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, 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!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Difference Does it Make?

I've been following the Gosnell coverage on Twitter and around the Catholic Blogosphere tepidly.  I am trying to exercise some caution for my tender soul as any foray too deep into the details has a strong likelihood of disaster.  I skim over the day's coverage, say a quick prayer, and then try to move on.  I follow the story with the hope that I'll start to see some kind of turn around in the abortion "debate."  How could somebody read the Grand Jury report and not completely change their thinking if they claim to be prochoice?  But that may be the reason nobody who is prochoice is reading it - for fear of what may happen.  Kind of makes the safe, legal, and rare argument null and void when you see what looks to be a very viable baby, a human being, with a hole in their neck just big enough for scissors to fit through in order to snip their tiny spinal cord.

I don't usually enter into the debate battleground because I'm not strong enough to defend my position without using the biggest weapon in my arsenal - the fact that I had an abortion.  Until I'm ready to engage with everything I've got, I think it's better for me to battle in ways that preserve my sanity - as fleeting as it may seem at times.

Today I came across a tweet by Live Action, that I followed to The American Thinker and an article entitled, Gosnell's 'House of Horrors'? What difference does it make? by Lauren Kathryn McCall.  [emphasis mine.]

The words uttered by a certain secretary of state emeritus keep coming to mind as I read the accounts of Kermit Gosnell's services in Philadelphia.   

Filthy equipment, underage and unqualified staff, bodies of children in orange juice containers, animals running loose.  One would think that is the greater scandal here.

I have an anaphylactic response to the premise of the outrage here.  What difference does it make?

The clinic I went to 30 years ago was immaculate.  The furniture was comfortable.  It was staffed by registered nurses and board-certified physicians.  There were warm smiles, cold utensils, and a professionally produced follow-up instruction sheet to accompany you out the door.  My baby was early first trimester, tiny in size. 

And I am sure that my experience is exactly the same as those of the clients of Gosnell's clinic.  The effect of destroying our own children and the consequent damage to our souls and society does not discriminate when it comes to hygiene, credential, or zip code. 

Or size of the baby.

One step out the door, and I am quite sure I would not have noticed -- or cared -- if the place was filthy or ill-staffed. 

The memory of paying a stranger to murder my own child, pretending to return to a normal life, and then subsisting  in a society of unfathomable contradiction and hypocrisy toward the unborn trumps any outrage about filth or licensure for me.   What difference does it make?

Almost thirty years ago to the day, I am exhausted from the pretense, denial, and fakery that is the post-abortive life.  Good God, if it were any different, I would question if I am still human!  Stories abound about the addiction, suicidal tendencies, and promiscuity that follow abortion.  Perhaps, though, the greater population of women are like me.  We returned to our careers, raised our families, and have tried daily to hide the consequences of misery and disorder that abortion has wrought in our lives.  Each day its shameful reality compounds to a degree that we struggle to comprehend.

As for the effects on society and our future generations, I can only shudder.  So I retreat to the aforementioned pretense and denial.  I wait for the headlines and feigned outrage to disappear.  They always do.  Reconciliation with my God, counseling, and spiritual support only mitigate the horror and pain I live with each day. 

So the fact that the place was filthy and the staff was unlicensed doesn't make a bit of difference to me.  Not a damn bit of difference at all.
"Ditto" doesn't express my endorsement of Ms. McCall's sentiments very effectively, but it was my first response.  Gosnell and the atrocities he has committed stir up rage within me and sadness and a certain knowledge that only those who have had an abortion truly understand. That knowledge is what leads me from the outrage to the realization that abortion is always an atrocity. A postabortive woman stands on the edge a great precipice of spurning Gosnell and condemning he and his minions to the very depths of hell for what they have done and condemning ourselves at the same time.  We all fall together.  What Gosnell has done - scandalous, atrocious and just plain evil - is really, not one damn bit different than the abortion I had.  The abortion I paid for.  The abortion I lay on the table for. The abortion I drove home from, the memory of which I stuffed into the dark corners of my mind and heart for decades.  My abortion was just as gruesome.  The instruments may have been cleaner (were they?)  The floors may have been scrubbed till the wax shone (were they?) It doesn't matter - my daughter was killed and deposited into a glass jar (piece by tiny piece most likely).  I don't know what happened to my daughter after I left the room.  Where did that jar go? I'll never know.  I have to find solace in the fact that her soul went to Heaven that moment and she never knew what the tearing of her tiny body felt like or how cold the jar was.

But, the truth remains, I don't know.  I'll never know what happened to Grace's body after I left.  Where do all the bodies go from all the safe and legal abortion clinics?  I'm sure that is something that no prochoicer ever wants the answer to.  Maybe if we investigated where all the bodies go - 12 weeks or 32 - people would start to see that's its all the same. Pristine procedure rooms and sterile instruments are just as bloodied by abortion.  It doesn't much matter if they started out clean or not.  Gosnell's evil is horrifying but it's no anomaly.  For every one Gosnell that is caught, I have no doubt dozens more are hurriedly cleaning up their own house of horrors before the feds show up, maybe a bit more hastily at the current moment. 

Abortion is abortion is abortion.  17 year old girl, 30 year old married mom of 3, rape victim, welfare recipient, or Main Line resident who believes the lie that their maybe trisomy 13 baby will ruin their life.  Abortion is abortion is abortion.  It kills a life and ruins those left to live their now "unencumbered" life.

