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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Successful Meeting

So, tonight was our monthly meeting. Each month is so different and each time we gather, there's a different "feel" to things. Every meeting draws us closer and you can honestly see the difference it makes to all of these people to have the comfort and safety of such a group. The healing that is transpiring before our very eyes is amazing and it's quite evident that God is among us.

Tonight we had really raw emotion in our sharing. People were able to trust the group with blunt feelings and thoughts. The beautiful part was in that they trusted everyone in the group. They knew that this was the one place where they were not going to be judged...they were free to say what they needed and however it came out was how it came out. How many places, honestly, can we say we feel that kind of true freedom? Not even in our very own homes, most of the time. What an incredible gift we have been given.

Our group is made up of various personality types and backgrounds. Yet, we all come together as one and leave all of our differences at the door. In that moment, for those two hours, we are people who have experienced one of the worst kinds of pain imagineable and have survived it. We are people who are searching for healing or people who are ready to help others heal. In fact, I can honestly tell you that even though my role is now more of a leader than a participant, I still find myself finding more and more healing at these meetings.

It's amazing what can happen when you let your guard down. When you decide you're going to acknowledge your fears and face them...head on! It's scary as hell and not something that is comfortable in the least bit. Often times, tears rise to the surface regardless of how hard we try to fight them back. But in those tears, we find strength. And through those tears, we are able to see compassionate faces looking back at us...not with pity or disdain, but with hope and understanding...with love. This is what we need. This is what God wants...for each of us to know and accept that He has loved us through it all and that we DESERVE that love and His Grace.

Pretty amazing stuff, ya think?

Monday, June 15, 2009

June "Growing on the Vine" Meeting

Well, this Wednesday is our monthly meeting. It's when a group of us get together to continue our growth post-Retreat. We have a counselor present who facilitates the meeting and then, a mixture of recent retreat attendants as well as past retreat attendants and current volunteers. It's two hours of fellowship, getting a bite to eat and then, a living scripture. We talk about things that are going on in our lives and most importantly...we listen to one another.

The listening part is most important. Listening is something the post-abortive person craves more than anything. It is imperative to our healing. Being able to speak about this tragic decision and going through the emotions that come-and-go post-retreat only helps to further our healing and makes us stronger.

As with most retreats, we all come from varied backgrounds and circumstance. Yet, in this room, each month, we come together as one group. No one cares about the differences. It only matters that we are bonded by this one thing and that we are all feeling pain on some level. For some of us, the healing is more complete and for others, it's only just begun. That's another asset to these meetings. Since we're all in different places in our own healing, we are able to provide guidance and sometimes, insight for others. It's an amazing experience.

Healing from abortion and learning to move on from it takes time. The weekend gives us all the tools we need to get there. The bonds we form there are unparalelled. We are eternally grateful to Theresa Burke for creating this program so that men and women can finally find the peace that has eluded them for so long.

Friday, June 12, 2009

And here we go...

Well, here it is...I'm officially a blogger now - wow! Can't believe it. But, I suppose when an idea starts to take over, there's not a lot of use in stopping it. So, here I am - putting this out there for anyone in the world to see. My dream would be to help someone...someone out there who feels alone or just needs a shoulder. I figure that online we can all remain anonymous, if we so choose, and in a matter such as abortion, many people do choose to remain so.

But, we still need help. We still feel that burden within ... growing, holding us back. It's that pit in your stomach or that sense of your chest tightening up. A moment away from panic because you think that at any moment, someone will figure it out. Someone will know the secret you've kept hidden away in the darkest corner of your life. Someone will know that you've had an abortion. And, it's not even just that someone will know, but it's the flooding of all the emotion that comes with that knowledge, which finally overcomes you. That's the do we deal with those feelings suddenly rising to the surface?

For me, it took years. Years of thinking I had conquered it. Years of believing that I had "moved past" it. I fooled myself quite well for a time. I actually believed I had done all I could to heal from this pain. Having an abortion is more than removing tissue from your body, it's a life and death decision that many of us make in state of fear or duress. Afterwards, we are often left alone to deal with the jumbled up feelings we have about what has just occurred. No one wants to talk about it and no one seems to understand. It's either "time to move on" or "what's the big deal" type of comments. Or, in some cases, there are people who do care and want to help, but even they have their limits on how many times they can listen to your story. It's written all over their faces and you once again recoil and stuff your pain so no one else has to endure it.

