I’m a lost cause
Baby, don’t waste your time on me
I’m so damaged beyond repair
Life has shattered my hopes and my dreams

Somebody save me, me from myself
I’ve spent so long living in Hell

These lyrics from Jelly Roll’s song Save Me speak about feeling like he has messed up so much that he’s beyond saving. And yet, he still has enough hope to call out for someone to help.
This song echoes the words and emotions of many of our clients, such as these:

– I don’t know how to live with this. I can’t forgive myself for having the abortion. I have no hope. I don’t think my life is important in any way anymore.
– I’ve been told countless times that I need to forgive myself but I can’t, how can I? Nothing I do has helped me feel like I will ever heal from this.
– I’m stuck. But I feel like moving on is betraying myself and my baby. I don’t know how to not get consumed by all of this grief. I don’t know how to forgive myself.
– Everyone tells me I need to move on, including my girlfriend, but I don’t know how. I try to feel better, but it’s like I’m just going through the motions of life. I feel helpless and like no one is there for me.
– Before my abortion, I thought I would feel relieved and be able to move forward. But I’ve been overwhelmed with sadness that I’m afraid won’t ever go away. I’m so stuck with grief. I need help.
– I wish people knew how lonely and suffocating it is after abortion. No matter what I do, I really can’t run from it. I’m hurting so much, and I can’t stop crying because the pain is just unbearable. Help.

Jelly Roll’s real-life story of transformation from unhealthy choices and patterns is inspiring – and so are those of our clients who forge paths of change.

The first step is moving past feeling stuck and without hope, unable to forgive ourselves. Although, as Save Me shows so eloquently, it may feel like it in the moment, none of us are a lost cause. So, let’s explore what it takes to get unstuck, forgive ourselves, and move forward.

AM I EMOTIONALLY STUCK?

Everyone experiences emotional challenges differently, and signs can vary from person to person. You might be emotionally stuck if you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Persistent negative thoughts
  • Lack of motivation
  • Constant worry, overthinking, or what-ifs
  • Emotional numbness
  • Experiencing flashback or triggers
  • Engaging in repetitive unhealthy behaviors
  • Depending on unhealthy coping mechanisms to avoid dealing with emotions, such as substance misuse, overeating, overworking, or excessive use of tv, internet or gaming

WHY AM I EMOTIONALLY STUCK?

We can feel stuck when we are disappointed about something. Worrying about what others think or how they might judge us can make us freeze. Sometimes we’re afraid we might have to give up something to make a change. Many times feeling stuck is a result of overwhelming negative emotions – we feel scared, sad, anxious, unworthy, guilty, angry, lonely, betrayed, ashamed… and it just feels too hard to move forward.

HOW DO I GET UNSTUCK?

1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR EMOTIONS

Grappling with our emotions and past experiences, decisions, or regrets can weigh us down. The burden can be heavy and leave us feeling trapped in a cycle of self-condemnation. It’s okay to feel stuck, overwhelmed, or even lost. The first step toward moving forward is acknowledging our emotions. Confront your grief, regret, anger, sadness, etc. head on without judgment. Avoiding the facts or denying your emotions only prolongs the process. So, take some time to identify and reflect on what happened and what you’re feeling. Some people find journaling to be a powerful tool that helps them see more clearly and make sense of their emotions. By understanding the root of your emotions, decisions, and behaviors, you can start to unravel the layers that keep you stuck.

2. IDENTIFY THE FACTS & ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY

Explore what you feel guilty, regretful, or angry about. Understand the actions or decisions that led to the situation. Be specific and honest with yourself about what happened and acknowledge your role in the situation. Taking responsibility doesn’t mean blaming yourself excessively. Understand that everyone makes mistakes; it’s a part of being human. If your actions or words affected others, apologize sincerely and seek their forgiveness. However, remember that you can’t control how others will respond, and their forgiveness is not always within your control.

3. BE COMPASSIONATE WITH YOURSELF

Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a loved one facing a similar situation. You are not defined solely by your past actions. Speak to yourself with words of encouragement and compassion. Engage in activities that bring you comfort and joy. Incorporate positive habits into your daily routines, such as regular exercise, balanced diet, and sufficient sleep. Taking care of your physical and mental well-being can significantly contribute to a more compassionate outlook on yourself.

