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.

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.