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.
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.
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.