Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Before having an abortion, talk through feelings with counselor
Philadelphia: I'm 18 and pregnant. I want to get an abortion but I am worried I will regret it forever. I know about all the counseling resources, but I don't believe any of the things they will tell me would really prepare me for the feelings that would come from terminating. How do I begin to make this decision?
Carolyn: You avail yourself of all the counseling resources anyway, instead of talking yourself out of them before you hear what they have to say. (For advice without ideology or agenda, choose a source that isn't invested in any one outcome.)
This is a fresh and intensely personal experience for you, and brings all the fresh and intense emotions that come with that — but this is, at the same time, a well-traveled road you're on. Counselors for reputable organizations that serve pregnant and confused teenagers are informed by their regular exposure to the range of feelings, both from the mothers who terminate their pregnancies to the ones who carry to term, including the ones who raise their children or place them for adoption.
I can also say with confidence that many speak from personal experience — not because I know all of these thousands of counselors personally, but because it's rare to come across a woman who hasn't waged some sort of internal battle over sexuality and motherhood.
You have choices, along with those roiling fears and feelings. Please seek out the comfort and shelter of a veteran — not to "prepare me for the feelings," but to get you asking the right questions of yourself. That's how you confront your fears, which is how you pre-empt those regrets.
Anonymous: Re: Philadelphia: I just want to point out that either decision may have regrets. Even decisions that are RIGHT for you don't come with ZERO regrets. I wish someone had told me that a few years ago. I used to think if I'd made the right choice I wouldn't have regrets, and really beat myself up about some things that I now see were the best choice for me at the time, under my circumstances.
Carolyn: This is huge, thank you, thank you. It is indeed not so black-and-white.
Accept all facets of personality or find someone else
Over-the-Board: When is asking someone to change their personality out of line? Always?
My partner is flirty with everyone. So I either have to accept that this is the person I fell in love with, or let them go to find someone who embraces their flirtatious nature . . . right?
Anything else feels like I'm asking them to change.
Carolyn: Right. But it might make for an easier rumination session if you thought less about your partner's behavior, and more about how it makes you feel. If the answer is anything but positive, and the rate of occurrence of this feeling is anything but rare, you need to be realistic about the long-term effects of the flirtatiousness on your self-worth.
Even if it just feels like a pebble in your shoe now, you have to anticipate that it will be agony after a few miles. You either embrace the problematic trait, or you pass on the whole person.