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my view from the prison of a SICLE (Self-Imposed Child Loss Experience) due to debilitating maternal disease
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:: Thursday, May 05, 2005 ::

If I have it right, Emily asks if the focus of a woman, grieved by abortion, ought really to be on the disappointments of "post-abortion healing ministries" or on growing and (here comes that word again...) "healing" instead.

First, I think it's OK for women to comment about their positive and negative experiences and perceptions regarding "post-abortion healing ministries". Day in and day out we hear, almost exclusively, about the fabulousness and miraculousness of these "healing" programs. This doesn't mean that women with positive perceptions are focusing more on the "wonderful healing ministry" than they are on trying to personally cope with their SICLE. They're merely discussing personal experience and perception. In the same way, recounting the negative experiences/perceptions is part of the whole SICLE, not the primary focus.

I, for one, tell people thinking of aborting that it's forever, and that while there are programs centered on helping, sometimes they help and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they even hurt, like when women are told (and I hear this quite often, I'm afraid) that they are making themselves "bigger than Jesus" because they still agonize and can not personally forgive themselves.

It sucks to be told that you don't love Jesus because you're suffering the consequences of your choice to blatantly defy Him. And I don't think it's wrong to decry that suckiness. In fact, I think it's very good feedback for the "ministries" and the women involved.

You don't hear negative commentary re: "post-abortion healing" programs very often. I think it has less to do with the super-cali-fraga-listicness of the programs and more to do with the fact that women are hurting in silence so as not to be different, difficult and even more vulnerable. I have been personally attacked by "concerned, compassionate" parties who began in all civility. As long as my head is nodding I receive the alloted dose of "post-abortion compassion" (read: pity). But the moment I have my own, deviating opinion about something, I'm really just a heartless idiot who killed my kid and has nothing valid or psychologically sound to say. I have even been prevented from helping people who run programs because I was seen as not being where I "should" be in my "walk with Christ" or in my "healing journey".

"Healing programs..." Been there, done that, talkin' about it.

Instead of getting offended by such voices, people in "healing ministries" should perhaps be glad that former participants are willing to offer honest opinions on negative experiences. While it may be somewhat painful to hear that everything is not perfect and that some things in fact suck royale, it certainly poses founders/directors/leaders with the opportunity to at least consider making changes that might potentially improve programs that help women. Because it's not about the programs; it's about women (and others hurt by abortion).

Voices like mine also put a slice of lead fruitcake on the gilded after-dinner tray. They say, amongst the caramelized cream tarts and marbled cherry cheesecakes, "If you order dessert, honey, you just might get this."

It may seem stupid to some that a woman would see the word "healing", hear directors, former participants and the like, talk of their miraculous "healing", and then actually expect that "healing" was an attainable norm... only to be sorely let down when they discover that "healing" really is just "coping". With all the fluffy pink love in the world wrapping itself sweetly around Emily's shoulders for a big ol' warm fuzzy hug, to suggest that perceptions and feelings that we care enough to talk about (and be deemed bothersome for)... are like rearranging chairs on the Titanic seems somewhat invalidating.

I'll tell you one thing, I know I'm an oddball... so I was surprised at how many comments I received (and am still receiving) from women who, at least partly, shared similar observations. I figured it was going to be flame city, but evidently there are more women than I thought who have had negative or disappointing experiences related to the way they've been approached or dealt with in "post-abortion healing" programs. This isn't at all to say that there weren't positives. It is just to say that there were negatives, and this is something fairly new to hear.

Sometimes, being grateful for the compassion and comfort one does glean, prevents the freedom of being entirely honest regarding negative experiences. So what we have recently touched upon, elicited here... is important, I think.

A final thought...

Women who speak out about their negative experiences related to abortion are often criticized for lingering in negativity (feeling sorry for themselves or blaming abortion for their own preexisting psychosis). We are even charged of missing the point. If we feel sad or bad we are "compassionately" encouraged to focus on the positive things that abortion did do for us. It would, we are told, serve us in a more healthy capacity to move on and "heal".

In the midst of such philosophy, when we are striving for our "whiny voices" not to be a personal affront but to be more generally validated (via such needed groups as Silent No More), I think we ought to be ready and willing likewise to validate among us the unhealed voices of discontent.

:: ashli 7:29 PM # ::

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