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From Black to White

“Why did I feel such guilt and regret after the abortion?"

We have a vivid memory a young woman arriving at one of our first post-abortion groups. She was in her early 20s and she was wearing a black dress, black top, black boots and a black overcoat. Her face was deathly pale and the skin on her face appeared to be stretched taut, as if to reflect an inner tension. She wore black nail varnish and black lipstick, and her hair was swept back under a black scarf. This was not someone dressed as a ‘Goth’; it was a statement. If all the black was striking, what really tore at my heart were her eyes. There was a lifelessness about them – haunted and out of place in one so young. As she entered the room we all stopped talking for a heartbeat. We were used to people arriving on the first evening of our courses looking strained, but this was a dramatic entrance, even by our standards.

Eight weeks later it was the final evening of the course. What a difference! This same woman arrived wearing a flowing white dress. Her lips were bright red and her hair flowed down over her shoulders. She was smiling and her eyes were clear and bright. She was laughing and appeared relaxed and confident.

As she left she thanked us, saying, “You have restored what was taken by the abortion; I feel [like] a whole woman again”. About a year later, I heard she had married, and a while after that we received a letter telling us she was pregnant. In the letter she thanked us earnestly and said that, had she not been on the course, she did not think she would have married or wanted a child.

Although this woman’s appearance was unusual, what was going on under the surface was not. Time after time we saw the same dynamics at work and the same issues surface. There are differences in how individuals process their experience, but not as many as one might think given the range of people we have seen. The woman above moved from a life lived in monochrome to one in technicolour. On each course, we prayed that this process of transformation and restoration would be repeated.