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.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Grace Anne - some day in March

Life has been a roller coaster lately, but I know the underlying reason for most of the emotional mess I've been in. This month would most likely have been the month Grace would have been born. It's also the month of my own birthday and also of my first living child. The stars align as they say, or collide. It's a scary ride and just like a roller coaster, the ride isn't better if you close your eyes. In fact, closing your eyes can make it feel worse. It also probably doesn't help that this month always falls within Lent - at least not presently when my soul seems tender and the scabs are too tempting to resist picking at.

Today was a better day than last week though. I kept busy, we got some things accomplished around the house, I got to confession, and hopefully we'll all make it to Mass tomorrow. The hard part is now when the house is quiet, I'm two glasses in to a bottle of red, and only the dog to talk to. That's okay. She is good company and a good listener. The next few days will be difficult as dear hubby is busy with work 24-7 and I'll be on my own for a few days.

For now, happy birthday Grace, and I'm sorry.

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness
in your abundant compassion
blot out my offense.
Wash away all my guilt;
from my sin cleanse me.

For I know my offense;
my sin is always before me.
Against you alone have I sinned;
I have done such evil in your sight
That you are just in your sentence,
blameless when you condemn.
True, I was born guilty,
a sinner, even as my mother conceived me.
Still, you insist on sincerity of heart;
in my inmost being teach me wisdom.

Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
wash me, make me whiter than snow.
Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my guilt.

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew in me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from your presence,
nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation;
sustain in me a willing spirit.

I will teach the wicked your ways,
that sinners may return to you.
Rescue me from death, God, my saving God,
that my tongue may praise your healing power.
Lord, open my lips;
my mouth will proclaim your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice;
a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit;
God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.

Friday, March 23, 2012

New Again

New Again by Brad Paisley & Sara Evans. 

I'm not able to watch the entire video, in fact I hide my eyes through 75% of it, but felt it was worth sharing nonetheless.  I needed a Lenten wake up call.

Wanting what you can't have.

I've long been of the sort of wanting what I can't have, not to say that there haven't been times in my life when I've had absolutely everything I've ever wanted - but yet still found myself wanting.  I've learned that at those times, I was just being completely selfish and material and there were things in my life that I was missing and didn't even realize I wasn't missing them at all because they weren't my focus. 

But now that I've come to readjust a lot of the priorities in my life, why am I still left feeling wanting? I should be mature enough now to realize what's really important and that some things just don't matter for a hill of beans in this lifetime, short as it is.  Other times, I'm throwing mental temper tantrums in my head over what I don't have, what I can't have.

I've been through ups and down throughout my adult life.  My childhood and adolescence weren't financially difficult as far as I knew.  There wasn't too much that I asked for that I didn't get.  Our family life imploded, however, when my Dad lost his job in my first year of college and it was a tremendous blow to our family.  We went from having little or no worries to... well a lot of people know what that feels like.  I ended up putting myself through the next three years of college by working and carrying a full load of credits.  I was able to do it though, quite possibly because I've always been able to burn the candle at both ends as they say and just get it done.  By the time I graduated college, my parents had been through the ringer, but my Dad was back to working, though he had been broken by the experience, his health had suffered, their marriage suffered.  Upon my college graduation, I had secured a job and an apartment and a car and was on my way - but I had to postpone my fifth year of college that would have garnered my professional/practicum year and teaching certificate.  I thought I would get the chance to go back after some time working. 

God had other plans.  About this time was when my dear husband came into my life and that whole story could be a series of blog entries on its own and it would read like a fairytale, and in a lot of ways, it still is. 

When we starting to think about having children, we were living the big life.  Both of us were working, my husband was doing exceptionally well.  These were the 90's after all and we were driving $50,000 cars and had, gasp, expendable income.  We planned every detail.  We would save money, buy our dream house, then have children.  Well, things worked out for the most part in that order, however, we found our dream house a bit before we were ready, but we went for it.  Having children proved to be a bit more difficult than we thought, but a few months after moving into said dream house, I was pregnant.  I had spent the prior couple of years learning how to work from home to make a supplemental income so that I could be a stay at home mom.  Six months after our first child was born, my husband lost his job and then came the fall.

