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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lenten Reflections and Meditations for the Postabortive

As one of my Lenten projects this year, I'm trying to only use the Internet for good instead of evil, and by that I don't mean I'll cease from ranting on editorial pages of left-leaning "newspapers" because some people are just too stupid for me not to say something!  I am trying to avoid comboxes and forums as much as possible - talk about a rabbit hole.  I can't say that I'll cease from posting picture after picture of my ridiculously adorable and gifted children, but I am making a concerted effort to not go to the dark corners of the Internet that feed my stupid and narcissistic need for self punishment in those moments when I'm seeking condemnation from somewhere because I'll never find it where I should be looking. 

Anyhoo, the blog over at Lumina - a ray of light in abortion's darkness has a great series of Lenten meditations and/or reflections for this Lenten season and I'm trying to make time for each one as there is much wisdom and tender words of encouragement and clarity to be had.  From today's installment, Instant Gratification comes this,
"We have somehow lost the concept of patient waiting, instead looking to our “feelings” to gage reality, when in fact our feelings are often very far from what is truth."
Please do visit if you are postabortive and take advantage of this series. 

I like the Lumina site and it's mission because it speaks to that part of me that doesn't want to put this all back in a tidy box back on the shelf somewhere.  I know some women are able to go on a Rachel's Vineyard retreat and are healed and happy and move on, yet I know others,  myself included, who need a bit more, who want a bit more, who are somehow pushed or urged to do something else now that they are healing. 

Another great piece on the Lumina site I found today is from a gentleman whose wife is postabortive, but he didn't find out about it until after they were married, but as a true testament to what marriage is and should be, her postabortion journey and healing has become their healing journey as a married couple.  I told my husband about my abortion within a few weeks of dating.  I never had told anyone else I dated, but he was different.  When I met him, something in me changed and I knew I was going to marry him, but I knew too that I had to reveal this part of my past to him.  He never judged me or condemned me, never said an unkind word to me about it.  And when it all began destroying me from the inside and could no longer be contained, he was right there with me and remains there today through it all. 

Anyway, a good read for any husbands of postabortive women with some sound advice. Check the piece out here: For Better or Worse – Marrying Someone Who is Post-Abortive

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

He said to them, "Do you still not understand?"

So here’s how the last few days have gone…which serve as a background for all that has happened in mind my mind and heart as of late.

Thursday of last week, I really was really tumbling off the lighted path.  I had spent the better part of the week upset and spiraling downward for various reasons – some everyday stresses, misbehaving children, financial worries, frustrations with my mom, all of the latest news about the HHS mandate and all of the commentary.  But, I’ve been on this road before so I know what it feels like when I mis-step – or when I purposely go out of my way to take the long way around sometimes to nowhere.  I’m finding that when my mind is getting filled up with despair inducing drama and something happens external from me but still affects me in some way, i.e., the current defense of the Church, all sorts of stuff happens emotionally with me and pretty soon I’m looking for something, anything, to grab onto as truth.  The proof I seek sometimes lead to profitable knowledge. Other times, not so much.  Other times, it leads me down a path to places I need not ever go, but do.  This time things got a bit more scary because the negative thoughts were winning the war in my mind, the thoughts that convince me that my family is better off without me, I’m not worthy of this life, I deserve damnation, and oh won’t I have a grand funeral Mass, and oh everyone will be so sad but they will totally “get me” now.

"They published your diary.  And that's how I got to know you. The key to the room of your own and a mind without end."
By Friday morning, I was still in the throes of it and after a few tearful phone conversations with Hubby and encouraging words from my dear Priest, I had to get out of the empty house so I went to Mass (more on that later) and then some errands, picked up my girls and kept busy until hubby returned home and I felt safe again.  Even with Mass that day, by Friday night and early Saturday morning, it was getting dark again.  I continued on my search for answers and some sign that I was winning this fight, but alas, I wasn’t finding any.  I was trapped, or at least I felt trapped.
A few events over Sunday and Monday would start to turn things around, thank God...literally.

The people that love me and know me best were providing much needed tender loving care and ever gentle direction.  Sometimes being stuck is worse than even moving backwards.  After the March for Life I was on such a high – I felt like I could do anything – but the feeling faded.  I was getting to the realization that I didn’t believe this journey would ever end – but I was missing the fact that it doesn’t have to end, it might just have to change course.  I didn’t know how to declare victory over all of “this.”  For 20+ years I lived with this deep, dark, torturous secret and now for the past 2 or so, it’s come to a bit of light, but I don’t know what to do now. 

I know how to be postabortive and depressed.  I don’t know how to be postabortive and happy.  But postabortive and happy, joyful even, was what I was that day in Washington, D.C.  But, it didn’t last because I didn’t know how to maintain it.  Who am I to preach about being postabortive – all with a smile on my face and joy in my heart?  That just didn’t add up for me. 

Fine, I’m forgiven.  Fine, I’m not eternally damned, but I’m not going to be happy about it – or am I?  What could possibly make me happy for the long haul and fill my heart with the joy I felt after my Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, the joy I felt at the March for Life, the ridiculous joy and all encompassing love I felt that night in adoration when I heard His voice.

I started to reflect on some of the things my dear "advisers" were pointing out to me.  I started to think about how far I’d come in the last couple of years.  I started saying “stop” to the negative thoughts for a few moments and things began to get a bit clearer.

