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 20, 2013

Through the Eyes of Grace

In some ways I've completely underestimated the effect the Christmas season can have on me.  Perhaps that's not totally true.  Perhaps, this year, this "far" along in my journey a more likely story is that the drama has quelled a bit that it's not so much that Christmas snuck up on me, but that there isn't that much to sneak up?  The tug of melancholy or grief isn't much of a surprise.  Maybe I'm starting to live my life in some integrated way, acknowledging Grace more regularly as part of my life now, a real part, that doesn't need drama and histrionics to come about. Healing the wounds of the abortion itself has seemed to allow Grace to be part of me, minus most of the pain.  Honestly, sometimes the histrionics still win out - albeit for shorter times and at longer intervals in between. 

Recently, a challenge was put to me for this Christmas - to think about what I'd like to give Grace for a Christmas present.  Seems manageable.  After the tumbleweed thinking of, "I could have given you life..." is stamped down, I can think of some other things that I'll hold in my heart for a while.  However, the bigger challenge was to think about and pray about and ask Grace what she might give me for Christmas this year.

Come on, really?  As I clench my fists, stamp my feet, and my bottom lip starts to stick out.

I began to contemplate the idea for a moment and then just as quickly began pushing it aside thinking that I won't have to deal with the idea until I actually sit down and clear my mind (yeah, right) and pray with big words, grand contemplation, and perfect meditation.

I should really know better by now. 

In the midst of a hum drum task of my vocation as wife and mother of which I'll spare you the details, Grace took the initiative to tell me what she wanted to give me this Christmas.  Turns out she has been paying close attention lately. 

"This Christmas, I want you to see yourself as I see you, as Daddy sees you, as all of the people who love you see you, and most of all - how He sees you." 

In internet lingo.... Oh. My. God.  Literally.

I stopped for a moment, almost out of breath, and tried to listen intently. 

"And I want you to be the person we all see and quit hiding behind who you think you are."

As I sat on the bed and the tears began to fall it was as if I felt her hand that was just on mine, softly depart and then I was left alone with her gift, maybe one of the most thoughtful and love-filled gifts I have ever received - that is if I accept it. 

In a few moments, the normal, familiar thought patterns returned perniciously.  Yeah right, see you as they see you - they all see you as just what you are... unworthy, ugly, frumpy, tired, old, stupid, wasted life, wasted career, wasted degree, fat, fat, fat, out of shape, bad mother, worse wife, age spots, wrinkles, used up whore, damaged goods, fooling everyone with your "good Catholic woman" act, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and blah.  And that's on a normal day, not even a bad day.  And she wants me to turn that around?  She wants me to see myself as worthy of love not only from her, but from everyone? 

Therein lies the problem with what Grace desires to give me.  As Flannery O'Connor puts it, "All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful."

Amen, Ms. O'Connor. 

So now I am resisting grace and Grace, but what would happen if I accepted grace and Grace?  Let them both in and see myself through the eyes of both and each?  Grace wants to change me.  She wants me to change myself and I'm not sure I can deal with more pain, the pain I know is going to come, at least temporarily, with that kind of change.  I'm not 100% convinced of what's on the other side of that pain or change and I am fully aware that I'm never going to be 100% sure of it until it happens, until I make it happen.

It's so, almost impossibly, difficult for me to think about myself in ways other than what I'm so accustomed to at this point.  But, at the same time, my choice to view myself in the ways that I do allows me to continue to do all of the things that keep me trapped in this unhappy place where I won't even allow myself to be in a photograph with my kids because I'm afraid then there will be photographic proof and long standing evidence of how truly horrible I was.  Every once in a while, when I have a good day, and a good hair day, I allow myself to feel good for a short time.  I notice the sparkle in my eyes or I allow myself to feel good about something I did during the day, but it soon fades or becomes overshadowed by the negative.  I can stand in front of the mirror every day, putting in my contacts and applying my make up and never really see myself at all.  I never really look.

I asked someone how they get the motivation to stop the negative self talk and find a way to look in the mirror and say something positive, see something positive. Part of their answer was to "make it up if you have to." 

So, I started a made up list, that started to morph into a real list.  I'm not sure if this is how Grace see me, or how my husband sees me, or the people that love me see me, and I have no idea if this how He sees me, but it's a start.

I am intelligent.
I am funny.
I have a great sense of humor.
I think quickly on my feet.
I'm good at any job I take on.
I learn things quickly.
I am fiercely loyal.
I am protective of the people I love.
I am a pretty good writer.
I am a pretty good singer.
I am pretty good at a lot of things actually, jack of all trades.
I am a great cook.
I have pretty eyes.
I like my freckles.
I have a cute nose.
I have near perfect pitch.
My husband loves me no matter what.
My kids love me no matter what.
I'm a great friend.
I like all of the scars that I have. 
I love to learn.
I love to read.

Repeat as necessary. 

I'm already starting to feel guilty that I won't be able to unwrap this gift from Grace on Christmas morning.  I'm so, so afraid of the change I know will come with its acceptance and I'm even more afraid of what will happen if I don't.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Progress of Pain

It always surprises me, although it really shouldn't, the depth of the pain that women still feel years after having had an abortion, even years after a Rachel's Vineyard retreat where so much healing takes place as the Mercy of God pours down in buckets.   

When I hear post abortive women express such pain, I always want to reach out and say it will be okay, this too shall pass, it will get better.  For some, this is very true. For others, myself included, the process takes longer, is more convoluted, and painstakingly slow.  Everyone's journey to healing is as individual as the person taking the steps. 

Sometimes and oftentimes, the healing journey can be very far from okay. I have come to believe that the answer exists in those not-okay times becoming recognizable, anticipated if possible, and then, with grace, manageable.  I think it's also important to have someone or somewhere to turn when those times show themselves.  I am still working on that part.  I am much more inclined to come here to write about it.  I still find it extremely difficult to just outright tell someone close to me that, hey, I'm not doing okay at the moment and I need a bit of help.  I suppose too that I don't reach out because the fear remains that I will disappointment those who care about me and who want to see me happy. 

In the wee hours of the night last night - one of those not-okay times washed over me like waves and I struggled to keep my mind above the proverbial water.  Something triggered some memories of my abortion and since it was late at night, with everyone asleep and I was alone in the dark with only my thoughts, the memory began to take over.  I was stuck on the memory of the sheer pain of my abortion.  I spoke in the story of my abortion how in 1987, there was no anesthesia offered for an abortion procedure at all.  Perhaps you could purchase some - but that was not an option for me.  I also wrote about how my abortion procedure was my first ever experience with any kind of gynecological exam or procedure of any kind. I had no idea what I was walking into.

The memory that I dwelt upon last night for hours, in and out of fitful sleep and nightmares, was the pain involved with a torture device known as a cervical clamp.  To make sure I wasn't crazy - I Googled, "cervical clamp pain," and sure enough thousands of hits appeared on the pain associated with this tool of the trade.  Surprisingly, most of the first hits were women recounting stories of having had IUD's placed or other intrauterine birth control devices and the pain they endured from the clamping of the cervix necessary to do so.  No anesthesia is given for that procedure either.

I decided to just allow my mind to go there and let whatever thoughts float in and out and I made a promise to myself that I would not respond or react, but just allow the memory to come and then, hopefully, go.

I'm not sure if the abortion procedure is akin to the attitude of health care workers towards an overdose victim whose stomach they now have to pump.  There have been lots of stories of how they make sure the stomach pumping process is not at all pleasant to make the patient never want to contemplate even trying to do that again.  Maybe the doctor who performed my abortion had the same mentality - make it hurt so as to discourage a repeat customer?

A cervical clamp is a wretched device.  Cold, metal, with teeth and it does exactly what its name implies - it clamps the cervix open - which means it stays in place for the entire procedure - and any woman will tell you that the pain is almost unbearable.  The memory of that pain is what kept washing over me last night - the intensity of it, the shock of it, the violence of it, and the shame of it.  I remember oh so vividly laying on that table, not knowing what to expect at all and then the sheer force of that clamp on a part of my body I didn't even know existed.  I remembered the tears spilling down the sides of my face and being told several times to be still and to "relax."  I remember beginning to shiver uncontrollably from the pain and thinking that it was never going to end. 

The memory of that pain can cause me to just about jump out of my skin even at the loving touch of my husband.  I hate the idea of that fact with every fiber of my being.  It's a confusing and complicated memory and one that I'm finding difficult to heal. 

