January is Pro Life month. And much of my focus was on Abortion, and what the pro-life group was planning. [After my own abortion,] I wanted so much to make a difference in peoples' hearts. To be a part of something that was such a profoundly worthy cause.
It came about that the local radio station was to have a program about "Project Rachel" a post-abortion counseling ministry. And I remember thinking, "Oh, what a good thing for all those poor women out there." So, as it happened, the Pro-Life group asked me, if I would speak about my abortion experience. I suppose I have to admit I was initially quite pleased with the thought of being able to do something important. Pleased, but inside, uncomfortable--it didn't seem to happen in God's natural plan of things for me, as I have come to know it.
I remember expressing doubts and concerns, & not really even being able to think at that meeting, except to say I was a bit scared, and was not very good at this.
Inside I was going through much turmoil that I could not put a name to. All month I had been having visions of aborted babies, & pictures I had seen kept flashing in my mind, also graphic descriptions of the abortion procedure, and the physical agony of the babies as they died. I just felt the need to cry, & once I started it continued for the whole month.
I felt that I would do this "one last thing" and then take a break, for awhile. I only knew I could not go on like this much longer. As I sat, with my note pad in front of me, the effort of putting into sequence, and words, with any feeling, what I had gone through, became more & more difficult. My mind kept blanking out, I would struggle and ask God, "please God', help me with this, if you want me to do it." I thought he did, but I wondered why it was becoming so difficult.
The pressure of knowing this had to be only 5 minutes long, and I needed to say so much in so little time, caused me to change things over & over, as so many emotions and forgotten & hidden memories flooded back. By this time, my head wanted to explode. I wanted out, out of my head, out of my life, the life that I had done this thing in.
I came home and lay on the couch oblivious to everything around me, with no intention of talking to God, or anyone else of my abortion, and my suffering ever again.
In the morning I sat around trying to forget it was Sunday. I was not going to church this week, I needed to "get away from it all" so I could get better.
10 o'clock came around and I got up and rushed around frantic to get ready, suddenly I had an overpowering desire to go to Mass, to go to communion. I prayed "Please, God, let the sermon help me." I don't know what to do anymore." I was very much afraid the priest saying Mass would be the one I ran out on the day before. When I saw that it would not be him, I let out a great sigh of relief. I was happy now that I came. I was also waiting for something. When it was time for the sermon, I almost knew God intended it just for me. And in so many ways it was. When it was over I heard a voice say, "Get help." I felt a great peace at that moment, and it carried over into the next day. When I called "Project Rachel" and made an appointment for that Wed. I felt a burden lifting off my shoulders, and an overwhelming need to be able to talk to someone who would help me, in just the way I needed help, and understand me in just the way I needed understanding.
I was very nervous and tense on the way down, my pride suddenly was fighting my need, and I almost gave in and said "Oh, forget it." I have to say now, that going through with it and keeping that appointment was the best thing I have ever done for myself. They did understand, and they helped me in ways and areas that I could not have done, myself.
It was difficult, yet so easy, because these people knew what I had been through, and that was enough to cause tears of joy. The road they have put me on has already been one of new awareness, peace, and the beginning and the end of the final healing process I must go through, because of my abortion.
So far I realize now, that though I had come far, I never reached the point of feeling God's forgiveness or of forgiving myself. I really thought I had. But everything I was feeling and in the previous weeks cried out loudly that this was not so.
One of the girls came to pick up the testimony or whatever you would call it later in the day. I gave it to her & said to myself, "Oh, good, now it will be over." But it wasn't. The feelings of everything closing in on me were making me almost as close to crazy as I have ever been. I remember, just putting my hands to my head and crying, saying, "Go away, Oh God please make them go away, just make them all go away." And through my mind danced the doctors and nurses who performed my abortion, every acute memory & sensation of the procedure... the priest that didn't try to dissuade me, the feelings of loneliness and the quiet of everyone present… My pain at the moment my baby was sucked from my body. And the people in the pro-life group that I felt at the time cause all of this pain by asking me to do the testimony.
