I had an abortion many years ago. I did it to avoid shame, but instead I am riddled with guilt. I know that I can't reverse what I have done, but is there some way to alleviate my burden? Or must I resign myself to carrying the guilt with me all my life?
Guilt is to the soul what pain is to the body. Pain itself is not a good thing, but it does serve a purpose. It alerts you that there is something amiss that requires corrective action.
Guilt is to the soul what pain is to the body
Guilt serves a purpose too. To allow guilt to eat away at us is pointless. Rather, guilt is there to be used as a catalyst for improvement and becoming a better person. We must recognize the mistakes we make, take responsibility for them and not blame others - even if others were partially to blame - and then resolve to be better for the experience. We must turn around the negative feelings, so they can propel us to do more good.
In the case of someone who wrongly had an abortion, perhaps one way to
channel the guilt into positivity would be to take on a project that will
specifically benefit unwanted or abandoned children. The ultimate would be to actually adopt such a child, but that is not always possible. Here are some other suggestions: volunteer time and donate money to an orphanage; become a "big sister" to a child that needs extra support; or help out a friend or family member who is bringing up their children in difficult circumstances, such as a single mother or someone battling serious illness.
Guilt creates a void in our soul. Fill that void with something meaningful. Redirect your energy towards a new venture that will benefit someone in need. That way you don't merely alleviate the guilt--you actually transform it into an impetus for good.
You can't bring back the potential life that was lost. But you can reclaim your own potential. Don't let guilt paralyze you. Ask G‑d to forgive you. Then turn your guilt around, and use it as a springboard for positive action. Make what was a negative chapter in your life into the introduction to the next chapter, a chapter focused on love and life.