I am several years overdue for my annual GYN exam - and I keep putting it off longer and longer - and these kind of memories are the reason.  I've had to have a cervical clamp several other times for other procedures and even though the bedside manner was completely different and the reasons completely different - that memory of that first pain remains and it's mentally and physically excruciating.  What's more is that I'm afraid to tell the person doing the procedure of my past and why I'm just about jumping off the table the minute any procedure starts - even something as simple as annual exam and pap smear where it's all over in a matter of minutes.   I'm not sure how they will react.  Will they understand my anxiety and proceed with care, or will they not care at all? 

I'm not sure why I chose to write about any of this today, maybe just to get it out there and out of me.  Maybe just to share the reality of what those who have had an abortion go through.  Perhaps just to let other post abortive women who may read this know that it's okay to not be okay sometimes. 

I'm not sure what time I actually drifted off to a restful sleep last night - but I remember one of the last thoughts I had before I did and that was that I am not the sum of my abortion and all of the pain that came with it - the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain. I was reminded this past weekend of the words of Blessed PJP II, "... we are the sum of the Father's love for us."  I pray that today and every day I remember more and more that these painful memories do not make me or break me.

Friday, November 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes - Hosted at www.conversiondiary.com

I apologize that I have been horrible at blogging lately, I've been horrible at writing lately.  I feel as though I've been horrible at most things lately. Which, of course, isn't entirely true.  My children are fed and clothed.  Hubby is fed and clothed.  Dog is fed.  It's been a struggle lately coming to terms with the choices I've made in my life the last decade or so.  I work part time because I always felt that my number one priority is being a wife and mother.  I'm not so sure anymore.  I want it to be, but I can't help but feel run down with the day to day.  I have other interests and volunteer activities that keep me busy and engaged in adult conversation, but the problem is that then I often feel as if everything in my life is gets maybe 10% of my attention and nothing gets 100% or even close.  I find myself doubting ever making the decision to not work full time the past 12 years or so.  I think about where I could be in a career, how I should have gotten my master's degree, and how much money I could have made so my husband wouldn't feel all the financial pressure.  Would have, could have, should have. 

I have begun seeing a spiritual director and it's been a great process thus far.  I won't share most of what happens within that context because I'd like to keep that space a bit private, but I will share one of my "homework" assignments that I was given last month - that I completely failed to do.  Well maybe fail isn't the correct word - outright refused to try is a better description.  I think it's something that a lot of people struggle with, however, especially people with pain in their past or decisions they regret, or standards they feel they will never measure up to - so yeah, that's just about everybody.  My assignment was to look in the mirror each day and say to myself, "Self, I am loved and I am beautiful."  I wouldn't even attempt it.  Why? Because I don't feel loved and I feel even less beautiful.  I just kind of ignored the whole idea until my next meeting with my director and we talked about why I can't do this.  The discussion led to a lot of thoughts that I'm dealing with now as far as why don't I feel loved and beautiful? Do I even want to feel loved and beautiful?  Do I really want any of it?  Now, my new assignment is to, if I can, just look at my eyes in the mirror.  Just look myself in the eyes, ignore all the rest of me (thank goodness), and concentrate on my "windows to the soul" and try again.  I'm kind of scared.  Who am I kidding?  I'm terrified. 

I haven't been writing on my blog recently and have hardly taken pen to paper, but I do appreciate all of the comments and emails I have received from people who have said that my blog has helped them, or touched them in some way or that they too have had an abortion and appreciate my honesty and what I have to say.  It's always better when I don't feel alone in this.  I'll try to do better this month for those people who have asked me to please keep posting.  You are all in my prayers -  even the whack-a-do's whose comments I don't publish - you know who you are. 


I've been absolutely dumbfounded at the Catholic "blogosphere" the past few months.  Sometimes it's hard to even tell if we are all on the same team.  I'm astounded by the derision that exists and the meanness and harshness with which everyone defends their opinion about absolutely everything.  I get it, I am hell bent on some of my own opinions on some matters.  But, I don't get the extremeness of opinions in our Church.  And the same topics come up in my Twitter feed every day after day.  Aren't we supposed to all be part of the mystical body of Christ?  Christ must be suffering from severe body dsymorphia right now.  I don't know if I should love Pope Francis or hate him. I don't know if I should sneer at crying babies in church or offer a helping hand.  I don't know if I'm a heretic because I prefer face-to-face confession.  Should I demand that my Priests be pretentious and untouchable or the huggable, warm and fuzzy variety?  I wonder if I'm a bad Catholic because I don't homeschool my kids.  Should I feel superior now that I receive communion on the tongue (even if it took me months to work up to it and I still get so nervous about it?) Should I listen to Michael Voris or Mark Shea?  Ugh!  Can't we all just get along?  Maybe that's why I haven't been writing lately - I'm afraid I'm going to get attacked by my own kind in a place where I should feel the most safe and secure.  I feel bad because I fear I'm not strong enough to withstand any criticism.  I applaud those of you who are, but could you all get together and come up with 7 Quick Takes about the Church we can all agree on?  Thanks.

I recently finished a fantastic and extremely helpful book that someone recommend to me.  Dawn Eden's, My Peace I Give You, is an excellent read.  Ms. Eden offers ways to find help and healing with the lives of the Saints.  Although I did not suffer from childhood sexual abuse as  Ms. Eden did, everything that she speaks about in the book would be extremely helpful for anyone who has suffered from abuse or trauma in any way.  I found myself reading and re-reading paragraphs and chapters as I thought about some of the things that have happened in my life.  Having had an abortion is definitely a sort of abuse, and having one at the age of 17 would seem to make it even more so.  Ms. Eden gave me a lot to think about regarding forgiveness and also about living and reacting from a place of woundedness versus from a healthy place.  I'm not quite there yet.  Sometimes I doubt I ever will be, but Ms. Eden has offered me hope in some areas where I didn't have any before.  She's given me some new things to consider and a way to deal with some things that keep coming up all the time.

And now for something completely different... the other day in the car, my eldest asked me, "Mommy's what's a condom?"  Now, this is not the first time she's asked such a direct question and I'm glad that she feels she can ask me - but, holy cow, can we have these discussions while not driving the car?  Geez.  Anyway, I asked her where she heard the term... at recess, of course!  Her friends refused to tell her what it meant.  I explained it to her in the best way I could and she found it to be completely disgusting.  At present, she finds all of these discoveries essentially disgusting which is fine by me at the moment and for the next ten years.  I am grateful to have these discussions though, as my mom, to this day, has not uttered the word s-e-x in my presence more than twice that I can remember.  If I would have asked her what a condom was - I shudder to think what her response would have been.  So, a little pat on my back for one small success as a parent - my kid is, obviously, not afraid to talk to me about all things sexual.  Let's just pace ourselves, shall we?

So, the theme this month on Facebook is to spend each day posting what you are thankful for. I didn't take on the challenge.  Not that I'm not thankful - I just hate doing what someone tells me I have to do.  But, I'll take this last quick take to concentrate on what I am grateful for even if I don't see those things that are right in front of my nose every day.  I'm thankful for my life and for waking up every day healthy and warm with a loving husband by my side and a devoted canine who is just so damn happy to see my eyes open each morning.  Never underestimate the power of a wagging tail.  This can not be taken lightly in my case because of the suicidal ideation that I often suffer from - waking up each day and realizing what a gift it is to be alive is huge for me.  I'm thankful for my children, all three of them, for when they drive me crazy and for when they don't.  I'm thankful for my home and all the things in it because, though I constantly complain about the things I don't have, the things I do have are ridiculously excessive.  I'm thankful for this journey and for where every step has led, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the sublime.  I'm thankful for my beautiful Church and the sacraments and for each time that I am privileged enough to partake in the Eucharist and feel Him enter my body and soul and heart so completely and so overwhelmingly that it brings me to tears just about every time.  I'm thankful for all of the people in my life who have helped me along the way and who have held my hand.  I must admit I'm afraid that once I'm "healthy" or "fixed" from all of this that you will all disappear because I won't need you anymore.  I'm thankful for eyes that can see - and hopefully I'll use my sight to look in the mirror soon and realize that I'm worthy of something... anything, and hopefully one day, love.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Not even my mother?

