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.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Feast of the Holy Innocents

I knew today's Feast was coming and I tried my best to ignore it.  Some things are just too difficult to deal with head on and still be able to function for the day.  But, at least here, I can "say" something about today's Feast of the Holy Innocents.

Matthew 2:13-18

...When the wise men had departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, "Out of Egypt I have called my son."  When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
"A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled,
because they are no more." 
I remember as a child I had an elaborate children's Bible with beautiful color pictures and a lot of them were down right scary.  The picture for this story always scared me a lot.  The image is scary today, on the heels of the Newtown tragedy.  A lot of debate has arisen with loud outcries and protests after Newtown and people attempting to draw similarities, if any, to the abortion holocaust in this country.  I can't speak to the argument at all, it's too emotional for me.  The only thing I can speak to is that the mothers of the Newtown children and any mother who has lost a child, no matter how, refuses to be consoled. 
When someone truly learns and recognizes and admits what abortion really is - they too will see that there is no real difference.  Live Action News promoted an article yesterday with a Review of Surgical Abortion.  Typically, I would read these types of articles as a form of self punishment.  I couldn't get to the end of this one, but then I thought I needed to share it and maybe someone who isn't convinced yet will read the whole thing and something in their mind or heart will change. Because really, what's the difference?  The loss of a child is the loss of a child.  I used to errantly believe that I had no right to grieve for my Grace because of the role I played in her death.  I know now that I have every right and need to grieve for her.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Touched by Grace

The past few days have been enlightening for me in that I'm trying deliberately to "just do" some things and not think and think and think and retreat to my room and write and debate in my head the things that should be simple, that are simple.

One of the things I'm talking about is this...the little angel from my first Rachel's Vineyard retreat, about which I have endured much self-induced drama and ridiculousness.  For some reason, let me rephrase, by the Holy Spirit, this morning after Mass, I picked it up from my dresser and brought it down to our lovely Christmas Tree adorned with all of the special ornaments we have collected over the years, and placed the little Angel on a branch.  No fanfare.  No sneaking down when no one was looking.  The girls and hubby were eating breakfast.  One of my girls asked a few questions, "Why are you putting that on the tree Mommy? You didn't do that last year."  And from the little one, "It's pretty Mommy, it should be there every year."  Out of the mouths of babes as they say.  Then to reinforce my braveness, I snapped a picture.

It is pretty. I should have done it last year.  It should be there every year.  It should be here every day.  She should be here every day, and she is, my Grace.  And this morning, I, symbolically anyway, brought her to the middle of our living room and placed her for all to see.  I brought her to the middle of our lives. Even though the girls don't know the whole story behind the little Angel, she's here. Even though my hubby is not her biological father, she's there for him to see.

The last couple of days I've been reading and reflecting on some of my favorite scripture...
"So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.  But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little. He said to her, Your sins are forgiven.”
She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.
When the woman realized that she had not escaped notice, she came forward trembling. Falling down before him, she explained in the presence of all the people why she had touched him and how she had been healed immediately.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Some common themes I cling to, sin much, get forgiven much; Jesus does not condemn; and my faith can and will save me.  Also common in these three pieces of scripture is the power of the healing touch of Jesus.  No, the scripture doesn't say that Jesus touched any of these three women physically, but in movies or other portrayals, Jesus almost always is shown reaching out his hand to the woman, helping her up out of the dirt and dust, touching her face, wiping a tear... and he releases her from everything.  Reminding myself what the touch of Him can do is a very healthy thing for me to focus on and I'm grateful that through the sacraments and our Church, I'm able to seek out that touch of grace whenever I feel the need.

It's been a learning curve, but I've recognized that I am constantly in need of reinforcement of the truth, even though I know what is true and what isn't.  I also need to constantly redirect my thinking to try and straighten out my crooked mind.  I'm starting to accept the idea that this need for help isn't a bad thing, it's my thing. More recently I've realized that I don't need to be in crisis to seek it out I can be a perfectly well adjusted Catholic woman, wife, and mother, and still be a complete Catholic geek and tear up upon any entrance to a Catholic Church or Chapel.

This need for constant affirmation of the Truth of our Church and of scripture has led me exactly to where I am now and let's face it, there are a lot worse things that I could be in desperate need of every day of my life.  I used to think, in error, that I was constantly seeking and needing proof.  I don't need proof, I know what's true, I just need the signs and symbols of that truth, every single day of my life and some days more than others.

So this Christmas, though I'm sure some melancholy will visit me in the quiet hours of the night, I'll refocus my thoughts on the above and on the Canticle of Mary.  Though she was chosen to bear Christ the Lord, her words echo truth for all of us.  ...He has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness and done great things for me and holy is his name.

The Canticle of Mary.
And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Merry Christmas Grace. I miss you.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Grace in All Places

I've had a few events of late where I have been very conscious of Grace and her presence in my life, and her absence, in the here and now.  I've learned that it's up to me to choose which of these two facts to dwell on.  The very choice of the word "dwell" reveals which fact I tend to choose most often.  If I were to choose more often to remember that she is in my life, and has been since the day she left, but she is also in Heaven with Jesus - a  more fitting word might be happy, consoled, ecstatic, about her presence in my life in such a way.  If I remembered more often that since she is where she is, she's not capable of hating me or wishing me harm, she's only capable and wants to love me.

