Archive for August, 2014

Post-Abortive Father Responds to Robin Williams: Uncomfortably Numb Story

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

 

Repentant Man

Amidst the firestorm of reaction to my blog last week on the death of Robin Williams, I wanted to share this letter that came in from a father who lost his daughter to abortion:

Hi Kevin,

I wanted to thank you for sharing about Robin William’s abortion and how this may have contributed to his struggles with addiction and depression.   I know from personal experience as a post-abortive father that depression can occur when a man loses a child to abortion.

In my case the depression was closely related to the lie I was encouraged to believe…a lie that said that abortion was the best solution to a pregnancy that occurred at a difficult time. I was encouraged to believe that my child in the womb was ‘just a fetus’ and not a human being.   By agreeing with this prognosis regarding the pregnancy I was able to agree to the abortion that my partner wanted to have.

Agreeing with the abortion did not change the reality that I was a father of this child. What did occur was that I became the father of a child that I did not protect, take responsibility for and enjoy a relationship with. I became the father of a child that lost its life because I did not protect her from the lie of abortion rather than the father of a child that I helped to nurture and to grow into adulthood.

The reality of what had exactly transpired as a result of the abortion set in over time. As I came out of the delusion that I was in because of believing a lie I began to see more clearly the results of agreeing to an abortion as the solution to the challenge of parenting. By believing the lie I was enabled to abandon the responsibility of protecting my daughter and as a result had abandoned the opportunity to nurture her and provide for her as she grew into an adult.  I had rejected the responsibility to protect my unborn daughter, I had lost the opportunity to provide and nurture her into adulthood, I had lost the relationship that would have grown out of tending to these responsibilities and I was full of shame and humiliation as a result. This shame, humiliation and grief left me in a state of hopelessness despair and yes depression.

My self-esteem plummeted.  I hated myself for the emotional pain I was feeling for something that was supposed to be a benign experience. I hated myself for not knowing better, for not performing better and I began to be angry with those who had encouraged the abortion, with those who had performed the abortion and with those who stood idly by as it was occurring. The shame and guilt of my involvement encouraged me to keep this to myself.  This isolation fed the depression that I experienced after that event.  I abused drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the depression and pain I felt.

Healing started to come when I acknowledged what had happened in the abortion. It began to grow as I shared my guilt with others and received God’s forgiveness. It grew more when I experienced healing weekends with Rachel’s Vineyard and realized that I was not alone with my guilt, grief and depression.

The depression began to lift even more as God gave me the opportunity to take responsibility for a child through adoption. Now I can speak fairly freely about the pain I went through due to my involvement with abortion, and the subsequent depression that had accompanied it, because I know there is a healthy way out. Booze and drugs did not alleviate the problem although I thought they would when I used them to cope with the difficult emotions that accompanied the experience. Facing the experience as it was, the death of my daughter, was the beginning of moving to reconciliation and healing which included yes the healing of some of the depression.

Parents involved in abortion decisions need to realize there is help for them if they face their experience in the light of reality.    An abortion recovery program can help them face the painful but liberating truth, grieve and honor that child lost to abortion, and experience the forgiveness of Jesus.  Consoled by this faith, they can look forward in sure hope to meeting their children in heaven who are there longing to be reunited with their parents.  With further healing I was more able to end the silence and share the truth that my child is gone from this life, but she is with the Lord and I will see her one day.

God bless, you Kevin for telling the truth.  May all post-abortive parents face their experience in light of the truth. May they receive the forgiveness that is available so they can bring a blessing to their aborted children the day they enter the gates of paradise to join them in the forgiving pleasures of heaven.

Sincerely,

Dr. Scott Miller, M. Counseling, M. Divinity, D. Min

 Out of his own healing journey, the Lord has given Scott some insight towards ministering to men and women who have suffered the pain of losing a child through abortion. During his years ministering in residential addiction treatment programs, Scott was introduced to many young men who had lost children to abortion.