So maybe my outrage over Gosnell is misplaced because my outrage is really about there being none to speak of when I walked in and out of the abortion clinic.  I drove home and continued on with my life.  I'm outraged over the severed baby feet in Gosnell's clinic and the snipped spines and I'm just as outraged over Grace's short life ending in a glass jar.  That's the reality of abortion - no matter where the babies end up, no matter if they are whole or in parts, the reality is they are dead. So, you are right Ms. McCall, there's not a damn bit of difference at all. 

Domine Iesu Christe, Fili Dei, miserere mei, peccatricis.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Your mercies in disguise?

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

What if my greatest disappointments,
Or the aching of this life,
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy.
What if trials of this life,
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?

Come, Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I know I am close to despair. 

I feel so tempted to give up, to withdraw from life and religion and let the world simply carry me along.

Everything seems so meaningless and nothing appeals to my better instincts.

Help me to remember that Jesus gave meaning to everything in the world.

Let me bank on that fact and get over this time of despair,
to really believe in the depths of my being that there is a reason for living.

Show me the reason for my life and tell me what I must do.

Bring home to me that I am never alone, but that You are with me even in the depths of despair. 

Remind me that no matter what I may endure now,
an unending joy awaits me in the future if I but cling tightly to You and your Son Jesus in the unity of the Spirit. 


Thursday, April 4, 2013

I'm good! How are you?

Nothing I do makes me feel forgiven.  Feelings run my entire existence often, so why can’t I feel forgiveness?  Would I know it if I felt it?  Would it make a difference if I felt it?  What would it even look like on me?  I think I’m afraid to try it on.  At this point, I’m not even sure if feeling forgiveness is the problem.  I’m not sure what the problem is.  Is there even a problem or am I just a problem?

I know that I am forgiven.  If I didn’t know it, I mean really know it down to the core of my very being; I fear I’d be dead already.  It’s my belief in the mercy of God that keeps me alive, literally.  I take comfort in the people that take care to remind me of that mercy over and over and over again.  I run to my Church for the tangible reminders of that mercy. The reminders that God is real, that Jesus is real, that all of this is not in vain.  Suicide is probably the only sin I consider bigger than abortion.  I already killed once, if I kill again, I’m out for sure and I won’t be around to redeem myself.  I don’t know where I’d be and that’s a scary enough thought to keep me alive. 
I’ve been reading a lot lately about sin and lies we believe about sin and how to God, all sins are the same and all equally forgiven because of the Son.  I’m frustrated because no matter how much work I do – I just don’t feel like a good person. I’m not happy.  It’s not even about the abortion any more, it’s all of me, and it’s my whole wretched life that at times feels as though it’s rushing past and others it seems as though time has stood still.  You would think knowing one is forgiven for a sin as horrible as abortion would be cause for joy, but there is no joy here or at least I don’t feel any. 

My hang up with sin is my own doing.  I go along for a while doing things I think a good Catholic woman should do and would do.  Aren’t I just awesomely Catholic? I volunteer at school and church whenever I can.  I pray and pray and pray for priests and nuns and the Pope and whoever else is keeping this boat afloat.  I send my kids to Catholic school.  I try to defend my Church to those who knock her.  I make sure we’re at Mass each week. I go to adoration. I try to learn as much as I can about my faith. 
But, you know what? None of this matters a whole hell of a lot when deep down I still feel like that 17 year old girl, used and abused, taunted, tormented, downtrodden, self-esteem depleted, objectified, and only good for one thing – girl.  Oh who happens to get pregnant and then gets an abortion.  Then, does she turn her life around and strike out anew?  Nope, she gets worse and sleeps around more and allows herself to be used and thrown away like garbage.  But, just like the woman today, she fakes it.  She gets good grades, keeps a pretty house, smiles when she’s supposed to, but it’s a ruse.  I’m starting to wonder if that part ever wasn’t a ruse, if it ever won’t be.

It always, always, goes back to that.  Those feelings surrounding that girl then color my life in the present.  I can’t enjoy my life when I used to sleep around.  I can’t laugh with my children when I killed my first one. I can’t enjoy love making with my hubby with all that I did before with God knows who.  I am not lovable. I am not intelligent. I am not destined for greatness, or even goodness. I’m not kidding anyone. I am nothing.
And there I stay, down in the muck of it, depleted of all energy or want to claw my way out of it – again. 

A character in one of my favorite films is asked at one point what she fears, to which she responds,  “A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.”  I fear that’s where I am now, in a cage of my own making.  I’m not locked in, I choose to stay and I fear I’ll never have the want or courage to leave.  

But, I start to think about that girl of my past and what was it that turned things around.  What happened that made me desire to graduate from college, get a job, my own apartment, my own car, be on my own?  A little while before I met my husband, I finally got rid of an extremely abusive jerk and shut the door on that nonsense.  What was it that kept me from ever going the drinking and drug route? There had to be some flicker of ambition or self-reliance that spoke up and said enough is enough.

I could use that flicker now.  It’s not like I can’t picture what life could be like, but it’s as if the fear of the clouds gathering again keep me from even trying happiness out for a while.  Why bother, it won’t last.  Why laugh, when they’ll soon be reason to cry.  I lack the ambition or want to go back and forth choosing instead the muck and the mire because it’s comfortable and predictable and nothing is required of me if I stay in it.
I stay a caged bird, but one who doesn’t sing, who doesn't talk, who says barely a word because I'm supposed to be okay.