I am honored to have been asked to share a part of my story. My story has a very sad history starting from the beginning, but I won’t go as far back as my childhood. It is so easy for me to say that what happened to me then is why I have done what I have done within the last 10 years. But the truth is, in the end, it was always my choice, my actions and I have no right to place the blame on anyone else, no matter what kind of upbringing I had.
There are so many people in our world who have no idea what God’s intentions are for them when it comes to their sexuality. We are surrounded by the media, by society, even by friends & family who tell us it’s ok to do what feels good right then and there. They tell us it’s normal, it’s natural and it’s healthy to fulfill our desires in that moment. But the truth is, it’s not.
There’s a Bible verse that most are familiar with; “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” (Mt 7:7 NRSV*), but I tie it with another verse; “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3 NRSV) I believe many of us ask for things to fulfill our own desires, our own pleasures, and our own wills.
There are many of us who feel, once we have learned the truth, it’s too late for us. We have gone way past the P.C. days (Pure & Chaste) and entered into a whirlwind of lust and sin that seems impossible to get out of.
The amazing thing is, nothing is impossible with God.
I remember in high school saying, “I want to wait until I’m married!” even when my aunt told me that I should live with the person so that I know what it’s like to live with them before we “tie the knot.”
I remember saying, “I am going to wait until I’m married.” even when my friends were calling me a prude, the “Good Girl,” because I didn’t follow their actions.
I remember saying “I am waiting until marriage.” even when men I went out with tried to seduce me into their beds.
When I entered college, the influences around me started to take hold. Between my friends and my family, TV shows and the movies, magazines and music, there was a question that entered into my mind; “Why? Why wait until I’m married? What’s the point?”
The more and more I fell into the dating scene, the louder and louder that question became. Pretty soon I came to the conclusion that there is no point in waiting. No man is going to want to marry me unless he knows what I’m like in bed.
So my “I’m going to wait until marriage.” turned into, “I’m going to wait until I have a real boyfriend.”
That real boyfriend came along when I was 20. He was tall, dark and handsome and a musician at that. We talked comfortably with each other, we laughed, we had fun and I thought, “He’s the one.”
Then the fateful day, October 12, 2000 (that’s right people, us girls, we remember the date), my boyfriend and I left campus and went to his place where both of us lost our “innocence.”
Here I thought it was so romantic. We were both virgins, and we gave ourselves to each other. How perfect it was. But no sooner had I thought that he really was the one, I was submerged into heartbreak. He dumped me 3 months later because he “just didn’t feel that way anymore.” I cried for months because of him; my first sexual scar on my heart. Anything before this moment, in regards to dating and men, was just a bruise. He actually cut me and cut me deep.
There was something of a dark cloud that came upon me. I couldn’t shake it and what was worse, this dark cloud seemed to attract all the wrong men; men who took advantage of my sadness, men who took advantage of my loneliness, and men who took advantage of my brokenness.
I was searching for “the one.” I was searching for someone to want me. I was searching for someone to love me. I was searching, but I was searching in all the wrong places. I went to the bars, I went to the clubs, and they were loaded with potential someone’s, right? At least, that’s what I was hoping.
Before I knew it, I went from wanting a boyfriend to accepting “Friends with Benefits.” I had hoped that this person would see that I’m not like the rest of the girls, I’m different. I gave into his lust hoping that in time he would notice me.
What came from my “Friends with Benefits” was far more than I expected and at that time, far more than I wanted. In February of 2003 I found myself getting sick a lot. At first I thought it was an allergic reaction to a new cell phone I got, because it was only when I used it that I felt nausea. Then the thought, “You are pregnant” came to mind. I was like, “there is no way.” But still, the thought persisted, so I went and bought a home pregnancy test and took it at my work so that I could hide the evidence regardless of what the answer was. I didn’t want my family to know that I was having sex, let alone that I might be pregnant!
When I took the test, I found myself in a public bathroom stall, staring at a positive sign and balling my eyes out. These were not tears of joy that parents usually have when they find out they are going to have a baby. These were tears of complete and utter fear. What was I going to do? I didn’t have money to take care of myself, let alone a child. The person who was the father barely acknowledged me outside of the bedroom. What was my family going to think?
After a good hour or so of crying, I finally called up the father to have the “talk.” He met with me and in my streams of tears and choked up voice and finally just showing him the sticks (yes “sticks”, I took it twice to make sure), he finally understood.