As a complimentary ministry to Rachel’s Vineyard, Scott developed the House of Esau program as a place where men can begin to confidentially allow their post abortion dilemma’s to be acknowledged, released and received so their souls can begin the journey of being healed from their abortion experience. House of Esau™ focusses on helping men heal from their “father wound” and the resulting sexual brokenness and pain-managing lifestyle. We offer a non-judgmental environment where men can find the compassion of Christ in a supportive, non-threatening context. For additional information about House of Esau™ ministries, email us at: silverlion@live.ca.

 

Grieving the Loss of Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More Leader Mike Stack

Friday, August 15th, 2014

 

Mike Stack

 Mike Stack, Site Leader for the Detroit Rachel’s Vineyard ministry, and former  Regional Coordinator with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign passed away on August 14th.  Mike was a Missionary of the Gospel of Life and served as a Coordinator of the Southfield 40 Days for Life Campaign.

Mike died on the feast of St Maximilian Kolbe, the great Polish priest who gave his life for a fellow prisoner at Auschwitz-a married man with children.   His death also falls on the Vigil of the Assumption of our Blessed Lady.   How fitting as Mike had a beautiful and fatherly heart of faith and love for Christ, his Blessed Mother and the Church that he shared so generously in his life.  Anyone blessed to be touched by his ministry to vulnerable young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, or those wounded by abortion loss, can attest to the faith, courage and gentle love of this man of God.

Below I share two articles by Mike that will reveal some of the beautiful ministry of this man.  The first reveals the relationship of his vocation as an ultra-sound technician at a Pregnancy Resource Center and his ministry in Rachel’s Vineyard.  This is an extremely important testimony as it points to the level of grief for those who are intimately involved in the death of the unborn, well beyond the immediate impact on the parents.   Even front-line pro lifers trying to prevent these tragic deaths, naturally suffer complicated grief from this experience.

The second article is an excellent piece on the need for awareness and healing for men who suffer after participating in the death of their unborn child:

A little piece of my heart

By Mike Stack

[Mike served as an Ultrasound Technician at a Local Pregnancy Resource Center since 2003 and was employed since 1976 as an Ultrasound Technician.-KB ]

A little piece of my heart is wounded each time we are unable to help a woman turn from her plan to abort the tiny human life within her womb. As an Ultrasound Technician for the past 35 years, I have had the honor of witnessing the work of the Lord, in the womb. “I knit you together in your Mother’s womb…” Psalm 139:13…

Many Post Abortion women have commented that a piece of their heart died with their aborted child, just like any parent that looses a child. It doesn’t matter what stage of development. What matters is that those that have lost a child have a deep grief. Grief that is made worse when it is a secret…

I found myself in a similar, secret (hidden) grieving place and didn’t know where to turn for help.

I found the place to turn to when I attended a Post-abortion recovery weekend retreat (Rachael’s Vineyard). To my surprise the grief I had been carrying came forth in uncontrolled, sobbing tears. I was grieving the loss of so many children I had come to know….       Read the whole article here

Getting the Word Out to Men

By Mike Stack

I was excited to be invited to speak at a Men’s Fellowship retreat earlier this year by the leader of this Men’s ministry group at our former parish. He knew of my involvement with Rachel’s Vineyard and thought it would be a good topic for the after dinner talk to the (40) guys on this annual retreat. Some men’s ministries arereluctant to address the issue of abortion loss on a men’s retreat, thinking it is not the place, so I was especially grateful for the opportunity.

However Public speaking is not exactly in my ‘comfort zone’ and so when I found out that I had a 90 minute time slot to fill I was a bit concerned. The Lord inspired me with a simple program that included the Dear Children video that we use on Friday evening of our Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats, and the personal testimony of some former retreatants. We had one couple and two men who have experienced abortion loss each give a short testimony.

I gave some introductory comments about the history of Rachel’s Vineyard and that the retreats were open to both men and women (grandparents, siblings and former abortion providers.) We offered time for questions at the end. It was a simple program that planted seeds for this group of men who, for the most part, were not aware of Rachel’s Vineyard or the need for men’s healing after abortion.

