Magnet and Steel

In his 1978 hit, Walter Egan sang “With you I’m not shy/to show the way I feel/with you I might try, my secrets to reveal/for you are a magnet and I am steel.” Egan may have been singing about romantic love, but as I reflect on my experience with holding onto secrets, I realize the concept of magnet and steel — two materials that make a powerful force of connection when they meet — holds a much deeper truth.

For over a decade, I believed I was the only Catholic woman in the universe to have an abortion and hid behind a cloak of shame, never guessing that I actually have a lot of company (did I mention I had a flair for exaggeration?).

It started when I stepped out of the private little world I had kept for myself for eleven years by attending a Project Rachel retreat (Ten Year Anniversary Blog). Because of their admonition to keep my experience to myself, I held tightly to my secret back at home, even — and especially — with my closest friends.

I had (and continue to have) wonderful girlfriends. Like me, many of them were practicing Catholics at the time. I knew them from grade school, college, work, my children’s schools, and church. Once I became a parent, I didn’t see them as much as I had in earlier days; my children took top priority. As my marriage fell apart, I realized that the marriage counselor we were seeing was only trying to save the marriage. I needed my own therapist, one who would help me save me. I went out and found one.

It was with this therapist’s advice that I began to share with my best girlfriends the biggest secret of my marriage. Despite the closeness and intimacy we had as we held each other through the births of children, the deaths of several pets, and the ups and downs of marriage, I had never shared with them the truth: My first pregnancy had ended with abortion.

The first friend I shared my secret with had worked for my husband for many years, even commuted with him to work for two hours every day. Logic would dictate that she be one of the last people I have this conversation with, not the first, yet my intuition said she was the one.

With great anxiety and fear, I told her the truth of my marriage, all of it, the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. To my utter shock, when I was finished, she told me she wasn’t surprised. She cried as I cried, and told me she loved me.

My friend’s understanding and sensitivity made sharing my story with my other friends a little less difficult. As I began to open my heart, to expose the real me to my circle of friends, I discovered I had attracted women who were just like me. The statistics are that one in every three women by the age of forty-five has had an abortion. For my circle, it was twice the national average. Talk about a magnet and steel!

I am forever grateful to the therapist who gave me the homework assignment to reveal my secrets. We are not alone in more ways than we realize. Taking that one step began a journey of transformation from shame and despair into freedom and peace. 

Perhaps you can find that one person and “show the way you feel, your secrets to reveal.” On the other side of the door where your secret lies trapped is a lighter and brighter you. 

And check out the song I’ve dated myself with here (Walter Egan with Stevie Nicks) The idea of two metals attracting may be a message you’ll always remember and give you the fortitude you need to take that first step towards freedom.


Hey Soul Sister


How many of us know this song, Hey Soul Sister, by Train? Maybe even by heart, like I do?  I listened to it so many times in the past three years that I drove my kids crazy. I could listen to it today just as much as last year or the year before. Why is the song so catchy?

According to a 2009 Harris Poll, 71 percent of Americans believe we have a soul. For Catholic and Protestant Americans, that number is even higher, 85 percent. And yet, our soul is not something we talk about in everyday conversation. 

And along comes this song . . . it is a pop hit, that’s for sure, but I am drawn to it for more reasons than its upbeat tempo and captivating melody. I love it because it connects me to the idea that I am more than this body. 

Maybe there are people out there just like me and we belong together on a whole different level – on a deep level of connection that makes no sense, yet is undeniable all the same. On a soul level. 

Soul connections may be related by blood, but many of them are not. My co-authors in Pebbles in the Pond Wave 2 are soul connections for me. We were pulled together by a connection that did not come from this physical world. We are from the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and Norway, and yet we are connected as if we lived in the same family all our lives.  

Another soul connection for me is a woman I met through a recent mail solicitation. Can you imagine? Most people would have thrown away the mailing, thinking with the left, logical side of their brains: this was junk mail. But something more intuitive was calling me to respond to the mailing. Despite never having met the woman who sent the mailing, I feel as though we have known each other our whole lives. How beautiful is that?!

And then there is my unborn child. One of the most important soul connections of my life is the one I have with my unborn baby girl, Mary. I don’t know how this works, but I do know that I feel her presence around me and I know that my work right now is because of her presence in my life (See blog I Love You More). She is a soul sister who has been willing to go the distance with me, from abortion to lessons of self-worth and self-love, to finding my life’s purpose and work. 

Our society makes so many judgments about the experience of abortion that keep us from knowing the truth of our life. Is it possible for us to step back and ask this question: What if our child knew we were going to do this and agreed to participate in this life lesson with us? What if our baby knew exactly what he or she was getting into? What if this experience has a component of love that surpasses our worldly grasp? 

Lorna Byrne, a mother, writer and angel expert, wrote about it in her book Angels in My Hair . Byrne writes that with abortion the “baby’s soul loves you and never for one moment holds it against you that you did not give birth to it. It already knew what would happen, and still it will pour its love onto you.” 

Many of us believe in the existence of a soul. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to assert that we are connected to others on this level. And when we do make that soul connection we can have a whole new way of looking at our abortion experience . . .and maybe there will be a shift and a healing that can bless us for the rest of our lives. 



