Why I Aborted My Pro-Life Movement

It’s time for the annual Pro-Life Rally in Washington. I was there when I was 17. I was a staunch Republican. I regurgitated the propaganda like a good Catholic girl. I chanted, “Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Roe v. Wade has got to go!” at the top of my lungs and even in my sleep. I saved my stop sign poster. I pinned it to my wall.

About a year later, my heart hurt. I felt like I had let myself down. I felt like I had betrayed my faith, my voice as an American citizen, and my honor as a Christian to love my neighbor. I took my poster down. I closed my mouth. I started thinking and listening more than yelling and parroting. That was the beginning of the end of my affiliation with the Republican party. But that’s another story…

Morally and ethically speaking, I am still pro-life. Politically speaking, I turned my back and here’s why.

  1. I’m Pro-Choice because I’m Christian (Part 1). I’m the sort of Christian that leads with my heart. Compassion. Empathy. Gratitude. Not contempt, condemnation and fear. When I took the required ethics course at my very conservative, very born-again, very evangelical high school, it forced me to think. I can’t say it had the outcome they expected, but think I did and for that I’m grateful. I couldn’t understand why all these Christians that powerfully led with their faith and spewed out Sanctity of Life rhetoric around fetuses were also passionately pro-war, pro-gun, pro-defense, and pro-death penalty. If all life is sacred, then shouldn’t…all… life be sacred? If it is a law to save the babies, then also make it a law to destroy your guns, disassemble your bombs, resolve conflict with peace, and abolish the death penalty.

 

If all life is sacred, then shouldn’t…all… life be sacred?

 

  1. I’m Pro-Choice because I’m Christian (Part 2). God gave us the gift of choice. And what God gives to us, shouldn’t we pay forward? Love? Forgiveness? In acknowledging the holiness of our God-breathed existence, shouldn’t we honor the way that God created us, which is in God’s image, with free will? Free will is a God-like quality. That. Is. Terrifying. We are little gods running around the planet. But instead of giving out free will like The God, we use our free will to take it away from others. Wait what? Yeah. No. That makes zero sense. How dare we deny God’s gift to each other to make our own decisions! If we restrict or diminish what God has given us, we are elevating ourselves above God. By withholding God’s gift of free will, we are interfering in God’s blessing and ultimately condemning ourselves. Respecting free will is respecting our God-given gift of independent thoughts, ideas and values.

I chose to have my children.

  1. Personal preferences shouldn’t be laws. I like chocolate cake. That doesn’t mean in Octavia’s country red velvet cake is illegal. Those that enjoy red velvet should not be mocked, ridiculed and imprisoned. If you want red velvet, eat your red velvet. I will have chocolate. Enjoy. It’s your body, eat what you want. Ok, my cake metaphor is hokey. I’m no anarchist. I think laws are necessary. I think people should be held accountable. But laws are necessary for public health, for the greater good, for things that universally affect, protect and care for all of us. The choice to abort a pregnancy is a very personal, private, difficult, heart-aching decision that has no business being on the public agenda.

 

  1. Pro-Choice does not equal pro-abortion. No one loves abortion. Have you ever seen anyone get excited and throw a party because they’re having an abortion? Absolutely not. The thought of it makes me sick. But being a parent, what crushes me even more is an unwanted, unloved, and uncared for child being born and forced even deeper into the margins, made to be invisible, desperately trying to survive and make a life, ultimately falling into the cracks and statistically, crime, drugs, prison or death. Where is the sanctity in this life? Who is rushing to adopt all of the children that might be forced to exist? If abortion becomes illegal, someone had better start building the biggest and swankiest home and school for all of these children and also providing top-rate prenatal healthcare, birthing luxuries and post-partum care for all of their mothers. Better yet, this birthing hotel should be funded by all the men that fertilized these goddesses’ eggs. What would happen if we held men as accountable for providing for and caring for their babies as the mothers? If you don’t want to have an abortion, don’t have one. It’s your choice. I chose to have my children. I can’t imagine if the tables were turned and I were forced to abort.

The choice to abort a pregnancy is a very personal, private, difficult, heart-aching decision that has no business being on the public agenda.