The next few days were complete non-functioning days. I was somewhere inside myself, locked into my guilt, pain, and grief. And I started to get angry, I felt I had come so far, and had worked so much out, I didn't want to admit God had failed me (as I put it at the time). I knew He had helped me so much in the years since I first turned to Him. Even in my agony, I would not admit something still was wrong, that I was not finished and there was more to go through, more to heal, more to learn & more to change.
My primary thought was "I want to help someone." I went to confession...something in me let me know that I needed something, and the only one I knew to turn to at this point, was God. I felt so alone again, and confused. The more I tried to express myself to others, the more I felt I was becoming insane with no one really understanding, or being able to express my self and make anyone understand the agony and confusion, the knowledge that even though I was this way, I still knew I was not all bad, and not all crazy. God had led me and helped me so much. So even though I knew the priest was thinking of my best interests, & trying to help, in the only way he knew how, the details of the incident left me feeling even more isolated not understood judged and alone. I felt such frustration had not felt until that moment. I slammed out of there and cried all the way home. Then I went to my parents to talk to them and ended up causing a fight and leaving there in more tears and hopeless confusion, and interior rage. At that point I was even angry with God, I asked him "Where are You, God?" over and over.
I had so many people I had never forgiven: the doctors and nurses at the abortion, and especially the priest, who spoke to me at the time I could never forget him, and the fact he didn't try to stop me from having it. I realized now I have taken a lot of this pain out on others in my life, especially priests, as I had taken it out on one a few days before. I knew I needed to truly realize Jesus' love for me, and that he already died for my abortion. I only needed to ask forgiveness for not accepting his love and forgiveness, even though I had asked for it at least 1000 times. To continue to feel unforgiven, I realize now, is sinful and selfish and will only promote destructive self pity. I am so blessed, God has chosen to console me with a beautiful family and His complete love and care. So many other women have walked away from abortion with so much less… visions of the only baby they could ever have had, for they are left sterile, or even dead. How merciful and full of love God really is for me. Feeling His mercy and forgiveness should have been easy, I thought. For so many years now, we have walked closely together. But my difficulty came in just not being able to visualize Jesus as a person, loving me, forgiving me, after the "awful thing I had done." I felt it would always be before me.
The sermon I heard on Sunday brought the realization of Jesus' forgiveness to me in a very real and concrete way. To me, the words that were spoken were from the heart, a heart I knew had Jesus in it. They touched me because they were caring and compassionate words... Not words full of recrimination and opinion. Jesus showed himself to me through this priest and his sermon, in the kindness he had always shown me -- Even though he knew my sins. I knew that if the priest could be this way then how much more so could Jesus. I have learned how much more important the heart is, than words and advice, when dealing with the hurts and sufferings of others. That is who Jesus is, the Sacred Heart of love, compassion, and forgiveness.
And on my journey down this road, I will learn how to forgive myself. Because I now want to, and I must. I am learning the steps to take and Jesus is walking right beside met to hold me when I start to fall. It will not happen over night, I have a lot of emotional scars that need to be completely healed. I still, and always will, feel that my heart lies with the Pro-Life movement. But up until now, a lot of what motivated me was the need to "make up" to my aborted baby, who incidentally I have named "Joseph." I used to tell him all the time, "I am doing it to make up for causing your death." Nothing I can ever do, will make up for that I now know. When at my work in the Pro-life movement, I see a picture of an aborted baby, and I start to cry, I do not want my very next thought to be "and I did that to my baby" and go off into destructive grief.
The sorrow I feel will someday be for all victims of abortion mother and child alike. I hope that the memory of my abortion experience will some day serve only to help others through love, compassion and understanding. Not be taken out on others in anger and self pity and self gratifying motives, because all I see is my sorrow first.
Jesus is telling me to rest now, he will be with me. My greatest wish is that some day His plan for me will be fulfilled and by the grace of God, I have hope.
Printed with permission from Priests for Life.