During the video I sat near the back of the room and from that viewpoint I could observe the guys’ reactions to the video. There were several handkerchiefs pulled out and some tears wiped away. I feel confident that we ‘planted seeds’ for some of these men to learn more about abortion loss and healing in Rachel’s Vineyard.

It seems to me the best thing for us to do is to plant seeds, to prepare people with knowledge of this healing resource. For some it will be for themselves, for others it’s to share in a future conversation or situation with a friend, family member or spouse.

In this case we also had the benefit of men receiving the knowledge that abortion hurts women, men and relationships. I think the simple program worked well and is probably something that could be easily repeated or expanded upon. I include parts of the thank you note from Gerry:

Hi Mike… the presentation was outstanding… thank you for being there.

There was a very positive response from the guys for the depth of sharing … heck even the topic … one guy admitted that he was skeptical when he heard the topic and wondered why it should be at a men’s retreat, but by the end of the video, was convicted by his doubt. I’m hoping we have more involvement in the fight against abortion from what the guys experienced … your group certainly raised the consciousness of the issues surrounding it…Be sure to thank the volunteers for their courage in witnessing to us … I know it can’t be easy, even though it is giving testimony to the love of God.

God bless, Gerry

In my own life and ministry I am seeing a growing awareness of the need of healing for the men that have been involved in abortion. It’s seems that more of these fathers are finding their way to the Rachel’s Vineyard retreats. I think many of us have experienced the huge blessings that occur both to the men and to the women that attend a given retreat (with men present.)

My take on the retreat process is that the main healer is Christ, who is present in a special way through the Living Scripture exercises (and the Sacraments in the Catholic model). Christ, the healer, is also present and working through the participants. The stories of pain and healing that are shared during the weekend work to help facilitate Christ’s love and healing. Obviously women and men experience the pain of abortion in different ways. The richness of the mix of men’s and women’s sharing always seems to be a critical part of the healing on any given weekend retreat.

 

 

Robin Williams: A Clarification on Uncomfortably Numb

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

 

My previous blog focused on the possible relationship between Robin Williams’s very public struggle with addiction and a previous abortion loss.  I have since learned that some saw this as an exploitation of his tragic death.

How did I come to write this piece?  As I read of Williams’s death, his addiction struggle was prominent in many articles I was reading…but with no mention of his abortion loss in the 1970’s.   I saw this as an opportunity to draw attention to something I have learned in my 20 years experience in after-abortion recovery ministry; people often self medicate the very painful and complex emotions and memories of their abortion experience with drugs and alcohol.  This sometimes leads to serious addiction issues at great personal cost and also brings pain and suffering upon their loved ones.

Sometimes the descent into addiction directly follows the abortion event and there is clearly a link.  In other scenarios it appears to greatly intensify an already existing problem.  Williams’s story also provided an opportunity to share on what is rarely considered…that men experience some powerful and confusing feelings when they are part of an abortion decision/procedure.

Of course there can be a number of factors that contribute to addictive behavior, for example self medicating for an emotional illness such as depression or bi-polar disorder.  Perhaps this was also an issue that contributed to Williams addiction issues.

I never in my article claimed his suicide was a direct relationship to his abortion loss.  Only God and Williams understand the pain and torment that led him to such a desperate act.  I tried to make the case based on my professional experience that there is a possible connection between his addiction struggles and his abortion loss.

For those who are neutral or pro abortion rights, you will have a difficult time understanding my perspective.  In fact, those that support abortion rights dismiss any negative after-effects from the procedure.  Research and the testimonies of hundreds of men and women clearly reveal serious emotional, physical and spiritual suffering after abortion…and the benefits of an abortion recovery program.

I believe that in the 1970’s (like millions of other couples) during a time of vulnerability, anxiety and fear Williams and his partner participated in the death of their unborn son or daughter.  Is it unreasonable when the media is saturated with stories about his addictions to suggest a connection?  I did not see similar outrage from articles that touched on his struggle with addiction.