I haven't written anything for quite a while, actually not since the anniversary of my abortion on August 22nd.  I just haven't felt like it and for me, I have to feel like it, otherwise whatever comes out seems forced or contrived.  Over the last week I've been jotting a few notes down here and there, starting to shove that writer's block out of the way little by little.  But, today, after this, I'm not even going to try to sound like a good writer.  This is about the heart and the pain and the woundedness and loss that comes with having had an abortion.

A few months ago I wrote about how to win the prolife fight.  I felt pretty good about what I wrote and a few outlets had even picked up my little opinion piece.  I started to feel again like maybe I am doing some good work here.

Then stuff like this happens.  Today, I scrolled down my Facebook feed and came across the video, "An Interview with an Unborn Child."  Okay, I'll watch it.  The first graphic was okay and not the blood and gore that so often accompanies these types of things.  I hit play.  I watched it all the way through one time and felt my neck start to flush and the lump in my throat begin to form.

I watched it a second time and started to talk back to the video.  I watched it a third time, angrier by the moment, trying to write down some notes, blinking back the tumbling tears that refused to stop falling. 

This video, my dear friends, can destroy a person.  It can destroy me.  And before you go on and on about how people need to hear the truth and blah blah blah... allow me to just give you my, albeit one sided, perspective.  This video presumes a hell of a lot of things - all of which are wrong in my case and I'm guessing for millions of other postabortive moms. 

First, watch and then I'll tell you why.


 
 
Let me tell you something, not a day has gone by since August 22, 1987 when I have not thought of my daughter.  Not. One. Day.  And that's not a cliche'.  That's truth. 

I have heard her screams over and over and over and over and over again in my mind and heart and soul for 26 years.  When I seem to forget the screams, I will force myself to remember them.  Her greatest pain is my greatest pain.  The assumption in this video is that not even the unborn baby's mother knows his pain.  Wrong.  Wrong even for the woman who celebrates her abortion as her right and claims relief when it's over.

I know who Grace is.

I know her.

I love her. 

Grace experiences my love every single day.

Death is the only kiss this "unborn baby" claims to have known or will know. 

I kiss Grace with every thought, with every prayer, with every tear, with every breath of mine.

Yes, she was torn from my womb and I never held her or saw her, but she remains with me because I am her mother.

Even before I spoke the word abortion out loud in the first step toward healing decades after my abortion, I knew her.  I loved her.  I have spent the last years learning that this love for my daughter is real.  I have learned how to love her and not have it destroy me.  I have learned that my love for her and her love for me surpasses our circumstances. 

This is the kind of prolife propaganda that assumes that every woman who walks into an abortion clinic is doing so of her own free will, with a premeditated plan, exercising her legal right to have an abortion.  This kind of prolife crap is what reopens the wounds of abortion for women who have tried to heal in every way possible and still remain weak no matter how tough they seem. 

I walked into an abortion clinic that August morning, at the age of 17, because my mother told me to and I had no choice.  I was a child carrying a child.

I get it.  I know what the prolife side is after with this kind of message.  I know I'm supposed to consider myself part of the "choir" and they aren't really talking to me when they put this stuff out and pass it around Facebook and everyone chimes in with their comments about how freakin awesome it is. Everything I've ranted about above, I know in my heart.

Even for the woman who walked into the abortion clinic and walked out relieved and claims to this day that it is the best thing she ever did - she knows somewhere in her heart that she is a  mother and she does love her child, but no where in this video or countless others is that mentioned.  There is no mercy here.  There is no forgiveness here.  There is no hope here.

For the tender conscience that has spent years piecing together hope and faithfully grasping for just an inkling of mercy or an ocean of it, this video is capable of making it all evaporate with some clever wording and haunting background music. 

Why?  Because you never fully heal from abortion, not this side of heaven, and this kind of video can be like a stake through the heart.  I just keep saying it over and over in my mind.  I know her.  I love her.  I know her.  I love her.  I know her.  I love her.

And what keeps me alive is the fact that I know that she knows me and she loves me.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Of Scars & Thoughts

On this anniversary-eve of my abortion, I'm trying to redirect my most negative thoughts.  I'm trying to think of the way my life has changed over the last few years, since I've begun talking about my abortion, since seeking help and healing and mercy, since acknowledging my Grace Anne in a real way.  There are many things I am grateful for since taking the first step on this journey, but I don't often reflect on the positive things.  Maybe the medication is starting to work a bit, as I've found myself today ticking off a list in my head of very positive things.

I've mentioned before that I'm grateful for the invisible scars that remain from my abortion experience, even though I don't always tap into that gratitude.  About a year ago I had surgery for some skin cancer and ironically I have a not too pretty scar right above my heart.  Because of the irregular shape and size of the incision, the scar is quite ragged, but I've taken a liking to it.  It's become a tangible reminder to me of the stitched up scars on my heart beneath.  I have scars from two Cesarean sections from having my two girls, I've come to think of this one above my heart as Grace's scar since I never gave birth to her.  Scars can be a reminder that our past is real, or so they say, and I'm grateful that Grace has become real to me and I wouldn't change anything that's happened in the last few years. This ugly scar that is in plain sight for all to see has become a reminder that my wounds don't change how anyone feels about me.  The wound heals, the pain subsides, but it still itches sometimes.  It will here forever, it's just part of me, but it's not all that I am.
After I first spoke the word abortion out loud to the Good Father who then wrote down the number for Rachel's Vineyard and gave it to me, my life was forever changed.  I began this journey that continues today and will forever, which is okay because I've learned that the journey won't end this side of Heaven.  I've also learned a lot that makes the journey bearable down here.

My faith has blossomed on this journey in countless ways on this post-abortion walk.  I've rediscovered my Church in so many, ridiculously beautiful ways.  I've learned more in the last three years than I ever did in years and years of CCD classes. I've read and read and read some more, anything I could get my hands on.  I've read the Bible - not cover to cover, but I'm not afraid to open it anymore and I actually understand some of it.  I try to read the daily readings every day.  I've learned to really pray the rosary.  I've learned to pray, period.  I don't think I'm very good at it, but rumor has it, Jesus doesn't care.  I've learned how to love God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind - and how that doesn't mean I love my husband or children any less.  I've learned to love most of my neighbors and have compassion for people I hadn't before.  I've learned so much about our beautiful Mass and what it all means and symbolizes.  The Eucharist has become so very much a part of my life and those few seconds after each communion are some of the most joyous moments in my life - just to be with Him and in Him and Him in me.  I've studied and learned the truths of our faith and I'm all in with every single one of them.  What a relief to know what is true and what is not.  I've learned what thoughts I have and "voices" I hear are of God and which aren't.  I've learned to stop the thoughts that aren't of God and I'm getting better and better at it.  I've learned that the fear after a sweat-inducing nightmare can be quelled with a quiet Hail Mary said over and over until I fall back asleep.  I've learned that memories are just that, memories and the only power they have over me is the power I give them.  I've learned that I am never, ever, alone.  I've learned that Jesus really does love me and He really does listen to me and He really cares about what I have to say.  I've learned that I was created in His image out of His love for me.  I've learned that I can speak to Mary about all of my fears about being a good wife and mother and she hears me and comes to my assistance.  I've learned that most people who I tell that I've had an abortion react with love and kindness and understanding.

This is just a bit of what I've learned and discovered on my journey so far.  I kind of can't wait to see what else I learn and discover, and I'm fully aware that I can't learn or grow if I'm too depressed to even get out of bed.  So, I continue to be a work in progress, but for now I seem to be progressing in a positive direction - even now - on this night.


So, tomorrow I will mark the anniversary of my abortion by spending my day as God willed my life to be, as a wife and mother, as a daughter, sister, and friend.   Then, hopefully tomorrow evening I'll be able to go to adoration and sit with Him for a while.

Thank you, Grace, for leading me to all of these places along the way and meeting me there.  Thank you Jesus for the scars I bear from wounds that haven't killed me, but have made me stronger and brought me closer and closer to You.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It's All Grace

Truly overwhelmed by the response I have received regarding my last post.  I've been thinking a lot over the last 24 hours about my journey and wondering what may lie ahead.  Lead me, Lord...

Today I am grateful for my wounds, for without them I wouldn't be who I am, even if most of the time I have not an inkling of who that is. There is no denying that there are parts of my life that never existed until I took the first step of this journey, steps into grace and with Grace.

