In the Blink of an Eye

Seventeen years ago, I held my three week old baby daughter in my arms, totally and completely in love with her. Born at the end of January, I was still deep in the honeymoon phase through the month of February. I could never have imagined anyone so tiny could take my breath away the way this seven and a half pound little girl did. With her silky smooth head, sparkling blue eyes and loving spirit, I was forever smitten. 

Today, February 18, 2014, those seventeen years feel like they’ve passed in the blink of an eye as I kiss her good-bye at the airport. That beautiful head lying on my shoulder this morning as we drove to catch her flight is no longer baby soft and balding, but is now thick and full of dark shoulder length wavy hair. Her once blue eyes turned a deep brown shortly after her first birthday and now water gently with my own as we embrace at the security gate. Her loving spirit, now stronger and more confident with the passage of time, continues to captivate me. 

She is off on her first big adventure today, traveling overseas to live and go to school on a kibbutz in Israel for two and a half months. Her Israeli “brother”, Gilad, is well-known to her, having lived with us for three months this past fall. Her Israeli mom and dad feel almost familiar to us after our regular Skyping sessions these past six months.

When her host family and I spoke shortly after their son arrived to stay with us last fall, they told me they believed Gilad’s soul chose our family, in the same way an unborn soul chooses their birth parents and siblings. And as his soul chose us, we acknowledged my daughter’s soul also chose them. It was an affirming thought for me, and as I sent my own daughter off to their open arms now, I imagine it was a comforting thought for them as well. 

I am learning that the village helping me raise my children is not just a local, but a global and spiritual one as well. I sent her host family a brief text message this morning to let them know she was on board her plane. Immediately her host mom called me, asking me how we both were, knowing firsthand both the excitement and sadness I was feeling having stood in my shoes only six months earlier as she said goodbye to her son. What a relief it was to talk to her, my daughter’s other mother, halfway across the world, and know how they were eagerly waiting for her arrival – all of her, body and soul! 

As she boarded her plane and I sat outside of security waiting until she was safely in the air, it occurred to me how there is so much more going on between us than we could ever imagine. I thought about my first pregnancy and my first daughter, Mary, as I left the airport. I thought about how Mary released me, her soul allowing mine to choose what was best for me, knowing that in the end, things would all work out. I imagine she knew that I needed more time to be ready to have a child. And I imagine she knew that this day would someday arrive, this moment where I now release my first born daughter into the world and in some strange way, it would all make sense.

In the ebb and flow of the circle of life and the bitter sweetness that comes with change, everything feels exactly as it should be. My life – abortion, miscarriage, divorce – it all makes sense to me in this one moment. Everything before has brought me here, to this place of feeling one with the Universe. Right now, in this space, with a tearful good-bye to a confident young woman still ringing in my ears, it all remains quiet and perfect within my soul. 


That Dreaded "A" Word!

At a recent meeting of spiritually minded professionals, a young business owner asked me what I do for a living. I used to tread slowly, explaining my previous job as a small business owner in the real estate industry. This time, I decided to cut out my back-story and just say it.

“I help women who have had abortions and feel alone or ashamed to feel supported and excited to get out of bed in the morning,” I declared.

I could see this business owner’s eyes pop as she took in my words. “Wow,” she said. “That word really triggers me. I’ve had two abortions and have no regrets. I'm fine with it. But, I'm having a hard time dealing with that word . . .” Her voice trailed off.

Ah, that word! The “A” word. 

This word sparked controversy on a national level this week as well. In its thirty year history, there has never been a TED talk on abortion. If we can't talk about it publicly or privately, how will we ever come to terms with that word?

I am awed by women who are so sure of themselves and their own self-worth that they can make this choice and go on to talk about it. A stunning example to me is New York Times best-selling author Cheryl Strayed. In her poignant and riveting memoir, Wild, Cheryl reveals her personal abortion story. Her disclosure is short and sweet with no further mention of it or of any consequences. Aspects of the book that make it such a compelling read is her deep insight and transparency about this subject and her life. Maybe she has more baggage from her abortion than she lets on, but having seen her speak in person, I believe she authentically shares her biggest struggles in her book and that those struggles are resolved.

Based on my experience, Cheryl Strayed’s togetherness is unusual. I have found that most women were raised with a code of values that fostered judgment and shame, as I was, as they struggled in dealing with their choice. Despite all of their self-talk, daily they muster up the courage to remind themselves they did what they had to do and they try to be at peace with their decision.

It is for these women that I write this blog. Insomnia and deep feelings of loneliness or numbness may go on for months or years. These women cannot find it in themselves to talk to their partners, closest friends, or family. They feel unsafe or fearful and are biding their time until the day they miraculously no longer feel guilty. For some of these women, anti-depressants may be the preferred method of coping.

These are my people. I relate to them because of the "A" word that people do not want to talk about, either face to face or in public venues.  It is that "A" word that connects us. Without it, the clarity gained by mutual understanding and experience, does not exist.
“Abortion” is the clearest and most descriptive word there is for our experience. Webster's has no other synonyms for it. My sweet and beautiful grandmother couldn't use the word ten years ago when she shared her experience with me. Isn't it time we got real with each other?

