Reading through some of these heartfelt stories from the lives of very real Catholic women is kind of sad; so many of us have been through unnecessary pain. While we all have a different tale to tell, I blame most of the trials on the sexual revolution of the 60’s. This time of “empowerment for women” caused and continues to cause a lot of pain and suffering. I seriously believe that most women would be much happier living in an era when life was much less complicated.
Since I was 15 years old, I have wished I was married in the 1950’s because it seemed to me that men and women respected one another then. They respected the Laws of God and were dedicated to maintaining harmony in the family. But I was born in the late 50’s and lived through the Cultural Revolution. Many of my girlfriends embraced it. They loved the freedom and opportunities that feminism presented, so they went on the pill and were determined to carve a new path for themselves. Not me. My plan was to let God be in charge.
I went to Mass throughout my college career, I pursued the talents that God gave me and I waited. I waited and occasionally I dated hoping to find “the one.” I thought I did everything right, but boys stopped calling me when I told them how I felt about premarital sex. I believed waiting for marriage was honorable, initially. Then it started to become embarrassing and eventually it haunted me.
When I was 21 I had sex just to get it over with. No longer having the stigma hanging over me, I could refuse sex because I didn’t want to do it, not because I was saving myself, which was apparently the kiss of death.
Still single at 24, I moved to a big city because I didn’t know what else to do with myself other than pray constantly for a husband. I tried to date, but city boys were not interested in committed relationships. I became friends with a guy I worked with who was very sympathetic and encouraging. But after lots of conversations, he thought I needed to move out of the “Dark Ages” and embrace the feminist movement. His argument started to get to me. I mean, I wasn’t very happy and it seemed to me that everyone else around me was. They were living it up and I was pretty much waiting for my life to begin. Maybe he was right.
I allowed my life to take a very dark turn. I started having sex with my guy friend, who also happened to be married. It was a terrible sin and I hated myself for it. I broke it off a thousand times, but each time I fell into deep despair. I was painfully lonely and hopelessly in love with him. Then I got pregnant. He handed me $2000 in cash. I wept and I wept and I wept. I was a sinner, and I believed this was my punishment. I was trapped, scared, and desperately alone because I had given up believing in God, as my acts were so shameful. There were no angels to rescue me. I loved this married man and felt in my heart that if I kept the child it would destroy his family, and I believed that would make the sin of the affair even worse. He was my world and I didn’t want to lose it, so I took off from work the Friday of my 8th week of pregnancy and had an abortion.
Nearly two years later, after about 6 months of therapy, I was able to end the relationship for good. It had lasted 4 years and I was so wounded by it, it honestly took me another two years to emotionally move on. During that time, I started to talk to my younger, married sister more frequently. She was critical of the women’s movement and wanted me to leave the city. When we would say our good byes, she would often add, “I’ll pray for you.”
One time she ended the call with an admonishment, “I’ll pray for you,” she said, “but you have to pray too. God wants to hear from you!” All those years I had prayed seemed so fruitless, but with her words I realized how much I missed my relationship with the Lord. Inspired by her admonishment, I gradually journeyed my way back to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. It didn’t happen overnight, yet each step in His direction filled me with great hope and peace. I received the sacrament of Reconciliation, went back to church and began to study my faith for the first time since my 8th grade Confirmation. I also experienced vivid “directional” signs from the Good Shepherd, and I knew He was leading me out of the darkness. God’s generous mercy healed the wounds of my mistakes and I vowed to live my life differently.
After ten years in the city, I finally moved. I wanted to be closer to my family and I thought I needed to discern whether I was called to the consecrated life. One month into my discernment, I met my future husband. He was a kind and gentle man who was also profoundly hurt from the effects of the sexual revolution.
The Cultural Revolution of the 60’s brought about great change that I was clearly not prepared to deal with. My parents raised their daughters to be wives and mothers. My mother didn’t have any idea what the single life was like and thought I was being too picky with men. My home parish was equally clueless and Youth Ministry didn’t exist beyond CYO basketball. There wasn’t any support; I was very confused and it was obvious that the people who could or should have helped were just as confused.
I think the church has come a very long way in addressing the delicate moral issues that youth are confronted with daily, and as parents, my husband and I know we have to be ever-vigilant. Wife/mother and husband/father are admirable goals, but single men and women can also have meaningful and fulfilling vocations. There is no reason to wait for adult life to begin.
***EDITOR’S NOTE: If you or someone you know has been involved with abortion, or is having an unexpected pregnancy, please contact Project Rachel post-abortion healing or Gabriel Project pregnancy help for confidential support and assistance.