Alas (yet another word to magnify my dramatics), it is not so.  More often, especially around school events or an upcoming holiday or special occasion, I begin to dwell on the fact that she is missing from my life, here, physically.  I remember missing her terribly last Christmas Eve and struggling to not retreat into the darkness that I quickly will do sometimes.  Last Christmas Eve I wrote about it a bit.  When I recently attended a few Masses and special events to start off the Advent season, I would glance down at the empty space, however small, in the pew between my children or my husband and me and think to myself, Grace should be here.  I sometimes continue with the thought and imagine that she would be beautiful, and she would have a talent for singing, and she would make her little sisters laugh.  It doesn't last for long as I am usually interrupted by a whisper or the tapping of a small hand demanding my attention.

Last year I had written about a little trinket that I brought home from my Rachel's Vineyard retreat that I had forgotten about and proceeded characteristically to over analyze my lapse seven ways to Sunday about why, and now what should I do, and how horrible I was for forgetting it, etc.  Apparently, I'm still here, so I survived the crisis. This last summer I attended my second Rachel's Vineyard retreat, so I now have two of these pretty little angels.  Since the 2nd retreat, one of them has set out on my dresser among some other little possessions I hold dear.  My kids sometimes ask about it.  The little one sometimes claims it for herself, but she always returns it.  I thought keeping it out on display was a good move on my part.  A little reminder each day of Grace and that she is real, and she is here, and she loves me, and she forgives me, and she waits for me, but don't come yet, Mom, you are not in control of the "when!" 

A few days ago, I came across the 2nd little angel, in my dresser drawer, buried under some socks and what not.  The drawer is directly under where the other angel lies.  This one however, is shoved back in the corner, covered by clothing.  No one knows it's there except for me.  In an attempt to try and stop myself from over analyzing or going down the wrong road and stop the Devil in his tracks, I said a quick prayer in my head (that I'm still not sure I do correctly) and covered her back up and closed the drawer.  I came back later to snap a picture because I knew I was going to write about it.  She was still there, as evidenced by the photo and the fact that I did not open the drawer, found her somehow moved and suffered a fear-induced heart attack!  So, in these two pretty little angels is the however imperfect or distorted metaphor for my life at present.  Grace in two places, but His grace in all places.

Finding Grace, acknowledging her, attempting to know her, finding forgiveness for the loss of her - has brought so much grace into my life it's overwhelming at times.  It should be overwhelming all the time, but I'm not there yet, I'm not sure I ever will be.  I'm not sure being post-abortive will ever lend itself to complete and all sustaining joy and happiness and peace of mind and heart that some people seem to possess.  The part of my story that will always remain shoved in the back of a drawer, in hiding, covered up, not talked about - the giant elephant in the middle of my life - or angel in the drawer - will always and forever be there.   Even if I choose to someday go public with my story if I am led to do so, there will always and forever be a part of me that is broken and destroyed by abortion.  There's just no getting around that fact.   

But then there is the other part, the both/and part of my story - the grace that is on display, out there for the world hopefully to see.  The grace that my smallest daughter finds attractive enough to steal from me and play with for a while.  The grace that has allowed me to write about my story, given me the courage to stand outside of an abortion clinic where I know exactly what is going on inside, and witness to what I know is the truth.  The absolute love for my Church that I have now sealed upon my heart in all it's broken and sewn-back-together pieces.  The grace that comes from knowing that He knows I'm sorry.  The grace that comes from choosing to live every day, however ridiculously awful I may be at it sometimes.

I've only begun to really understand "grace" in the theological sense and the differences between actual and sanctifying grace and that some parts of it I will never understand because it is beyond all comprehension, mine or anyone else's.  But, I am grateful for my Grace who continues to teach me, in cooperation with Him I believe, with little things like these two little angels in the peculiar places that I just noticed were peculiar.

When I was thinking about this post, I started to read the Catechism about grace and tried to wrap my head around the definitions, etc., and then I just gave up and chose instead to focus on this little piece of understanding that has been shown to me. However many times I fall, however many times I mentally torture myself with the fact of my abortion, however many times I read and re-read my list of things I hate about myself, however many times the sin of abortion, and all of my past sins return to haunt me, Grace is still here and His grace remains, on display or hidden, it's here, in every part of me and every part of my life now.  I pray that I continue to recognize it every day, in all the things around me that should remind me constantly that I am loved by God.

Just one snippet from the CCC that contains a quote that someone shared with me a while ago [emphasis mine]...
CCC 2005    Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved.  However, according to the Lord’s words — “Thus you will know them by their fruits” - reflection on God’s blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.
A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: “Asked if she knew that she was in God’s grace, she replied: ‘If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.’”
Please, Jesus, put me in your grace today and every day and keep me there, no matter how much I might struggle to get away sometimes.  Help me to find my way back to You again, and again, and again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Does my "prayer" count?

I've been in a struggle lately.  The thing I've figured out the last few days is that about two weeks ago when things were "good," I was trying to pray a rosary every day. Coincidence?  Most probably not. I was also trying to get in some kind of habit of "praying without ceasing."  Well, I was ceasing a lot, but I was trying to whisper some prayers during my daily chores.  While ironing my husband's shirts, I would whisper things like, "Please, Lord, give my husband confidence when he wears this shirt.  Help him to stand up straight (he tends to slouch)".  As I would iron the arms of the shirt I would pray that he always be strong and confident. At the yoke of the shirt, I would pray that his burden never be too heavy and that I would be able to help him with whatever burdens he has.  Then, in the morning as I would tie his tie for him (yes, I tie his tie, I just always have) I would pray in my head that the Lord keep watch over him while he was away from me and find happiness and fulfillment at his sometimes high pressure job.  I think he found me out though because he went to Google something on my phone and up popped my last search about "prayers for ironing."  He didn't ask any questions.  Maybe he's afraid of the answer?  I digress.