Looking back, the most positive outcome of that happening was that he got to be home for almost a year of our first child's life and I think it really created a bond between them that they wouldn't otherwise have.  Some of the negatives that came from it were our first child was around for the years of struggle that ensued during her young life.  Of course she didn't know what was going on until she was a bit older, but by the time she was about 4 and I had miraculously become pregnant with daughter #2, we had planned to sell the dream home, I had to find work outside the home, and we had get into a new house.  Fortunately, we did all of the real estate transactions before the housing bubble burst.  We were able to find a very nice home when I was about 8 1/2 months pregnant and moved in six weeks after our new daughter was born.  At the same time, my dear husband started his third in a series of jobs.  We had hit all of the major stresses in life in short amount of time. 

Sadly, though, our financial life has never fully recovered.  We aren't poor by any means, but we aren't rich either.  We are in that middle category - we don't make enough for a lot of things and we make too much for any type of help.  Herein lies my struggle with wanting what I can't have. 

Even though I went to college and have the ability to go out and find a high powered career and often times I think about where I would be if I had been working full time the last 10 years, instead of part time just to get a paycheck jobs, the only thing I ever wanted to be even before college was a stay at home wife and mother.  Even in high school I fantasized about it, when all my girlfriends were eyeing up the corporate ladder as products of the 80's, I fantasized about a beautiful home that I could make beautiful myself, being home with my babies, then when they were in school, I would cook and clean and maybe have a hobby or two, but I would be there for them and for my husband.  One of the happiest years of my life was a few years before we had children, my husband was making enough money that I quit my job and stayed home for a year and did nothing but be a housewife.  A real housewife, not the reality television variety.  I was happy to iron shirts, and clean, and cook, and create a home that I loved and that he loved coming home to. 

When I was growing up, I had a few friends whose mom were housewives and nothing more, maybe they sold some Tupperware or Avon, but no jobs outside the home.  Granted, my mom didn't go back to work full time until I was in about third or fourth grade, but it wasn't the same after that.  These friends of mine I was completely jealous of through I would never admit it.  Where I went home after school and my sister was there to "watch" me, I was pretty much on my own until 5:00.  A lot can be done in that short amount of time with no supervision, even at that young age and this was at a time where you could leave your house alone and wander the neighborhood.  My other friends had moms who made fantastic after school snacks.  They helped with homework.  They listened to us talk about our day and boys and whatever else was going on.  I had one girl whose family I really envied.  And for as much as I teased her it was only because I wanted to be her.  Her mom wouldn't allow her to wear Jordache jeans and Lipmackers.  I don't think she wore make up until senior prom actually.  They were at Mass every Sunday right up front but not to put on airs, that's just the way they did it.  There were three girls and a boy and they all were beautiful.  Where I was loading on the make up from probably 12 years old on, they never had a stitch on, and they were beautiful.  Their Dad was a college professor and I just thought that was fantastic.  I used to call them the Little House on the Prairie Family and my friend was Laura Ingalls and I loved and hated her at the same time. 

Anyway, now I'm really rambling.  Currently, I'm struggling with what I want but can't have.  For the past 7 years my life has morphed into being completely outside what I, what we, had planned for it to be like.  At this point, I have to work at least part time.  I have no choice in the matter.  And we don't live lavishly by any means.  We have so many home repairs to make I'm embarrassed to have guests over.  Recently I switched from working nights to working while my children are in school which leaves me no time to do anything at home that I used to do.  Weekends are now for cleaning and laundry, etc.  And my dear husband, up and at 'em early every Saturday morning, dust cloth in hand ready to tackle the chores.  I love him for it but I hate that he has to do it.  It's my job.  If I talked like this to most people, they would think I was crazy. I took pride in the fact that years back he never had to do anything like that around the house, not that he wouldn't if I asked, but because I wanted to do it and I loved doing it.  I love cooking and having dinner on the table when he comes home.  I love ironing all of his shirts and have his weekly wardrobe hanging for him.  I am still able to be home when my girls get off of the school bus each day, but I'm exhausted by that time because I just arrived home from work moments before.  I'm aggravated within minutes of them clamoring for this or that, when I used to relish making snacks and the like. 