I was given a copy of an article by Father Dwight Longenecker, Finding Forgiveness, wherein the Good Father provides some specific, practical direction for participating in the Mass with all of one’s burdens and sorrows, angers, doubts and fears.  Reflecting on the Mass I had just attended on Friday - since it was in the chapel – it was an intimate experience, one that could really lend itself to just the kind of action Fr. Longenecker describes.  Which led me to some more realizations…I had so enjoyed that daily Mass.  I'm not even sure if I have ever attended a daily Mass before in my lifetime.  It was so beautifully simple. I love my big, Gothic churches, the more incense the better, the more music, the more song, the more whatever, but that day, I realized that yes, all that is good, but this simple, uncluttered, Mass was just what I needed to feel close to Him. I read and re-read Fr. Longnecker's directions on “liturgical therapy” and began to think about how I could start to use them somehow and maybe, just maybe, it would help. 

Later that day, my own dear Priest posted a piece on his blog that was just as illuminating for me. In his discussion of the Sacraments of Rconcillation and Eucharist, the Good Reverend Father talked about how they are tangible manifestations of God's presence for his children and how these manifestations become material signs for all of the senses.  I was aware of this before, but I don't think it really ever sunk in. Or maybe I thought they were tangible manifestations, but not for me. He continued on as to how our faithful participation in the Eucharistic sacrifice brings us to God in that place in particular, but also allows for the finding of God in every place, everywhere.

As I sat and read through my journals and other writings, some from years ago, I realized that over the last couple of years of my journey, I have spent more time in Church, at Mass, in Adoration, in confession, in contemplation, on retreat, in prayer, in witness outside of abortion clinics – than ever in my entire lifetime.  I have always longed for a better prayer life, more involvement in the Church, more understanding, to be more than a lapsed Catholic but, I didn’t know how to get there.  There are many journal entries and writings that express my frustration over not achieving any of it of never taking a step towards what I really wanted, what I really needed, and what was available to me at the very moment I chose to move forward. There were times expressed when I thought maybe the Church is not where I need to be - maybe I need to be something else. 

This is the gift that Grace has given to me.  She has been showing me how and so has He, but they were waiting until I was ready.  While acknowledging and mourning Grace, I have been growing in faith and strength all the while because of all of the things I've done and places I've been because of this journey. I have been searching for tangible proof, some “sign” that it’s over, some spoil to show for my victory when spoils abound and amass by the day.  I’ve ached for just something to touch, to see, to hear, anything to help my unbelief. The proof has been all around me and right under my nose. 

When I prepare for confession, a recurring theme is not loving God with my whole heart.  I’ve been under the impression that I haven’t been doing that – when now I think that maybe I have been, at least since this journey of mine began.  I’ve loved Him through loving my Church that I’ve come to know more intimately than ever before.  The Church is Him.  And my love for His Church doesn’t have to fit one description for me because now I’ve come to find out that I love my traditional Mass, but I love a youth Mass, and I love a daily Mass.  I love it in the singing and the silence.  I love it quiet and contemplative and I love it with children who tap my arm incessantly throughout and more so during the consecration than any other time.

Any why do I love this Church of mine so?  Because it, and therefore, He, loves me back.  From the goose bumps I get from the music, to the tingle in my spine at the sound of the bells, to seeing His face in the faces of the good and holy priests I’ve come to know and love on this journey.  And the best part – the Church is everywhere, and therefore, He is everywhere.  Yes, I keep Him within my heart always, but that tangible presence I crave so much and need, at times, even desperately, is available everywhere, in every Church, with every Sacrament. 

I was then reminded to recall the rest of the passage … You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  Who’s my neighbor?  My husband, I’m reminded, is my neighbor and if loving my husband means that I’m loving God simultaneously – then I’m so in. 

And in all of this love that I find so much happiness in – even though clouded at times by my struggle – a God that loves me like that has to have forgiven me.  So, where now can I look for proof of that forgiveness when I'm in need of it? In all of the same places that I’ve mentioned, in my Church, in every sacrament, in every confession, in every adoration, in every priest and sister.  All of which provide me with proof that I can see, touch, hear, smell, taste – whenever I need it. 

And I can find it in the love of my husband.  His love is in His love.  It's in his embrace. I can feel it in the nape of his neck when I cling to him for my very life. It's in the strength of his arms as he holds me up. The proof of His love for me is ever tangible in this man he sent to me and who saves my life every day. 

And in His ever merciful providence, He has sent me tangible proof of Grace, whom I can’t touch, or see, or hear.  That proof lies in those little hands that tap me incessantly at Mass, in those big blue eyes that see right through to my soul, in the long, blond hair that smells so delicious.  Grace is a part of me and a part of them and with them and through them, she loves me. 

I think I'm beginning to understand.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I need a thicker skin...

I've been riding a kind of high since the March for Life a few weeks ago.  I've received a lot of support and awesome, inspiring emails.  I've seen my story at work in others and it humbles me and spurns me on.  However, as I've said many times before on my blog, I'm a work in progress.  And this week, well the past few days, the dark side is winning.  Most likely due to all of the recent news coverage on the HHS mandate, my obsession with 24/7 news coverage, smaller every day frustrations piling up, etc.  When I begin to feel weak is when things get kind of scary and I come across things like the following article.  If I'm going to stay in this prolife fight which is where I think I am meant to be - though I'm not sure how just yet - I'm shaken to the core and want to retreat into the darkness.  Some days I can just move on through it and others, I'm completely stuck and not sure what it will take for me to climb out of the despair, remembering all the facts of my story for what it is to convince myself once again that I'm okay.
So how can you allow me to be tortured? Shouldn’t you be working to protect me from suffering? Why allow me to be torn limb from limb?  Letter from a 12 week old unborn baby