Safety, Not Secrets

Do you have secrets? Most of us do. We keep secrets for a variety of reasons. We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. We don’t want to open ourselves up to criticism or judgment. Sometimes we don’t want to acknowledge the shadow part of ourselves. For me, the secret I kept of my abortion falls into those last two categories.

Our world is full of judgment of others. We judge the way people dress, their mannerisms, the jobs they have, their friends and family dynamics.  Many of us were raised in personally limiting environments, taught to believe the only way to have it all is to be the best in a world of scarcity. In that paradigm, nobody wins. With that message, we lean towards judgment as a way of feeling better about ourselves.

I read about caring for children who have suffered from trauma. One of the best things adults can do for these children is give them a safe place, a place where they know they are protected. Without that safe place, they will stay afraid and be unable to heal.

How that resonated with me! I stayed in fear - lived in fear - for over ten years, unable to find support to help me heal from my choice of abortion when I was 29 years old. How many of us could have benefitted from having a safe place to heal from abortion?

It's confusing really - there are judgments from all sides, from people who are "pro-life" and people who are "pro-choice". Whether it is because of judgmental attitudes or actual violence, there are few safe places for a woman who needs to release her feelings, whatever they may be. 

It happened to me many years ago, in my gynecologist's office. I decided to talk to her about my abortion. She was pro-choice and made it very clear to me that she thought I had made a perfectly legitimate choice and I should simply put it behind me and try to forget it. Why should I think any more about it? By the time I left her office, I felt like an overly sensitive adolescent girl.  She must be right! I was determined to “just get over it” and not look back.

The problem was, in a world that seeks to preserve life at all costs and is more frightened by death that anything else, how could I “just get over it”?  

Over time, physical and emotional symptoms became chronic conditions. I built up quite a medical file over those years. Until I allowed my grief, shame and sadness out, I could not be a healthy and whole person. 

I have done years of work to come to a feeling of peace and freedom about my choice to have an abortion. But something that helped me the most is knowing that I am not alone. In sharing our stories, we not only give each other community, but we allow each other to be our authentic selves, and by doing that, we create a safe place.  

We are one in every three women you meet. Chances are good you know many of us already. We may be your girlfriends, your best friend, your mother or your daughter. Let's create a safe place for healing, where we can end the isolation and open the door to peace and freedom.

"It is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” St. Francis of Assisi.





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