The Sixth Street Bridge

The Sixth Street Bridge
At the tender age of 17, I walked across this bridge, alone, into Downtown Pittsburgh, with $300 in my pocket that my mother had given me to get an abortion. I went into the Fulton Building (in the picture) and did what I was told to do. I didn't have a choice - if I did, I wouldn't have chosen abortion.

Wednesday, 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:

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.