"God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it,
not without pain but without stain." ~ C.S. Lewis

Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Win the Prolife Fight

I normally stay far away from the political areas of the prolife "fight."  The main reason being that the most effective weapon I have in my arsenal is the fact that I am a postabortive woman, but this weapon I can not bring to bear outside of this keyboard.  So, I choose to fight the good fight with the story of my journey, prayerful and hopeful that my story helps someone, somewhere, at some time.  I also tend to stay out of it because I'm not always sure who my enemy is, the prochoicer or the prolifer.

That being said, I have entered a bit into the prolife movement since beginning my journey.  My attendance is regarded as just another prolife Christian and usually no one knows the real reason I'm present.  I attend a prolife mass often and take part in a silent, prayerful witness outside of an abortion clinic.  I've attended the March for Life the last two years.  And, although I'm not carrying a sign that reads, "I regret my abortion," my Father in Heaven sees me and knows the intention of my heart.  I am hopeful that my physical presence, as just one of many others, is enough to help to someday turn the tide.

When I take part in any public prolife events with my secret harbored in my heart and mind, I brace myself for any kind of words or rhetoric that would cause me pain, or worse, doubt, or even worse yet, despair. My concerns are rarely, if ever, unfounded.  I look around and try to imagine that there are women and men around me who harbor the same secret since, statistically speaking, there just have to be.  I've seen the prolife signs and graphics that state the safest place for a baby should be in their mother's womb.  Well, I think that the safest place for a postabortive person would be at a prolife event.  Sadly, this is not the case.

I've written before about the use of graphic abortion signs and how I feel about them, but sadly, some in this fight will argue their effectiveness until they are blue in the face.  They can keep arguing about it, I think they are wrong, but I can't stop them.  They're still wrong.

If you've read my blog before you know that I'm a Lord of the Rings fan.  If you are familiar with the story, in the final installment of the trilogy, the good guys are in their last ditch effort to save all of mankind and the odds are not good.  Aragon needs to find the numbers to win the war, and where he goes to find them is not a popular decision.  Aragon himself is horrified at the thought of even asking these "murderers" to fight along side him.  He must go to summon the Army of the Dead, he must face the evil he believes them to be, evil, murderous, traitorous men who are bound in limbo because of their actions.  Aragon promises them release from their debt if they choose to fight with him.



The army agrees and the epic war is suddenly over when the ships carrying them dock and dead men pour out like a crashing waves against the bad guys, destroying all in their path. 


Redemption is a powerful motivator.

That's how I see the postabortive people in this world being the key to the prolife "fight."  55 million abortions in the United States in the past 40 years - 55 million babies translates to 55 million possible foot soldiers in the prolife fight.  55 million.  Even though the prochoice crowd has been chanting for 40 years about how abortion is a choice and a right - those who have chosen to exercise that right mostly remain in the shadows or in secret.  Few stand up and shout from the rooftops how fantastic is is that they chose abortion, fewer still stand up and shout how they regret their choice.

Why? Because the prolife fight can be one of the most scary and dangerous places for a postabortive person.  Whether you are public about the fact that you had an abortion and bearing a sign that says so or holding it secret in your heart, when standing in a sea of hundreds of thousands of prolife people, there remains a fear that the same, smiley, happy Jesus-loving people will unleash their wrath upon you. A wrath that sometimes simmers just below the surface. 

I'm not saying that every person at the March for Life or any event is capable of rendering harm to a postabortive person, nor has the desire to do so.  But, I can say that just about every one of my prolife experiences in the last couple of years has had moments that have triggered the fight or flight endorphins in my brain.  The first year I attended the March for Life, there was a gentlemen chaparoning our group, a member of the Knights of Columbus no less.  As we were walking he struck up a conversation with some folks behind me and began a very vocal condemnation of women who have abortions with the typical, "they should just say no to sex, keep their legs shut!"  His conversation lasted for a good 15 minutes with all of his opinions spouting about women who have an abortions.  Granted, he had no idea that a postabortive woman was walking right in front of him.  But, what if he had known?  What if he hadn't known, but he acted as if he was surrounded by post abortive women anyway?  What if at the rally before the March - he heard compassionate words regarding postabortive and those words sunk into his heart and soul?

What if every speech, at every pro life rally or event, began with mention of the postabortive and their pain and struggle and more importantly about the mercy of God?  When I do hear the postabortive mentioned at events - it's sadly an afterthought, as in "and... we can't forget about the women who have had abortions."  I think the postabortive should be the first mentioned.  What the man behind me at that first march wasn't aware of was millions of abortions happen as a result of coercion by parents, boyfriends, husbands, lovers, or friends.  Millions more occur out of fear and anxiety over hopeless prenatal diagnoses given by doctors.  Millions of abortions happen because the woman feels she has no choice at all.  And yes, millions of abortions happen because a pregnant women decides to exercise her right to have her pregnancy terminated, but that woman too deserves sympathy because she has bought into the lie and is a victim of the Culture of Death.  People like that man behind me need to be told these facts, over and over and over again.

All of the postabortive, regardless of the circumstances that led them to having an abortion, all of us deserve love, compassion, and mercy which we receive in abundance from God.  Who we need it from also is the prolife movement.  What would we be capable of then?  What if every flyer and every poster and every email blast for a prolife event invited first and foremost, the postabortive.  Invite us to come in secret or with our Silent No More signs.  Either way, assure us that the words spoken will be words of love and mercy.  Assure us that you will do everything in your power to make sure we are not harmed by word or deed.

The comment below is one I received on my blog post The Story of My Abortion:
"You. Make. Me. Sick. I sincerely hope you die a death as horrible as your unborn baby did. Good riddance."
I wonder how my events the above "prolifer" attends during a year?  I wonder how many other postabortive women she's said the same words to?  I've received a lot of comments on my blog since I began writing it - this is one that I can quote word for word.  It's the comment the Devil whispers in my ear when I board the bus to the March for Life.  It's the comment he whispers to me when I sit down to write this blog.  Thanks be to God for the strength to shake the words off and continue on, but there are days when I'm unable to shake those words off and they play in my ears like a sinful, sweet melody.

There has been talk recently about how to engage the prochoicers instead of preaching to the choir.  My suggestion to the prolife movers and shakers - there's another choir you are ignoring.  Engage the postabortive.  Engage us with love, and compassion, and mercy free from any semblance of judgment regardless of why we had an abortion, whether we had an abortion 26 years ago or yesterday.  Be at the ready, with open, loving arms, to embrace us with the knowledge that there is no judgment here.


How could the main stream media resist if the March for Life numbers swelled from hundreds of thousands to millions?  The prolife movement is self-defeating.  You are either ignoring or alienating your toughest, largest, and what could be your most passionate, ally.

Make it the mission of every prolife event to be, first and foremost, an ocean of mercy towards those most harmed by abortion, the women who have them.  What an army it would be - 55 million strong with all of the children lost interceding with and for their mothers.

Then maybe there is a chance for victory.

You. Make. Me. Sick.
I sincerely hope you die a death
As horrible as your unborn baby did.
Good riddance. - See more at: http://www.postabortionwalk.blogspot.com/2011/07/story-of-my-abortion.html#sthash.muPw0eRv.dpuf

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

26 years

I've been kind of obsessing over numbers lately, numbers of years since I've been with my husband (19), the number of years since becoming a Mom (11), the number of years I've lived away from the town I grew up in (18), and now the shadow of the most looming number is creeping nearer and nearer. Two weeks from now will mark the 26th year since my abortion.

26 years.

Seems like forever and yesterday at the same time.  When I began this journey, I had to sit down quite a few times and piece together a timeline to clear up the fogginess that 20 years of repression can cause.  Over the past several months, we've been doing some reorganizing at home and I've been coming across lots of memorabilia and keepsakes.  I found a box of all of my datebooks and calendars that I had kept.  I found my wall calendar from senior year of high school - one of those school year ones that start with August.  Right there in black and white on my calendar on August 22, was "AWS," in cute, bubble letters no less.  Allegheny Women's Services.


I didn't need the calendar to tell me that, but it was nice to have my memory confirmed as correct.  With grieving, I'm told, it's healthy to have a day to memorialize someone that you lost. A day to mark the occasion and then move on with your life I suppose.  The last couple of years I've tried by placing flowers at my retreat sight and on the memorial to the unborn at my church.  This year I'm not sure what I'll do.  I don't think I've really learned how to grieve at all.  I've never lost anyone close to me, my parents are alive and the only grandmother I really knew died when I was about 12 and it didn't really affect me much.  I don't have any experience with death or grief.

