Healing the Trauma of Abortion Politics.

abortion politics Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to address a group of college students on the topic of abortion and emotions. It was a panel discussion, hosted by the student group Sacred Sex Salon at Naropa University. Before I took the floor, a representative from Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center, my favorite clinic (yes, I have a favorite abortion clinic. It’s been an interesting life…) spoke on the history of reproductive rights in the United States. Aside from the excitement of learning all sorts of new facts, I noticed myself fill with a fieriness somewhere along the edges of pride, power, angst, and fury in recalling what women and men have undergone to bring us to where we are, and also at how far we still have to go. My chest puffed out as it was mentioned that Colorado was the first state to legalize abortion and that same ball of energy dropped deep into the pit of my stomach as we reviewed today’s abortion situation in Texas.

Though I have presented many times on the topic of emotions and abortion, I had never followed this type of political discussion. I was infinitely grateful that I had, because it allowed me to articulate, perhaps like never before, what the full experience of abortion can be like in our country.

The experience of having an abortion and the experience of doing so in the context of our culture today are so intricately interwoven that when a woman undergoes this procedure, she is holding our collective consciousness in her bones. She is not only rehabilitating her womb from its contractions and purging, but also from politics, from aggression, from the conflicting wishes of those around her. Her blood may change, pushing through it a sense of isolation she has never before experienced. Though one in three women will share her experience, she may feel like she is the only one in the infinite universe who chose what she chose and feels how she feels.

The woman who has an emotionally taxing abortion is not just reconciling her own intimate experience within herself—that relationship she has had to her pregnancy—but she is often forced to reconcile relationships outside of herself. With her partner, her family, her community, her culture. She may be left with the decision to keep a secret from those she is close to or risk losing them forever. The shame she may feel in having “made a mistake” may keep her from sharing with even her most supportive friends. She may feel like she doesn’t deserve support, even though unplanned pregnancy is one of the most common of all human experiences. Even though, if she is like most of the strong and beautiful women I have worked with, she made her decision out of love (either to best support the children she already has or out of her desire to not only provide a future child with birth, but with a flourishing life).

It’s our time to invite the stories—as told by the women under the paper sheets—into our conversations, our media, and our hearts.

It’s time to tell women that there is enough space for their right to choice and their right to their unique experiences, as messy and unexpected as it may be. We need to start saying out loud that sometimes good decisions are really, really hard, and that hard emotions are welcome in our world. That they deserve to be heard, in all their pain and wisdom, without judgment or moral analysis.

That silence is traumatic, and we won’t take part in it any longer.

First Snow

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Though the clinic was warm and I had yet to be pried open by the speculum, I shivered and dripped softly with blood. They had told me it was normal, and offered me a blanket while I waited. The chalky pill – incompatible with pregnancy – had started my procedure. The being inside, if I was ready to call it that, shivered with me as we both awaited the inevitable sever of our bond. Like expired lovers, we both knew we had to part, to each float according to the soundtracks of our lives or non-lives, wounded at our breaking points but trusting our individual tumbles into the next phase. I felt like a northern grapevine, frozen in place after a season of warm harvest. The last of my premature fruits now hung as sweet shards of ice, pointing downwards as if to dive, to break the dirt apart and then curl into it under blankets of snow. My branches had let go, attached to this embryo by nothing but frozen dew. And I waited to be pruned by gravity here, in this old house with Victorian accents and bullet-proof glass.

I wished their had been someone by my side for my goodbye. I wish there was a human to anchor me to the earth as we drifted into separate worlds. Instead I was alone – save the nurses and blankets and elbows of my wordless waiting room – as I opened my palm and let my broken seed float upwards, evading the inhospitable soil below.

As I sat silently, a nurse brought me crackers. When I felt nauseous, she covered my forehead with a cool white towel and waved peppermint oil under my nose. She asked about my daughter—asked about her age and her interests and she told me of her own children, one town away. She turned on classical music and drew blood from my veins. And we exchanged stories of motherhood. She stayed by my side through the journey from reception to recovery room. When it was time, the top of my hand melted into her palms as she stood over me, guiding my breath and catching my shivers until I was alone again in my body.

It stung – I can’t pretend that it didn’t. And though it was not a sharp pain, but yet the pain of my own womb contracting around the plastic tube inside me, it burned like bare ice upon a swollen joint: sucking heat away from my body, balancing it out against a fire it yearned for but could not handle. I could feel my organs twisting and cringing, wringing themselves out of excess blood and tears and life as I severed myself from dying possibilities. And I stepped back into my body like coming home to an empty house after the dissolving dream of companionship – cold sheets, a voiceless stairwell – inhabiting my own aching solitude once again.

Even the ghosts had left.

[Read the Original Here]

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who chose abortion out of love.

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Mother’s day can be tough for women who are coping with a past abortion. While it is important to let oneself feel whatever feelings are arising—whether loss or guilt or sadness or relief—it is my most heartfelt desire to acknowledge the hundreds of mothers (or mothers at heart) with whom I have worked directly (and the millions more whom I have yet to meet) who made their choice out of love.

 I want to wish a happy Mother’s Day to the 61% of women who have an abortion after they have already had children. How many of them made their decision so that they could give the children they already had the best quality of life possible.

 And I want to wish a happy Mother’s Day to the childless women, many of whom may have yearned relentlessly to step into the maternal role, whose inner mothers did not want to bring a child into the world whom they could not care for. I honor the hundreds of women who made their choice because they knew that truly being a mother does not end at giving birth, but is a lifelong journey that they knew they were unable to take. They too made their decision out of love. 

 Happy Mother’s Day to all women—to the gatekeepers of life who call on their inner wisdom to bring new life into this world when they know they will be able to give it everything it needs to thrive.

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Rachael Uris, MA, LPC is the owner of Atacama Counseling, LLC, offering sex therapy as well as individual and couple's counseling for issues surrounding sexuality, love, and pregnancy. All services are located in downtown Boulder, Colorado, and are provided in English and Spanish.
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