It’s been 24 years. I was a recent high school grad, excited for my summer break and a new chapter of my life in college when my girlfriend at the time told me she was pregnant. I didn’t know what to say. I felt like I had no place to tell her what to do, let alone how I felt, so I kept quiet. I was compliant with her choice of abortion, drove her to the clinic, and we never spoke of it again. When we broke up one year later, I thought that I would never think of it again, but that was far from the case. Every time I saw a child around the age that my child would have been, it triggered me to feel guilt and shame. I’d get stuck wondering, ‘what could have been?’ And then ‘I wish I had spoken up at the time.’
Over the years, I made attempts to heal on my own or with friends and family. It was unguided and led to many mistakes. 10 years ago, I initially made the connection to Claris Health after meeting with a friend, Grace, who worked at Claris. After hearing my story, she encouraged me that I could help other men who’ve been through what I’ve been through. I didn’t know how that would be possible, but it planted a seed.
In March of 2019 my wife began volunteering at Claris, and three months later I decided to join her out of a sincere admiration for what Claris does. I was in between jobs and another small part of me thought that maybe volunteering at Claris would somehow make up for what I’d done years back. I never intended to join Claris’ pregnancy loss support group, but as I was volunteering, I learned about an upcoming group and the need for future facilitators to participate and train. I thought, “Sure, I want a better understanding of what this program offers” and joined the group. Within a few weeks, something clicked, and I realized that I was actually the one in need of healing.
It’s funny to say, “a book called me out”, but after completing the 10-week post-abortion study, it revealed the true purpose of Claris in my life. I initially volunteered to try to clear my own shame, but while serving I got the help and healing I never imagined possible. I also saw how the other services that Claris offers deeply help people. From being an observer to participant to now feeling like I can live my life more honestly, I wholeheartedly believe in these programs. All of this eventually led my wife and I to become supporters and donors of this small yet powerful organization. –Ben