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Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion
 

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Hole in my Heart
Tamra
Florida, United States

I was born and raised in a town in Arkansas and was blessed to have had two great Christian parents and six siblings.  My Father was even a Deacon in our protestant church.  We owned our own trucking company and were very well respected in our community. 

I was an athlete, heavily into softball, track, and volleyball and had been for most of my life starting at age five. 

My parents had high hopes that I would attend the University of Arkansas on a track scholarship.

This all sounds like a really good plan; however, it all changed in the matter of minutes, due to one bad decision.

I was a popular kid in high school but not the girl that all the boys wanted to date. I was the girl that was their best friend, the one they would ask to get some other girls phone number.  But one day I met the quarterback of another high school, and he asked my phone number (we actually talked for hours on the phone back then, I suppose you text now).  Somehow we ended up meeting at his home.  Once I got there, all he wanted to do was have sex.  I had not had sex before this and was terrified and felt very uncomfortable, but once you get yourself into a situation like this, things happen, and they did with me that night.  I felt so horrible, knowing that I had done something that I knew was wrong.  I had been raised properly.  I knew you did not do that until you were married but I was weak.  After that night, he never called me again, and I was proud, so I did not call him either.  He just used me, and it was over.  I tried to just forget about it and move on, but then I realized it had been a really long time since my period, and I started to panic.  I called my big sister, and she took me to get a pregnancy test.  It was positive.  

My sister and I sat down with my parents and told them.  They were in such shock and were so upset; I think we all cried for at least an hour.  My mother hugged me and told me to go to bed and get some rest, and we would talk more tomorrow.  I didn’t sleep much that night.

The following morning my mom said that it would be best to get an abortion, and she would call our family doctor, who ironically delivered almost all of us and make an appointment.  Abortion was legal now so it was very easy to do.  I did not go to a Planned Parenthood or clinic for abortion; I went right to the town’s hospital and had it done on a Friday morning.  It was not discussed again until I was in my later 30’s. 
This doesn’t just happen to people who have bad parents, who never went to church, or who are on their own.  It can happen to anyone, and it will affect the rest of your life and so many others.

After the abortion, I told my best friend in school.  She then told another good friend of ours.  She did not do this to be hateful or spread rumors.  We all just think that our best friend will keep it a secret, and she thought her other friend would too, but this not human nature.  Soon my classmates were whispering in the halls about what kind of person I was.  Even my closest friends found excuses not to be in my life. I was so ashamed I wanted to run away.   I fell into a deep depression and soon dropped out of every sport I was in and got a job.  I could not wait for high school to be over, so I could just get away.  

When I turned 18, that very week, I had already moved out of my family home so I could be on my own.  I began drinking, going to nightclubs, and becoming very promiscuous.  It got so bad that one morning I woke up in an abandoned house, having no idea how I had gotten there. I knew something bad had happened due to the shape I was in.  I just wanted to forget it and move on.  I had caused it myself, I was sure.

My parents and older sister had not heard from me in days after that night.  They kept calling and got no answer.  They finally decided to come to my house and see if I was ok.  The door was unlocked and, when they walked into my bedroom, they found me unconscious on the bed with my wrists slit.  They had stopped the bleeding, and they decided to take me home to heal on my own, for fear that they would put me in a mental institution if I went to the emergency room.  

Over time I healed, and my parents decided I needed to see a psychiatrist.  Soon I was on quite a few medications for depression but nothing helped.  I got a job and struggled to get up each day and just carry on.  I felt the need to get away from everything and start new.  I had no money and no way of doing that, so I joined the Air Force.  One day, I went to the recruiting center and signed forms to join.  

After joining and getting through basic training, I went to technical school. When I went to school my T.I. told the whole group that some of us would leave there married, because some of us “weak and broken ones” will be afraid and cling on to someone, but we won’t stay married.  They begged me not to do it, but as always, I went down the wrong path and met someone and married him.  No, we did not stay married for more than six months.  I wanted to be married and start my life in the Air Force as a respectable married person, have a family and a good life.  But I was not mentally healthy and could not make good decisions.

Before that divorce was even final, I met husband #2 and got pregnant before we were married.  I have an amazing son who lives near Portland, Oregon, and we are very close to this day.  His dad and I, of course, did not work out either, because I was damaged, and he was unfaithful.

Still, I had this little picture of being married and living this great life, so I met #3 and again…got married, but he was abusive and an alcoholic.  

But wait…there’s more!    

I started going back to the Church of Christ, where my son and I lived in Oregon, determined that I was going to turn my life around and, low and behold, I met #4 in the singles group.  Yes, I married him, and he turned out to be a recovering cocaine addict and was not recovering well.  

