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, 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.