7 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Resentment After an Abortion

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Are you and your partner coping with a whirlwind of emotions after an abortion? You wouldn’t be alone if one or both of you felt some resentment. It’s a mixture of anger, disappointment, and disgust about an unfair situation or being wronged by others. 

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Abortion often brings sadness, guilt, and other strong emotions to the forefront. Resentment may slowly eat away at your mindset and your relationship if you allow it to grow. Stay ahead of it by considering why you may feel resentment and tips for dealing with resentment directed at your partner or other loved ones.

Why Might You Feel Resentment After Experiencing an Abortion?

It’s important to note that resentment can develop even if the other person doesn’t necessarily do something wrong. What matters is your perception of what happened and how you react from there. So whether a situation is genuinely unjust or it’s a difference of perception, resentment can grow.

You can feel good about the decision and still feel the heavy weight of grief. But you may have difficulty moving through the pain when you hold on to resentment. Here’s more about why you may resent others around you following an abortion. 

Lack of involvement or support from your partner

Going through an abortion is an emotionally complex situation, and your resentment may take time to emerge. Only one person can have the procedure, which creates an uneven experience for a couple. 

If your partner seems distant or unsupported afterward, you may feel abandoned or lonely. And because your partner is directly connected with your abortion experience, you may see them as partly responsible for your pain. With an emotionally charged decision like abortion, it’s easy to take your grief out on your partner.

Not feeling heard by your partner 

Did you feel like your partner heard and understood your viewpoint when you discussed your options? If not, you may feel like your perspective was dismissed or minimized. Even if you agreed about the abortion itself, you may feel like they didn’t listen very closely. The choice becomes final once you take action. And if you felt like your voice wasn’t honored, resentment may build as time goes on.

Your partner was more in favor of the abortion than you 

The decision to have an abortion comes with complex emotions. You’re weighing the pros and cons logically while acknowledging heavy emotions. You may have felt that if your partner was strongly in favor of an abortion, it was the best choice to keep your relationship together. Or you may have agreed initially and then had misgivings later on. 

If you perceive that your partner got what they wanted and you were left with mixed feelings, you may feel justified holding this against them.   

Noticing your partner feeling relief when you feel guilt, shame, or sadness

You may notice a difference in how you and your partner cope with the abortion over time. You may still have waves of emotion for weeks or months. And if your partner doesn’t appear to react similarly, it may seem like they don’t care. Or they may tell you they feel relieved about the abortion while your guilt lingers. This mismatch of emotion happens sometimes. And both partners may cope with grief in unique ways, too.

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Tips for Dealing With Resentment Toward Your Partner After an Abortion

As you process your loss, you may feel anger or lingering resentment toward your partner for several reasons. Here are a few ways to work through your grief while being mindful of your relationship.

1. Name that feeling

Resentment is a slow-burning emotion that can eat at you for ages. Maybe you felt like you were pressured into having an abortion, or perhaps it seems like your partner doesn’t feel the weight of the decision like you do. Whatever the reason, take a moment to observe this feeling so you can name it. 

Acknowledge that what you’re feeling is resentment and clarify who your target is. It may seem strange to be so deliberate about it, but naming your emotion can help you cope.

It can be hard to admit that you’re holding something against another person, especially when it involves something emotionally difficult like abortion. It poisons the individual holding the resentment more than it ever hurts the other person, so it’s important to learn how to release it. 

Writing down the words or saying them out loud can take the power out of your feelings. When you can understand your resentment for what it is, it’s easier to let it go

2. Be present with your emotions

Now that you’ve acknowledged your resentment, just let it be. Resentment has a way of covering up and distracting you from other more vulnerable emotions. Your resentment is authentic, but it’s probably not the only strong feeling you have about your situation. If you can be still and observe yourself, other emotions may emerge. You may notice shame, embarrassment, or deep sorrow taking shape. 

