So, today felt like a good day to put virtual pen to virtual paper. As thousands begin the trek to Washington, D.C. for the 42nd March for Life, I lament that I won't be joining them, physically at least. Mentally I'm 95% there, saving the other 5% for my responsibilities here at home.
I'm not sure why I haven't posted in such a long time. I haven't stopped writing. I have pages and pages and pages of real pen-to-paper writings from the last eight months, from my whole life really, but the last 8 months my focus has been on the "big" picture. Not that my abortion is somehow not a large and looming event in my life, but in hindsight, I don't think I recognized while on this healing journey, the magnitude of all that surrounded that August morning when I walked across that bridge. All that led up to that day and everything that came after had become too much and too dark.
As I've written about before, for whatever reason, in my last year or two of college I decided what I would and would not put up with anymore. I set my eyes on what I wanted, and I didn't look back. And soon after, I met Prince Charming, and that was that. I put all the bad behind me, or within me, deep down in some locked-up-tight place in my heart. I didn't realize that it's impossible to compartmentalize my heart, my mind, my memory, or my soul as I thought I had. In His timing, I began this journey, and He chose to begin it with grace and Grace.
But, there was so much more to heal. There was so much more that kept me hopeless. There was so much more that I tried to ignore for far too long. With all that I have been through in my life, I had never really had any success with any therapy. My parents sent me to a therapist or two in my tween and teen years because I was so angry all the time, and not happy. It was a waste of time as I was too afraid to talk about the things that were making me angry, and depressed, and hopeless, and worthless. I couldn't talk about my parents and their shortcomings. I couldn't talk about the promiscuity so I couldn't talk about the emotional and physical abuse that went along with it. I couldn't talk about the vicious verbal and yes, sometimes physical, fights that were happening at home. All of that would mean annihilating the facade of our perfect little family, where everyone was happy, where I got straight A's, where we were at Mass on Sunday, and our little house on main street made a pretty picture even though we didn't have an actual white picket fence.
I was directed to talk about what was wrong with me and only me. So, I never talked about the things I needed, desperately wanted to talk about. And I never talked about the abortion because I was told "we will never speak about" it again.
I went away for my freshman year of college and without the constant reinforcement of "put a smile on your face," I stopped smiling. In my 2nd semester, I tried to kill myself. I can still see the look on my Dad's face when I got called into our dorm mother's room a few days later, completely unaware that my parents had been called in. The look on his face was disappointment, embarrassment, and anger. What I needed was understanding, support, and love. I had broken the code, and he wasn't happy about it. There was some conversation about whether I should stay at school or not. I convinced them that I was okay to stay, and they drove back home that same evening. I lasted for about another three weeks and then packed up and came home, a complete and total failure, but I wasn't allowed to talk about it.
I spent the next year working, figuring out where I was going to return to college, and being reminded every day that I was a failure. I ricocheted between unbridled determination to prove my parents wrong and seeking out any form of punishment I could from anyone willing to dole it out in droves. The boy I was "in love" with was emotionally and physically abusive, but that's what I thought I deserved. That was all I was good for. A short time later, another suicide attempt, the same look on my Dad's face, and I signed myself in for an inpatient psychiatric stay. I was there about 3 weeks or so. I never talked about the abortion. I did begin to talk about some things, scratching the surface of what had been my life up to that point. I met a couple of other people my age facing a lot of the same turmoil. My parents came for a family session. My Dad stormed out of the room when the therapist began to hint at there being some problems with my childhood. There would be no discussion of their shortcomings at all. Two of my friends visited me as well and my "boyfriend," who used the opportunity to convince me to allow him to use my car while I was "away," and who also convinced me that if I didn't give him what he needed right then and there that he would have no choice but to look elsewhere while I was gone.
I think by the time I left the hospital I had realized that I was my own here, and I would have to make my life what I wanted it to be – so I began making changes. And after a time, I found myself a fairytale that continues today and, God willing, will until my last breath.
But, and there's always a but isn't there? But… the darkness would come over me again and again. I remained distracted by new life, real love, and then children. Then, in His time, this journey began, and He has been chipping away at me every day since. Sometimes I feel as though by the time I'm done, there will be nothing left. I have to remind myself constantly that there is a reason for this journey, there is a reason I am here, and that it is good that I exist.
It seemed to come to a point again when I had to make a decision of how my life was going to be. I had been on retreat and through Project Rachel counseling and found healing from my abortion, but there was so much more that needed to be healed, but I didn't know how to ask for help. I had exhausted all of my resources it seemed and I still suffered, and it was getting worse. Finally, at the urging of my husband and the Good Father, I resigned myself that I needed more help than what they could provide. I needed a lot more help. So, for the last 9 months or so I've been in therapy – real therapy this time. I have gone every week and talked about things that I have never spoken about to anyone. I have peeled back the layers of my life revealing seeping, seething wounds that sucked the life out of me, that cause me to stifle laughter, and resist joy. I am beginning to understand why I feel so unworthy of anything or anyone, or any love at all. I think I have progressed a lot. Prince Charming thinks so. The Good Father lends his support and encouragement and prayers. I try to seek out time and space to heal instead of torture myself. I am far from perfect, or fixed, or completely healed and I have work to do to accept that I will never be those things and that "fixed" shouldn't be the goal.
Each week I sit and talk, and try to hold back the tears, and surprise myself with the things that I speak about. It's not just about the abortion; it's about everything. It's been difficult, exhausting, and embarrassing. But, the other 167 hours of my week, I find myself laughing, really laughing, though I still try not to sometimes. Joy startles me and peace feels like a stranger lurking behind me somewhere waiting for the right moment to tap me on the shoulder. Perhaps I haven't written for so long because there is still shame in me for needing any the help at all. Maybe I haven't written because I'm embarrassed that my abortion is not the only thing that was/is wrong with me.
Days like today, however, are still difficult and always will be at some level. Following the March for Life online for the work that I do is a challenge because of what I read and see and hear. Yesterday, a graphic image of a torn apart aborted baby on my news feed just about made me ill. I slammed my laptop shut and had a good cry for a while. But, I came back. I said my prayers. I spoke to Grace. I didn't think about killing myself. I didn't try to convince myself that I was worthless. I didn't allow my mind to return to all the thoughts that it usually does.
I opened up my blog and read my posts on the two marches that I had attended. I scanned over some of my others posts and made the decision that gentleness is what my soul needs some times, most times, and I am usually the last person to offer it. I have been through an awful lot, and I have succeeded more than I have failed. I'm not fixed yet, and that's okay. Jesus loves me broken.
The journey continues…