Still, I go to church and try to be a better person and mom for my son.  I then meet my current husband, Ron, on the internet.  I no longer wanted to go to bars or join the church single groups, but I still did not want to be alone.  I still had hope that I could find someone who was good and whole.  I met Ron, a Catholic man, who really wasn’t very faithful.  He did attend Mass sometimes and, as I got to know him, I found him to be pretty amazing.  I joined RCIA and soon became Catholic.  

We did end up getting married after dating for three years outside the church, due to my annulment situation, but hoped that someday we could have our marriage blessed and be able to take the Eucharist in our Catholic parish.  

I was doing some things right, trying to get my life in order for myself and my son, but I was a broken person, and Ron could not fix me.  I was still depressed and would sometimes drink too much, and I felt Ron would not be able to stand it much longer.  He was so patient and kind but still.  

One night, when he was out of town on business and my son was away at his dad’s, I just started crying and could not stop.  I wasn’t even sure why I was crying, but I knew I needed help.  I was tired, so, so tired.  I decided to write an email to a priest I had met at a local bar and grill.  He actually had a band called Fr. John and The Holy Rollers, and they sang mostly classic rock.  I felt like he seemed so approachable…well, at least by email.  I then typed him my entire life story.

It took several days before he emailed me back.  I had truly begun to think that he probably thought I was crazy and hit the delete button.   But he sent a short email and just asked that I call his office and make an apt so we could talk face to face.  I was horrified.  How could I talk to this Man of God face to face after I had spilled out my whole crazy life story in an email?  I got up the courage and made the call, because I knew I needed help.  I put on my most conservative clothes and tried to portray what I wanted him to see.  

He was the kindest, dearest person I had met to date.  He asked me questions about my life and really wanted to know the answers.  He asked about my abortion and said that it looked to him like my problems started way back then, and maybe there was something to that.  I told him no, that has been the least of my problems.  He told me he had heard many women tell him stories very similar to mine, and many of them started with the abortion.  He handed me a brochure for a retreat called Rachel’s Vineyard and asked me to call a woman by the name of Lorie and get scheduled to go on the next retreat.

I took the brochure home but thought, “I have been to psychiatrists and they can’t help, why would a silly retreat would help.”  But I was desperate, so I called and scheduled to go.  The day of the retreat, I called Lorie and told her I wasn’t feeling well and had to cancel.  She asked me to promise that I would attend the next retreat in about three months.  I said I would, but I didn’t really mean it.

Like clockwork, Lori called me back and asked me if I was coming, and I said yes, even though I had not even thought about it and did not really plan to do.  I talked to my husband about it, and he said I was going, as he was dropping me off so I would not have a car to leave.

I went and the visiting priest that was there for the retreat was Fr. John!  I could not believe it.  Maybe this was fate, and God wanted me to come to this retreat so I would feel comfortable.

That weekend I cried a lot.  I met women and men who told of life stories so much worse than mine and some had gotten many abortions along the way.  Some had been raped and had dealt with the rape but could not heal from the abortion.  There were men there, men who paid for abortions or tried to stop it but couldn’t.  We cried a lot, but we also laughed.  I was able to name the child that I had discarded so many years ago.  For the first time in my life, I truly felt the unbelievable compassion and Mercy of Christ.  I was able to go to confession and knew that God had forgiven me.  I told Fr. John, “I know he forgives me, but I am not sure I can ever forgive myself.”  He told me that God had given me this gift of mercy and forgiveness, and he wants me to forgive myself, and he wants me to love myself as he loves me.  

I took that message to heart, and I my life dramatically changed after that weekend.
I no longer felt depressed and began to feel joy in the little things God had given me.
I wanted to help other women and men and became a team member for Rachel’s Vineyard retreats and worked with them for many years.

I took an active role in my parish and even helped on the liturgy committee.  I finally felt like I was worthy to be a child of God.

I became the Regional Coordinator for Silent No More and shared my story at the Walk for Life in San Francisco.

At every parish since, I have been an active member of the Respect Life Ministry and have prayed countless hours in front of Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics for the babies, women, men, and the clinic workers.

But, best of all, Ron and I have been married for 17 years now.  I received all four of my annulments.   We were able to have our Convalidation ceremony in Oregon by Fr. John in 2009. 

I began to understand how my abortion effected everyone I touched.  It is true that abortion kills one and wounds another, and when someone is walking around so broken, it spills over into every life they touch.  It affects all of society. 

I realized abortion not only took my child’s life; it also created this hole in my heart that will never fully heal.  It affected my mother in every way.  She had many bouts of depression and told me that she had also thought of ending her life many times.  While she lay dying in the hospital not many years ago, she begged me to forgive her. I told her that I knew she did it only out of love, and that there was nothing to forgive. 

The father of our aborted child wrote me a letter after many years to apologize.  It had also affected his life in many ways and has never been able to truly heal from it.

I now realize that abortion is not the answer; it is the problem, and we must not let another child, woman, or man suffer the way that I and many others have for so many years.

This is why I am “Silent No More”.

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