Take a few moments to honor these other feelings. You don’t need to dwell with them for long to recognize that they’re part of your experience, too. Being present and honest with your emotions will help you process them more easily.

3. Extend empathy 

When you’re hurting emotionally, everything else can be colored by your pain. Resentment can make it hard to be understanding, especially to your partner. Their reaction is valid no matter what it looks like, and it may not be what it appears.

It’s easy to make assumptions about what someone else is going through, especially when you’re in a heightened state of emotion. So when you sense resentment building, ask them to share what they’re going through. Try to put your reaction to the side for a while. 

4. Don’t bottle up your emotions

Keeping your feelings quiet may seem to keep the peace with your partner. But pent-up feelings can build and feed off each other. If you don’t express those feelings openly, you may feel more trapped and distressed over time. Your feelings won’t go away just because you don’t talk about them. You may instead turn to destructive behaviors to cover them up or keep them at bay. 

As uncomfortable as it may be, it’s essential to talk honestly with your partner. Be straightforward about what you feel, even if you’re worried about your partner’s reaction. The adverse effects of stuffing your feelings may be a bigger threat to your relationship than the temporary discomfort of talking openly. 

Tips for Dealing With Resentment Toward Other Loved Ones After an Abortion

You may feel resentment at times toward other loved ones, too. They may not have known about your abortion, but you may still feel angry that they don’t have to carry the same emotional struggle. Here are some ways to cope with your resentment and reach out to others.

1. Coping when you have kept your abortion private 

Many people keep abortions private, especially if friends or family members may not receive the news well. Coping with an unseen loss on your own can be difficult. You may feel resentment towards your loved ones for not having to carry this burden, even though you know they don’t realize what you’ve been through. They may notice that you seem emotional or irritable about something, but won’t understand why. 

The mixed emotions you may feel can be frustrating and painful, even if keeping your abortion private is the right decision for you. When those feelings arise, step back and extend compassion to them and yourself. You can cope with your emotions while minimizing the effect on your relationship. Notice your emotional reaction and try to address it as soon as you can. 

2. If you’re ready, talk honestly with a trusted loved one

Opening up to a loved one about your abortion may not be easy. But if you are ready to talk with someone you trust, sharing your experience may relieve some of your tension. Remember that some of your resentment toward others may actually be directed at yourself. You may have projected your emotional pain onto other people to make it seem less intense. But opening up to someone who cares can help you feel less isolated. 

Abortion is a difficult topic to discuss, even with someone you trust. According to a 2020 study by UCSF, up to 70% of women feel like they may be stigmatized if people knew they had an abortion. It takes courage to open up. And if a loved one has a strong emotional reaction at first, it may not mean they aren’t supportive. They may just need time to process first.

3. Connect with a support group or counselor 

Secrets can be difficult to carry alone, even when kept private for good reasons. If you cannot speak to your loved ones, you may find it easier to open up to others who share the experience of abortion. 

Look for abortion support groups online and in person where available. Some groups are guided by leaders who have been through the experience themselves. Other groups may be organized and led by specially trained staff. Larger counseling clinics may also have support groups that focus on abortion. 

Grief counseling may be an option if you don’t feel comfortable in a large group or need more personal guidance and support. If you have difficulty with daily activities or your emotions interfere with your relationships, individual counseling may help you find your emotional footing. 

Resentment and Abortion: Moving Forward

Feelings of anger and resentment are a common part of the grief process. Working through grief from an abortion can come with extra challenges. It’s normal to feel anger when coping with loss, but it can sometimes turn into resentment. 

You don’t need to hold on to resentment. Instead, take the tips mentioned from this guide to help you and your partner to cope with abortion together.  


Sources:
  1. Kurtzman, Laura. “Five years after abortion nearly all women say it was the right decision.” News, University of California San Fransisco, January, 2020, ucsf.edu.
  2. “Tips for managing grief.” Work Life Services, New York State Employee Assistance Program, 2021. rioc.ny.gov
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