Anyway, there were a couple of weeks that I was trying this prayer thing out.  Then, the you-know-what hit the fan as it always does.  Normal every day you-know-what, sick kids, hectic schedules, family conflict, etc. and I stopped the prayers.  I stopped "praying" or listening to the rosary every day.  I got mad at God because my Mom still hates me. Then things seemed to tumble out of whack.  Life is like that, but I can't help but wonder that for those couple of weeks when things were kind of easy going - was it a result of my attempts at daily prayer? 

I'm still figuring it out. I'm thinking I might need to seek some concrete help.  Where do you go to learn how to pray correctly?  Is there a correct way?  I'm wondering if I pray the rosary with an audio aide - does it "count"?  Do thoughts in my head while I'm praying count even if they are constantly interrupted - are thoughts even a prayer?  If I just read a bunch of prayers, does that count?  I'm starting to think I don't know how to pray at all except when I'm told exactly what to do and say, i.e., at Mass. I've learned a little about Lectio Divina.  I have a book on contemplative prayer.  I've been reading the catechism for a few months, I'm just kind of feeling pretty dumb currently.  Is there a how to guide for prayer? A Prayer for Dummies book?  I feel so awkward and at times completely ridiculous.  Does it only count when I'm in Church, with incense wafting and candles flickering, and sunlight dancing through the stained glass and Him in the tabernacle - just that close to me?  That I could do every day.

In the midst of pondering all of these things, I came across this on Twitter from Priests for Life.  This will be my prayer for the next couple of days as I've been feeling that I'm neglecting Grace and trying to push her aside to push aside the pain that inevitably comes with the thought of her.  I am still trying to figure out how to feel joy for the two children who are making an enormous amount of noise upstairs, while my heart aches for the one who is with Him and not with me. 

Prayer of a Mom who Lost a Child to Abortion
by Fr. Frank Pavone

Lord God of Peace,
I thank you for your love for me,
Which is more tender than the love
Of a mother for her child.
I thank you for your forgiveness,
Which is more generous
Than the forgiveness human beings can offer.
Thank you for helping me to know
That I am not my abortion.
Rather, I am your daughter, Beloved and Redeemed,
For whom your Son would have died
If I were the only one who needed salvation.
Save me always
From the menacing voice of useless guilt and the oppressive force of shame.
Rather, lift me up in the light, peace, and grace
Of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Postabortive with a side of Post Election Stress Disorder

The weeks running up to the election wreaked havoc on my mind, heart, and spirit.  If there is a post traumatic election disorder, I'm convinced I have it.  I was obsessed with the news, blogs, radio, whatever I could read or listen to for weeks.  Not always a good thing.  The problem remains that though I've grown on this journey of mine, I'm still just at the beginning in a lot of ways.  There have been some resolutions, but even some of the resolutions have led to other realizations and new things to pursue and flush out and work on.  All good in the end I suppose, but realizing that I will never truly reach the "end" of it till I'm dead does not leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside, which makes for a shut down, not very cute, outside 100% of the time.  

Deep down I think I knew that "our side" would not win the election.  Not when I sit at church and know that some of the very people there with me are pro choice, pro birth control, pro married priests, pro same sex "marriage", pro everything and anything that we Catholics aren't supposed to support.  I feel as though I'm just getting my footing on how to be a good and faithful Catholic.  I've only just discovered the whole deal of the Magisterium and the mission of the whole Church and how unbelievably, ridiculously, and immensely awesome it is that I am a member of such a glorious undertaking.  But, I feel like I have no one to share those feelings with.  I'm so grateful that there is truth that never wavers and that reveals the absolutes in my life - thank you God for taking the burden off of me of figuring out what is good and what isn't good, of what is of You and what is most definitely not.  

And I guess that's why I was kind of pumped up anyway that our side might win, that the sanctity of life and religious liberty would prevail and I could be excited about it and not have to really tell anyone the real reason that I am all of sudden all super-Catholic and all.  Now, I feel as though I have to take my big horrible secret back to the dark corners and hide. Maybe if I would have spoken up to the friends of mine who scoff at the abortion homilies and the same sex marriage arguments.  Maybe if I would said, "well guess what, I had an abortion and it basically ruined me forever," I might have changed a mind or two.  But, I didn't.  I just can't.  Not in that way.  Not yet.  Not here.  Maybe somewhere? I don't know. 

And I get it, I get why so many of my peers and my own family members are not as geeked out on the church as I am lately - and forever.  I used to be just like them.  I used the pill for years.  We used condoms when we were married - which have got to be the most disgusting things ever, truly.  God did not intend for condoms - that I know for sure.  It always felt wrong and horrible and now - we know better. I try to tell every young couple I meet to ditch the five year plan and follow the teachings of the Church.  The years that we decided it was "time" to try to get pregnant and didn't use contraception were some of the most beautiful years of our marriage.  I have to be reminded constantly that I'm not a hypocrite now when I speak out (the little that I do) about why contraception is wrong.  Why I'm not a hypocrite to be prolife now and it's not only because I've already had my abortion as I've been told.  I guess I thought that if a semi-pro life president took office, then within those four years, maybe I'd be a little braver.  Maybe I'd do more prolife work.  But, not now.  I can understand why a mother of daughters would argue the rape exception as a justification - I can't even begin to imagine what that would entail - but I can imagine what one of my daughters having an abortion would do to them, despite how they got pregnant in the first place. 

