Trigger Happy

Two weeks ago I traveled to San Francisco to participate in the  Walk for Life West Coast.  Being part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign meant I’d be making lots of new friends and together we’d be sharing our stories with 50,000 people.   Hopefully I’d  sell enough copies of LOVE WILL to cover expenses, and perhaps, just perhaps – I’d find some gluten free sourdough bread.

A few weeks before the event, news began coming out about the Woman’s March being held the same day along the same route in San Francisco. When I first learned about the timing of both marches, I was excited because anywhere there are  women is a great place to share the message of Silent No More.

The morning of the marches I joined several of my fellow Silent No More peeps to have breakfast and plan our day. We decided that after the Walk for Life, we’d catch an uber ride to the starting point of the Women’s march and stand together on the side holding our “I regret my abortion” and “I regret lost fatherhood” signs. In case you’re wondering why we would insert ourselves into a setting where it was made very clear that we weren’t welcome… Here’s why:

 

Many times – I’ve held my  “I regret my abortion” sign in a public place while receiving a few thumbs up and a whole lot of another finger in the air.  It’s worth the harassment  because nearly always – there will be an email, phone call or some other form of contact that occurs later.

Someone considering abortion who has questions, someone who wants to know how to help a friend who just had one and seems dead inside,  or a mentally ill woman who needs to be sheltered from a government agency because she doesn’t want to get an abortion.

Hmmmm…… That last one sounds like a great plot for a book. One that is ALL fiction of course. (insert shameless photo of Love Will)

 

The March For Life was amazing. After serving in the Abortion Healing Ministry for 18 years, words cannot describe how it felt to join fifty thousand people behind this banner. We walked through several blocks of people taunting us, making angry gestures, and playing very loud altered  scripture.   Right next to me was a man who must have been in his early eighties using a walker to make the 1 1/2 mile journey. He said he does it every year.

After a short rest, we split into two groups and headed back to the city center.  The streets were extremely crowded so the Uber driver had to let us out a few blocks from our intended location. It was difficult to stay together as we wove through the crowds.  I had my rolling suitcase with a few remaining books inside, because of this I was the first one to get separated from the group.

I tried to get away from the most crowded part, but then became disoriented and traveled several blocks in the wrong direction. My phone battery died, it was now dark and raining heavily,  and I was breaking the  promise I’d made to  my husband to never be alone.  sorry hon.

I found refuge in a restaurant, charged my phone and was able to get a rough idea of the direction I needed to go to reunite with my group. Several times I ended up back in the march which seemed to be going in a circle around the center of the city rather than on the staked out route.

I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the two groups. Earlier I had been surrounded by the same number of people – but the air was full of love of life and compassion for those who had not chosen it.

Now I felt overwhelmed, grateful that I didn’t have my sign with me, and frightened of the mob mentality that seemed fueled by anger. There was this sense in the air that at any moment – chaos and violence were going to erupt.

Ironically I spent more time in this event than I did in the one I’d come for.

The two groups were never able to connect, my group got scattered and only two ended up standing with their signs. My concern for safety was not unfounded as told by Irene.

…we were accidentally trapped in the middle of the protest … at one point we had to try and hide the “I Regret My Abortion” signs because we feared for our safety. Two women were physical with us, we were cussed at and told nasty things (ex. Thank you for aborting your child). We smiled gently and just said “I Love You, so please Love Me Back”.   So many were consumed with hate and had zero tolerance for us.

 

I attended two very different marches in one day. My original intent was to post as the day unfolded, but to be honest with you, it’s best that I took this time to retreat, do some processing,  and work things out in my impossible to shut off mind. This is what I came up with.

 It’s my opinion that what we saw at the women’s marches 

were a blatant demonstration of disenfranchised grief and repressed anger.

 

from the book Forbidden Grief – the unspoken pain of abortion

                    When a person experiences a secret sorrow that cannot be shared or confronted, this is called “disenfranchised.” The term disenfranchised means to be denied the freedom or license to do something. In this case, it means being denied permission to openly display one’s grief.

 

I  believe it’s impossible to separate the well being of a female from that of  her offspring. If one chooses – or is forced – to end the life of their offspring – a part of her is either damaged or has to be turned off in order to survive.

Often times this changes how we view motherhood and our own femininity,  how we bond with future children, and how we view men.

The first stage of the grieving process is denial.