I keep hoping, we keep hoping, that my husband is finally going to reach the level that he was at before but it just doesn't seem to be happening for him right now.  He's frustrated.  I'm frustrated.  We both are exhausted.  I know he's not where he wants to be career wise but, like a lot of people today, he's happy to have a job at all.  He's frustrated and feels taken because he went to college and did what he was supposed to and every day sees people that are not really good people, getting ahead.  I'm frustrated because I think I'm failing as a wife and mother because I have to work and I'm not here for them like I want to be, like I should be.  I'm angry that I can't just be a housewife because it's not what people do today.  The only solution at this point is to downsize our home once again, but in today's market, selling our house would be impossible and we wouldn't make any money on the deal.  I'm angry because my closest family family members don't have to work at all, but yet still want to work part time for "extra" money.  What the hell is extra money?  I have another family member who isn't married, but has two children, and still lives at home with her parents, rent free, basically everything free, but flaunts her shopping sprees and every month travels, goes to the tropics or on cruises or to concerts or where ever.  We struggle with every single financial decision we have to make, and I mean every single one.  We've been able to give our girls the best of what we can, but at the expense of a lot of other things and I fear we are both starting to resent it, well probably more me.  I can't remember the last time my husband did something for himself or bought something for himself.  My oldest daughter wants to take music lessons or other things in the worst way, but we just can't do it.  Increasingly, we are becoming part of the group of have-nots in our social circle and the girls are starting to recognize it more and more.

I don't know how to make them feel better about it when I feel horrible.  How can I teach my children gratitude when every day I ruminate on what I want but I can't have? 

I know I'm not alone in this struggle.  I know I have it way better than a lot of people.  I just don't know how to get to the point of being okay with how things are right now.  How do I stop being jealous? How do I stop being resentful? How do I stop feeling that all of this is a punishment?  A lot of the times I feel like I'm the one bringing every one down because I'm the weak link.  If it weren't for me and my past, they would all be better off.  I'm Jonah, I think, and my family just needs to throw me overboard.  But, am I Jonah because of what I have done or what I haven't done?  Housewives don't have abortions, or if they do, they don't talk about it.

Lately, my girls have been acting up more and more with the attitudes and the mouth, etc. as girls are known to do (but I'm sure the Little House on the Prairie Family never did!).  I know that much of their acting out is a direct reflection of my behavior.  They see me unhappy with my lot in life, what else are they supposed to do?  Most likely, my life is forever changed and I have to find some way to accept it for what it is now instead of what I want it to be. 

"No one, Sir."

Woman caught in Adultery -Lent

Another installment in a fine Lenten series for the postabortive from Lumina.  A passage of Scripture that I go back to again, and again, and again...

I'm the woman about to be stoned, but He's there.
I'm the woman washing His feet with my tears.
I'm the woman reaching out through the crowd just for the chance to touch the hem of His garment.
I'm the woman at the well, hanging on His every word to of Truth.
I'm Martha scurrying around my daily duties whining about how hard I have it and perturbed at Him.
I'm Mary sitting at His feet, soaking in every syllable He speaks and sharing every breath He takes.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Today was one of those days...for many reasons and for a single reason, well at least a single reason in my mind.  Today was one of those days because I had an abortion at age 17 and will be and am being forever punished and tortured by all forces of nature, all forces of evil, all things that I can control and all things that I can't.  Today was one of those days where my two living children made me feel as though I have failed in every way possible as a mother.  Today, I failed as a wife.  Today, I failed as a daughter.  I lost my temper so many times today to the point where I didn't have any feelings at all.  I've fought with two young children over the stupidest of things.  My two children who are essentially what my Mom calls "traveling angels" showed their horns today in all manner of ways.  I suppose I should be grateful that their horrible behavior is only shown at home, but sometimes, it's not enough.

