how books helped me heal

The healing power of words: How reading and writing saved me after an abortion

It’s been eight years since I walked out of the glass doors of Planned Parenthood with a can of Progresso soup and an emptiness food wouldn’t fix.

I felt sick, depressed and ashamed.

It was all in the pursuit of keeping my dead relationship together.  Oh, the loneliness that I felt that day. I had no one to talk to that I felt safe around.

For years I feared putting my secret onto paper and immortalizing it. I was too afraid of being judged to share, to see if anyone else was walking around with this painful little world inside of them. A little world of emptiness where a spark, a life, a possibility was sucked away only to become a haunting memory.

Reading myself to recovery

I wanted to forget. I wanted to pretend as if it had never happened. However, the greatest pain is caused by what is suppressed. Dead buried in shallow graves always rise again, and everything came back to the surface when I came across Linda Birde Francke’s essay, “The Ambivalence of Abortion.” in Motives for Writing.

As I read Linda’s essay I saw myself in her words. I saw the pain, the terror, and embarrassment that I felt sitting in that waiting room that day. I admired how aware she was, and how she noticed that she was not alone in the room, nor was she alone in the feelings that she was experiencing:

Our common denominator, the one that usually floods across language and economic barriers into familiarity, today was shame. We were losing life that day, not giving it.”

For me, it was easy to “check out” to isolate and single myself out as the only one experiencing the pain of choosing. This was possibly the loneliest choice that I could have ever made.

But I didn’t have the courage to tell my story verbally. I cared too much about what other people thought, was too worried about being judged and ridiculed.

Books as a safe haven

Reading became a safe place for me. It granted me a sense of catharsis. As Charles W. Eliot once said:

Books are the quietest and constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors and the most patient of teachers.”

I cannot count how many days I walked into the invisible therapist’s office for insight and wisdom from beautiful words of Linda Birde Francke, Kahlil Gibran, and Dante Alighieri. Each author had valuable lessons that inspired me to heal.

With her intimate and very personal account her own abortion experience, Francke showed me that I was not alone and that I could come back from this.

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet taught me the trails and tribulations of love, what makes it so beautiful and why it’s important not to harden my heart with bitterness and resentment.

From Dante’s Divine Comedy I learned that we all are constantly climbing this ladder of life towards beauty, grace, and a higher calling, even if some days it feels like hell.

When writing is healing

The more I read the more I began to look at my own experiences and emotions, and I finally mustered up the strength and courage to pick up the pen again.

After bleeding and crying nto the page, I began to confide in my own words again. I soon came to the realization that I was becoming my own friend and confidant. My own Counselor, and teacher. Brendan Francis said it best, that:

“At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one’s lost self.”

I did lose a part of myself that day at Planned Parenthood. I have regrets. But through the process of reading and writing and perhaps most importantly, reflecting,  I discovered that this little part of me never really left. That part will always be with me. I was reminded of that  by Francke’s elegant words when she said:

… I have this ghost now. A very little ghost that only appears when I’m seeing something beautiful, like the full moon on the ocean last weekend. And the baby waves at me. And I wave at the baby. ‘Of course, we have room,’ I cry to the ghost. ‘Of course, we do.’”

And I find myself thinking that If I could say anything to the little life that I  lost that day it would be, “Of course I have room little one. Of course, I do, and I always will.”  Until that day when I can be reunited with that little life, I will continue to write and to heal. Not just for one, but for two.

About the Author

Sarai Anaise is an Intuitive Tarot reader and Teacher of the Mystical Arts. She currently writes about the magic in everyday life.

One thought on “The healing power of words: How reading and writing saved me after an abortion

  1. Beautiful post, Sarai! One of the things I’ve always loved about reading is the sense of communion with others. We get to share experiences and feel less alone. And books can provide a depth of experience that other forms of communication can’t. It’s like getting an intimate look into someone else’s soul. Sometimes they provide answers and ways forward, and even when they don’t, at least they provide the comfort of knowing there are other people out there who share your experiences or see the world in a way you can relate to. That’s so valuable. Thanks for the thought-provoking read :)

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