotions, and after your abortion you may or may not feel the same way as I did. Know that pregnancy hormones are the gift that keep on giving, and can cause you to still feel like a stranger to yourself in the days following your procedure. Know that however you feel is valid. Know that your story is your own and doesn’t have to fit neatly into a narrative, or distilled down to something digestible. Know that it is okay if your emotions toward the abortion fluctuate. Know that there is no need to rush how you feel, that you deserve all the time it takes to process. And most importantly, know that this decision is now an integral part of your life’s history.

As the narrator, you get to decide what role it plays in your overall story, whether it will be a few chapters or a short simple sentence. You alone get to decide what emotions are conveyed when or if you share your story. The concept of autonomy is not restricted to the body.

As people who have had abortions, we are far too often misrepresented in the media and used as political talking points. We are flattened into statistics and used as organizational messaging. We appear on sassy protest signs and in legislator’s speeches. But the story of abortion, just like the experience itself, belongs to us. It is ours to own. Whether we choose to share that story with only ourselves or with others, it is important to tell a story that is accurately affirming of our decision and has been filtered to remove any stigma that exists to shame and silence us.

For some people, having an abortion was an easy choice. For some, it is heart-wrenching. Some people choose not to think about their procedure once it’s over, and some decide to shout it from the rooftops. For some, it was a life-changing decision. And for some, it was just another day.

Our individual abortion stories are just as diverse as the people who have them and as varied as our reason for choosing abortion. There isn’t a right way to feel, nor is there a right way to share — but it is your story to own. And please know, there is a sweet liberation to be found when we own what is rightfully ours.

Peace, Ashley

We Testify Abortion Storyteller