The Sixth Street Bridge

The Sixth Street Bridge
At the tender age of 17, I walked across this bridge, alone, into Downtown Pittsburgh, with $300 in my pocket that my mother had given me to get an abortion. I went into the Fulton Building (in the picture) and did what I was told to do. I didn't have a choice - if I did, I wouldn't have chosen abortion.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I've lost my joy in the shadows.

     Through all of my counseling over the last two years I’ve learned so much. I’ve revisited a lot of my past and tried to make sense of most of it. I’ve tried to accept the things that I can’t make sense of or have no control over. I worry though – as I seem to be reaching some kind of precipice in my healing journey – if I have truly lost a part of myself that I may never get back. Of course there were circumstances and events in my life beside the abortion that have picked apart my confidence and self esteem, but I’m not sure if any compare to the abortion as far as the complete obliteration of any sense of true happiness. It has picked away at my ability to feel sheer joy.  

     I’ve had a long struggle with recurrent depression and now more than ever I’m able to recognize the cyclical nature of its appearance and dormancy, but before the depression moved into to my mind and heart to take up even part-time residence, I was happy. Now, I find myself waiting for that happiness to return and so far, nothing. I keep thinking that someone is going to come along and say, it’s okay to be happy now! 

    It’s as if I’ve sealed myself off from any pure feeling of happiness. I find myself stifling the feeling when I can on purpose so I don’t feel it. My personality has changed over the years – probably the last ten in particular – from outgoing and gregarious to the point of almost having a panic attack in a room full of people. It’s not all the time and I’m able to manage it for the most part – but I’m different and I don’t know if I’ll ever return to a happy and carefree person and that is kind of scary because I want to be happy. I miss that person.

     Typically my husband and I are pretty good at balancing each other out. When I’m down, he pulls me up. When he’s down, I provide the pep talk … but not so much as of late. It’s become quite unbalanced in that I’m the one that seems to be always down and I’m afraid I’ve left him feeling as though he needs to walk on eggshells around me. I’m not sure if it has to do with my drudging up so much of my unpleasant past. All of the bad and horrible things in my life took place before my husband even entered my life and it’s caused me to feel that I’m still back there in that time and space and now I can’t shake it off. I tried so hard to forget so much and I’m afraid I won’t be able to forget it again.

     What if this is my punishment? What if as a trade off for searching for recovery and healing and forgiveness, I’ve had to turn in my joy card? What if now I have to make up for the 20 years that I didn’t feel horrible about my past? From the day I met my husband on, I was happy and joyful and little by little that joy has eluded me.

     We had a few stressors in our young marriage, but we made it through and our relationship never once faltered. If there was one constant that I knew I could cling to through it all – it was my husband and my marriage. I wonder if seeking out this healing and recovery from my past has now cast a shadow over my marriage that didn’t exist before. I’m afraid that my past is now creeping into the last bastion of goodness that I have left. I’ve forced myself to confront this head on and in that confrontation, my husband was by my side for every step but now I’m afraid that it’s become part of him too. What if I’ve robbed him of happiness in the process?

     Or is this just another mind game to make me think that I’ll never be okay? Just another issue drummed up in the darkness of my soul so that I will never, ever escape the shadow of my past and just to make sure of it… it will now overshadow my husband too so don’t get any ideas about trying to be happy myself – it won’t work. My mother-in-law used to always tell me that I had a light inside me…I’m afraid it’s gone and it won’t ever be lit again.


  1. I’ve read your post over and over, and I want to comment. I don’t think the wound ever heals completely because there will always be something, no matter how small, that reminds you of that pain and will reopen the wound again. I also struggle with feeling like I need permission to be happy, but it makes sense if you think about it: back then we did what we were told. I agree with you that it’s hard to stay in the here-and-now with people when the past is still unhealed. My husband gets really irritated with me about it sometimes.

    I doubt you’re being “punished” for trying to heal! There’s no condemnation in Christ. God wants you happy (like that book by Father Jonathan)! It’s easier said than done but what would happen if you just kept giving these joyless feelings over to God every single time you felt them? He cares about you and will carry your burdens. I know it feels tedious to do it each time. Put the idea of punishment in the pit where it belongs - it’s a LIE!

    I hid my past for 23 years and I wasn’t just dealing with the sin when I first started counseling but also dealing with grief. That takes time for everyone no matter what the circumstance of death was, so try to give yourself a little slack. Your anniversary was so recent too, and I’m sure that dredged up some sorrowful feelings. I don’t know if my thoughts here are eloquent enough, but even if I didn’t help, please know my heart completely goes out to you.

  2. Thank you for your kind words. They mean so much to me. It remains difficult to sort out all of my feelings and keep them where they belong and I kind of feel like I'm leading a double life most of the time. I'm at a crossroads of having to figure out what to do next b/c I can't drop anchor here for too long.