Now I don't know what to do.  Give up?  Give in?  Shut up? I feel like I'm losing friends who don't understand me anymore and I can't really share with them the basis for my transformation.  The frustrating part is I'm still the same person - I just am ... I don't even know how to explain it.  I'm more Catholic? I'm more faithful? I'm all in? I'm okay with submission to the teachings of my Church?  I don't know.  Maybe I just need to sit tight for a while and wait to see what happens next.

I think when the time comes, if ever, that I go public with my story to friends and family and whomever, that it will be a lot easier in some ways.  I know that some people will still never understand, but a few may.  I know that among my peers, most likely over half of them have had abortions themselves.  I ache for the friendships and genuine love for one another that could be had if we only felt okay with what we probably have in common.  I know that when I've been on a retreat, or among other postabortive women, I feel as if I can finally breathe.  For something that I only mentioned out loud less than five times in my life up until a few years ago - if given the chance - I wouldn't shut up about it at all.  I tested the waters with a few semi-prolife postings on Facebook and the critics came marching in so fast and furious.  I wanted to shout, but wait, I really do know what I'm talking about!    

I did come across an article the other day though that gave me some hope.  I've been struggling lately a lot with the whole idea of loving God with my whole heart and that He should be above all else in my life.  I'm confused because my hubby usually is in that spot - how do I reconcile God first, husband second?

Simcha Fisher had a piece on the National Catholic Register entitled, How Can a Married Woman Be a Bride of Christ.  I love her writing and this piece spoke to me about the very issue I was struggling with.  Do read the whole piece, but lately under my theme of someone please just tell me what to do, Simcha writes, "Your job as a married woman will be to recognize and honor what is Christlike in your husband, and to help your husband to become more like Christ."  Got it, that I can do.  I think.  Now I just need some other direct orders and hopefully I'll make it though.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Trust in Your Mercy

From Theresa Bonapartis comes this post about trusting in His mercy - that all postabortive women struggle with just about every day.

Trust In Your Mercy

“We are Sinners and you invite us to trust in your Mercy.” May all those who are post abortive accept the invitation…He will not let you down.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cutting Emotional Ties on Facebook

I've spent the last couple of weeks in some mental gymnastics.  I've got a lot going on with just every day life.  Sometimes it feels as though my entire life is just zipping by and I barely have time to catch my breath.  Some days I collapse into bed at night and feel so empty, spent, I've got nothing left.  I've also been in a month or more long battle of wills with my Mom.  A long story short, I said some things to her, that although were 100% true and honest, did not make her happy and she seems hell bent on convincing me that I am wrong.  In her quest to get me to back down on my position she has sent me various emails and has called one time to try to remind me that I am wrong, she is right, and that's the end of it.  Typically, I let these things go and I even tried to let this one go, but she had to try again last week to get the proverbial last word in and then stop the conversation.  Having your Mom mad at you hurts.  Having her remind you repeatedly that she is mad at you hurts a lot more, then the drudging up of one's past mistakes is salt on the wound.

There is only so much I can do.  I believe that there is more going on with my Mom than what's on the surface.  I think her age is beginning or has been a factor for some time so hopefully in the next couple of weeks things will come to some resolution.  Neither of us will be happy about it.  Nothing will be resolved.  But that's how my family of origin works when it comes to untidy disagreements or events. When my Mom's mom died, she left my Mom a letter to read after she was gone.  My mom kept that letter in her Betty Crocker cook book for years.  I read it.  Remembering what it said - it was very similar to my relationship with my Mom now.  There were some good things my Nana had written to her, but the majority of the letter was my Nana getting the last, last word in, which of course left my Mom no rebuttal.  I'm sure when my Mom is gone, there will be a letter for me.  I can't control what my Mom does.  I can't control what anyone does.  I can control what I do.

This morning I logged on to the computer and started my usual visit to Facebook to check in and see what family and friends were up to.  The majority of my Facebook "friends" are actually extended family members, mostly all my 1st cousins.  Facebook is a great tool for keeping in touch.  Last summer we had all gotten together and it was great because we already all knew what was going on in everyone's life.  As I started perusing my news feed, one status update jumped out.  It was the status update of someone I went to high school with.  I think it was the first time I took a moment to really process what that person's name popping up at me after only half way in to my second cup of coffee had done.  It was jolt not from the caffeine, it was a jolt back to the past.  This person wreaked havoc on my emotions all through high school and beyond.  He was my friend, he wasn't my friend, we kind of dated, but no one could ever know about it... and on and on and on.  I started to think about why I'm Facebook friends him?  I moved down the news feed, there were lots of status updates from "friends."  I started by unfriending that first person in an angry huff at myself for being so stupid... then I decided, or rather was nudged, to go further.

I looked and saw that I had 224 Facebook friends! I know the term "friends" defies its own meaning on Facebook - but that didn't mean I had to buy into it.  Did I really care what 224 people had done in the 12 hours since I last checked Facebook?  I started to go down the list to get a feeling for how the other names made me feel initially upon seeing them.  There were more than several high school classmates, the majority of which I wasn't really friends with 20 years ago.  My class was small, only 88 students, so you definitely knew everyone and the classes above and below you - but friends?  No way.  One girl, well woman now of course, actually punched me on the school bus!  Why am I Facebook friends with her?  Unfriend.  Another two had spread rumors about me for years. Unfriend.  I started to notice a real pattern.  I hadn't "friended" the primary sources of most of my teenage angst, the people who really hurt me - but I had friended their friends.  Why?  Why would I want any ties to them at all?  Unfriend, unfriend, unfriend.  The memories were coming fast and furious now and I was stopping them with two mouse clicks!  One person whose name I see just about every day on Facebook actually trashed my locker on several occasions, stole my yearbook and wrote, slut, whore, etc., all over it.  I still have that yearbook on my shelf... why?  And this morning I am reading his stupid opinion on the election? Which, by the way, he is extremely inarticulate and rude.  Unfriend!