Lack of experience isn't the only thing that holds me back from grieving - I think that if I grieve for Grace that she's somehow going to be gone.  I ignored her for so long - I don't want that to happen.  If I grieve for her then I think I'll feel that she's gone and I'm trying to bank on the words of Blessed JPII that "nothing is definitively lost."  It doesn't feel right to grieve for her, when I talk to her sometimes.

Perhaps then, when August 22 rolls around each year, I'm not grieving for Grace at all.  Maybe I'm grieving for the loss of so many other things, things I've talked about on this blog of mine.  The loss of innocence.  The loss of dignity.  The loss of self worth.  I grieve for what the abortion left behind in me.  Fear of men.  Fear of doctors.  Fear of life.  I grieve for the life I think I should have had instead of the interrupted one I got.

The life I have now is pretty well blessed and I know that, but there is a part of me that's just, well... me, I guess.  I have talked about my struggle with depression a bit.  I've laid so much of my life out here on this blog, but it's difficult to talk about having a diagnosis of depression.  It's like an admission of defeat, of failure.  I've struggled with antidepressants for 20 years now.  How I need them. How I hate them.  Depression is a tricky, tricky thing.  It makes you feel horrible in ways very few people can understand and usually those closest to you have no idea what you are going through and how the simplist of ideas can become so twisted in your mind.  Sometimes nothing at all is easy. 

I tried to be medication free for a while and within just a few months of everything having time to be out of my system, the depression returned, with a vengeance.  I really thought I could do it on my own.  I choke on the words, but it seems that there is little I can do on my own at all.  After my abortion, I continued with my senior year of high school and left for college.  By the second semester of my freshman year, I had attempted suicide twice.  One not-so-serious attempt, and one pretty damn serious.   I had a third suicide attempt when I was 20 and soon after I voluntarily went for an inpatient hospital stay.  Through all three of those attempts and treatment, not once did I talk about the abortion.  Sometimes I wonder if I had been treated properly back then, maybe I wouldn't be where I am now.  I'll never know.

Suicidal ideation can be a very scary thing and it's something that you can't really talk about to anyone.  It's hard to talk about it without someone immediately thinking you need to be admitted to a hospital STAT.  That fear makes it impossible to confide in anyone.  It's possible to be depressed to the point of thinking of suicide and still function - I'm living proof.  But, it would be nice if I could talk about it.  For me, it's part of who I am. I just most often think that I am completely replaceable in this life and that the people I care most about would be better off without me.  Maybe those feelings will change, but I've had them all of my life it seems.  A feeling that I will never be good enough.  I will never be valuable enough.

So, what I'm dealing with are two very huge secrets in my life.  The fact that I have depression and probably always will and the fact that I had an abortion.  Two taboo subjects.  Two things that affect my life every day that my feet hit the floor.  It's exhausting sometimes to lead this double life of mine.  No matter how depressed I may be, no matter if it's the 26th anniversary of my abortion, I still have to get up, make breakfast, do some laundry, and go on with the day.  I can't wallow in it physically, so I wallow in it in my mind. I wallow in it emotionally. I wallow in it spiritually. But, I wear a mask for much of my life.  Sometimes, I wish I could take it off. 

It's for all of these reasons that I've decided to try a new medication.  Unfortunately, antidepressants take time to work.  I'm trying to be patient.  After a week, the constant lump in my throat seems to have subsided.  I feel a little, I guess it could be labeled as "better," but I'm not sure what better feels like.  I feel a little numb, but I may be mistaking normal for numb.  I'm going to try to give it a month or so and see.

I just wasn't any match for the depression that tears me part from the inside.  The medication won't teach me how to grieve.  It won't tell me what to do this August 22nd.  The medication won't give me back all the years I feel I've been cheated out of.  But, maybe it will help me to focus on something else.  Hopefully, it will help me to not wallow so much.  Hopefully, it will help to make these two halves of me whole.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Hand to Hold & Hope

I was working on a few things today and I came across this photo.  It's a statue called, "Hope."  The first time I saw a photo of this statue was in a flyer for a "Garden of Hope" that is not too far from where I live.  It's a memorial for babies lost to abortion or miscarriage, for all babies lost before their birth.  I've wanted to try to visit it a few times, but I'm not sure how public it would be and I'm sure I would sit in my car waiting for there to be no one around before I even attempted to enter the place.

I just love the sculpture though - it's so tear-jerkingly beautiful.  Usually when I try to clear my head a bit and really pray... I picture myself walking along a pathway somewhere beautiful & serene, in nature somewhere, always by a lake or ocean for some reason... and there He is, waiting for me.  Waiting... for me.  Of all people!  When I'm able to actually get to that place in my mind, it's glorious.  I don't think I've ever imagined holding His hand - but that seems completely doable, right?  Why wouldn't Jesus hold your hand if you asked, or just took his hand in your own?  In the statue, it looks as though He took her hand though - either way, could you just imagine that?  I don't know if I would even have to say anything after that - the hand holding might be more than enough.  But hopefully I would talk.  And I do try to talk with Him, in prayer and I try to listen, of course.  I'm not always successful.  Usually I fail miserably. 

She looks like she's holding a necklace and maybe showing it to him - I'm not sure.  I guess I'll have to look closely if I ever get to see the sculpture in real life.  Most importantly is the fact that He is holding in his arm, on his lap, an infant.  I can't really concentrate too much on that part of the sculpture, it's too difficult.  Even now.  But even a cursory glance tells me it's beautiful and fills me with hope. 

The anniversary of my abortion is approaching soon... August 22.   It will be 26 years since my abortion.

I haven't thought too much about how I may mark the day, if I do at all.  Perhaps just going to Him in my mind will be enough.  On my Rachel's Vineyard retreat and in counseling I've learned that grieving for the child you lost to abortion is okay to do - but I'm not sure I've ever really figured out how to do that.  It's still difficult for me to say her name out loud. 

Also in my rounds on the internet today, I watched a video about the latest prolife events in Texas, et al.  I was shocked by some of the footage in a video when it showed an actual abortion being performed and a little, tiny, 12 week old hand being picked out of some blood and fluid.  I've seen most of the graphic pictures of abortions - but this one today was different.  I paused the video and just stared at the image of that little tiny hand.

I hope one day to hold Grace's little tiny hand in mine. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I'm Nothing if Not Predictable

I started writing this blog 3 years ago, in June of 2011, about one year after my first Rachel's Vineyard retreat.  Coincidence?  Probably not.  I am a creature of habit even though I fancy myself spontaneous and unpredictable.  I'm still trying to figure out if the fact that I have major depressive episodes that are cyclical in nature - if the depression fell into step with my own personal time clock or if my personal time clock has been set to the meter of my depressive episodes.  One thing is for certain - there is a definite ebb and flow to what I'm feeling or going through at any particular time.

I can go along for a while, feeling pretty good and on an even keel and then, seemingly out of nowhere, everything is out of focus and I'm grasping at nothing, let alone a straw.  We've had a busy two months in my "real" life, well this blog is my real life too, perhaps I should say my "offline" life.  We've had major life changes, health scares, and general upheaval.  It feels as though my life looks like when you peek through a kaleidoscope. It can be very pretty, but you don't know where to look, it's all disjointed and fractured, but there is beauty in the mess.  My problem is not always seeing past the mess.  I tend to look at the all the fragments and feel frustrated at the lack of order and then I chuck the whole kaleidoscope as completely not worth it. 

In real life, when I don't have one thing to focus on, when too many things are pulling me in too many directions, I can't deal with it.  I opt for nothing and retreat, predictably, quietly into my own head and begin not to care about any of it, whether it's pretty or not.  That's kind of where I am now.  I'm retreating.  The good thing about predictability is I know what comes next if I don't stop it.  Not that that realization is enough to stop it sometimes, but I'm aware of it. 

With all that life has handed us lately, both good and bad, I'm completely and utterly overwhelmed and second guessing every decision I've made in the last 12 years or so. 

What would be laughable if it weren't so damn sad is the fact that I know what I must focus on to make my life okay again.  The trouble lies in trying to find that focus and have it be part of my real life, my offline life and my online life, just part of me, always.

