My Healing Journey
THE HOLE IN MY SOUL
It’s 2021, and I am nestled into our cozy leather couch in our TV room with my husband, watching Schindler’s List for the first time. Retired from a career as a public high school teacher, I am working through that bucket list of movies I want to watch… now that I have time.
The last scene unfolds on the screen, and I sit, transfixed and the action of the movie actually seems to slow down as I watch a Jewish man, rescued from a concentration camp, facing Schindler, the one who rescues him.
In gratitude, the Jewish man hands Schindler a ring.
Inscribed in the ring, is a quote, a teaching from the Jewish Scripture - the Talmud. It reads, “Whoever saves one life saves the entire world”.
At this Schindler breaks down in tears, remorseful for the things he could have sold to save just one more life but didn’t.
This scene had a powerful impact on me that night for two reasons: First, because, like the Jewish man, I too have been rescued. I’ve been rescued from the shame of having an abortion and the 29 years of silence that
Secondly, it was that moment, I felt God calling me to action, to share my story in the hope that through me…
not because of me….Jesus’ unfathomable forgiveness and mercy could save one more person from the emotional, spiritual, and many times, physical pain of a past abortion and lead them to healing.
Soon after watching that movie last year, I said to Jesus in prayer, if you want to use me to do this for you, you gotta make it pretty obvious…. And he did. The next morning when in prayer,
I randomly opened my bible to Chapter 8 of Luke's Gospel: That’s where Jesus drives out the demons from a possessed man and sends the man away with these words: “Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you”. And the man did.
So, with Schindler as inspiration, I am laser-focused on declaring how much God has done for me and with this testimony, help those who have suffered in silence from their abortion because the light of Christ is meant to
My testimony is less a story of what happened to me, and much more a story of many powerful encounters with Jesus that were life-changing, transformative, and a restoration to my full dignity as a daughter of the most high God.
I grew up like most from my Long Island community with 2 devout Catholic parents and 4 siblings. I went to Catholic school from Kindergarten- through college- I Recited formal prayer. Sundays were spent around the
table with extended family eating pasta with Sunday sauce, meatballs, and Locatelli cheese, and a bowl of nuts while playing cards .
Although it appeared to be an ideal childhood, from the time I was 8-12 years old, I experienced trauma that no little girl should have to endure. I was told to keep it a secret because my parents would never believe me.
That damage to my innocence led to unhealthy thinking as I grew up -- towards my self-image- my worth- my dignity-and my need for attention.
During high school, I led a chaste life. But the summer after graduation I went to a party that changed my life.
When the party was over, I accepted a ride home from an acquaintance, a guy who drove his trademark car: a blue MG. The road took turns I did not recognize. I realized I was NOT going home. He drove me to a wooded
area and pulled off the road. There, I experienced what no young woman should have to endure. Six weeks later, I found out I was pregnant.. I had trained myself to keep secrets so there was no one to talk to. I
widened that hole in my soul. I was afraid. I was afraid my mother would disown me, kick me out of the house, so out of fear, I aborted my baby.
My mom and I already had a fractured relationship; it began with my childhood abuse and my innocent childhood reasoning that she could stop the abuse even though she had no idea it was going on. My secret
keeping was taken to a new level, and the emotional destruction really caught me by surprise. Not having my mom as a comrade in battle left me vulnerable and full of pain even though she did not know.
I adopted magical thinking to deal with the pain: I tried to convince myself my problem was solved. I tried to convince myself I was in control. I tried convincing myself I could get on with my life as though nothing really
But I was struggling. I wondered: How can I get through this? So, I did what many post abortive women do: I worked more. The 4 jobs I worked at kept my mind busy. But that STILL was not enough. I thought if got away
from Long Island, where my trauma had all taken place, I would finally get relief from my emotional tsunami.
Fortunately, my parents supported me, and I attended Marywood University to major in Theater and Secondary Education, and studied what I was passionate about. It was a good distraction.
It was there, my junior year, I met Patrick Bewick, who became the love of my life, and we were married four months after graduating in 1984. God blessed us with 2 beautiful children and 15yrs. of a happy marriage.
It was December 23 rd , 1999. I was at work- teaching. It was the scheduled half day of school before the Christmas break. My students and I were enjoying donuts and Christmas stories and then they s asked me to sing a song . I Launched into a Christmas song and for whatever reason, I then sang our wedding song Our Love is Here to Stay- for entertainment-
I was interrupted by the principal entering the room, and he escorted me downstairs into the main office , where a phone call was waiting for me. I was told I needed to get to CMC hospital immediately.
When I got there, I learned, while working under a car at our family business, Bewick’s Service Station, the arm of lift failed and the car came down and killed him. My daughter was 6 and my son was 9.
My life was really in a tailspin.
Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, but that suffering would allow me to accept God’s grace and mercy years later. God works all things for good for those who love him.
During the 5 years I was widowed- I was a mess. I did not realize the repression and unresolved grief of my abortion could possibly play a part in the way I grieved for the loss of my husband or how I cared for my
children…. But it did. I was seeking my identity, my grieving, and my worth apart from God.
My limitations, my failures were screaming at me that I was worthless. I was so needy, and scared, I dove into any unhealthy relationship that would make the pain go away. I certainly did not feel I could raise my children alone. I was looking for someone, anyone, to marry me and help raise them.
After 5 yrs. of being a widow, God, in his divine providence, placed light in my life of darkness: an honest, loving man with 2 children close in age to mine. How we met is a story in itself- we married within 8 months
and became a blended family. Then just under 2 yrs. after we were married, God began to light the path for revealing the buried secrets in my life.