Finally, please understand that my vocation is to educate the public about the after-effects from abortion and most importantly, the good news of healing recovery programs.  My desire was not to sensationalize the tragic death of Robin Williams, but in that painful and confusing death to bring light to what may be one area of pain in this man’s life – with the hope that others might see in their own story how abortion loss may be part of their addiction issues and other symptoms.  My hope is that the story would lead others to find reconciliation and healing.

I lost a dear friend, who I loved like a brother to suicide.  I know personally how devastating this tragedy is to family and friends.  I also know the many factors, such as emotional illness and chronic emotional and physical pain can lead someone to take their life.

If you felt that the timing of this blog was insensitive or exploited his tragic death, or if you have lost a loved one to suicide, I am truly sorry for any pain this may have caused you.  Please know that my intention was to bring light and healing to an area of loss and suffering that has touched millions of women and men in our nation.  With the national focus on his death and addiction struggles, I saw this as an opportunity to raise awareness using information that is widely available on the internet and elsewhere.

After I wrote the piece and today at daily Mass I prayed for the soul of Robin Williams…not only for his peace and healing in the Lord but also that through his painful death others would find hope and healing of their abortion loss and help and relief for anyone struggling with suicidal feelings.

Kevin Burke, LSW

 

Robin Williams – Uncomfortably Numb: Abortion Loss and Addiction

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Robin Williams

Actor and comedian Robin Williams died August 11th from a suspected suicide.  Fans from around the world are grieving the tragic loss of this talented actor and comedian.  Such an act of desperation reveals Williams was clearly in great emotional pain.   A headline on NBC News Online shares that Robin Williams Battled Demons for Decades Before His Death.

Many are aware that Williams struggled for years with serious addiction issues.

However a lesser known fact is that one of those demons was an abortion that took place in the 1970’s.

From Robin Williams: A Biography by Andy Dougan

… His early days back in San Francisco after dropping out of Julliard (in the mid 1970’s) were among the unhappiest of his life. His relationship with his girlfriend, which had seemed so full of promise back in New York, had now come to a sudden and abrupt end…In an interview in Playboy magazine some years later, the subject turned to the Bush administration’s stance on abortion….Williams offered that making the decision to have an abortion was not an easy one, which begged the obvious question from interviewer Lawrence Grobel about whether he had ever found himself in that position.

 ‘Long, long, long time ago,’ Williams replied candidly, ‘and it was because we were too young and it wasn’t right.’  (Pg 35)

Is there a relationship between Robin William’s descent into drug addiction and depression that began in the 1970’s and his past abortion?

The Death of Young Love

Williams appears to have been very close to the mother of his aborted child and as the excerpt from his biography reveals, the period after the abortion and the end of the relationship were days of deep and painful darkness.  Even as he began to enjoy considerable professional success as an actor/comedian, he struggled with addiction.

Consider the emotional vulnerability of a young man and woman in their mid 20’s as Williams tried to make his way in the highly competitive world of entertainment in the 1970’s.  Think about how powerful a loving, caring and understanding relationship is in helping you negotiate the stress and challenges of such times.  When the relationship is sexual, you have the deeply intimate experience of sharing your body, heart and soul with another person.

This union of pleasure, joy and love between Williams and his partner results in a pregnancy as a new life has been conceived in this act of love-making.  When they decide to “end the pregnancy” by abortion, a very complex set of emotions are unleashed upon the young couple.

There were likely some rather pressured but reasoned discussions between the couple of why abortion was the only rational choice…as Williams shared:

…we were too young and it wasn’t right.’  

 Few relationships survive the complex emotional pain and complicated grief that naturally follows the decision to abort one’s unborn child.  The powerful memories and emotions from such an experience defy our desperate rationalizations, and remain long after the relationship ends.  To think otherwise is a failure to respect the power, depth and complexity of human intimate relationships.

