How Sharing Trauma Can Make A Difference

Heartbreaking Stories of “Late Term Abortions” Helped Me See The Lies I’d Been Told By the “Pro-Life” Movement

I was raised to believe abortion was murder. That as an adoptee, it was only because I was born before Roe v Wade that I was born at all.

My mother told me often, when I complained about being an only child, that my loneliness had one cause: the Supreme Court. “Your Daddy and I tried to adopt another baby when you were little, but by then abortion was legal and there weren’t any babies to adopt,” she would say. “They said we could get an older child, but they’d come in and be the older one and we didn’t think that would be fair to you.”

At a hotel in Wadesboro, NC, my Adoptive parents take my picture for the first time. They’ve just left Social Services after picking me up. January, 1971. Knowing what I know now about trauma, I believe I see fear in my clenched fists and wide eyes. I’ve just been taken from safety for at least the second time in just 7 short weeks.

When I was about 20 or so (so 1991ish) my Paternal grandparents, who had always been more like parents to me than my abusers, gave me a hand-me-down car. A 1979 Chevy Chevette. Other than having an automatic transmission, which had been special order in 1979 when the US Government had purchased it for my Papaw in settlement of a lawsuit for botching his WWII injuries, it was absolutely bottom-of-the-line. No tape deck. And the only radio was AM.

The unintended consequence of me having transportation back and forth to community College and up to the mountains to visit them was that I had a choice between old time gospel or talk radio. Unable to tolerate old time gospel, my brainwashing at the hands of Rush Limbaugh began.

For many years there was a show after Rush called Dr Laura. Laura Schlessinger wasn’t a psychiatrist but a physiologist. Nevertheless, she spewed “moral advice” every day, including frequent references to “babies being sucked into a sink.”

Y’all, I’m getting the Anxiety Knot just remembering this shit.

Looking like I’ve Seen Some Shit at my first Official Portraiture sometime in February 1971

Anyway, this brainwashing sucked me into Republican politics, where I met people from the local UPC church, the very extreme denomination I was in for the next 20 years. Lots of trauma there.

But to the point of this article, that church was super involved in the anti-abortion crusade. With them I picketed local clinics. I made several trips to Washington DC for the annual “March For Life” on the anniversary of Roe.

And I heard stories. Testimonies from nurses who had quit jobs in the “abortion industry” that swore on a stack of bibles they had witnessed firsthand babies being born alive and thrown into cold trays to die. “Partial birth abortions” up to the 9th month where perfectly healthy babies were delivered breech, all but the head, scissors stuck into the back of their neck and their brains sucked out via vacuum.

And I believed this nonsense, because I was also taught that ALL liars will have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and that to even slightly exaggerate was the same as a boldface lie. And also that this information had been vetted by Men of God, chosen and Ordained by Him, and to doubt their word was to doubt God Himself and would also put me in jeopardy of hellfire.

Eventually, I began to be disillusioned. My Papaw died in October of 2000, and the UPC told me he was lost, burning in Hell. That began my break with them, for my Papaw was the sweetest, godliest man I had ever known.

My Paternal Grandparents, About the time they gave me the car. Papaw said he hoped he wouldn’t regret it. He meant I wouldn’t wreck and die. What did happen was possibly worse.

My break with Limbaugh and his ilk came in 2008, when Obama was elected. They had ginned me up so hard that he was a straight up America hating communist that I checked out of politics all together, unable to deal with what must be about to happen.

That got me out of the bubble.

By the time I checked back in, I had missed enough of the ride that Limbaugh sounded ridiculous. Obama had turned out to be a decent President. And I was at heart kind of a socialist myself.

But, I told people who marveled at my changed views, one thing I will never change is my stance on abortion. It could’ve been me, after all.

Although… I had in the intervening years discovered and spoken to my birth mother. She never considered abortion, in fact hid her pregnancy from her parents until it was too late to have one because they would’ve forced her to. Because, get this – abortion was already legal in North Carolina. The “there were no more babies” thing from my mother was just another lie.

But, I’m getting to the point of this article.

Along came the 2016 Presidential debates, and there was the woman I had heard demonized for decades standing against the man I had come to despise. I’d done a lot of research on her to discover that most of what I’d been fed was either outright bs or greatly exaggerated. Like President Obama, I’d come to like her.

Some of the old Campaign Paraphernalia I have from 1992

At one of the debates they sparred over abortion. I don’t remember what they said and don’t care to look it up, because that’s not what affected me.

But over the next weeks, women began to tell their stories. And I was floored. Story after story of devastating news, of prepared nurseries and empty cribs and grieving. Of having to pass a gauntlet of protesters accusing you of murdering a baby that had already died inside you and would kill you, too, if it’s body was not removed from yours quickly.

I remembered the clinic I had stood outside all those years ago, with the zeal of a new convert, hoping to “save babies” and felt horrible shame.

In the days since dark Friday, when Roe was overturned, people have been sharing their stories again. And I’ve begun to see a bit of a backlash.

“You shouldn’t have to do this,” I see people say. “You shouldn’t have to bare your trauma for the world to be considered human. To deserve the right to control your own body.”

And those people are not wrong. Nobody should HAVE to justify any right. That’s why it’s a right, it’s inherently just.

But I am here with the deepest gratitude for everyone that has ever shared such a story. You helped me, immensely. You showed me how I had been lied to. You helped me cast off some of the final holds that old life had on me.

And also. As a fellow trauma survivor. Sharing MY stories has also helped me. Sometimes I feel like I’m whispering into the void here, that hardly anybody ever sees my words. And yet. Some do. The act of recording them, expressing them, putting them out there where they can be seen has helped me heal.

So, please. Whatever your trauma is. In whatever way you can, please share it. It will help. It will help you, and it will help someone else.

That won’t make what we’ve been through ok. Nothing ever will. There is no “this happened for a reason” bullshit to trauma, no. I don’t buy that. What I do buy is, we have the hand we are dealt and we might as well do something with it.

Even if it is just a whisper in the void.

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