We can spend months, years, or a whole lifetime unable to face our grief . The short term solution is to bury the emotions and convince ourselves that they don’t exist.

“Buried emotions are like rejected people; they make us pay a high price for having rejected them.”

                                                                         –Rev. John Powell

The price I paid was 17 years of nightmares, flashbacks, eating issues, anxiety attacks, inability to bond with my children, inability to trust my future husband or my parenting decisions. I knew I had problems but everything I heard about abortion was that it was empowering, so I couldn’t make the connection. I’m not the only one.

When a a more socially acceptable loss is experienced, and one is able to grieve, it can become like a small leak that turns into an eventual breaking of a dam as the repressed emotions are released.

The second stage of the grieving process is anger.

In the case of the woman who got kicked off her plane following a political dispute shown in this video, she even states that they have just been to her Mother in Laws funeral.

The man she was seated next to, did not join with her in disparaging the results of the election. I think she projected her feelings toward T – or all men in general, onto him.

(disclaimer.  This is simply my opinion. I am in no way claiming she had an abortion, I’m just stating  she was displaying what appears to be the release of  repressed grief)

I believe a large group of women are suffering from disenfranchised post abortion grief and are releasing repressed anger.  T is a likely trigger as his public persona  represents  many of the reasons women find themselves in the perceived trap of an unplanned pregnancy.

That’s whats been on my mind lately. What’s on yours?  I welcome civil replies even if they are in disagreement with my opinion.

oh and btw…. I made a gallant effort but had no luck with finding gluten free sourdough bread. And I can’t stop thinking about it. So I will trade a free copy of LOVE WILL for a loaf. first promise gets it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Thank you sooo much for sharing this, Cindy. You did a beautiful job explaining what is actually behind all the anger and discontent and lack of tolerance for those who stand for life – even toward those who have broken through all these emotions and reactions by allowing themselves to grieve. It’s a matter of pride to stand by one’s choice and hold on to it for dear life because to admit the harm in the choice requires humility. Disenfranchised grief is an excellent term to describe the destruction caused by abortion in so many areas of a person’s life. It has to erupt sometime somewhere, and it’s always ugly. And it will keep erupting as long as pride forbids admitting the source of the pain.

    I don’t think it was an accident that you were separated from your friends, that you all encountered the taunts and the abuse of the massive crowds, that you witnessed the rage spewing from a thousand broken hearts calloused by the lies of pride. God directed your paths that day just as he always does. But he wanted to show you the radical difference that God’s love and grace makes in a humble and contrite heart when someone finally lays their grief at his feet. The prideful rage of those trapped in denial and disenfranchised grief seems overpowering in the midst of our meek confession that our choice to abort really, really hurts and has made a mess of our lives. But that’s the seeming upside-down way the kingdom of God brings light in the darkness. Because you and your friends were shining enough to be noticed, far too shiney for the demons rushing through the darkness of women’s broken hearts to try and shut you down. But I can guarantee you that the anger spewed at you came from the deepest longing, still soft in the center of calloused hearts, because those hearts so desire the peace and love you represent. Now you know first hand, and because you shared it we all know, that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and most especially against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. You stood your ground in the day of evil, even in the midst of your own fear, after everything you endured, you still stood firm, armored in truth, righteousness, readiness to bring peace, shielded by your faith, extinguishing the flaming arrows of the evil one, secure in your salvation, wielding the living and active Word of God as your only weapon. And it is the role of the Word to penetrate the darkness. You and your friends were true warriors that day. Few are so courageous! God divided you up to stand firm in multiple places, to shine in more dark spaces than had you remained in the safety of each other’s company. But I do think God led this way to get you and your friends to look at the situation from a more kingdom-like perspective.

    Could there be a message for a sign better than, “I regret my abortion”? This is not meant as criticism, just as perspective. That message, though a humble confession, can feel antagonizing to one in denial of their disenfranchised grief. Could it possibly feel abrasive without any love attached? Could it be argued with too easily? Does it come across as accusatory to those who can’t admit it yet? Does it relay hope to those who see it? While a million women admitting they regret their abortion would make a serious impression on, and be a clear warning to, young people to not choose abortion, I don’t think it brings the hope we want to convey to those who are entrapped in disenfranchised grief. I know it’s intent is not to be abrasive, but it can be perceived that way to those who can’t yet admit abortion hurt them. It can perpetuate the division between us and them. “Abortion hurts, but Jesus heals.” “Abortion hurts, but God forgives.” “There is hope through God’s grace.” “God cares about our pain.” Just some ideas. But something clearer to draw a searching soul. When you are angry about something, what disarms your anger? Someone who points out the fact that they’re different than you, perhaps insinuating they are better than you in some way? Or someone who says they understand what you might be going through because they’ve been through it too?