Some unfriending was easy - others were hard.  I found myself slowing down over my friends list and really thinking about each person.  Why were they on my list?  Did I care about them? Was I just being nosy? Were they tied to someone else who I wasn't friends with in the hopes that I may hear or see something about the person I never friended on Facebook?  Case in point, I was involved for about 4 years on and off  in a relationship that scarred me for life.  This person was emotionally and physically abusive, totally humiliating, reckless, and at times dangerous. He has sent me several friend requests over the years which I always ignore, but I am Facebook friends with some of his closest friends - what?  I think maybe I was just trying to make a statement that I was above all of that past mess, I was okay, just fine thank you, and did you see my fabulous life now?  These were ties that had to be broken for sure.

Every time one of those people's names popped up on Facebook, I would be right back there, a quick flash of a memory sometimes leading to more memories.  Unfriend, unfriend, unfriend.

The most difficult unfriending happened with friends of Grace's father.  I have never attempted to friend him on Facebook and he has never sent me a friend request either.  I do see his name sometimes if he comments on a status or something.  All of those facebook friends with ties to him had to go I realized.  I didn't need them.  Grace is watching over both of us I'm sure - that's all the tie we need.

When I reviewed my friend list again - I was down to 161 - 63 people gone off my Facebook feed.  That felt good.  63 people with either some negative tie to my past, some kind of tie to my heart, some kind of tie to my memories - gone.  I'm not claiming to be some innocent victim.  I'm sure my name elicits some negative reactions from other people from my past.  I was notorious for my pranks at band camp that I'm sure left some people scarred.  But, now my Facebook feed is filled with family and my real, present day friends.  I left a few people on from my past, but I did notice that the ones I kept were mostly all from my early childhood and my neighborhood and only two or three from my high school years, the ones who stuck by me for a long time and the ones who have known me all my life.  The rest are my college friends who just happen to also be mutual friends between hubby and me.  I even have three Priests!  Obviously, ties that should be kept and made stronger!

Over the last week I've been thinking a lot about my own self-hatred.  I even have a list of reasons why I hate myself.  The list of people I have just defriended on Facebook have a direct correlation to a lot of the reasons on that list.  Perhaps I have to purge that list.  

The tie to my Mom I can never break.  I can't defriend my Mom.  It wouldn't possibly hurt so much right now to have her upset with me if I didn't love her so much and crave her approval.  But maybe this early morning Facebook purge will free up some inner strength to fight the battles that really matter in my life presently.  I aim to pray today for the strength to recognize who in my life really matters - presently - and who is part of my past to be forgotten and put to rest along with all the ties between us.  I pray it has been good practice for some real life ties that need to be broken and for some purging that is long overdue.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life After Abortion

"Life After Abortion" is a DVD of the untold story of the other victims of abortion: The countless women (and men) have been overwhelmed by post abortion trauma, which results in fear, anxiety, pain, and guilt.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Get on with it already.

I’ve been wondering lately if it’s all up to me now, well I know not everything is up to me, but am I the only one standing in my own way anymore?  Have I exhausted all the avenues on this post abortion journey and now I’m done?  I don’t know if the journey will ever be fully complete.  Will I know if it ever is? It waxes and wanes.  

When things come ‘round like 40 Days for Life, I have a tendency or maybe a need to get all stirred up about it both in a good way and a bad one.  Good in that I’ve been trying to think what else I might be able to do at this time in my life for the prolife “cause.”  Is there anything that I’m not doing or haven’t thought of that I could be doing or doing more of?  And bad because campaigns like 40 Days for Life bring out both sides of the debate, and sadly, there are factions even within the prolife arena that would like to see me tarred and feathered, or at least tortured for all eternity and I feel as if I need to constantly explain why I had an abortion instead of proclaiming the mercy I found in spite of it.   I’ve been questioned in the last week or so how I can even speak to the issue having had an abortion, “how dare I.”  Yes, the delete button is good for those comments, but they sting nonetheless.  I find it scary and sad that obviously lots of people still do not recognize what happens to a woman after she has an abortion, and even sadder, they don’t much care.

And just when I start to try and blame the Devil for all of my current torment, I’ve come to learn recently that the Devil, surprisingly, is no real match for me, well no match for me when I’m filled up and attuned to He that lives within me.  The Devil apparently doesn’t stand a chance.  A mere Hail Mary will supposedly send him running. That’s all well and good except when it’s 2AM and I’ve just woken up from a nightmare, afraid to even open my eyes, and I can’t remember the words.   It’s hard to believe I have that kind of power, but it’s not power of my own volition certainly.  The Devil, I’ve learned is a finite creature with limited power whose great trick is getting us, or me in this case, to believe that he is far more powerful.  God, however, is infinite and all powerful.  Repeat as necessary.

A few weeks ago I was glad to attend a one-day “after care” day for women who have been on a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat.  This was something new for me – and for those who planned it.  They obviously had done their research on what some women still need even after the ocean of mercy, love, and forgiveness that is a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. 

Granted, as with anything, people experience and leave a retreat in all different states.  Some are at the end of their journey, some just said the word “abortion” out loud for the first time in their lives, others are somewhere in the middle.  Some women leave and never look back and some, like me, need more help.

It hurts to say that …even to this day.

