First, I would like to thank the SICLE moms who wrote me with positive comments about yesterday's blog. Here's my favorite:
"Great one....the cube stickers is an excellent illustration. I refuse to be a sticker picker. I thought I was the only one refusing to play the "healing" game, but you're the biggest ass-kicking, non-stickerpicker of all. We are in this together! "
Second, the fact that Emily blogged on the same subject at After abortion was total coincidence. Neither of us planned to double-team the PASS site; we simply showed up to the party wearing the same dress. Out of her genuine compassion for women she chose to remove yesterday's very insightful (and incite-ful) blog because some of the PASS moms had been hurt by it.
Third, the posts got people talking. While I stand by my perspective, my intent was not to hurt anyone. As the SICLE Cell description says, this is "my view". No one has to like it, but no one is allowed to take it away. That being said...
The brouhaha over this subject shows that people are thinking (which is what it's all about). I myself am newly interested in denial and the purpose it serves. It's a coping mechanism. It's there for a reason. It gets a negative rap, but can it ever be healthy? I wondered to a friend yesterday that perhaps some others NEED denial for awhile, because the reality of abortion can be too big to deal with all at once. Maybe for some, the benefits of denial may outweigh the risks of confrontation. In other words, if repressed grief can manifest as various dysfunction (alcohol abuse, promiscuity, etc.) that still may be better than a total self-confession that leads to suicide. It is documented that confronting abortion-related child loss literally kills some moms.
One woman who lost 7 children in abortions only admitted to three. For her anything over that number was too much. Finally, she confronted all seven and within a year successfully committed suicide. While abortion was primarily to blame, confronting what she had done didn't help her. For her it might have been better to deny as much of it as she could. It might not have made her a whole person, but it might have kept her alive and given her more time to deal with it incrementally. In certain doses at certain intervals, I concede that nonacceptance can serve a purpose.
Even I still catch myself practicing a sort of denial. Most of my waking day I try to convince myself that this isn't my life and that none of it happened. Of course I don't really believe it, but denial makes it easier to move normally throughout the day so that required tasks can be undertaken. However, I wouldn't suggest to another grieving mother that she didn't really abort her child. For me, denial is a novel pacifier- not the oxygen I breathe and not my personal crusade.
Although abortion kills a child and significantly raises maternal health risks, I don't demand that women feel bad about that. In the same way, no one should demand that they feel good. People should feel as they feel and be met right where they're at. People spend years and thousands of dollars in educational institutions learning how to offer healthy, appropriate therapy. Meanwhile virtual boards are full of self-appointed pseudo-shrinks whose only credentials are having "been there". But no one has ever really been in another's shoes, so the credential is flawed. And good support is not an easy gig.
Yesterday afternoon a cashier asked me, "How are you today?" I gave her my usual ignorable answer: "I'm getting along, and how are you?" She looked down at her feet and quietly replied, "I'm a loser." This unexpected answer threw me a little, and without thinking I followed my first instinct which was to say: "No you're not!" Of course she didn't believe me, and walking to my car I realized I hadn't met her where she was at. In three short words I demanded that she not disturb me with her "inappropriate" grief. I demanded that she feel better immediately. She was crying out and I shut her up. It's frustrating to realize that the response I used to try and help her in fact assured that she would find no help in me. I should have gone with her original assessment. I should have said, "If you feel like a loser, you must be very depressed." Then I could have given her my shrink's card or even my email address. If I had opted for the latter though, I would have had a responsibility to meet her where she was at, and that is a very difficult thing to do.
Meaningful support is hard to provide and even harder to come by. Instead of insisting that any ol' positive tape constitutes healthy support, we should really strive to honestly meet people where they are at. It may take more work, but that's the kind of sincere commitment a self-appointed helper should be willing to accept. There are no quick fixes, and that may be a difficult concept to convey to lay-supporters who feel positive about abortion.