This is such a difficult existence and yes, unless you've actually been through this, you truly do not understand. It's ok. It's not your fault and I applaud you for never having had to A) be in a position to make such a decision or B) made the right choice when it was time. Yes, I did say the "right choice" because if it hadn't been wrong, why would I have felt so immediately disgusted by what I had done? Why would I have suddenly clutched my body and screamed for my baby if it was all "ok" so-to-speak? There is something that happens to a woman's body when that life is taken from you and it's almost impossible to explain it. You are forever changed at that moment.

When I finally had enough, when I finally couldn't take one more anniversary of Roe v. Wade without feeling that I would burst open, I made a decision to get healing. My husband was so supportive of this for he had seen the abortion take its toll on my life for years. He is not the father of my child, but he has had to live with the after effects of that long ago decision. Together, we decided to attend a Rachel's Vineyard Retreat.

Initially, I was excited. An entire weekend where I would finally get to talk about this and with people who truly understood me. Wow! Then, I got nervous...wait...I have to REALLY talk about this with other people! The irony of the situation was quite apparent.

In an attempt (quite successful, I might add) to keep me from bailing out at the last minute, my husband signed up for the Retreat, as well. That meant he had to participate just like sitting back and just taking it all is brave!

We arrived on a Friday, early evening. We were greeted by smiling, but not overly friendly volunteers (which I found refreshing because I may have run if someone jumped out at me filled with all kinds of glee and happiness). It was a mixture of post-abortive men/women, a priest and a counselor. Then, there were the other two women who had decided to suck it up and attend, too. They were much braver than me, however...they came alone. There was a nervous energy in the group and we made a lot of polite small-talk at first. Then, it was time to adjourn to the the real work would begin.

I can honestly say that after the first night of going over various, sorted details of my life (before and after the abortion), I started to feel the flood gates open. I wasn't sure just how much I was going to "allow" them to hear or see. After all, these were strangers and I was not accustom to being vulnerable around most people, let alone complete strangers. But, God was smarter than me that night (as He is every night, let's be honest) because there was a release button that was pressed and look out because it all came out. There were things that I realized that weekend I would have never thought about otherwise. It was frightening and difficult, but healing all at the same time. I started to feel "me" somewhere inside...closer to the surface...again. Amazing!

By the time Sunday rolled around and we all gathered for our "goodbyes" together, I was a different woman. I know, you're rolling your eyes at me right now...but it's true. I embraced what the weekend had to offer and even though there were moments leading up to a particular activity where I was thinking, "This is is this going to help anything?" - I found myself able to release the years of anger, frustration, guilt, sadness, horror, etc. Finally, I could accept that I was still a good person and that no one was secretly waiting around the corner to expose me. One weekend and a whole lot of healing. What an incredible journey.

Since then, I have continued along that path. I have found myself again. Yes, I still have difficult days. That can't be avoided. However, I approach those times in my life from a different point of view now. I am aware of what's happening and I respond accordingly. Now...if I have a "sad" day, it's a day. It's not a month or months. That's amazing in and of itself! I have also chosen, as my path, to continue with the program as a volunteer, so that perhaps I can help to offer the same healing and acceptance to someone else. I've been interviewed about it and gave a speech at a rally. Yep, it's a whole new life for me. Now, I'm a blogger! Watch out...who knows what I'll think to do next!!!

It's not to say that everyone who attends the weekend leaves with the "I'm going to conquer the world now" attitude. No. Everyone takes something different. What this weekend does allow is a person to find themself, to see what they need to do to find their own healing. Whether this weekend is just the beginning or the final step, it's worth every moment!

That's all I have for today. I'll be blogging as often as I can. Hopefully, the more people find out about this page, the more we'll have to discuss. Let's be open...let's ask questions...let's talk...let's help each other to heal!

Why Start this Blog?

I had the idea to begin this blog when I was thinking about my Rachel's Vineyard experience two (2) years ago this past week. I am a post-abortive woman who struggled for years with many issues related to my abortion. Some, I didn't realize were connected and some I did.

After 17 years, I finally decided to get help. With my husband at my side, I attended a weekend retreat that literally changed my life. It was the final step in a long journey of much sought after healing. Since that retreat, I am no longer ashamed to admit to my abortion and I strive to help others through their pain.

My hope is that this blog will assist someone on their journey. Whether that leads them to get help or aides them in their own continued healing doesn't matter. What matters is that we, men and women, find a place to support one another through the trauma of abortion.
We've suffered. Now what?