I need help… often… to stay the course, to reset my compass, to point out the obvious, and the unseen.  I often lament that I am this way for I think of myself as the strong, independent type.  In some ways, it’s an accurate description of many areas of my life, in others so far removed from the truth of who I am or who I’ve become.  Can I be both? I guess so since I’ve been both for an awful long time.  Being strong isn’t the only requirement however for caring for my battered soul.  I need help.

I need the strong and steady fortress of my husband with his ability to see not only the forest through the trees, but even the stuff I may outright refuse to acknowledge.  His BS meter, thought it pains me to admit, is helpful at times as well.

I need, so need, the company of women who are postabortive to talk to or just so I don’t feel so completely alone.  I need them as a reminder that this sorrow I carry is perfectly normal and acceptable and there’s no shame in it, not anymore. 

I need my Church, whose beauty I’ve always been awestruck by, but whom I was always afraid to cuddle up next to because of my unworthiness and disgusting sins.  Now, I want and crave all she has to offer which is bountiful for those who need her, whether they realize it or not.

And I need the Good Priests who He has called to shepherd all of us and this sheep in particular.  I’ve come to depend on some of them for wisdom, compassion, understanding, and, of course, the beloved sacraments.  After the experience I had with the priest I confessed my abortion to all those years ago, I would never have thought that I would find mercy and kindness in a priest again or that I would even look to a priest to find it in the first place.

In the last three years, I’ve found the love and acceptance I’ve searched for all my life and never found.

So, now what?  I need to move and discard some big boulders taking up space in my life, in my heart and in my soul, apparently.  At the after care day, there was a speaker from Heart of the Father Ministries.  This gentleman had a gift, that’s for certain.  The words he spoke were enlightening and inspiring and made me feel as if I did have the power to get rid of things that I’m just @#$@# sick of anymore.  He explained how – almost too simply – with words and conviction, we can get rid of things in our life that we no longer want to take up any more room. Hard for me to believe, but apparently we have the power to renounce those things in our life in His name.  How I wish I could close my eyes sometimes and not be haunted by memories of the past.  I can renounce all I want, but my problem is, I seem to need constant reinforcement and I’ve learned that I can’t rely on it to come from inside my own head.

This man at the retreat, I wanted to ask him to pray with me and for me, but I was too afraid to ask, or probably too embarrassed.  Yeah, I’m real strong aren’t I?  I’m afraid that the last decade of the internet and email and spending 90% of my time speaking to babies and children has dulled my ability to talk to human adults in any coherent way.  Starting back out “there” with requests for help is not the best plan for success.  Then I regret not asking because I think how it would have helped.  Or maybe if I would have talked to some of the other women there, but I didn’t.

Some of the things that remain – that have got to go already – are ties to my past that keep me in a place that can’t possibly be of God.  The past has to no longer take up space in my present.  Some say you can rid yourself of your past with just an act of the will – I need an act of something I can see, hear, and revel in, maybe something to replace those ties to past.  I’ve spent the last just about three years analyzing, and picking apart my past seven ways to Sunday and I’m worn out.  I’m fatigued.  I’m done.  I’ve been thinking that if I let go of this pain then I’ve lost control over it.  If I keep it here with me, I can control it.

Sometime in the beginning of my blog project, I posted the prayer, “I Thirst,” that was given to me.  I remember when the person gave it to me, she said to ask someone to read it to me, but I never did.

Another person told me to come up with a list of positive things about myself – I came up with just two things.  Not sure if there are more or if I just didn’t try hard enough.

Another person simply told me to look in a mirror; it sounds so silly, and tell myself that I deserve to be loved.  I did do that, one time, and I think for a second I believed it. 

I have to stop being afraid to ask for exactly what I need from these awesome people He has put in my life and on my path.  I have to stop being afraid of asking for help and receptive to it when it comes.  I think it may be time to get out of my own way.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Need a little inspiration to go back to Mass? Here's some. You're welcome. Wow.

One of my favorites...

If it weren't for my Journey - one thing I would definitely not have now is my new found love of the Bible, the Word, Scripture, the Gospel - I'm still not sure what the proper terminology is and I find it quite difficult to talk about in some intelligent sounding fashion.  But, I have read more of it in the last three years or so than in my entire lifetime.  I am no scripture scholar - if anything, I'm a preschooler when it comes to any kind of study of it, but I have gathered a list of favorite readings, snippets, verses, etc.

I'm completely in love with the Gospel of Luke and today's reading is one I've read countless times.  I just can't seem to get enough of it.  Could you imagine?  I mean really try to picture it in your mind if you were this woman?   Though these days, I'm trying harder to imagine what she must have felt like after she stood up, with her sins forgiven, and went home. I just love reading it over and over again.  I think this may be the first thing I do when I get to Heaven.

I love this clip from Jesus of Nazareth too - I love how she pushes her way in through all the men and falls before Him.  And he's so loving and tender toward her.  It's probably the first time any man has done or said anything kind to her and he wants nothing from her, at least not what every other man in her life has wanted.  I'll probably read it twenty more times before I go to sleep tonight now.

Today's Gospel, Luke 7:36-50.
A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,
and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
"If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Simon, I have something to say to you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred days' wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?"
Simon said in reply,
"The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven."
He said to him, "You have judged rightly."
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
"Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
The others at table said to themselves,
"Who is this who even forgives sins?"
But he said to the woman,
"Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A guest writer - A Father's Postabortion Journey...