For those who feel secure and safe in their choice, I hold no judgment. I applaud them and hope that together we can make a difference, create a caring community, and offer some hope to those who have not yet made peace  with their decision.

 Abortion defines the experience that we had, but it does not define who we are.  We are one-third of American women under the age of 45. As we become more comfortable with this word, we not only heal ourselves, but we can heal the world.


You Are Perfect

Ernest Holmes, New Thought leader and visionary, and the rock star, Pink, have something significant in common. Can you imagine? Both of them have an important message for those of us who might feel less than perfect - especially because of having had an abortion.

If you listen to pop radio or have teenagers, you have probably heard Pink’s hit single, “Pretty, Pretty Please.” It is a poignant song that flawlessly captures the struggles so many of us have in growing up and learning to be the person we were meant to be.

As I listen to her words and watch this video, I realize how seemingly insignificant events can impact who we are and how we react to our world. For the girl in the video, it wasn’t just about her teddy bear, it was a steady pattern in her life of being misjudged, misunderstood, and mistreated by those around her, people who did not see who she really was.((How Childhood Experiences Can Cause Us To Be Fearful). By the end of the story, now a young woman, the girl finds herself home, at peace in the perfection of her own being. She knows that she is perfect and she is ready to model that knowledge for her daughter.

Ernest Holmes teaches about this kind of perfection, a reflecion of the Divinity within each of us. Many of us believe in a power greater than ourselves, whether we call it God, Spirit, Universe, Divine Intelligence, or Creator. In The Science of Mind: A Philosophy, A Faith, A Way of Life, Ernest Holmes writes that “Healing is not creating a perfect idea or a perfect body; it is revealing an idea which is already perfect.”

Wow. Healing reveals to us the perfection that we already are.

I believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience. If that is true and we are made from a source that is God/Spirit/Universe, wouldn’t we have that perfection inside of us?

As a woman struggling with feelings of imperfection – manifesting in the form of guilt and shame – this idea was revelatory. Growing up Catholic, I was taught that I was born a sinner, and there was nothing perfect about me. But once I began to shift my perception and consider a different possibility, that perhaps I was not born with sin, but with a spark of my Creator, I found lasting healing. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, who discovered her way home inside herself, I discovered my way home, to the Divinity within my own being.

Today, as I listen to this song by Pink, I feel the transformation of my own soul from one born with original sin to one that is free and at peace knowing that I am whole, complete, and perfect as I am. I don’t know Pink’s spiritual philosophy, but based on the passion and truth of this song, she intuitively knows exactly who she is and who we all are. We are nothing less than perfect.


Surviving the Titanic

Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? Did you dream of being an actor or an astronaut? A doctor or a nurse? An artist or a musician? Maybe you wanted to be a National Geographic photographer or a fashion designer.

When I was a little girl, I had a few good ideas about what I wanted to be when I grew up. One Halloween, I dressed up as a bride. I laugh to think about it now, but my guess is it had more to do with a longing to be beautiful and desirable than it had to do with being married. When I was older, I wanted to be a marine biologist and learn everything about dolphins and other sea creatures. In college, I wanted to be a writer. I graduated and became sidetracked with being an accountant and a business owner, and at last I am fulfilling that dream.

Growing up, I had a lot of ideas about what I would be in my life, but one thought I never had was that I would be a woman who had an abortion. Why in the world would I dream of that for myself?

There is a popular misconception that women who choose not to carry a pregnancy to term want to terminate it and are anti-life. I have yet to meet a woman who chose to have an abortion who did not value life.

I speak for myself and for many other women when I say that abortion is a painful and traumatic experience. And yet, when we make the choice to do it, we are expected to “suck it up” or pretend it never happened.

I’m reminded of euthanizing my dogs when their suffering became too much for them and they had no hope of escaping a painful death. I once had a sweet dog named Samantha who suffered cancer that gradually eroded her entire body. There was nothing I could do to stop the disease, though I tried, with chemotherapy. Her companion, Allie, outlived her by two years, but eventually succumbed to old age and illness as well. I chose to put my beloved pets to sleep instead of watching them suffer. Does that mean I don’t honor life? That I don’t know life is sacred? It couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The choice I made to end my pets’ lives was not an easy one, and neither was the process of saying goodbye. But it was by far the most loving choice I could make and one thousands of pet owners make every day. It was out of my deep love and respect for them that I made the choice to end their suffering, and it was that same love and respect that let me lie with my arms wrapped around them as they passed over.

Sometimes there are no perfect alternatives. The captain of the Titanic had to choose who got in the life boats as his ship sank. It was what he could do. I am sure he didn't imagine captaining a sinking ship anymore than a woman dreams of facing an unplanned pregnancy (Abortion can be the consequence of Other things ). Choosing abortion for an unwanted pregnancy can sometimes be the most loving choice a woman can make. Sometimes all we can do is try to find our own best answer in a quagmire of unpalatable solutions.

Abortion happens. It’s not something we plan for, dream about, or desire. It’s an unpleasant and difficult aspect of life. But it doesn’t make us “bad” people. It simply makes us human.