What he said to me, will stick with me forever;
“I’m not ready to be a father.”
“Well, I’m not ready to be a mother.”
“I’ll help you take care of this.”
At the time, I subscribed to the Pro-Choice argument. At the time, I had agreed with Pro-Choice. I thought it was ok if the woman didn’t want to have a child, but found herself pregnant, to be rid of it. My thought was that it would be better to abort the child than to let it be born into a family that never wanted it. The very idea of someone else growing up with a family without love seemed far worse to me, than never entering that life in the first place. The thing is, I never thought I would do it myself.
March 1, 2003, one of my best friends walked into the abortion clinic with me. After a fight I had with the father, I told him not to come with me and so he didn’t. My friend went with me, even though she was against the idea, but she stuck by my side. Plus I needed someone to drive me home after.
A few hours later, I walked out of the clinic, empty.
It is said that when a person hits rock bottom, that is when they turn to God. Unfortunately, that is very true for me. I say unfortunately, because my whole life, I wanted nothing to do with God because of the kind of childhood I had. He couldn’t really be a loving God to allow what had happened to me as a child to happen. But it took this event to change me forever.
If I thought there was a dark cloud hovering over me before, this action swallowed me up in darkness. Whether it was a good thing or not, I was able to hide my depression fairly well. No one knew what I did, what had happened to me or what was happening to me. All people saw was a smiling, happy Dawn, but they had no idea that in the silence and darkness of my room, I cried myself to sleep every night.
It really is true that God can speak to us in dreams, because it was in a dream that I learned and understood exactly what I had done. In my dream, I kept the child, which happened to be a boy. But in my dream, I hated him. I didn’t want anything to do with him. My friend had to help me take care of him. It wasn’t until I thought my son was in mortal danger that I snapped out of my hatred to rescue him. When I did, he looked up at me and smiled. This smile woke me up in the middle of the night and once again I started to cry. But this time, for the first time, I said, “I am sorry, God, for destroying your gift to me.” and I meant it.
Even though, in the darkness of the night, I truly repented for what I had done, the darkness didn’t leave me, at least, not right away. This turn of events ended up getting me kicked out of the house, not for what I did, but for what I was doing. I was in such a case of depression that I had shut out my family, who in turn, not knowing what to do with me, shut me out too. With this, I had to leave school and work full time. Yet because of this was also how I got invited to go to church. My friend invited to me sing with her and the band that sang at a Life Teen Mass every Sunday. Just so that I could continue to sing, I said sure, why not.
Two years later, I received all 3 of the Sacraments of Initiation into the Catholic Church. For the first time, I openly confessed what I had done to my unborn son. The priest listened and was very gentle with me and even absolved me of all my sins even though I was getting baptized in a week. But it didn’t stop the tears and the ache that was in my heart.
The journey I took over the next four years was still very painful, very empty, very lonely and had me feeling like I was a lost sheep. But for once in my life, I didn’t look to men to fill the emptiness in me. I finally turned to God.
It was John the Baptist who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 NRSV) That was exactly what the journey was for me. Four years of emptying me of past longings, past wants, and past sins so that He could give me the greatest healing, which I received one year ago, on Aug 15, 2009, during the Goretti Group’s Race for the Chaste Conference.
On this night, I was before the Blessed Sacrament and God told me to be quiet, to be still. Though I fought it at first, because I wanted to sing the awesome songs, I did quiet myself and just listened. I was lying down in the back with my eyes closed for a few minutes. When I opened them, there before me was Jesus, smiling at me. In his arms was a beautiful little boy, and he, too, was smiling at me. It was in his smile that I knew, this wasn’t just any little boy, but he was my little boy. Jesus was telling me that it’s ok, that I am forgiven. But what was more, when I sat up and saw the Eucharist in front of me, there too, I saw my son running up the aisle toward me with his arms open wide saying, “It’s ok mommy, I love you.”
Tears were rolling down my face again, but this time, for the first time, they were tears of happiness.
My son has been praying for me this entire time. It was because of his love and his forgiveness that I found the healing and the love I had been searching for for so long. Jesus had to empty me so that He could draw me closer to Him and so that He could fill me with Himself who is Love, Forgiveness and Purity. He wanted me to be surrounded by His Light.
We all must remember that healing can happen. It’s not too late. Yes, it takes time, but if we let Him, Jesus will empty us of all that hurt, darkness and sin so that He can fill us with Himself and be made anew.
*Scriptural quotes were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.