When I go back and re-read some of my posts - especially those soon after my retreats when I'm basking in His mercy, love, and light - I wonder why I ever leave those spaces in time.  I suppose life gets in the way.  I suppose I haven't truly surrendered all to Him.  I have a weak faith or a timid one.  It's easy for me to write on this blog and gush about the love from Him that I allow myself to feel, but ask me about it in real life or ask me to actually speak about it, I'm mute.  The last 4 years of my life I've learned more about my faith and what I believe and my Church than ever before, but get me in a room of people and I won't say a word about it.  Just the other evening I was out for some dinner and cocktails and the gossip inevitably begins.  One woman starts talking about so-and-so (who of course is not at the dinner to defend herself) and how this person is all "gung ho with her prolife crap..."  I sat there in silence, not agreeing, but not speaking up either.  I didn't way a word.  What a coward.  So, I return home and start to question if I really believe anything I say I believe.  How can I if I'm too afraid to talk about it or even mention it.   It was much easier to be outspoken about what I believed when what I believed didn't need defending. 

I think sometimes I'm afraid to even talk to myself about it.  I'm afraid to talk to my husband about it.  I feel guilty admitting sometimes that I have such trouble focusing and I need some help and the first help I need to get is His. When do I do well with life?  When I make time for Him.  And usually that involves some smells and bells for me because trying to focus in my own mind is a losing battle.  But it's still difficult for me to just say that I need some time to pray and then go to adoration or wherever is conducive for me to do that.  Maybe because I'm not even sure what I do would be considered prayer at all.  It would be even worse and more guilt inducing to say, "honey, I need some time to go sit in a chapel and, oh I don't know, sit there and do nothing because I don't know how to pray, I think."  When everyone I know is so busy with this and that and the other thing it sounds shallow to just sit and do nothing in a chapel somewhere because I believe that He is really there.  I only feel justified in doing those things when I'm at the end of my rope for whatever reason - so I begin to wonder if I'm creating the frayed rope to begin with. 

***

Well, I've stopped and started this blog post ten times over.  I'm not even sure what I'm writing about, if anything.  I'm not sure what I need right now.  And if I did know, I'm not sure I'd ask for it.  Kind of goes back to the "fine" answer whenever anyone asks how you are doing.  When you most definitely aren't fine and you just want someone to recognize it without your having to admit it and hug you, hold your hand, dry your tears.  I'm not sure if I'm just looking for trouble.  I'm not sure if I'm making trouble just to have a reason to run away.  I'm not sure if I'm just being dramatic because things begin to feel good and I can't handle good anymore.  It's been so long since good or happy has been part of my repertoire that I don't know what to do with it when I have it, let alone feel it.  

I'm not sure how much of all of this is being post abortive or just being me in general.  I'm not sure how much of it is just general malaise or something more that I'm not willing to admit defeat over.  My heart is just aching lately, a dull, physical ache.  I'm overwhelmed and quite tearful and not the kind of tearful over the Hallmark commercial on TV.  The only thing worse than crying and the deep, dull, ache that I sometimes or always feel, is trying to hide that I feel it at all.  The energy it takes to choke it all down where no one knows it's there doesn't leave much for life in general. 

I hate that everything I just typed would make a perfect anti-depressant commercial, just pick one.  I hate the 20 seconds of side effects that are listed at the end of the commercials.

I hate that I am this way.  I hate that all the healing and growing and work I've done in the last four years isn't enough.  I wonder if anything will be enough.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'm a sinner! Who are you? Are you a sinner too?

Whew. It has not been a fun few weeks let me tell you. But, I’m still here. I still feel kind of wobbly and uncertain, but I’m still here. I do feel, thanks be to God, a lot better now than I did just a few weeks ago. I’m sleeping a bit better. No nightmares for the last week. I've started walking and I've walked 6 times in the last 2 weeks! I still think about suicide, but it's not as oppressive as it was. I've enjoyed some good days with my family. I'm trying not to spend as much time in my room, alone.  And I spent one, glorious night with an entire bottle of wine and forgot about everything for a while.  That was fun.  The morning after, not so much, but fun while it lasted.  Everything in moderation, as they say.

I knew Mother's Day could go in any of many directions and it went in a bad one for a while.  I ended up hightailing out of my home and away from my family because I just couldn't fake it until bed time that day, not for another second.  I drove to the nearby retreat center where I attended both of my Rachel's Vineyard's retreats.  I sat for a while.  Then some other people showed up so I got back in my car and headed to another retreat center that isn't too far and there is a beautiful, peaceful, sacred little chapel and I found myself alone there for a few hours.  The wind was whipping up outside and the sound of it coming through the old building in the dimness of the chapel with its stone walls and high ceiling made it feel like Heaven, or somewhere closer to Him.  I sat there for a good long while arguing with myself and God.  I had to make a decision that day to live or die and if I was going to live, well then I had to figure out a way to do just that.

I'm not naive enough to say that this will be the last time I sink down into a pit of depression.  Especially now that I've kind of sworn off any medication, it's inevitable that it will happen again and again.  I hope I remember whatever it was that started to bring me out of it because something always brings me out of it.  I've spoken about always just having the tiniest bit of something inside that keeps me alive.  Hopefully, with each time I'll remember sooner and sooner to tap into that tiny part of me where, obviously, He dwells, and remember why I'm here.

It was kind of the perfect storm leading up to Mother's Day.  I was following the Gosnell trial with voracity and then all of the other under cover videos that Live Action was putting out there.  I prayed outside the abortion clinic the Saturday before Mother's Day.  I was thinking that I was fighting the good fight, but all of the coverage that I was consuming all day long was eating away at me in ways I don't think I recognized clearly.  I even posted about Gosnell and how everyone was so up in arms about his particular brand of abortion and how it was no different than the abortion that I had.  Which, following the logic, makes me no different than Gosnell himself when it comes down to brass tacks.

Reading and watching and analyzing all of the condemnation of Gosnell by everyone on blogs, on social media, and on the news once the story took off - I think I began to believe all of the same about myself.  Why? Because some of it was true!  Gosnell performed however many abortions - I had an abortion.  In my mind it was the same thing.  It's still the same thing.  It started to become that every time I read his name or heard it said I would crumple in on myself a bit more.  The whispers would begin... see, you did that too.  Your baby was ripped limb from limb and put in a jar.  You're no better than he is.  Stabbed in the back of the neck or sucked through a cannula - it's all the same thing.

A bit of a repreieve came when the verdict came in guilty as charged on so many counts.  And just as quickly, the discussion turned to saving Gosnell from the death penalty.  The argument began to surface about mercy for Gosnell.  Whoa - wait just a damn minute... mercy? For him?

Yes.  Mercy for Gosnell.  Mercy for me.  Mercy for us all.

When Abby Johnson first came onto the scene, I had similar feelings towards her.  Wait just a damn minute.... we're going to give her a pass because she suddenly figured out what she was doing was wrong?  How's that fair?  I didn’t want to like her. I wanted to hate her, condemn her. I was guilty of thinking that she didn’t deserve anything good. Abby was the counselor who spoke to me before I had my abortion.   Abby was the woman holding my hand as I lay on that table with silent tears falling down my cheeks. Abby was the woman who gave me three months worth of “the Pill” as I walked out the door of that clinic. Abby was all the girls and women afterwards that I tried to befriend and align myself with in the hopes of coping with what I had done. So, now Abby Johnson gets mercy?

Yes.  Mercy for Abby Johnson.  Mercy for me.  Mercy for us all.  

So, let's take the whole abortion argument out of it altogether.  What about just a your run-of-the-mill sinner?  What do they deserve?  What if I never had an abortion?  What if my biggest sin was premarital sex and some vulgar language?  Tell me then what would I deserve?  What we all deserve, quite frankly – hell. But, thanks be to God – there is abundant mercy and infinite grace to be had. Too often I forget that part. Too often do I minimize the abundance of His mercy.  All too often do I become consumed with my own little pity party when instead I should be on my knees 24/7 thanking Him for sparing me from the loss of Heaven.  In all of my narcissistic self loathing I forget that He loves me. 

Thank God - for He has placed in the tiniest recesses of my tortured and scarred heart a tiny place where only He dwells.  Where from he reminds me that He loved me into being and everything that I have is because of Him in spite of myself.  And that is what I must cling to for dear life, with slippery fingers and the Devil himself stomping up and down on my knuckles trying to get me to just… let … go.

