Monday, January 21, 2008

Ringing true


Kate shares her experience with abortion and the moment when her efforts to suppress her feelings collapsed:

When I was 30, I had a quasi-nervous breakdown about the abortion. I had no idea that it bothered me so much. I uncontrollably heaved waves of tears, and in between sobs blabbered about having an abortion, and how I murdered my unborn child. I went on to say that I felt such guilt at having a good life and that after the abortion, I went on to have fun and finish college and do all of the things I'd always hoped to do and that I didn't deserve my life.

Oh, I know that there are plenty of skeptics who will say, "Yeah, you just suddenly realized that it was the abortion that troubled you so much!" and want to claim that it's just bogus guilt. I have to say Kate's story reminds me of my own.

I was coming unglued and had no idea why. I thought it was ordinary stress piling up. Certain things were making me shake and cry, and after work I'd just get in my car and scream. I was wrestling something inside, but I had no idea what.

I went for professional counselling, and was in a group "wind down" relaxation session at the end of the day, where they just played what was supposed to be soothing music. One of the songs was "Somewhere Out There." A song I could never stand to listen to, but I never knew why. I would leave the room or turn off the radio or do anything to avoid that song. It just made me hurt. And now they were playing it when I was supposed to relax and get soothed and comfortable. That wasn't gonna happen.

My first urge was to just buck up, ignore the feelings, not let myself listen to the song but just grit my teeth and get through it. Then I thought, "I'm going to all this trouble to arrange counseling in a safe environment to find out why all these things are stressing me so much. I need to go with this."

I went down the hall, grabbed my counsellor, and just pleaded "Help me!" She took me into a private room and the minute I felt I was safe I just let go.

I sat there crying and screaming, "DON'T LEAVE ME! DON'T LEAVE ME!" over and over and over again. And I suddenly knew exactly what was wrong. I was screaming for my brother, who had died in a freak accident when we'd been playing in the yard when I was just a little girl.

Of course a song about a brother and sister trying desperately to find each other would make me come unglued.

Suddenly everything clicked into place. I could see exactly why each of the things that had set me off had been setting me off. I could see exactly where each of those things had reminded me of the day my brother died. But I hadn't wanted to go there, to visit something that painful, so I'd tried to play the "It's just stress" card and hope I could hold on by my fingernails.

So I've had the experience of not knowing why things were triggering such an extreme emotional response, then suddenly having it come like a flash of lightning. Kate's story rings so true.

BTW, it still makes me cry. But at least now I know why, and it doesn't cripple me any more.

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