Starting a Domino Effect

As difficult a decision as it was to have an abortion when I was 29 years old, an even harder decision was to choose to divorce. Because of my deep Catholic roots and truly believing that, like everyone else in my family, I would stay married “until death do us part,” I never imagined myself in a position to make that choice.

It is just over four years since my divorce has been complete, and I only recently realized a key reason I was in denial about needing a divorce for many years. My husband was the father of the baby that I aborted. Although the abortion was something we were not able to talk about, divorcing meant that I would lose my connection to only other person involved in that hard choice. 

My ex-husband and I did not talk about the abortion after the conversation we had in the hospital the day I found out I was pregnant. ( ). We did not talk about it the day we drove to the clinic, and we didn’t talk about it when we left. It wasn’t until we decided the time was right to start a family four years later that the subject came up, and then, only briefly. 

It wasn’t easy to get pregnant when I finally did choose to! We had a difficult time conceiving – imagine that after getting pregnant while using birth control! I wondered if the abortion had anything to do with our difficulty. After a quick conversation and a bit of research, we determined that was not possible. A few months later I became pregnant and so began another period of suppression. 

Despite our lack of emotional connection on the subject of the abortion, because of our bond in other ways as husband and wife, cutting those cords through divorce brought a finality and deeper feelings of isolation about that experience. 

It was only in watching a friend go through a similar process last year that I was finally able to see for myself how this was true for me. Sharing our stories in safe spaces with those we trust and love helps us to see the resonance of experience for ourselves. It can be hard to see beyond the branches of the trees in our own world, but as we look at the trees and even the forest of the world of those we connect with, our scope of vision expands. As I looked at the forest of my own beautiful friend’s sadness, I saw for the first time a large part of my own.

Healing from abortion truly is like peeling the layers of an onion. There are so many layers of experience to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. As we work through the healing process, and especially when we do the work together, we bring healing not only to ourselves, but to the lives of those we open up to.

Thank you, my friend, for helping me to heal a little bit deeper. Your openness allowed me to further deepen my own healing and understand myself in a more significant way. May we start a domino effect for the millions of others who need to hear our stories.


It's Not Your Fault

We have a situation in my family. It’s not an entirely new situation, but the way it’s manifesting recently pushed me to the edge.

My youngest son is nine years old. And he is missing antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which tells the brain it needs to slow down urine production at night. The medical term is enuresis. And it creates a lot of laundry!
Raising the bar on the laundry situation, a recent house guest necessitated him sharing my bed for three and a half months. One recent night he went to the bathroom at 9:30 p.m., was up again for the bathroom at 11:30 p.m., had a bad dream and was up at 2:30 a.m. (so why not make another trip to the bathroom?).
Despite all of these trips to the bathroom, my bed was drenched in the morning. My comforter, my sheets, my mattress pad, right to the water-resistant zipped mattress cover. Really?

With all the laundry and the frustration of years of this situation mounting, I called the doctor. I had heard it all before – it’s a genetic condition (beware to future misses reading this!) - that is not known to last beyond age ten or so. But with sleep deprivation combined with laundry overload, a trip to the doctor seemed worth another try. Maybe there were new treatments in the last year that could help?

In many ways, it seemed like a waste of a visit to the doctor’s. I heard nothing new about the condition or the different options for dealing with it, but my little guy heard something HE had never heard before. More than once, the doctor said, “It’s not your fault.”

How had I missed that? I should have told him that myself. I had explained it was a genetic condition, but I never said, “It’s not your fault.” Steeped in my frustration, I suspect I was unable to see past the end of my own irritation to actually say those words.

But to hear those words — “It’s not your fault” — was like a revelation from the most high! The message that he had done nothing wrong delivered in very clear and direct language was the most important news anyone could have given him. And I saw the effect very quickly. Later that evening when his siblings asked about the doctor visit, my son proclaimed loudly, “It’s not my fault,” with a big smile on his face. Ahhhhh, sweet relief!

The next morning, he called to me. “Hey Mom, guess what I just did?” Still hoping for that magical dry morning, I crossed my fingers. “What did you do, honey?” I called back. His proud reply? “I took the sheets off the bed by myself!”

It occurred to me later that day that I had not wasted our time by going back to the doctor. What the doctor gave my son that day was something far more important than a dry night. He gave him his pride and freedom from shame.

And what an important lesson for us all! Our experiences, both personal and worldly, inform our conscience about the choices we make. Maybe we were abused or neglected as children, maybe our normal was not really normal at all, but rather what we came to expect as normal. ( )

As a woman who chose abortion, I have cycled through my own healing process and I understand better why I made that choice. I can take responsibility for my choice and understand it, but I also know that choosing an abortion when it wasn’t practical for me to bring a new life into the world wasn’t "my fault" either.

There is freedom in those words — “it wasn’t my fault” — a freedom that transforms the past with an awareness that brings acceptance and forgiveness to the present. I feel the same freedom as my sweet little boy who now willingly changes his bed-sheets in the morning.

The lesson of abortion is global. As we open our hearts to our pasts, may we not only find a sense of freedom, but also the compassion the world needs to change the underlying conditions that inform our hard choices. When we learn our own lessons, we can bring a new level of healing to the world.