 

  1. The Pro-Life agenda is punishing women for having sex. It isn’t about the babies. It’s about condemning a woman for being a woman and enjoying being a woman. It’s about forcing her into shame because she tasted the pleasures of sex and doesn’t want (or isn’t equipped to take on) long-term consequences of a child. Ridiculous variations of this include forcing her to fully fund arrangement of funeral services and burying her aborted child or even the threat of imprisonment for murder. But why is it always the woman that is dishonored? Her body will be wrecked from the inside out. She will struggle emotionally, mentally, physically, financially. Who has compassion for this woman? I don’t even want to start ranting about cases of rape or incest. If this is a shame game, it takes two to make the child, so please, bring in the father. Bring the man in! Inflate his insides and stretch his abdominal skin 500x the normal size. Implant a 10lb parasite that rubs on his organs, sits on his bladder, pinches his nerves and kicks his lungs. Slice him from rectum to urethra. Let him bleed for two months to recover. Let him suffer along with her and the two can collectively wear the shame of procreation. Back to point No. 4, if this is about guilt and consequences, make the daddies personally fund every ounce of healthcare required to have a healthy pregnancy, birth and post-partum recovery. And let him raise the child.

 

…this birthing hotel should be funded by all the men that fertilized these goddesses’ eggs.

 Also, criminalizing abortion is not a decline in abortion. It’s a decline in healthy, medically-sound, legal abortions and an increase of dangerous quick-fixes and botched shortcuts. If a woman is determined not to have her baby, she will find a way not to have her baby. Believe me. We are resourceful. This is dangerous. This is terrifying. How many women will be put at risk for permanent damage or infection – or mental breakdowns – because they’re inducing miscarriages or inflicting self-harm? This is the ultimate punishment. And for what? Having sex?

To those marching: good for you. I support marches and protests and anyone speaking their voice. But I ask you to stop and consider why you’re marching. Would it be better to share compassion to women going into an abortion? Or maybe you could volunteer at Planned Parenthood to help educate women on how to prevent pregnancies in the first place. Maybe you could even start a young women’s self-care initiative to help girls validate themselves rather than looking for approval and acceptance through sexually pleasing a man. There are so many alternatives that are equally pro-life but not anti-women. 

Carrying a child is a blessing; a magical God-like honor. And it is an honor for her to choose her path. Let the woman decide for herself. Stop talking and start listening. Be a vessel of compassion, not contempt.

~ OR

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Sweet Relief: Three Ways to Cleanse Your Spirit

Do you ever have epiphanies on the toilet? I do. Here’s one…stay with me…

The Toilet Diaries: December 2, 2016

This morning as I changed my feminine product, emptied my bladder and bowels, I got chills. The chills of relief when all the waste I’d been holding inside for 8-plus hours finds its exit and I can relax. I felt my body melt into itself exhaling, “Ahhhh this feels better.”

If our physical body so desperately needs to release, surely the law must be consistent for the whole soul.

I remembered being a child and laughing hysterically with my best friend at the phrase, “What a relief!” in response to having a nice long steamy piss.

But all this relieving eviction of body product got me to thinking…if our physical body so desperately needs to release, surely the law must be consistent for the whole soul: emotions, spirit and psyche.

Have you ever tried to hold your pee when a convenient toilet escapes you? Perhaps you’ve experienced the horrifying “prairie-dog” effect when your body just can’t make the dog stay in the hole. For the love of all things holy, why can’t the careful walk to the toilet also be the swiftest? The gush of blood when you just weren’t prepared. Eating that one wrong meal and you can’t keep the food down. And don’t your eyes pop out of your head if you try *not* to sneeze or do it with your eyes open? Or worse yet, martyring yourself trying to hold your gas for mutually the fear of embarrassment and the olfactory safety of your neighbors, but you finally reason with yourself to free the trapped air and your heart sinks into your pants when you feel that it’s actually a shart? Please, dear God no!

It is nothing short of torturous misery to try and hold in vomit, poo, pee, gas, or a sneeze – and it is equally all things glorious to release them.

Heaven bless the perky rebound after throwing up too much alcohol or a disagreeable dish. Freedom. The cosmically orgasmic sneeze when our bodies reject a sinus intruder. Yes! More! Finally taking that Austin Powers-long pee after a good night’s sleep. Hallelujah! Making it to a toilet when your intestines have had enough. Pure ecstasy! Feeling your body deflate five inches once you release a massive gas pocket. Slow, wordless smile.

It is nothing short of torturous misery to try and hold in vomit, poo, pee, gas, or a sneeze – and it is equally all things glorious to release them.