A few days ago, I received an email regarding my post of August 22.  In the email, the writer expressed the following:


I read your Aug. 22 post last night. I urged my fiance to get an abortion in 1986. I struggle with it to this day. I would like to write something from the father's point of view - something I haven't read in all my traipsing through the internet on this issue...[oh - I am going to fix that for you ASAP - keep checking your inbox!] I'm reaching out because your post of Aug 22 is one of the more honest and powerful I've read. Thanks for your time.

I immediately told my hubby about the email, first because it was a man who was reaching out to me and that's just how our marriage works, and second because I wasn't sure if I was even capable of doing what this wounded soul needed. After a little discussion, I decided that his story needed to be told, all of these stories need to be told, in whatever way they can.  Thank you, Lord, for considering me a worthy and, hopefully, effective messenger. 

So many, many of his words, feelings, and pain rang true for me as I read them.  Yes, abortion is and would be different for the mothers and fathers who suffer from the pain of having had one, but there is also so much in common - the guilt, the unworthiness, the searching for condemnation, the despair, the secrecy, the shame, the waiting for the other shoe to drop, the knowledge that the feelings will never be gone. You may learn to live your life with them, allowing the grief, without having it destroy you from the inside, but until you get to that point, the pain can be unbearable at times and all the time. 

So, a Father's Postabortion Journey...

I am a reasonably well-adjusted man in my upper 40’s, married (2nd marriage, recognized by the Church), with 4 children.  I consider myself lucky in that the three older ones (older than 16) have never rebelled, never had issues with drugs or alcohol or any kind of trouble.  I have a younger child who is 9.  They are the joys of my life.

But, in all of this is a nagging, inescapable cloud.  The cloud of abortion. 

As I’m sure it is with many people, I have never discussed it with anyone that I know.  My current wife knows about it.  IF someone else knows about it, they’ve never let on.  

I was raised Catholic, although there was no evidence of it in the home.  I went to CCD, then Catholic school, and even a couple of years for high school before finishing up and graduating from a public high school.  Mine was the typical mid-70’s Catholic education:  the Faith was composed of being kind to animals, recycling, and giving to the poor.  

As is the norm with everyone my age, once I got out of school, I had no time for Church.  I lived it up, partied, and ran around having a good time.  I eventually found myself engaged to be married.  I was 22, she was 20.  Neither of us had any use for the Church at the time (she wasn’t Catholic anyway).  

A month before the wedding, she called me to tell me the news.  She was pregnant.  I remember saying something to the effect of “We can’t do this,” meaning we “can’t” have a baby.  It was that cut and dry.  Within two weeks, I drove her to a place in Alexandria, VA to have “it” done.  I do not remember going in with her.  I don’t remember leaving. I don’t remember anything after driving up to the building.  It’s not something I can explain, I simply do not remember anything else about that day.  I don’t even remember what the date was.  I only know that it was late May in 1986.

I don’t remember being particularly bothered by it, though I know she was.  After we married, she didn’t like watching anything about babies on television.  I sympathized, but it wasn’t something I could grasp at the time.

The “cloud” didn’t really form until after the birth of our child in late 1987.  Then, and only then, did the reality of what I’d done begin to set in.  Although we never discussed it, I’m sure that if I’d have said “Let’s have the baby” in 1986, we would have had that baby.  I take full responsibility for what happened. 

The marriage didn’t last and we split in 1990.  

In the 90’s, I married again and had two more children.  In the middle of all that, the pull of the Faith started working on me.  It started slowly, originally being just a pull to “get back to Church”.  It didn’t even have to be a Catholic church, although anything other than a Baptist church was out of the question.

During that time, I listened to “Focus of the Family” radio programs with Dr. Dobson.  Over the course of a week, they aired the audio to the short film “Tilly.”  That had me pulling over before getting to work and crying my eyes out in a bank parking lot.  I’ve never told my wife about that week, and haven’t shared how I feel these days, mainly because things that are shared become weapons used against you.  So it’s best to remain quiet.

Eventually, and over the objections of my wife, I came back to the Church.  I got to a point where I knew that there was nothing the Protestants could offer me that wasn’t already provided by our Catholic Faith.  I returned, confessed all my sins, and was restored.  But still…

During my confession, I pretty much laid bare my sins.  But ask me today, and I cannot specifically remember confessing the abortion.  I can’t imagine that I hadn’t confessed it, but for some reason, can’t remember doing so specifically.  I often feel that I should go back and confess that, even if it’s something that’s already been covered.  You can’t be too safe.

As I stated, there remains to this day that “cloud.”  

It’s not something that I can discuss with my wife;  it’s not something I can confide to a friend; it’s not something I could bring myself to tell my father about.  

I am dedicated to my children, two of whom are adults now.  I miss terribly having a “little one” around, because, as any father knows, you’re the most perfect man in the world until your kids grow up a little and realize that you’re not.  I mentioned once that my kids are my “redemption,” meaning that each one of them represented for me a chance to “make up” for the abortion.  (Of course, I didn’t explain what I meant by “redemption.”)  The truth is that you can never “make up” for an abortion.  You never get over it, and for me, there’s the idea that I don’t deserve to get over it.  I deserve every feeling of discomfort and uneasiness.  There’s also the guilty feeling that there’s no way I deserve to have the 4 wonderful children I have.  How does a man who kills his baby deserve to have children who don’t rebel against him, or reject him, or butt heads with him?  How does God say, “Hey, I know you killed the first one I sent to you, but here are 4 more that will be the greatest blessing you’ll ever have.”  Thinking of how good they are to their old father makes me think that I have no business being happy or receiving their love and devotion.  I deserve nothing but pain and rejection due to the pain and rejection I inflicted on the person that would have been – was – my first child.  How do you reconcile the good father that I am, by everyone’s estimation, with what I know the truth to be?  Sure I’m a good father, but not because I’m a good person.  I believe that I’m a good father because each one of my kids has been a gift from God and an opportunity to “offset” the horror of the abortion.  

