It’s interesting isn’t it…? How some things can be so perfectly designed that you just naturally follow the progression… That’s exactly how this healing journey was going for me. It was almost like the post-abortion recovery study I was doing was perfectly designed to walk me through each step needed to actually deal with my abortion and the “junk” I’d kept hidden for so many years.
After realizing the truth about my abortion – how my baby was developing in my womb, how I would respond emotionally (you can read about that in my last post – I Choose to Live), how it would affect areas of my life that I thought were completely unrelated – I could only feel angry.
I was so angry at the people involved. There were several reasons for this…
- None of the doctors or nurses had actually educated me about fetal development
- None of the staff educated me on the potential emotional trauma that I could experience.
- Not one of the people at the clinic – including a counselor I was forced to talk to – shared any other options with me, like adoption or actually facing my fear and keeping my baby.
These professionals were supposed to be the trusted advisors who were helping me through the most terrifying time in my life. Where was their accountability? It’s almost as if I didn’t matter in this equation – I felt like I had been lied to in the most horrifying way.
And then I wondered, where was God in all of this? Why didn’t He stop me? Well… the truth is that I felt this gut bomb of dread in the pit of my stomach the entire time. I know now that it must have been the Holy Spirit urging me to make the right decision, but I wasn’t actively seeking God at this time in my life and in fact had stopped considering Him all together. He gives us free will to choose Him, to choose what we want/do in life and to make the decisions we want. I chose not to include Him in my life at that time, so I ignored every hint of His urging inside of me. God wasn’t to blame in any of this – only myself.
As I was feeling this anger during my healing journey, I was reminded of how angry I had been at my ex-boyfriend at the time of my abortion. He told me that I had to “take care of it” – and I couldn’t believe that he had taken the decision away from me! At least that’s what I had thought at the time… What I didn’t realize was that he never actually took the decision away from me – I was just so emotionally exhausted that I chose not to fight it.
Wikipedia describes anger as:
“An intense emotional response. It is a normal emotion that involves a strong uncomfortable and emotional response to a perceived provocation. Often it indicates when one’s personal boundaries are violated.”
I think Wikipedia got it right… A perceived provocation… The anger I experienced was directed to people and places that I thought had control over me at the time. People that I thought had some level of responsibility in my abortion.
Anger is often referred to as a secondary emotion. When we experience anger, there is usually some other underlying emotion that we are truly feeling, but trying to cover up. Anger is often a mask for fear, hurt, pain, rejection, injustice, etc. We don’t want to be vulnerable to the true emotion, so we disguise it as anger. The emotion itself is not a bad thing – in fact, God created our emotions, so how could they be bad? The issues can arise from how we respond to each emotion.
Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. Exodus 2:11-12
Moses was enraged when he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Israelites. When Moses killed the Egyptian his anger was justified, but how he responded was not. He didn’t manage his anger well and poorly managed anger typically ends in destruction of some sort. Before I had started this healing journey, that’s exactly where I was headed – destruction.
In the years following my abortion, I did my best to hide everything about the experience – including my anger. I didn’t realize it until I was going through this healing journey that the anger buried deep within me came out at the most random times and unsuspecting targets.
A few years after I got married, my husband and I started having some issues like most newlywed couples do. Because I had so much experience burying my feelings and emotions so deep, I would often hide my feelings and then explode at him at the drop of a hat. Of course some of our problems were real issues that we needed to work through, but other times, I really think the wraths I unleashed on him were lingering from the emotional issues I had carried with me from my abortion.
I sometimes even drank alcohol to deal with my anger (shocking, I know!). I didn’t always feel like my anger was worth the thought or energy it took to deal with, so I just avoided it. I felt like I had lost the “fight” in me – I was just so exhausted, so I’d do whatever it took to avoid dealing with my emotions.
Eventually, as I reflected on my anger in this healing journey, I learned that most of my anger was misdirected. Remember, anger is an emotional response to a perceived provocation – sometimes not even an actual provocation.
My biggest issue? I was terrified to consider my own culpability in my abortion – it was much easier to blame others. (I had believed that abortion was wrong, and here I was doing the very thing I didn’t agree with!) I actually found that I wasn’t angry at the clinic itself, nor was I angry at their staff – they were just doing what they do (as awful as I think that is). I also found that I wasn’t really angry at my ex-boyfriend either. I hadn’t considered the frightened young man that he must have been at the time. He responded in the only way that he knew how.
I realized that the only person I was truly upset with was myself. For not fighting my ex-boyfriend when he told me to “take care of it”. For getting into the car to go to the abortion clinic. For not walking out of the abortion clinic. For not telling anyone close to me what was going on – because I know now that they would have loved me through the entire situation. I was very upset with myself.
And that’s about the time that I started longing to forgive those I had been angry with. It’s almost as if this healing journey was divinely inspired to lead me exactly where I needed to go… I just had no clue where to even start…
What I Learned:
- Anger is a natural response to a provocation.
- God gave me my emotions, so feeling anger is not a bad thing; however the way in which I choose to respond to that anger can be.
- My anger rooted itself deep within, showing up years later at inopportune times.
- Sometimes my anger is misdirected as I respond to what I perceive as an injustice to me.
- I wasn’t truly angry at anyone except myself – I had only tried to blame others for the decision I had made.
- What situations have you responded to in anger?
- What provoked your anger? Was the provocation perceived or real?
- How did you handle your anger?
- How did it or has it manifested in your life?
- How have you released that anger? How can you?
- How can God help you to release your anger?
If you need prayer or a listening ear, please contact me privately. I am happy to be a safe place and a prayer warrior for you.
Comments on: "Next Stop: Anger" (2)
Heather, I loved your truth and have been in this situation as far as burying anger and blaming it on others. But the one thing that I found that brought true and everlasting healing was to forgive myself. Forgiving others is actually easier to do than forgiving oneself. When you do then the past remains the past and the future seems so much brighter.
It’s almost as if you know where this story is headed, Dawn! Thank you for your insight and your sweet spirit!