For our physical bodies to function properly, the ugly must come out, up, down, AWAY. And into the air or down the drain. Are we properly cleansing our minds, spirits and hearts of its waste too? How do you practice the letting go of old memories and heartache that is certainly rotting and creating toxic fumes that prevent us from healthy function? I came up with three categories that sum it all up for me:

1. Burn

    Fire is a timeless symbol of not only power and passion but also equally life and death. The phoenix sets itself ablaze only to rise from the ashes again. Burning incense is a universally sacred practice. Two ways to burn yourself clean: first, sage. Smudging is another ancient practice of purifying space, energy and literally the air around you by smoldering leaves or sticks. The second is by naming your filth – write a letter to someone you need to forgive, write down the missteps that are anvils to your soul. Maybe it will be paragraphs; maybe it will be pages. Write it all down, weep over it, and then light it up and let it go…safely of course.

    2. Birth

      Nothing says out with the old like in with the new. The order doesn’t matter. Sometimes the arrival of something new can push the old aside. Other times, you’ve successfully eradicated your spirit gunk and although its exit is healthy, you’re left with a void of what was. Cleansing yourself through newness can be anything – something powerful that you create, design, develop; a therapeutic shopping spree to signify change; the first ceremony of a new tradition; moving or relocating to start anew in a new place; find a new way to give back to the community. Dumping your spirit’s waste in this way can be your renaissance.

      3. Be

        This is my personal self-care favorite. Being. As an extrovert, I tend to find my energy among people, but I also have introvert tendencies and need to indulge in delicious hermit-like moments to find my balance. Part of my soul-cleansing process includes quality alone time. This isn’t the avoidant type of me-time that includes eating comforting lime chicken or steak tacos (La Pasadita is the best – corn tortilla, onions & cilantro) on my couch in droopy sweatpants I’ve had since high school and watching made-for-TV movies from the 90s (you know the ones with Tori Spelling and Joanna Kerns…). Although these moments feel GREAT, I mean the actual art of being. Unplugging, looking inward, opening your soul to let go of the old and bad and ugly, and welcome in love and compassion and light. Meditate, pray, go to a sensory deprivation chamber, go off the grid for a few hours – heck, try a whole week! Delete the site history of the internet browser that is your soul and refresh your deepest core.

        Spiritual cleansing sweet relief soul waste
        If you have more tips – or have particular success with any of these, please write to me and let me know. Let’s continue the upward trend of healthy release. What. A.  Relief. 

        ~OR

        2017 Mantra: Allow the Magic 

        I’m not part of Team Burn 2016 To the Ground. I had a great year. While it was full of loss – of lives, loved ones, and trust; and equally full of pain, heartache and betrayal. I was assaulted, attacked, violated, harassed, disrespected, insulted, bullied and berated. I got hurt a lot in 2016.

        But here’s the thing: 2016 was also overwhelmingly also full of growth. I grew in areas where I didn’t even know I needed to be challenged. I saw things from other perspectives when I thought I had already examined all options. I saw myself with new eyes. I saw others with new eyes, too. I learned vulnerability and openness. I remembered how to relax and be OK with – and without – being OK. I learned to advocate for myself. I was encouraged, inspired, uplifted, empowered, adored, cherished, complemented and celebrated. I was seen and lovingly embraced a lot in 2016, too.

        What boundaries am I willing to set to make this the most transformational year of my life?

        Last night, after the various glittery balls around the world dropped and the star in Chicago rose, one of my best friends asked, “So what’s your 2017 Mantra? Every year starts with a mantra!”

         

        I hadn’t put much thought into it, but some of my best ideas are my gut’s first urging. My inner voice cried out before she even finished her thought:

         

        WHAT YOU ALLOW WILL CONTINUE, it said.

         

        I use this phrase a lot when I’m being the wise best friend and my girl had another run-in with the crappy boyfriend. But until the most intimate part of my living energy spurted it out, I had never considered it in all areas of my life.

        2017 is my year of boundaries – with myself, with my children, with my friends, family and love interests. What boundaries am I willing to set to make this the most transformational year of my life?

         

        1. What I allow for myself will continue. I have dreams. Goals. Aspirations. I have a vision for my mind, body and spirit. In the last five years, those milestones have been on a revolving scale with timelines extended due to the circumstances. But what if I held myself to a new standard? What if I did whatever it takes to make my dreams come true? What if I allowed myself to never hit snooze on a weekday and actually go to the gym before work? What if I stopped allowing myself to take a pass on packing my lunch and stopped eating at restaurants every day? What if I stopped choosing (anything else) over finishing the laundry?