He loves me.

He loves Kermit Gosnell.  He loves Abby Johnson.  We are all the same sinners and we all can be awash in mercy and forgiveness and love whenever we ask for it. Sometimes, I forget to ask.  Or, sometimes I ask, but I don't listen to the answer or wait for a response.  Hopefully the next time I feel a backslide coming on, I'll run a little faster to Him.  Maybe I'll meet him halfway.  Maybe someday, I'll never leave His side.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Faith in the Heart


O Christ Jesus,
when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
in Your protecting love
and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us,
for, living close to You,
we shall see Your hand,
Your purpose, Your will through all things.

By Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Mother's Day has now seemed to have morphed into Mother's Day "Weekend."  I guess it's mostly the retail industry trying to drag holidays out as long as possible toward the bottom line.  I've taken to drag it out prior to the actual day it seems but for my own selfish reasons.  Last year I did the same so I guess I can categorize Mother's Day as an absolute trigger for me. 
 
As I visit the two posts, here & here, that I had written last Mother's Day - not much has changed.  I'm still feeling stuck and without direction.  I'm fighting the urge to create a graph on which I can plot out certain keywords and themes and blabber.  It's a good thing I don't have too much free time with which to prove my failures.
 
A big difference between last year and this year's Mother's Day - pharmaceuticals.  In fact, it was shortly after Mother's  Day last year that I had increased my antidepressant to a  higher dose.  This year, it's all me.  I don't even have any wine in the house.  Last Mother's Day was a good day, I seemed to be okay for the most part without a backslide into despair.  This Mother's Day, or at least this weekend, at its beginning, is not looking as okay.
 
I'm tired physically and emotionally. I physically ache with headaches and a backache that recently started out of nowhere.  All of this could be chalked up to the yet more weight that I've put on.  I'm heavier now than I have ever, ever been in my entire life, and that includes two pregnancies.  I'm a petite person so all of this weight is taking its toll.  Without any antidepressants or antianxiety drugs, the only pill I do have to take is a cholesterol lowering medication and I haven't been taking it.  I'm afraid of what I'm waiting for to happen if that makes sense.  Slowly  committing suicide with elevated cholesterol and sweets?  I think it's more a case of just not caring at all.   It's also a way to isolate myself even further if that's possible.  More weight means less activity, less wanting to do anything at all, less sex as I try to convince my husband that there is no way he's remotely attracted to me in this state, less engaging in anything at home for lack of energy.  I'm wondering if this is rock bottom with no further down to go?
 
Which brings me to my little graphic at the top of this post - a tiny flicker of faith.  There's got to be one inside of me somewhere because I'm still here and it's not just about being too much of a coward to slit my wrists, it's something more.  As the tears roll down my cheeks as I type, with the pain now physical, I'm still here.  I'm still blogging for Christ's sake.  With the little pixie in the other room, happy and content with her crayons and a juice box and with 80 pounds of fur at my feet, is this all there is?  If I was suddenly not here - how would this picture change? 
 
Please Lord, give me something.  Show me something.  Please let me feel something good.  Send me a list of what you think I'm doing right.  Please show me in some way that my pathetic little life is important and significant in some ridiculous way.  Please Lord, let me feel you near me.  Allow me to see that something I do is worthwhile.  Please show me that taking all of this on has a purpose or meaning.  Please let the darkness lift or give me the strength to leave it so I can see what's smack in front of my face.  Please take away my stubborn pride and self absorption and give me something else instead. Please, I beg you, help me keep getting out of bed to do something. 
 
And Grace, if you're listening, help me figure this out and if I can't figure it out, help me to find some peace in the mess.
 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

And just who does God mean for me to be exactly?

April 29th marked the Feast Day of St. Catherine of Siena and, accordingly, Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with quotes from this sainted lady.  Probably the most popular was this one:
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
I'm a lover of quotes and this gem from St. Cat is part of my little collection of words of wisdom.  What I like about quotes and snippets is that you can always revisit them for new meaning and insight.  I don't feel I ever quite arrive at a quote or depart from it the same time, every time.
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
These words became a sort of "ear worm" for the rest of that Monday and for a few days after.  I finally packed them away again when I became rather frustrated and distraught over the fact that I had no idea who God means for me to be.  I mean, yes, most of the intentions of my life are quite obvious, wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend...  Though sometimes, even these easy to spot descriptions are hard for me to imagine being part of God's plan for me.  I don't think God planned for me to become so frustrated with my kids that thoughts of duct taping them to the wall cross my mind.  Thus I began my steps down into the big "D's" from this one little quote... doubt, depression, despair, disillusionment, and ultimately hovering just inches apart from despair.  Aside from the monikers listed above, who am I supposed to be?

I've struggled with these ideas often in the past couple of years, frustrated over my journey of healing, but yet still hiding this big secret from most aspects of my life.  I could talk for hours about the mercy and forgiveness I have found since facing my past head on, but outside of this blog, I don't really talk about it.  I haven't used my new found powers for any real good.  I've been asking myself for a while now, what next?  I don't have an answer yet.  I've tried asking the same of God.  I've no answer yet.  When I'm frustrated and the depression is winning, I often start to lament ever starting this journey in the first place.  Wasn't I so much better off before when abortion wasn't part of my life in this way? Wasn't I happier? Wasn't I fun to be around?  The fact is I don't know for sure because I don't remember that person very well.  This has become who I am, but I fear the scale has tipped too far in the other direction.  Now I'm all abortion and nothing else, aren't I?

So back to setting the world on fire.

Who does God mean for me to be?  Is this all there is?  Full time wife and mother, part time employee?  I have no career or grand accomplishments to boast about.  I haven't written the great American novel.  I haven't done a whole heck of a lot actually in the last ten years or so.  Instead of moving toward some thing bigger, better, I've been in a kind of holding pattern just managing the day to day while it seems everyone else's life has some kind of inertia quality that I haven't attained.  I'm not sure I ever wanted that, however.  Yes, I have a college degree, experience, a nice applicable resume, but really all I wanted to do and still want to do is be at home and take care of my husband and kids.  There is not a lot of support for that idea.  It's also in conflict with what I must do, which is work at least part time to make ends meet.  I'm not sure I've ever really found peace with the facts of my life such as they have been. 

But, what else does God mean for me to be?  I'm wondering if I'm grieving, in some way, the "old" me.  The me before this journey.  I'm wondering if I'm lamenting who I could be if I didn't have this big secret. I think I grieve for the person I would have become had I not had an abortion at all.  I constantly question and doubt all of my choices and wonder if I've made a huge mistake in not pursuing a career and money and sent my kids to daycare so I cold work full time.  Everyone else does it.   Then, I become frustrated because I have an image in my mind of what I'm supposed to be and I'm too weak and scared to be so.  I'm frustrated because maybe I'm over thinking all of this and I already am who God means me to be - and boy am I boring.  How am I supposed to set the world on fire this way?

Perhaps now is not the best time to hash this out as I'm still fighting the depression and the constant lump in my throat and the tears the seem to be constantly at the ready.  I know I'm not the first or only human who has asked these questions, but I feel awfully alone in spite of that knowledge.  Depression is a very lonely and desolate place and you wind up breaking your own heart every minute of the day when you can see the swath of glorious light just beyond your reach or step, and even though no one and no thing is holding you down in the dark, you remain.  I stay here.  I'm a functioning depressive.  I can cook and clean and care for my children.  I can even make it look as though there is not a thing wrong with me all the while mulling over a dramatic demise.  I'm pretty sure this is not who God means for me to be.  Maybe all I am meant to be is a wife and mother, but this darkness that surrounds me can't be part of that plan.
 


Friday, April 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

--- 1 ---
Fridays for me mean the day off from work.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing and sometimes both - fluctuating by the hour.  The original idea, since I work part time, was to have Fridays as a catch up day for housework, grocery shopping, meal planning, etc.  That lasted about one Friday.  There is way too much household stuff to catch up on in one day while the kids are in school, let alone grocery shopping, meal planning, ironing, whatever.  More often I've taken the "screw it" attitude and use Fridays as a catch up day for just me with grand intentions of reading, writing, going to Mass, taking a pottery class, blah blah blah.  More often that not - those grand intentions are screwed too.  Before I know it, the bus is pulling up and I've got next to nothing to show for my day off.  But, darn it, there will be 7 quick takes today!

