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.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Holy Week or Hell Week?

I keep forgetting when I started this blog except for when I try to go backward and find some answers or inspiration or whatever it is I think I'm looking for.  Then I am reminded that I starting writing it just this past summer.  So, to revisit last year's Lent I had to go back in my journals and archived emails and the like to try to get a handle on where I've been and how far I've come.  In some ways, I've come a long way, baby... [supposed to be a clever turn of a advertising tag line... but becomes a stumbling block because of the word "baby" - tempted to delete - won't this time].  The reason I won't delete what I just wrote is because it's a perfect example of how far I have yet to go. 

I wasn't very prepared for this Lent for various reasons and for none in particular.  Life has been busy and hectic and we have some scheduling adjustments that had to be made that are still working themselves out and working me over in the process.  It feels like Lent snuck up on me.  What is my Lenten project, my focus, my sacrifice?  Turns out I had nothing to really offer, but then it worked out anyway because the last few weeks have been mentally exhausting and some days were a struggle just to make it to bedtime which subsequently was interrupted by some insomnia and with days interspersed where the, thankfully, fleeting idea of just walking into that lake until my feet start to come up off the bottom were very near the surface.

Now with Holy Week upon us, knowing how the story ends (or begins) on Easter Sunday, doesn't make the next few days much easier.  I think this is both good and bad.  Holy Week is a good time to refocus ones gaze, realign priorities, figure out what's really important, and take real time out to contemplate just what happened and what He did.  When I attempted to google "holy week" my automatic form filler-inner thingie popped up with "hell week," where I found this... "Of all the battles a SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) must fight, none is more important than their first – the battle of mind over body ... Basic Underwater Demolitions and SEAL (BUD/S) instructors know the human machine is capable of amazing endurance even in the harshest of conditions and environments, but they also know the mind must be made to ignore the pleading of the body."  Okay, that's applicable in a lot of ways to this week.  On a personal level - really applicable. 

One of the best things about this blog are the wonderful comments and emails I get from readers with all kinds of support and suggestions and directions and prayers and I remain overwhelmed and grateful for every single one.  The difficult part is figuring out what to do with them all.  For someone who typically hates being told what to do, I don't think I would argue too much with someone who would just tell me exactly what to do next.  I've received kind and touching emails encouraging me to "cling to Christ," "throw myself at the foot of the cross," "offer up all of my suffering," "make an act of the will..."  At first read, I get what the person means, but then upon deeper reflection, or trying to reflect, I'm clueless.   How do I cling to Christ when I have one child literally clinging on to me and another clinging to her raging, about to burst out of wherever they come from, hormones.  How do I throw myself at the foot of the cross when getting out the door to go to Mass in one piece is sometimes undoable?  How does one do that anyway? How can I make an act of the will, when I barely have time to make the bed?  Of course, a lot of this has to do with my flair for the dramatic and controlling nature.  I can't cling to Christ in my state, he wouldn't want me.  Throw myself at the foot of the cross and take up all the space for those really in need of being there? 

I need some focus here people, I need a focal point.  In my younger days, I trained as a figure skater and one of the most important things to learn is how to stay fixed on a focal point during spins to avoid certain disaster.  Of course I know what, or who, the focal point should be, but how do I stay focused on it throughout the course of my regular day when my attention is splintered off in 100 different directions?  This journey of mine has led me near and far and all over the place and I fear I'm left in the realm of all over the place without the knowledge to find my way back to or on to what's next.  I need to stop spinning, whether its focused spinning or not.

I've spoken before about my ability to love the hell out of my loved ones or other people in my life, friends, and family, but loving myself is a non-issue because it doesn't happen and I'm afraid the not loving myself is starting to detract from my ability to love everyone else which was bound to happen.  I was sent a passage of an old homily called The Armament of Love which speaks about St. Stephen and St. Paul and how they are ultimately reconciled in Heaven after Stephen is stoned to death by Paul (pre-conversion, a real sinner's sinner), but love wins out in the kingdom of heaven where, "Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy. It was Stephen’s love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul’s love that covered the multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of heaven....Love, indeed, is the source of all good things; it is an impregnable defense, and the way that leads to heaven. He who walks in love can neither go astray nor be afraid: love guides him, protects him, and brings him to his journey’s end."  It says a lot more about the communion of saints and how each one aided the other's path to salvation, but what I got most out of it is the part about love and how love aided them in getting to Heaven eventually.  A beautiful story, but what do I get for love right now?  What do I do now and for however long I have on this earth before then?

Somehow I need to get over myself and get back in it.  I was also given a notice about an upcoming Mass of Healing for those who have experienced trauma, but then I thought about it, am I really traumatized? If I wrote out my life story and included all of the gory details, hell yes, I most certainly have been and still am traumatized.  But, can I love myself enough to heal that trauma?  What if I let it go?  How do I let it go? How do I let go of some of the things that have so, so damaged me?  How do I let go of the things that ruined me when there are parts of my life today that conjure up the ruin at seemingly every turn?  Memories that were long locked away now appear in the most loving of moments - I'm not convinced love conquers all at those times.  Sometimes the thoughts come up that it's all some sick joke played at my expense - let's give her these gifts and talents, then lets find some people to twist them all around and damage them forever, and then lets give her some more wonderful stuff and people and see how she works that out... ha ha ha.  Therein lies the hell part.

I love Holy Week.  I love all the Masses, I love Good Friday, I really love Good Friday if it rains, I love Easter Vigil - but now it all seems tainted.

I need to figure out how to do Holy Week and every week after - without the hell part, or at least minimize the hell part to a manageable size.  I need to find the love that isn't overshadowed or colored by the past.  I need to start loving again without the fear of the pain that I know is possible. 


  1. I stumbled upon your page and am touched by your story. I have been lucky enough to never go through what you have, but have witnessed countless friends make life altering decisions to abort their children. No matter the amount of counseling and pleading, I could not convince them otherwise. They were all your age when they aborted and I pray for them frequently and all who choose this path that they have comfort.
    I too struggle with my "reckless youth" and poor decisions I made, but realize that I have been forgiven and to look with love in the eyes of my children, knowing God is smiling at me through them.
    I have been blessed with 6 children and one little girl named Faith who is in heaven.
    I am grateful for Rachel's Vineyard as a place for healing and comfort.
    May you have a Blessed Holy Week.

  2. What stood out to me most in this post is your feeling of unworthiness (aren't we all?) to cling to Christ, or take up space at the foot of His cross. Now, we all know, but sometimes it's nice to be reminded, that like the father who rushed to meet and embrace the prodigal son straight from the pigsty, so does our Father desire to embrace His children. Worthiness is not a question--His love MAKES us worthy. And the God who fed thousands with a child's sack lunch, so that even the leftovers were incredibly more than He started with, can surely multiply "room" at the foot of the cross for all in need. Pull up a patch of grass, my sister, and let Him love you.

  3. I don't have answers, but I will pray for you.