We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.
A foundation piece of most 12 Step programs is the idea that our past, our ugly, destructive past, can become an asset. We are encouraged to share, in a general way, about who we were in contrast to who we are today. What we hope is that a newcomer will see that the desperation that brought us to the tables of the local fellowship hall propelled us forward. That gift of desperation gave us the ability to feel compassion and empathy while still demanding of the newcomer and ourselves a change in attitude, perspective and behavior.
Most people who have read my stuff over the years know I am an alcoholic in recovery and a post abortive woman. I share that part of me with other alcoholics - both men and women - because I want people to know two things: first, that one can recover from alcoholism and second, that one can recover from perpetrating horror upon another human being - in my case, choosing to terminate the lives of four of my own children for the sake of convenience.
That last sentence was difficult to write. I could sugar coat it. I could tell you how frightened I was, how alone I felt, that no one tried to talk me out of it and that I thought it was my only choice at the time. The reality is I was, at that time, deeply mired in a life of sin and I was horribly ill from Alcoholism. I could not practice birth control because that took too much effort and clear thinking and my body didn't work right anyway because of the abuse it was suffering at my hands.
Why do I share this with you all again? Why not just let it go and move on?
1. It is important that I remember what and why so that when a woman comes to me and expresses her sorrow and her belief that she is no longer worthy of respect I can share with her my journey.
2. Other people will never let me forget - and will often try to shame me with my past when I dare to express a political or philosophical or religious belief different from their own.
Recently I submitted a letter to the editor of the Modesto Bee in support of a candidate for Governor of the State of California. His name is Desmond Silveira (https://ca.solidarity-party.org/desmond-silveira-governor/) and he represents the American Solidarity Party in California.
The party is Pro-Life.
I am Pro-Life.
Yes...I am now Pro-Life, Catholic and no longer silent about the horror I inflicted upon my children and myself. I have been forgiven, am active in my Parish and fully embrace all Catholic Teachings as TRUTH.
The first comment under the letter online was from the wife of a man who has hated me and my politics for over 15 years. He hated me when I wrote for The Hive, the now-defunct blog site he and his cronies drove into the ground with their relentless personal attacks on people. She has joined him and several of the less than stellar 'community activists' in our area to essentially go after people they do not like and one of the methods they try to use is shame.
Her comment, in short, stated that it was ironic that someone who had had four abortions should now be forcing her religious beliefs on other people.
Apparently the hope was that by stating I am a post abortive woman my credibility would come under fire and no one would look into the candidate or the party because of my past.
The woman believes sinners like me should not have any opinion other than this: our past sins define us and should be available to all of you - for us to speak out against those sins is wrong and must be stopped. Sinners are irredeemable. Sinners are inconvenient and annoying. Sinners should be stoned to death - figuratively, I hope - so that the rest of you pure types will never have to deal with their ugliness again.
I think of the woman in the Gospel, brought before Jesus by the Pharisees, because she was caught in the act of adultery. Yes, they were testing Jesus to try and come up with something to charge Him with so He could be silenced but don't you think it is odd that only ONE person was brought before Him? She was caught in the act of ADULTERY....was she by herself?
The woman who commented on my letter, without realizing it, played the part of the Pharisee. Look, EVERYONE! This woman who now claims to be Catholic and Pro Life HAD FOUR ABORTIONS. HOW HORRIBLE IS THAT???? She stated that she could understand one or two but 4? And NOW...30 years later...THIS horrible WOMAN was DARING to state that her life is now changed and she is Pro Life. How DARE she????
I dare because only someone who has lived in darkness can truly appreciate the blinding Light that is the reality of Love. Only someone who has spent time in a cave created by sin knows the joy of rolling away the stone blocking the entrance back into true freedom. Only someone who has faced their demons with the help of the healing Grace of God can look at a would-be tormentor and laugh at their attempts to shame and silence her.
Like many others (Harvey Weinstein's treatment of Rose McGowan comes to mind), the commenter makes the mistake of thinking strong men and women recovering from sin can be toppled by someone else naming their sin out loud. What she and other abusers fail to recognize is that our dark pasts are our greatest ally, our source of strength because it is that past that has been sanctified by Grace.
The greatest evil ever perpetrated on earth was the Crucifixion of Jesus. Creatures murdering the Creator. Yet it was that act of evil that redeemed the world and what was once a symbol of fear and trepidation becomes a badge of triumph worn around the neck of billions of Catholics around the world - the Cross.
My family turned a governmental torture device into a symbol of redemption, of hope and of beauty.
A comment on my letter is not going to deter me...I stand with that family, and I stand on the shoulders of giants.