--- 2 ---
Speaking of hours alone on Fridays (or the hours of school time at a fine Catholic school where my kids spend their time 180 days a year), are my kids the only ones who are magically transformed by asphalt driveways?  Here's the thing, my kids get on the bus in the morning and are transformed into polite, caring, empathetic, attentive, respectful, lovely children.  When they return home, the opposite happens, the minute their precious little Mary Jane clad feet hit the asphalt of the driveway they are transformed into disrespectful, crabby, pantry raiding, smart mouthed little monsters.  Okay, maybe the little one isn't too bad because her cuteness factor can usually override any bad behavior which is usually fleeting.  The other one? Oh my goodness.  I was in no way prepared for the wrath of a tween.  I've tried to be understand.  I've tried to be overly loving. I've tried to be patient.  I've tried to be kind. I've tried to ignore it.  I've tried not to engage the monster.  Ive tried engaging the monster. I am failing - miserably.  I'm convinced this child either hates me or the curse my mother hatched on me ("I hope you have one just like you!") is coming true ten fold. I've entertained the idea that Satan himself is using her to torment me.  I'm at a complete loss.  My husband and I both are.  She is a screaming, rage filled, possibly hormone wracked, alien impostor of my once sweet little blue eyed beauty and I am her prime punching bag.  What's most frustrating is that she saves up all of this ugliness for me, for us.  If I video taped her for 20 minutes at home and showed it to her teachers or anyone outside of this home they would never believe it is the same child.  So, if she's capable of being one child during the school day - why is she not capable of being that same person, heck I'd be happy with a 1/4 of that person, at home?  It is honestly making  me question God's decision to make me a mother.  I'm questioning never sending her to daycare.  I'm questioning everything.  No answer for those questions today.

--- 3 ---
At times of frustration I like to think back to when I was pregnant with the above mentioned tween-monster, and how exciting it was and how fascinating it was to be pregnant at all.  After some infertility scares and issues and finally getting pregnant on our own was a miracle.  I remember the first time I felt her move inside me, those first little butterflies - wow.  And all the rest of it - even the dramatic delivery and NICU swat team's appearance - all of it was so fantastic.  People say you forget all of it with time.  I don't think I ever will, with either of those pregnancies.  I was so enraptured by what my body was doing.  It was beyond my comprehension, yet happening right inside of me.  When this picture of Pope Francis starting circling this week - it so touched my heart.  His tenderness and love jump right out of the picture and her hand on his hand, her smile, the husbands' expression - it's all absolutely perfect. What a perfect and powerful expression of the Church's teaching on human life.  Just wow.  They have to name that baby Francis or Francesca, they just have to!

--- 4 ---
I could go on and on about Papa Francis.  I'm just so in love with him for so many reasons.  Granted my love affair is solely based on social media images and videos and transcripts of his homilies, but I guess that's all it takes sometimes.  I remember when he first came out on the balcony and he just stood there for the longest time just gazing out over the people and he wasn't smiling.  My eldest asked, "why doesn't he look happy?" I didn't have an answer, I think I said maybe he's just contemplating what he's been asked to do and how he's going to do it. Well, whatever conclusion he came to on that balcony - it's working - at least for me it is.  Since then we've seen him smile so many times and he just radiates peace and joy while at the same time carrying himself with a quiet confidence that I guess comes from having the Truth on your side.  Everyday I look forward to my Twitter feed to find out what Papa Francis did while I was sleeping.  The little girl in this video expresses my feelings toward him perfectly - though if were to break through Vatican security the outcome may be a bit different. I want to know what the note said!


--- 5 ---
The little girl in the video is how I feel on the inside sometimes, her enthusiasm, her ambition, her no holds barred I'm going after what I want attitude.  Okay, maybe her parents bribed her with gelato, but still, she has no fear!  She just runs towards her goal and succeeds!  Then after mission accomplished, turns around and goes back to her place in the crowd.  What would this world be like if we were all that unafraid?  What would I be like?  I've spent a long, long time cowering in the shadows for so long I'm not sure how to break free.  That's a lie, I know how, I just don't.  Part of the reason is I have struggled for the better part of my life with chronic and sometimes crippling depression. I don't talk about it much on my blog because I'm ashamed of it, embarrassed by it.  It's humiliating to have something wrong with you that you can't fix and it's not something that is easily seen or easily understood.  My husband doesn't even fully understand it and he knows me better than anyone.  I recently stopped taking any antidepressant and antianxiety medications - about two months ago - which means, scientifically, that all of the chemicals are out of my system.  And oh what a roller coaster ride it's been.  I've done this before as I have been off and on medications for years.  I cycle downward, go get some medication, feel better for a while, then start to feel like a zombie, then go off, then go back on.  This time I'm determined to not go back on them at all.  There's got to be some way to get through this life without my head in a fog.  There has got to be some happy medium between despair and zombie.  I haven't found it yet.  At first I was happy for real tears being shed, now I'm crying at the drop of a hat.  At first I was grateful for restful REM sleep, now it's hard to get out of bed and stay out of it.  I'm not sure how much longer this experiment will last.  The scariest symptom of my particular brand of depression is suicidal ideation, also not easily understood.  It's not easy to talk about without people thinking you need to be 302'd immediately.  Just because I won't commit suicide for a 100 reasons, doesn't mean I don't think about it, sometimes constantly, and that constant rumination can wear a person down and it's wearing me down. Sometimes it's a fleeting thought, sometimes it's hours or a whole day of "what if's."  The commercials are true - depression does hurt - but all those side effects they rattle off - they hurt even more.  It's one hell of a catch-22.  A day off like today is a good example.  Not going to be solved in 7 quick takes, so I ask for any prayers willing to be said. 

--- 6 ---
There is something that can be done that has been scientifically proven to increase serotonin in the brain - exercise!  Do I do it?  Nope!  Why? Because I'm depressed which causes me to be unmotivated and not care.  Typically, stopping antidepressants leads to a slight weight loss of the weight you gain when you start an antidepressant - that has not happened this time around.  I think my sluggishness and lack of doing much besides lay in bed is a contributing factor.  I want to be outside pulling weeds. I want to take my dog for a walk. I want to play with the kids outside in the sunshine.  I want to go for a hike on the weekends.  I want to. I want to. I want to.  I can't. I don't.  It's a vicious cycle.  Perhaps I'm afraid of what happens if I take one step.  The endorphins might kick in and that means I'll take another step and before I know it I'm tramping all over my depression like a cute little Irish step dancer.  I think I may be getting close to that point, I'm not sure.  I know I feel horrible emotionally and physically.  I know my health is going to suffer soon if it's not already. To know all of this and to do something about it is not an easy step for me.  I used to be in great physical shape. I used to be at the gym every day (before kids of course).  I used to know my way around a weight room and craved the high that came from hitting my target heart rate.  There remains a flicker of that somewhere deep down inside.

--- 7 ---
So I've spent the better part of these quick takes in the negative for the most part - I've been trying to find some positives to cling to.  I'm not very good at positives currently.  I used to be quite an optimist -I'm not sure I have that in me anymore.  Maybe if I throw some out here they will stick.  My positives for today are: I have a fantastic husband who is handsome, committed, dedicated, hard working, funny, attentive, sensitive, and kind and not to mention at 40 years old - smoking hot.  I'm sure it's a sin when I look around at other husbands and beam with pride over my "trophy husband" but I'm sorry, he's freakin hot and he just gets better with age. It's patently unfair.  We also have a rock solid marriage which is often times the one thing I can cling to through all the crap.  It is sometimes the only thing I'm 100% sure about.  Despite my children wreaking havoc when they are home with me, my kids are smart, funny, beautiful, cute, and caring little human beings.  I constantly feel like a failure as a parent, but I guess if they are doing okay out of my sight then I'm not failing totally.  I have a nice, comfortable home.  Sure there are stains on the carpet, our landscaping is lacking, there are fingerprints on every wall, and our d├ęcor is mostly crayons and glitter, but I'm lucky to have it.  I have a wonderful furry companion of the Golden Retriever variety who absolutely, unabashedly worships me.  Sometimes I feel she was sent to me to keep me alive sometimes.  We don't have a lot of money and we are about to soon have a lot less, but we have everything we need and for that I'm grateful. 
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!