October is a month which champions blindness and disability awareness, breast cancer survivors, domestic abuse, respect life, mental health awareness, infant loss and so many worthy causes. At the core of these campaigns is to raise awareness of life and the worth and dignity of all people no matter their struggle in life. Because we have each been given the gift of life, we fight for the rights of our fellow human. However, what about the little unborn baby who is not yet had a chance to make their mark on this world? What about the prisoner who is facing a death sentence? What about the person who believs they no longer want to live due to a terminal diagnosis? These are reasons why I fight for the worth and dignity of life at all stages. This is also why I am passionate about my Catholic faith and want to use mycareer as a social worker to bring about change for the marginalized and oppressed.
Although I have told segments of my story about being a single Momma who happens to be blind on this blog, I have felt the need to sort through some of my thoughts by what better avenue than writing.
I first want to clarify the intent of this post is not to condemn anyone who has made choices different from my own, rather it is to extend a hand of love and friendship to anyone who is reading. The purpose of this entry is to share what I have learned thus far in my life journey and prayerfully it speaks to someone. I also will preface my story by encouraging my fellow believers in Christ to always show compassion to all people, specifically a single parent despite their choices. I will attempt to keep details brief in hopes to limit my rambles and will protect confidentiality by not going into many specifics.
As you may have gathered from previous posts, I grew up in a family who upheld Catholic values and teachings to the best of their abilities. Like every family mine was far from perfect, but we loved each other and my parents did the best with what they had. As a teenager I struggled with depression, anxiety and anorexia. Looking back on my relapses, I was trying to fit in somewhere. I was attempting to figure out who I was along with accepting being totally blind. After high school I started what I thought was the expected next step—college. In November of 2004, my world shattered when I had to confront the death by suicide of my cousin whom I dearly love. Despite trying to complete semesters at college, I had to medically withdraw due to relapsing into depression and eating disorder behaviors.
My life felt like a spiraling out of control tornado. I left my home state for a new hopeful start in the Midwest. Although I tried to keep my emotional distress under control, I continuously relapsed into my unhealthy ways of coping.
While receiving adjustment to blindness training, I met lifelong friends, made decisions which went against the morals I grew up with, but at this time I began to question the existence of a God and identified as an Atheist. Why would God let me hurt so much? Why would God allow my cousin to die? Why would God not fill the emptiness I always felt? After years of obedience, I figured I’d try the way of the world for a change. This is painful to admit, but whether it was overindulging in alcohol, drugs or sex, I thought these vices would bring me escape from my inner turmoil. Even though they temporarily worked, there came a day when I walked smack into the rock-hard wall of reality and had to confront the consequences of my sins.
July 9, 2008 I received news which rocked my world. After a month of incessant nausea, and a positive pregnancy test from a kind-hearted doctor, I was excitedly informed “you are pregnant!!” For once in my life I was speechless. No words could convey the utter shock and disbelief I felt. As I prepared to tell my family and close friends the news, I also had doubts about my life as I knew it. I knew that very day I had to make some serious lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and drinking along with taking care of my body despite the constant nausea and bouts of all-day sickness which became my daily nemesis.
Although the thought of terminating my pregnancy did not come to mind, I certainly was not initially joyous about my soon-to-be Mommy status, however, at 12 weeks during an ultrasound I heard my little ones heartbeat for the first time. This moment was transformational; I believed I could see light in a dark place. I felt a strength which I could not put words to. Looking back, it was God quietly whispering “it’ll be okay” through my baby’s little washing machine sounding fast heartbeat.
Although the offer to have an abortion was mentioned multiple times by well-meaning friends who knew my situation and that I’d be a single parent due to leaving an abusive relationship, I could not imagine being the cause of ceasing her heart to beat and for herbody’s continued growth. As she developed I began to feel the fluttering sensations of my baby moving. As she grew she began to kick, hiccup, and danced to her own nightly routine.
For once in my life, I was able to step outside myself and care for a growing child who at times felt as if she were physically consuming my body and emotionally holding my heart. Despite the later months of discomfort inability to sleep, little feet that would get under my ribs and kick, kick, kick, I knew my life as I previously knew it had forever changed. I began to have a conversion of heart and mind toward God and His plan for my life. While I did not have all the answers, through my daughter’s budding life, I began to see life did not have to be a bottomless void of self-destruction. Reverting back to my Catholic faith and baptizing my child are two choices I will never regret. Even though giving God our fiat and saying yes to life is not always easy, it continues to be a life-changing decision.
Six years later, our lives are far from perfect, however, I could not imagine a life without my daughter. Despite the challenges of life in general, I have been provided with opportunities to better myself through returning to college to complete what I did not finish so many years ago. I have matured spiritually. My vivacious child knows the love of God, family and friends. God has been able to turn what I thought was a hopeless situation into something more beautiful than I could ever orchestrate with my limited human understanding. I am blessed with supportive family and friends who were able to accept this prodigal daughter back and love her despite my actions.
Since there is wisdom in the teachings of chastity outside of marriage and the sacredness of this holy sacrament, I know my journey and choices are not ideal, but the children who result from premarital sex are such blessings. Being a single Mom also isn’t ideal, and I admit as a Mother there are aspects of being a Father I cannot as a woman simply give to my child. However, through having lived both ways, I no longer see God’s laws as condemning, rather they are embracing, His rules or regulations which must strictly be adhered too or else it’s straight to hell is also a false concept. Despite from time to time still struggling with depression, eating disorder tendencies, anxiety and my current state as a single Mom, I have learned these crosses have been transformed by embracing God’s ways.
Although the important Churches teachings of sexuality and moral concepts are not always accepted or fully understood by our mainstream culture, I view God as a loving parent who wants the best for His children’s mind, body, and soul for eternity. Despite what our culture says it wants for humanity, I have come to believe turning to its empty promises of immediate gratification and the shallow it’s all about me and what makes me happy mentality ultamantly brings nothing but heart and headaches in the end. Faith is not an easy path either. However, when we look to our loving God who has authored our life and has the ability to edit our story despite our free will, His promises of unconditional steadfast love pale in comparison to the ever-evolving trends of the world.
Now, here’s where we have to put in the hard work. Do we always embrace being pro-life? Even when it’s not easy or popular? It’s wonderful to fight for babies to be born because that’s the first step into life, however, what about after those babies are born? How can we further help single Moms or encourage women who choose adoption as an option? When you meet a single Mom, do you automatically see her sin of sex outside of marriage, or embrace her and her child with love, mercy and compassion? I am a single mom with a disability, who is recovering from an eating disorder, and has left an abusive relationship. I needed all the compassion in the world. You never know if the woman you look at condemningly is another me, and one look will send her back to her former life. We never know the journey a person has walked or sorrows a woman has borne until you are face-to-face with her.
Although we are regularly fallen, fumbling failures in attaining sainthood, our foibles can be used to bring us closer to Christ who is our source of unconditional love. We must keep striving for becoming the best we can be on this side of heaven. Our decisions which are new everyday can teach us to extend love, mercy, and compassion to those who may be difficult to love or understand. Always remember, despite our choices, we have never fallen to far from His Church and the salvation of the foot of the cross. As I wrap up this ramble, know you are in my prayers.
Until next time,