I'll spare you the gory details of it all and quite honestly I don't have the energy to bang them all out on this keyboard, but the crux of it is... after all is said and done and the bad day is almost put to bed, at least two parts of it, I'm left here, feeling alone and feeling beaten, bruised, battered and worst of I all, feeling like I deserve it.  Quite often I'm looking for condemnation for my abortion and today was one of those days when I think I found it.

All of this, of course, is a completely ridiculous line of thinking and I should stop it, but today, I don't want to stop it, I want to see where it goes, I want to see what's at the end of it if it ends at all.  All of this is ridiculous because my life is not horrible.  I should be able to cling to all the positives in it, but not today. 

Today is one of those days when I swear off the Church and think thoughts like what's the point, why even go, what if we're wrong, what if it's not true, what if days like today is all there is.  Like the movie goes, what if this is as good as it gets... because I don't deserve any better?

Up until today, although the past couple of weeks have been rough, but nothing out of the ordinary for most parents who work and struggle and worry about finances and their family's well being and what's going on the in the world, but one trudges on because what else is there to do?

Today, I gave up.  I give up.

Lately, I've been learning a lot about the history of the Church and it's been fascinating and a lot to absorb and I assume that one can never ever learn every thing about it, but there are highlights that I cling to and I have my "a-ha" moments in my new found history lessons.  One of these themes is how our Church is of the "both/and" philosophy. How the Church doesn't see dichotomies where none exist, sometimes there doesn't have to be one at all.  Some things are just a dichotomy by design and as Catholics we believe it certain things can be both/and.

So this kind of thinking leads to me start thinking what things am I both/and?  What can I be both/and?  I can be post abortive and happy.  I can be post abortive and Catholic.  I can be post abortive and a good Mom.  I can be both a woman with a wretched sexual past and be a faithfully devoted, chaste spouse now. I can sit and have hours long intellectual conversations with big words over coffee and cigarettes (cigarettes are only allowed on my birthday) and I can be ridiculously simple and goofy and dense.  I can be both extroverted and shy.

But days like today make me feel like I'm not both/and anything, I'm neither.  I'm nothing.  Chief cook and bottle washer with a purely utilitarian purpose.  What if I'm something completely unrecognizable that doesn't have a category.  What if this is all I am, this person I am today?  I'm just waiting for other shoe to drop. 

I don't even know where to go with it all and I'm sick of trying.  I'm sick of the roller coaster of emotions.  I'm sick of feeling all together.  So, if I'm neither, what am I? 

Feeling defeated is a scary place to be, and when the things that cause you to feel defeated seem to come more quickly and easily than the things that build you up, what then?  When will my two steps forward stop being followed by a step back?  What do you do when the words of any prayer barely form in your mind, let alone find their way to your lips or heart? What if you feel you can't even look to Him for help because you aren't even sure he's really there?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Given for the World...

Just felt inspired today and wanted to express it somehow.  It's easy to become discouraged and start to lose hope with all that is going on in the world today.  It's hard to keep fighting the good fight when it seems everyone is against you.  It takes courage to express what you believe, especially if you are Catholic in today's world.  It's hard to not feel hypocritical in some way when trying to defend the Church you love, especially when you feel unworthy of Her most of the time. 

But, the good news is, we are all unworthy - but isn't it just truly awesome that despite all of our unworthiness - He redeems us anyway?  I tried to come up with some reasons and ideas to defend myself and the Church that I've loved my whole life and in that deep soul searching, I felt the need to express my love of Her and Him in some way.  Even though I may have walked away from Him for a while, even though I may have turned my back and refused to listen, He remained there and waited for me to turn back around and I found everything I loved from childhood was there waiting for me too.

So, when I start to lose hope about the fate of our beloved Church, His Church - I try to think about how long we've been here and how many trials and tribulations we've withstood.  I think about all of our good and holy priests and it amazes me that anyone would want to even become a priest in this day and age, but they do, and they do it well.  In all of the craziness, knowing that generally, I can find a Catholic Church near to me, anywhere, and even if I have to knock on the door because it's locked, someone will let me in because I belong there.

So, a little love letter...