Uncomfortably Numb

The most common self-medication for these intimate and painful feelings and memories…sex, drugs and alcohol.  The 1970’s and early 1980’s were fertile soil for such acting-out with the widespread use of cocaine in music and entertainment circles.

In a Guardian interview in 2008, Williams shares about his behavior during his periods of addiction:

“You know, I was shameful…You do stuff that causes disgust, and that’s hard to recover from. You can say, ‘I forgive you’ and all that stuff, but it’s not the same as recovering from it.”

 Drawing upon the experience of hundreds of men’s testimonies about their abortion loss, Williams may have been making a thinly veiled reference to what society tells us does not exist…his post abortion trauma and complicated grief.

Let’s re-visit his quote above, but this time in the context of abortion loss:

You know that abortion was so deeply painful, and shameful…I am disgusted by my actions that led to the destruction of my unborn child, and struggle as a man and father.  That abortion procedure was the death of my partnership with the child’s mother and  it deeply wounded my heart and soul.  No drug can remove that pain.   I want to forgive myself and others…but I need to find a way to recover from this loss.

Author M. Alex Johnson on NBC News Online shares:

He never seemed to have full control of his fame…Williams talked of having become addicted to cocaine while he was appearing on “Mork & Mindy” (1978-1982.)…Cocaine, Williams told People magazine in 1988, “was a place to hide. Most people get hyper on coke. It slowed me down.”

Some will be quick to dismiss the relationship of his abortion in the 1970’s to his subsequent abuse and addictions to cocaine and alcohol, but look at Williams own words.  He was looking for a place to “hide”…hide from what?    There may have been other contributing factors in his vulnerability to addiction, such as his rise to stardom and the stress and temptations of the world of entertainment.  But given what we have learned after 20 years of research and recovery work with those who have experienced abortion loss addictions are a common way that woman and men cope with the painful feelings and memories they bury after abortion.

 In 1982, Williams was doing coke with John Belushi the night Belushi died of an overdose.   Keep in mind that his association with Belushi the night of his death would naturally trigger his repressed post abortion pain and guilt connected to his role in the death of his unborn child.  He may not have made the conscious connection, but those emotions would help add gasoline to his already raging addiction issues.

Displacement of a Father’s Grief

Williams would later become a vocal advocate for abortion rights.  This reveals another common strategy of those that are unable to reconcile and recover from their abortion loss.  The energy that would be better directed toward healing this loss is instead focused on the need to promote abortion accessibility for the poor and protecting woman’s health.  This activism on behalf of abortion rights serves to deflect his conflicted emotions and complicated grief around his personal abortion, as it is displaced onto anti abortion activists and their political allies.

However the symptoms often tell the story and if you follow the trail, they will take you back to what was a life-changing event for Robin Williams and his partner in the 1970’s…the abortion of their unborn child.

Years of using drugs and alcohol to cope with abortion loss and other emotional pain and life stress takes a toll on the emotions and nervous system of addicts. The failure to recognize the role of abortion loss can be a significant factor in one’s addictive behavior and shuts the door on reconciliation and recovery from the abortion wound.

There is Hope and Healing

There is a way to recover from this loss.  If you are a man or woman who was part of an abortion decision(s) in the past, there is hope and healing available to you.  The abortion loss may be part of a larger tapestry of challenges that you have faced in your life journey.  But that abortion loss can be significant contributing and often causative factor in the anxiety, depression, addictions and other symptoms that you may struggle with.   Attending an abortion recovery program can help you learn to find healthy ways of grieving those areas of pain and loss that lead to reconciliation, resurrection and new life…not self destruction and death.

 Join me in praying for the soul of Robin Williams and all those who suffer after abortion loss.  Pray especially that through God’s mercy and forgiveness, Robin Williams will soon gaze upon the child he lost to abortion, and find in the eyes of that precious child, not judgment but a loving call to repentance, reconciliation and healing with the Creator of all life.