4. REFRAME NEGATIVE THOUGHTS & SELF-TALK

Our thoughts have a significant impact on our emotions. Identify your negative thoughts and patterns. Recognize when you’re being critical or condemning of yourself. Ask yourself questions to help you challenge these ideas. For example, Are these thoughts based on facts, or are they assumptions or exaggerations? Try to change the way you talk to yourself. Try saying “I’m feeling stuck” instead of “I am stuck.” Substitute negative thoughts with positive affirmations that emphasize your strengths and achievements.

Often when we feel stuck, that particular area of life consumes our thoughts. Spend some time appreciating what is going well with your health, relationships, work, or other important parts of life. Watch our January 2024 webinar walking through a Life Balance Wheel Assessment, which can help you identify the most important areas of life for you and objectively assess what may need attention and what is working well. This exercise can help redirect negative thoughts and offer insight and a clearer picture of what’s going on.

5. SET REALISTIC GOALS & FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS

Shift your focus from dwelling on the past to living in the present and planning for the future. Set new goals and aspirations, and work towards them. Cultivate a positive mindset that emphasizes growth and progress.

Ask yourself What is the next smallest step I can take? Then commit to spending a short time – even 5-10 minutes on that. This technique can be especially useful when you feel frozen – stuck. Maybe today you feel so depressed you called in sick to work. Maybe your next smallest step is to get a shower or brush your teeth. Maybe you feel like you have no control in your life. Maybe your next smallest step is to identify one area of life – any choice – where you can feel control. Perhaps it’s deciding what you want for dinner, applying for one job, or texting one friend.

If your regret is related to a specific behavior, develop a plan for change. Outline concrete steps you can take to avoid repeating the same actions in the future. This proactive approach can help you regain a sense of control and empowerment.

6. SEEK SUPPORT

You don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust, whether that’s a family member, friend, peer facilitator, mentor, or therapist can provide a sense of relief and help you gain valuable insights.

If you find it challenging to forgive yourself or if the guilt and shame persist, consider seeking the support of a therapist or counselor. They can provide guidance, care, and strategies to help you navigate through your emotions and move forward.

CONCLUSION

Getting unstuck emotionally is a process. And the power to forgive yourself and move forward starts with acknowledging your emotions, identifying the facts and accepting responsibility, being compassionate with yourself, reframing negative thoughts and self-talk, setting realistic goals and focusing on solutions, and seeking support. Your emotional well-being is worth the journey. And Support After Abortion is here to listen and connect you to healing options that meet your needs and preferences.

RESOURCES

Two resources that are particularly helpful in exploring our emotions and behaviors are:

Keys to Hope and Healing, which is an introductory abortion healing resource available for women and men, in English and Spanish, religious and secular versions. Resources include booklets, journals, facilitator’s guide, training videos, and self-guided video series.

Unraveled Roots: Exposing the Hidden Causes of Damaging Behaviors, which helps individuals identify the root causes behind damaging choices and patterns to change their life and legacy by establishing new, healthier patterns one small step at a time. Resources include book, journal, facilitator’s guide, training videos, and self-guided video series. A men’s version is coming soon.

HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ABORTION?

Reach out to our After Abortion Line by online chat, phone, text, email or messaging on Facebook or Instagram. We offer free, confidential, compassionate support. We can connect you to the healing resource that best meets your preferences – that may be one-on-one, group, or independent; counseling or peer facilitator; virtual, in person, or self-guided; religious or secular; weekend, weekly, or self-paced, etc. Check out our website for information, videos, self-guided healing, and more for women and men.

DO YOU – OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO – PROVIDE AFTER-ABORTION SUPPORT?

Explore our Provider Training Center and attend our free monthly Abortion Healing Provider webinars, Men’s Healing Matters webinars, and Quarterly Facilitator Trainings.

About the Author
Michele serves as Communications Manager for Support After Abortion. She holds a B.A. in International Business and a M.B.A. with an emphasis in Marketing. She and her husband have experienced reproductive loss through three miscarriages and stillborn twins. They live in Greenville, SC with their three daughters.