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That should have been the end of the story, right?

I am a working wife and the mother of two living sons and one aborted baby. I work in retail sales in a little jewelry shop. I take care of my family, and in my spare time do volunteer work for my church including being co-director of Project Rachel.

I want to share with you my own story and also what Project Rachel is and what we have experienced in that program.

My abortion happened in 1970. I was twenty-one years old. It happened as a result of many mistakes and became the cause of a whole new set of problems. Some of the mistakes or circumstances involved were that I didn't have a family support system behind me. My parents and youngest sister were far away. The brother and sister I had living in the vicinity were highly critical of my life style. My friends were around for good times but beat a hasty exit when things got tough. I was going through a period of rebellion against a cold, demanding father by looking for love from someone who made great promises but couldn't deliver on them. When we found ourselves pregnant, neither my boyfriend nor I had the strength to stand up to our families who were vociferously furious at us.

The only people who behaved kindly towards me were those who recommended getting an abortion. It was legal, though more complicated to procure in 1970 than it is now. They said I could always have a baby later when we worked out our other problems. They said what was inside me wasn't really a baby anyway, but that it looked like just a mass of tissue. It wouldn't take long and my family could get off my back and I could go on with my life as before. I didn't care what God had to say about the whole matter because I was mad at Him for letting things get so messed up anyway. So, I gave in and had the abortion.

That's how it happened and that should have been the end of the story, right? Wrong! As I said before, it was only the beginning of a whole new kind of trouble. My immediate reaction was to wake up from the general anesthesia crying for my mother and my boyfriend. Then I felt relief. I left the hospital thinking, "Yeah! Now they'll leave me alone!" Especially since we told them, my family, that I had a miscarriage. I expected maybe even a little sympathy, but, no, they were openly delighted. Two days later I wanted to die so I could be with my baby. The "mass of tissue" rationalization wasn't working, but soon after, I set it into my mind again, hardened my feelings and numbed myself through workaholism and weekend partying. Inevitably, the quiet moments came, awful moments alone at night when the memories came flooding back and my tears flowed, and no one was there to comfort me. No one was there because I did not allow anyone to get close enough to hurt me that bad again.

In 1973, 1 broke off what was left of my relationship with my dead baby's father and moved in order to start a new life.
I married my husband and we had two sons born in 1975 and 1976. The joy of giving birth for the first time was soured
for me because I could not say the words, "This is my first baby!" Once again I felt robbed and blamed myself for being
the thief. Over the years, I experienced periodic nightmares of being paralyzed. I dreamt that I couldn't even cry out for help. Then I would wake up screaming. I didn't understand then where these dreams were coming from.

I tried to tell my husband about the abortion before we got married but he didn't want to hear about it really. He said that whatever happened before we met didn't count. I didn't talk about it with anyone else. When I did think about it, I quickly dismissed it telling myself it was for the best because I wouldn't have found my husband and had my two wonderful children if I hadn't moved. I kept trying to compare the good things I had here with the worst possible scenario there. Still I cried.

So, what changed? I did. I began searching for something to fill a growing emptiness in my life. I returned to my Catholic faith after a long absence. That enkindled a hunger in me to find the peace and joy I knew I should have been feeling with living a good life. I faced my past and admitted to myself my errors in not assuming responsibility for my actions and in trying to gloss everything over with glib rationalizations. In church talk, that translates to, " I admitted my sinfulness." I killed my baby and I was, and am, sorry for it.

The nature of my crying changed. I was crying cleansing tears. It was the beginning of my healing. Through the stages of reconciling with my God, who gave me love and forgiveness, of reconciling with my baby who I entrusted to Jesus and who is my little angel in heaven. I reconciled with my parents and others to whom I extended forgiveness because I had blamed them for predisposing me to the abortion. I made peace with myself. That was the hardest. It was hard to go on putting myself down and of wanting to keep punishing myself. But if I was to grant God sovereignty over all creation, I had to include myself as one of His creatures. If He could forgive me, and did, then I had to forgive me, and I did.

The story ends there, where the tears ended and the nightmares ended, and I figured out that they stemmed from the abortion experience where I had been immobilized with a general anesthesia and couldn't act to save my baby or myself. A new story begins where my husband and sons were introduced to their angel in heaven and we all became closer. Life goes on and that is why we are here - to affirm life.

In my healing process, I encountered and was assisted by Project Rachel. Project Rachel is a post-abortion reconciliation service sponsored by our Roman Catholic Diocese to assist ANYONE suffering from paid, guilt, or anxiety due to an abortion experience. People get in touch with Project Rachel counselors by contacting the Catholic Charities office. The program may involve moving a client through the four phases of reconciliation and sharing one's story with the counselor. We encourage spiritual healing in one's own faith tradition. The service is confidential and no fee is charged.

 I find, in listening to clients, a consistent and persistent strain of struggle and pain. Men cry out in frustration and anger over not being able to prevent the deaths of their children. Grandparents mourn the deaths of their grandchildren and regret their acquiescent roles in their daughters' abortions. Then there are the mothers themselves who cry and cry. They are torn by so many confusing feelings, and they confuse their feelings, mostly mixing up grief and guilt. They don't feel worthy to grieve and are desperately seeking permission to as for forgiveness. They speak of their abortions as dehumanizing, as bad dreams that don't go away, as murder, as devoid of choice. They say they had no choice. They say if it weren't legal they wouldn't have done it. They say they feel like hypocrites with no right to speak out against what they did themselves. They say they don't feel they deserve to have anymore children or to be loved or to have anything good.

I find, in listening to healed abortion victims, including myself, a fresh new sense of feeling whole again. I find positive self concepts and senses of personal goodness, peace and joy. I see women who started to shape up their outsides to match up with their new insides - new clothes, diets, exercise programs, and better eating and sleeping habits. I see them and myself asserting ourselves as truly liberated women - liberated from guild and sin and negative thinking. And we speak out, as our freedom of speech guarantees us a right to; we speak out on behalf of our dead children, to anyone who cares to listen with their hearts, to say abortion is wrong. It killed our babies. It did us serious damage and it hurt our families. We know this better than anyone because we lived it. This is the truth, the testimony of real people and real lives. Thank you.

Priests for Life
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