We invited my husband’s best friend and his wife to dinner. They were both beautiful evangelical Christians, who during dinner, were genuinely curious about the Catholic faith and asked, “well… why do you
Catholics believe ….? My answer was ……. Because that’s what I was taught ( I was a “rules” Catholic).
When they left, I looked at my husband and said, “I’m either going to become what he is cause that man is on fire for Jesus, or I’m going to find out the answers to his questions.”
… I chose the latter and just one week after the dinner, I was given a book on Catholicism which ignited my
faith in a whole new way…. That led me to speak to Msgr. John Esseff who- ironically was a very good customer of my late husband. He encouraged me to attend a religious conference. I did so with my husband-
and there I heard a talk from this Hopping ball of energy- who literally came off the floor when she spoke -
Johnette Benkovic so I took home her books and DVD’s and studied those.
Now the family is starting to call me crazy Catholic. Months later, I attended Johnette’s weekend retreat and that is where Jesus bestowed upon me the grace of all graces.
At the retreat, I attended Mass followed by Eucharistic Adoration. For those of you who are not Catholic or are unfamiliar with Eucharistic Adoration- a consecrated communion wafer as the person of Jesus Christ is
adored by the faithful in a beautiful gold place holder called a Monstrance.
It was my first experience with a priest processing through the aisles with this, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I enter the dimly lit room and settle in my seat in the far back. There are about 300 women in attendance. I didn’t know it then, but Johnette is gifted with the ability to read hearts. Johnette speaks at the podium
about women suffering pain from divorce and having suicidal thoughts and the like…. and I listen intently.
The priest approaches my aisle carrying the Eucharist Jesus in the monstrance.
He randomly pauses in front of me, and I look up and gaze at the presence of Jesus before me. In the same
exact moment, Johnette speaks these words: “there is a woman in the far back who, in her late teens, was as violated in a blue MG car! It resulted in a pregnancy and she terminated the baby….Jesus wants to shower
you with his forgiveness.”
I can’t fathom what is happening! My heart races and I drop to my knees unaware of anything around me…
and crawl up the aisle to the stage area where a priest is waiting to hear anyone’s confession. He is so gentle.
I speak the words of my hidden secret to him and speaks the healing words of forgiveness; words I have waited 29 yrs. to hear.
That was the single most powerful Godly moment I have ever experienced. In that moment God lit up my path with floodlights! I FELT God forgive me. And I KNEW at that moment He forgave me.
But the journey of healing needed to start. Where could I go to learn to forgive myself? I wondered, “is
there a support group for women like me?”
And I waited on God.
5 months later, God lit the way for me again when I attended my first pro-life breakfast. Dr. Theresa Burke, founder of Rachel’s Vineyard, for post-abortion trauma and healing, was the keynote speaker that year. God
‘s perfect timing took my breath away as she answered the questions, I had in my heart about how to forgive myself.
After her talk I scrambled to the table with her books, and I bought her book entitled, Forbidden Grief.
Late that night, I began to read. The book is a series of stories from women who regretted their abortions and the physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms that result from the silence as they kept it secret.
There were other women out there that felt like me!
After I read, I began to unearth the details of MY buried secret—
I forced myself to recall that night: the fear, the shame, the darkness
my best friend’s boyfriend offering to pay for it,
the relative who drove me to the clinic.
the desensitized nurse
the crying of other women in the room,
We are created as women to reflect the humility, the “yes” to life, that Jesus’ mother gave to God. Abortion is so unnatural. Abortion changes you. There is no way to normalize it.
God’s light continued to light my path to healing. 8 months later, with the help of a loved one I trusted, I signed up and attended a local Rachel’s Vineyard weekend.. That weekend was like the cherry on top of my healing. There I faced the manifestations of my shame and pain with about 30 other people. I was not alone!
I got to speak about the loss of my dignity, how it shaped my name, and most of all, for me, the torn relationship with my mother.
It was an amazing, and emotionally draining 3-day weekend- but the power of healing was palpable. I came home from that weekend to a beautiful homemade dinner & shared my weekend with my husband, teenage
children and stepchildren.
There have been numerous graces poured out upon me over the last 14 yrs since that retreat; God continues to shine his light in my life.
I’ve forgiven myself, the man who stole my innocence, and everyone who was a part of that time in my life, but nothing is more magnanimous than healing the relationship with my mother.
5 years after that retreat, during a time of prayer, God showed me I was taking the blame of my abortion, placing it on my mother, so I didn’t have to feel the burden of that decision. It was my sin, not hers. I was released from the desire for her to know about it and as a result- - our entire relationship changed. She
wasn’t a different person, I was!
For the last 10 yrs of her life we had a mother/daughter relationship the way it was supposed to be… all because I forgave her for something I mentally and emotionally imposed upon her! She passed away peacefully at 93 yrs. old and I like to imagine her in Heaven holding my baby, I named him Anthony, lovingly in
As part of my restoration, for the past 14 years, I have been blessed to be a facilitator with Rachel’s Vineyard and witness the transforming power of God in women, most commonly 20 yrs. after their abortion… I have learned that the FULLNESS OF THE HEALING JOURNEY can only happen through the grace of Jesus Christ.
Psalm 30 captures the light I choose to live in now:
“You have turned my mourning into dancing
You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness
that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.”
Sharing my testimony and bringing awareness for the opportunities to heal for those who experienced an abortion, is now my life’s ministry until I go to my own eternal reward and can embrace my baby Anthony in my own arms.
Thank you for making the opportunity to read my story. I pray you begin your own journey of healing after reading this. God Bless You!
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