    Could we find better ways to convey hope through grace? It’s hard to argue with those concepts because everyone desperately hungers for both of them. It’s part of the human DNA to hope. Even the hardest hearts can be softened when grace is extended repeatedly, when a glimmer of non-disappointing hope is gently shown. When someone feels we are present with them where THEY are at. We extend that in our personal encounters. How can we extend it publicly? How can we disarm the brazen anger to humbly show that we have the answers, the hope so desperately sought? Jesus left the glory of Heaven to come and live among us, the broken, the despicable, the captives, the prisoners. We never would have known God’s grace if Jesus hadn’t become one of us. In the contrast of the marches you described, it was “them vs us” or “us vs them.” I mean, that’s the way it appears to them. But we ARE them. Except we’ve got hope and they don’t. That’s the ONLY difference. Because without Christ’s love and grace WE are the broken, dispicable, raging lunatics, just as we perceive “them” to be. How do we let them know that we are them and invite them into our hope?

    My work is to address this issue within the church itself because the church provides abortion clinics with more customers than the world does. So I’m not involved in the political side of things much, mainly because I can empathize with how often we, who are prolife, make them, who are pro choice, feel. However, “I regret my abortion”is a great improvement over “Abortion is murder”, especially when the majority of those holding the signs represent the “Christian” community who has more abortions than the “non Christian” community. (Look up the surveys done by Lifeway research in 2015 and Guttmacher in 2016) In personal conversations or someone just overhearing my conversation in a restaurant, when I have spoken a compassionate message of hope through grace, because abortion is traumatic and many people need healing, even the most liberal, staunchly pro-choice people have responded almost in awe that anyone would talk that way. It removes the political distinction between pro choice and pro life. I give them nothing to argue about. I don’t insist that everyone is sad about their abortions. (Because what initially goes along with denial most of the time is relief.) Most defenses crumble because they realize I care about the welfare of women. They get no condemnation about the dead babies in any way, shape, or form. Politics are moved out of the way, and we can get right to the heart issues. It’s always a little frightening when a liberal friend asks, “So, where are you working now, Joni?” I’m afraid I’m about to ruin their day. Or ruin mine! But it’s amazing when I share what I’m doing how many people spill their guts right then and there. It’s like they practically vomit out their own pain (or what they’ve witnessed in a friend’s life) because it was the first time they ever felt safe to do so. Like I said, you and I do this on a personal level successfully many times. But I keep coming back to the question of how we can get our compassionate message out publicly. If we are going to continue to join the public throngs, would we not be wise to analyze this a bit more comprehensively and pray for better direction? Rather than risking coming across like a noisy gong because people don’t see love in our signs and, frankly, the prolife movement doesn’t have the best reputation in this arena (though some groups, like Silent No More have made great improvements!), might we consider a different approach? Instead of so many perceiving us as the enemy, let’s figure out how to show them we ARE THEM. Only with hope to share when they are ready.

    Thanks again for an excellent, educational blog, your transparency, and for shining Light in the darkness!

    • Joni,
      Thank you so much for your comment. Is it perhaps longer than my blog post itself? You bring up an interesting point and it has my mind churning with ideas. The nice thing about my sign stating “I regret my abortion” is that though many have tried, it can not be argued with. Before I knew (or perhaps I should say felt) God’s grace, love, and mercy – When I saw anything referring to God – I had an immediate knee jerk reaction in my heart. I understand now that I was simply reinforcing the lie that it was “too late for me”. See I knew ABOUT God, but due to my choice of abortion, believed that my invitation had a big red REVOKED stamped across it. Could be wrong, but I believe many post abortive women and men deep down feel the same way.That’s why it was so important for me to learn about the Character of God before I could place my burden at his feet. We both know that the church plays a HUGE role in helping people find healing. My message when speaking before churches and pro life groups always includes my position that the issue needs to be presented from a “need for healing” approach rather than condemnation. I guess the big challenge in the public arena is our need to get a really complex yet important message out in one sentence. Silent No More had a larger than usual number of new contacts following this January’s events, but I agree that there’s still room for improvement in the public arena. I love a challenge!

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