Do I deserve to “get over” it?  I don’t think so.  It’s almost like it’s my cross to carry around or my own thorn to suffer through.    Lay my sin at the foot of the Cross, you say?  What business do I have dropping my sin off on Him and walking away with peace of mind?  I know that many of us deal with this issue in different ways; some can find a bit of peace, although I know you don’t actually “get over” it.  I feel that in keeping my “thorn,”  it keeps me closer to Him.  Whatever “suffering” I have over this is what I can offer Him until my time on Earth is through. 

I am really and truly horrible at prayer, but I keep trying, but I will ask for my readers' help in prayers for this man, a beloved child of God, who so desperately needs to seek out and bask in His love and mercy.

I pray that he seek out good counsel to wade through all of his pain and sorrow to find what exists on the other side. I pray that counseling will allow him to chip away at the memories and bring to the surface anything that needs to be talked about and brought into the light from the darkness where it has resided for so long - too long. I pray that he be able to finally grieve for his lost child in a way that he hasn't ever been able to so that healing may begin.  I pray that he comes to understand and accept responsibility for what he is responsible for and not carry guilt for things that weren't and aren't his responsibility.  I pray that if he does come to share his pain with his wife that she be loving and understanding and fulfill her vows to love, honor, and cherish him. I pray that this beloved son of the Father comes to realize that he is so much more than this one thing, this abortion, and that You want so much more from him than sorrow and despair and that you have showered the blessings you have upon him because in Your eyes he is a precious creation made in Your image. I pray that he find his way to You in confession if that is Your Will and that the Good Father to whom he may appear speaks your words with patience and love. And finally, Lord, I pray that this wounded son of Yours finds your love and mercy so fulfilling, joyful, and awesome, that he abandons all of the self punishment and feelings of unworthiness and chooses, instead, to live joyfully and peacefully.

Finally, Dear Lord, I pray, that he come to know his child who now resides with You and that he come to know that neither You nor his child want to see him continue to suffer in pain.

I welcome any of my readers to comment here and speak to my guest writer or if you email me any messages, I will forward them on to him. Finally, I will be pestering my guest writer with any and all information and resources that I can find, the first being the link to Rachel's Vineyard who ministers to Fathers who have lost a child to abortion - The Rachel's Vineyard Men's Page. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

There is no grave to visit.

Having an abortion changes you...forever.  Maybe you don't realize it at first, maybe not for a long, long time.  Some women don't bring it up until they are on their death beds.  Perhaps you sense a change but you don't acknowledge it or you find ways to cover it up, ignore it, hide it, but you always know the change is present.  The truth of the matter is - you have lost a child.  Despite any or all of the circumstances that may or may not have surrounded the loss - your child was killed.  I don't like using that word because it sends shivers up and down my spine, but that is the truth of what happened. 

25 years ago, on this day, my daughter was killed. Slowly, tortuously, methodically taken from my womb and deposited somewhere else.

I know that may be hard for some to hear, it's hard for me to say, or type.  Actually, I'm not sure I've ever said those words out loud.  The keyboard is safer.  But that's the hard truth.  If there is any point to this blog, and I've learned in the year or so I've been writing it that it has way more purpose than I could have ever dreamed of, it's to tell the story of my abortion in the hopes that some day there will be no more abortions, no more killing.  Some may stop by to read my story because they have been there themselves, or maybe they need to help someone who has been through the same, but I hope more and more stop by and read my story and then turn the feelings they have after into action to do whatever they can to stop it from happening to someone else. 

Like I said, having an abortion changes you forever. After all the work I've done to battle my demons and put to rest the wrongness of my thinking about it, in spite of all the healing work I've done and all the work He has done in me... the grief remains, the sorrow remains, the regret remains, the doubt remains.  You learn to manage it in healthy ways like anyone who has lost someone they love, but it remains forever.

I feel I can never say "I'm sorry" enough to my Lord and Savior and to Grace.  I know I've been forgiven.  I know that His mercy has saved me, but I remain sorry and sometimes the sorrow is crippling.  It can color every other aspect of your life, no matter how good it is. But, with help and healing and Him, I've learned to live with my sorrow much better than I had been, but work remains.  There is no grave to visit, but the space in my heart that's for her. 

I'm sorry Grace for what happened to you on this day, 25 years ago.  I didn't know what to do when I realized that He had sent you to me. I didn't realize you were a gift.  I was told what to do with you.  I wonder if my Mom is thinking of you today.  I'm sorry I didn't even try to find another way.  I'm sorry I didn't tell anyone else about you for that may have saved your life.  I'm sorry that I didn't turn around on that bridge that morning and come home with you.  I'm sorry I didn't protect you.  I'm sorry it took me so long to acknowledge you at all.  I'm sorry.  I'm sorry.  I'm sorry. 

I know where you are now and that you are happy because what else could you be in the light of Heaven?  I know you don't want me to be sad and mournful and withdrawn, especially for you sisters' sake.  I will try to keep the sadness reigned in today and I'll turn my despair into little prayers of thanksgiving for you having been with me for the short time that you were.  Look at all you've taught me!  I have you to thank for my growth in faith, for the rediscovery of His Church that I love so much, for the people that have come into my life as a result of my grief over your lost life. 

I will pray for you today Grace and ask Our Lady to comfort and keep you until I am there with you.  Please seek Him out today ask, again, for mercy for me and for my Mom.  I love you.