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Friday, October 12, 2012

As the Days of Fall Become the Winter

I am off again on another speaking engagement this weekend. It is a traveling month for me but I get to take some time off as we head into the holidays. Baring an unforeseen invitation to replace a speaker who has to cancel, I get to be at home through January after the month of October is DONE. 

 I look forward to being home on weekends.  I look forward to preparing for the holidays by decorating my house and baking some cookies I won't be able to eat myself.  Trust me, I love the smells enough to put myself through the torture of baking goodies and then giving them away.  I don't care - a house full of the smell of warm sugar is a house of love.

I do like being a speaker, though, I must admit.  I love spending time with people who, like me, walked through life not quite understanding what was wrong but knowing that we just do NOT fit.  I heard someone over the weekend say, "I walked around all my life a Zebra but I didn't know it.  Then I came to these rooms, saw a roomful of Zebras and thought, 'thank GOD - all this time I thought I was just a f**ked up horse!".

Interestingly enough, I am being approached more and more by lapsed Catholics when I speak. They are like me. They never 'left' the Church, they just stopped practicing. They have never doubted any of Her core teachings - Sacraments, The Eucharist, the role of the Magisterium. Instead, because of the disease of alcoholism they stopped being an active member of The Body of Christ. Suddenly, now, they are sober and find they cannot stay sober without God. That is sometimes a tough thing to accept but just when they think they MIGHT have a handle on the whole "God Thing", here comes this rather goofy lady who shows up at their conference or birthday night or retreat to be their speaker.  They find that she is not afraid to be Catholic Out Loud, makes great jokes about how wearing the same thing every day to Catholic school when she was a kid made her feel secure and, ultimately, admitting that taking the 12 Steps not only helped her get sober, they lead back to the Faith Tradition of her childhood.  
Then my phone starts ringing.

Oh, sure. There are always a few who are still really angry about being slapped in the head by Sister Margaret Meany when they were 8years old.  However, if they have a good sponsor and have taken the 12 Steps usually they are able to see that they probably drove that poor nun looney by their own behavior.  NO, just stop right there - I AM NOT ADVOCATING PHYSICAL VIOLENCE AGAINST 8 YEAR OLDS.  What I am saying is, I am a loving and tolerant adult and there have been times I would have liked to throw one of the kids off the roof because they were driving me NUTS.  Looking back on my behavior as a child I am amazed I survived into adulthood.

Today I have a better understanding of why Mrs. Smith didn't like me in third grade.  I was a needy, messed up, whiny little girl who would rather sit in her room and spin records, read and write stories or pretend to be Annie Oakley than learn long division.  Today, I not only understand why Mrs. Smith was rather mean to me (and sometimes smelled like scotch at noon), I am amazed she didn't regularly lock me in the coat closet just to get some peace.

I have learned something else since being given the privilege of speaking at so many events.  In 20 years of continuous sobriety I have only met ONE woman who was not post abortive.

 I have not met all the women in my 12 step program so this is hardly a scientific survey. However, I have listened to perhaps 100 5th steps in 20 years.  I have spoken at quite a few conferences and
retreats and birthday nights and speaker meetings.  Between the 5th steps and the women who ask to speak to me privately or ask me for my phone number so they can call me later, ONLY ONE was not post-abortive.

And that one was an Irish Nun who started drinking AFTER she entered the convent and has been sober for around 30 years.

There is a very brave woman in our program who is Catholic who returned to the Church. She talks about her four abortions from the podium. I do not say the 'a' word; rather I speak about making choices, based on lies that took me so far from God and from my Faith Tradition that I thought I could never come back.

The Catholics in the room always know what I am talking about and that is who I am hoping to reach when I make that statement.  Let's face it, abortion hurts all women but those women, like myself, who killed their children did so because we honestly thought we HAD no choice.  We were told it was a clump of cells, not really a baby, that our bodies belonged to us and that we had the right to abuse those bodies any way we wanted.  We were told that our freedom as American Women would never be fully realized until we could have sex 'without consequences', as though that could EVER happen for us. 

Later, when we discovered that there were consequences and that those consequences manifested themselves in guilt and shame and a deep, deep profound sorrow for what we had done and what we lost,  many of us were told to shut up by our 'sisters' in the feminist movement of that era.

Today, I know that when a woman knows she has the love and support of the community she will chose to give birth to her child.  Rarely does a woman say, "Nah, too much trouble and I don't want to get stretch marks and besides, I have a concert to go to this weekend".  Yes, there are selfish women in the world.  Yes, I know there are women who chose to have an abortion because having a baby would simply mess up their participation in the Opera Season or make it a little tougher to finish that college degree despite the fact that they would have had ample emotional and/or financial assistance.  For most of us, however, our stories are about fear and abuse, fear and abandonment and fear and helplessness in the face of what seemed like overwhelming odds.  To label our abortions as 'choice' lends a legitimacy to our actions that excuses the situations we found ourselves mired in and that is not fair to us....or to our children.
Please keep these women in prayer. Abortion does not cause Alcoholism but Alcoholics are so wracked with guilt and shame that that issue can keep people drunk for YEARS.

And the longer we are drunk, the less chance we will die sober.

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