Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Healing the Heart Chapter One

I recently added a link to the after-abortion healing program known as “Healing Hearts.” I’ve begun their support program, via e-mail. It would be impossible to follow the program with any degree of honesty and blog the results. But there may be value in some of the things I am learning.

If you read this with any regularity, you know I struggle to remember many details surrounding my abortion. The first part of Chapter One of Healing Hearts required me to describe the decision-making process and the abortion itself.

I tried to avoid answering, “I don’t remember,” although that phrase repeated itself in my head a thousand times. Always behind it was the memory. When I tried to recall my feelings the morning of the abortion, I reached for the emotions or circumstances. As soon as the emotions welled up, I heard the thought, “I don’t remember.” But this time I knew I was lying to myself to avoid those feelings. There was a hint of memory that slipped behind that familiar phrase, playing hide and seek. I thrust the thought away, and went in search of the truth in my own mind.

In her book, Forbidden Grief, Dr. Theresa Burke says “many women have an acute memory of particular aspects of their abortions, but other portions are shrouded in a mist,” (Burke, p. 129). This is a perfect description of what my memory of the event is like: the proverbial Swiss cheese. Some things stand out with such clarity, they will never leave me. Other details are so heavily cloaked, I can only remember them as if they happened to someone else. And others I remember only because I know they must have happened, and not because I have access to the actual memory. One of my goals in post-abortion healing is recall, to find and connect the memories to the emotions, and reconcile them to who I am.

So what have I learned, half-way through the first lesson?

1. I was a bookish kid. I used my study hall hour as a library aide to look up abortion before the fact. I saw the pictures of what abortion looks like, before I had an abortion. This memory has been creeping back since I started the somewhat controversial dialogue regarding graphic images. I knew all about pregnancy from watching my mother give birth to my brother, who was an infant himself when I learned I was pregnant. I had read the pregnancy books which always, with hope and reverence for the creative process, tell the expectant mother every known detail about the developing fetus. And then I saw its polar opposite – the hopeless and torn consequences of rejecting God’s greatest gift. Yes, it made me withdraw my assent to the abortion, which I had already given with great reluctance, and under pressure, before I saw “what abortion looks like.” But as often happens to girls and women coerced into unwanted abortions, my withdrawal was met with resistance from all sides. Of what use were these photos to me then, except to show me exactly what was going to be destroyed? They had their desired effect on ME, but I was ineffectual.

2. The entire time I was pregnant, I had a relationship with my child. I spoke to him. I felt the indescribable joy of it, and I had to let that go. I had to let it go forever, because allowing my child to be killed made me unworthy of maternal joy. While I was running through my mind the limited options available to me before the abortion, though, I was a mother. I thought in terms of saving “us,” Baby and me. I held him, not in my arms, but within myself. My budding love for him was always tinged with fear for both of us – would we survive?

3. I fought harder for his life, and mine, then I would later give myself credit for. There were multiple meetings between related parties, and I was always protesting. I begged. I offered reasonable solutions that were shot down – “no, you can’t live with this person or that.” I cried, and cried. Now I understand why I hate crying so much. It is a worthless activity, because tears are always easily ignored even by the people who are supposed to care about them.

4. I hated my mother more than anyone else. She had just had an unexpected baby. Hers was allowed to live. Mine had to die, and she was the principal agent forcing me to go through with it. I never understood it, and still don’t to this day. In hindsight, I look back at the pain she wanted me to suffer, and understanding that it was a pain she also suffered once doesn’t make it any better. I hope in death she found the wisdom she lacked in life, and if I’m honest, I hope there was punishment for her – not eternal damnation – I don’t want to burn in Hell myself, so I have to hope for redemption for all. But at least two souls are screaming for justice from this woman – three, if you count my own.


How could I forget the extenuating circumstances that mitigate my own guilt? Remembering how hard I fought and struggled did not fit in with the image I had of myself after the abortion. After I had the abortion, all that mattered was that I had failed miserably, so it no longer mattered what I done before. I wanted no excuses for myself, and I took all of the blame without regard to my age or the pressures that were being exerted on me. Yet, if I looked at another young girl in my exact position, I would feel nothing but pity and sorrow for her helplessness.

And here is yet another thing for which I must grieve. No wonder I have avoided this for twenty-five years. What could be worse than my having to completely forget everything about my pregnancy that was loving and right? It was a great gift to find these feelings again, even as I am still challenged to be able to feel them without also feeling the fear, helplessness, and horror that accompanied my first and only experience with motherhood.


3 Comments:

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You wrote:I cried, and cried. Now I understand why I hate crying so much. It is a worthless activity, because tears are always easily ignored even by the people who are supposed to care about them.

~~~~~~~~~~~
Your tears were not wasted or ignored. God saw them. He more than saw them--he has kept them. Read Psalms 56:8&9.

I'm sorry that your tears seemed to have gone unheard by those who should have cared. But, please know that your tears were not in vain.

Nor are they now. Tears can be healing. Cry if you need to. It has been proven scientifically that tears of grief, sadness, anger, etc. all are made up of different compositions and chemicals. Therefore, they have meaning.

Even if no one else on earth sees them or knows of them--they have purpose. And God Himself keeps them in a bottle. Therefore they MUST be of greater significance than we can ever know.~

 
At 6:14 PM, Blogger Wandering Pilgrim said...

Maybe I shouldn't say this, and I hope I don't step on any toes again, but for whatever it's worth, I was also angry at your mother for the way things were handled, when I first read your story.

You sum it up perfectly when you say, "Hers was allowed to live; mine had to die."

So much for the great false idol of "choice."

I hope that some parents who have pregnant teenaged daughters right now happen to find your blog and your stories, and read them, taking them to heart. Parents usually *think* they have their children's best interests at heart, but sometimes what is considered "best" gets twisted pretty badly.

 
At 8:38 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

Psalm 56: 8-9
"Thous hast kept count of my tossings: put thou my tears in a bottle! Are they not in thy book?

Then my enemies will be turned back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me."

Thank you, Anon, for this reference. The Psalms are always comforting, and I appreciate your kind words.

Demi, as always you understand my purpose. If the pro-choicers are to be believed, abortion is supposed to be optional. Too many women are not given any other option by the people they need, when they are at their most vulnerable. Thanks!

 

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