My father drank so much that he could barely walk. My mother was a hard working Yugoslavian immigrant.
I was born in 1953. I was the oldest of six. My father was very abusive to his family. He was in and out of mental institutions and jail drying out.
Growing up in an abusive home was rarely fun. I became very fearful and withdrawn. I learned to do what I was told and didn’t have a say in anything. I was very quiet, but acted out a lot of my emotional pain. Self-hatred grew within me. Insecurity and inferiority manipulated my behavior.
When I became a teenager I longed to fit in. I felt accepted by the hippies. I began using drugs and drinking. My drug use escalated.
I became pregnant and didn’t even know I was pregnant until I started showing. The father was a biker who recently returned from Vietnam. He has his own emotional issues, which included Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
He and I married and had a baby boy. I’d just turned 17 when my first baby was born. His infidelity caused him to leave before our baby was two. Now, I was single with a baby. I moved into a house with a few other hippies.
One night, we were all smoking pot and people started coming over. One fellow, who was a friend of one of my housemates, approached me. He told me he was backslidden from seminary school. He said he had something to tell me before we did any more drugs. He started telling me that Jesus loved me. He told me – Jesus loves me so much that he died on the cross for my sins. I had never heard that before.
After getting high – I left the room and got on my knees and asked Jesus to come into my life. I was 19 years old and Jesus found me at a drug party.
Jesus made a change in me. But I didn’t know anything about Him or what happened to me. I sought direction at a local church. As the pastor cleaned the baptismal tank we talked. I told him about the problems in my life and sought for help. He told me I had too many problems and he couldn’t help me. Ironically, I found myself at some home bible studies that he taught.
About a year later I entered the Teen Challenge Drug Program and graduated a year after that.
When I was 23 years old, Greg and I were married. He was still backslidden and I was still very broken. But I had accepted the Lord and had come a long way.
I began to go to church on a regular basis, trying to do the best that I could. I got pregnant a second time and had a baby girl. I hoped her birth would motivate Greg to straighten up, get a job and come to church. But it did not.
During the time I was married to Greg, he continued using drugs and was in and out of drug programs and jail. He spent more time in jail than he did at home with our family.
It was hard. I was babysitting, receiving Federal Assistance and Food Stamps so I could stay home with the kids. The kids and I were going to church all the time. We were also volunteering there as well. We found family and friends there. The church was our life. I thought I was doing all that I could but Greg’s being away from home so much was wearing on me. I was becoming very vulnerable.
During one of these times that Greg was in jail, a brother in my church started becoming really friendly. He started to show an interest in my children, also. Before I knew it I was pregnant for the third time.
This time I never held my baby. An abortion was arranged for me by the father. I was disappointed. But because I had learned so well as a child to do what I was told I went ahead and had the abortion.
I left the abortion clinic numb that day. That emotional numbness stayed with me for years. We were the only ones that knew what happened that day.
The effects of the abortion were relentless. That event became an open door in my life for the enemy of my soul to mentally torment me. In my head – I would hear the sound of a baby crying. I would continually repent to the Lord over and over again. Nightmares tormented me and I battled depression. It was as though I had given up. I was emotionally numb. I just wanted to feel something good but I was going about it all the wrong way. Those days are almost a blur.
Now, I know it was because of the trauma of the abortion.
Fast forward some 30 years later. Greg has passed away. I’ve done some recovery work and have had some counseling. I’m happily re-married. My children have accepted the Lord into their lives and are faithful to the Lord and the church.
It’s December 2009. My husband and I are visiting the children and their families on the East Coast for the Christmas Holiday. My son has two children. My daughter is pregnant with her third. We are having a wonderful three week visit.
My daughter has three months left before her third baby is born. While she’s showing me how big her belly is a little foot presses against the inside of her belly. I see the impression of the little foot. I had never seen that before. But this event, as precious as it was in the moment, has made a greater impact on me – as I would soon find out. Remember it was my 3rd pregnancy that I had aborted.
Our visit was nearing an end and we headed back to California.
It was the 1st week of January, 2010 when we returned home. My husband started his new job and he was off to Arizona for a week of training. I was left home alone. That week he was gone was hell on earth for me. An emotional semi-truck slammed into me. From the first day he was gone, I became extremely depressed. I began praying and calling out to God.
God began to expose that big secret that I had been running from for almost 30 years. I though tI was going to die from the emotional pain. I begged God to take me. What I had done was horrible. How could I forgive myself? I was wailing and screaming and crying so hard and begging God for mercy. After a couple of days of this I knew I needed help. It wasn’t getting any better. I needed to take the next step.
Tearfully, I picked up the phone book and turned the pages. Finally, I called Tulare-Kings Right to Life for help. I asked if there were any counselors that could take my call. They gave me a number. I got in touch with a counselor at The IRMA Network. She graciously set up an appointment for me.
The next week started my visits with her. Together we figured out what triggered the intense emotional release concerning the abortion. She explained the Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms I was having. This helped me so much and gave me hope. She helped me understand that I had never grieved the loss of my baby. I had never dealt with any of the issues concerning the abortion.
She helped me look at and walk through the tangled emotional web that the abortion had spun around me.
Since my first appointment, I’ve realized that it was important for me to get help so I could sort it out. Some things we are not meant to do alone.
Not dealing with the abortion created a barrier in my life. Even though I thought the constant repenting was enough… it was not. There was a huge obstacle between me and God and me and everything else in my life.
It was unforgiveness. I had forgiven everyone in my life but one person. I had not forgiven myself.
The unforgiveness, guilt and shame was preventing me from having a personal, intimate relationship with God. I could not see Jesus clearly. The abortion was blocking my view. I could not receive the complete wholeness and healing that God so wanted me to have. My life was on hold, until I dealt with the abortion.
So – I got into counseling and talked about the issues. I forgave myself. I attended the Silent Voices Retreat. I’m in bible studies and a support group connecting with others in The IRMA Network. I’m volunteering and actively serving in the community.
All of these things have brought about a tremendous amount of peace and closure in my life. I’m not the same person anymore.
I hardly recognize myself because I am finally allowing God to make me whole. Now, I want to help others and show what God’s continual redemptive work can do in a life when we let Him.
My name is Lesleigh Kelly and I’m sharing the details of life with you, so that you, too, can be encouraged to come into the light of God’s love and have your obstacles removed.
John 10:10 says (this is Jesus speaking) “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. Jesus says I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.”