        What I will allow to continue for myself is being bold and radiant. Living into my calling rather than shying away from it. I will allow myself to eat healthy and spend wisely. I will allow myself to be disciplined in study, art, music, dance, and fitness. I will allow myself to enjoy my lifestyle to the fullest.

         

         

        1. What I allow for my children will continue. Tantrums, whining, begging, screaming, arguing, avoiding chores, procrastinating…typical for children, yes, but these aren’t things they outgrow. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of adults this year have adult sized tantrums, and bicker, tease and bully like children. My responsibility as a parent is to raise adults that can think critically and handle adulting without reverting to infantile behaviors on grown-up scales. Discipline, emotional maturity, and calm problem solving starts now.

        What I will allow to continue for my children is positive reinforcement, intentional quality time, praise and rewards, boundaries, healthy conversations about emotions, and more responsibility with contributing to our home and housework.

         

        1. What I allow for my friends will continue. I’ve lost friends this year – some to death, yes but in this case, I’m referring to friends lost due to just being slowly squeezed out of the circle; so slowly I wasn’t sure it was happening until it was over. And that’s OK. But I realized that over the years some of those friends have deeply hurt me, whether they knew it or not. I’ve allowed myself to suffer in silence, not fully understanding that I had power within me all along to steer those friendships; I just didn’t use it. I’m also learning that in forever friendships, a silent friend does not equate to a good friend. Just like in marriages, or any lifelong connection, if you’re not challenging each other in growth, what the heck are you doing for each other? Friends cannot allow friends to follow destructive paths, nor can they allow their friends to take the easiest route, avoiding their highest potential.

        What I will allow to continue for my friends is the glorious give-and-take of enjoying each other’s’ company. We come bearing gifts for each other – gifts of time, growth, comfort, compassion, acceptance, laughter, presence, love and forgiveness.

         

        1. What I allow for my family will continue. I have a colorful family. I don’t mean ethnicity or lifestyle. I mean psychologically. My entire life I’ve been around destructive patterns that I’ve had to endure – or perhaps that I’ve allowed myself to endure. It’s OK to respectfully decline abusive conversations. It’s OK for me to not allow this cycle to continue.

        What I will allow to continue for my family is accepting and loving me for who I am and who I want to be. We will speak to each other with tenderness and empathy, and respect the decisions we’ve made for our individual lives.

         

        1. What I allow for my love interests will continue. Just last week, I had a potential date. Someone I met online on a Monday, began texting on a Wednesday and was about to meet in person on a Friday. But this person was already playing power games – holding something over my head and expecting me to jump for it. He set the foundation for our relationship that he would have all the cards and I would have to take whatever he dealt. I shut it down immediately. He gave me a beautiful apology, which I accepted. I also told him that power games now meant power games in five years and I’m just going to pass. I cancelled our date and we never met. It was deeply fulfilling. And also deeply healing. While I would love to be in a partnership, I am very happy without a significant other, and there is no reason I should make these kinds of exceptions – especially with a stranger – just to not be “single.”

        What I will allow to continue for my romantic relationships is serving each other in love, enjoying each other’s company and uplifting each other’s dreams. We will design our own family culture, and have patience, compassion and forgiveness with our flaws. We will accept each other without the intent of changing one another and will grow together, helping each other along the way. We’ll communicate freely, welcome vulnerability and set expectations. We will allow each other to be sad, angry, upset, without letting that shake our unconditional love.

         

        There’s no badge of honor in martyring yourself for the comfort of others. If you are unhappy, uncomfortable, unfulfilled, unimpressed, and uncertain, just say no. Don’t allow it to continue. Allow yourself to live into your truest self because denying your inner voice is the biggest crime you could commit against the world. You – and I – are here to be our best and truest selves. You – and I – are our greatest gifts to the world.

         

        2017 is my year of boundaries. My #shutitdown year. My #allowthemagic year. I’m a fierce and cosmic goddess, formed in the image of God and the same elements of the cosmos. I am strong and powerful, if I allow myself to be.

        Octavia reese cosmic goddess allow the magic  

        What’s your 2017 Mantra?

        Octavia reese 2017 mantra magic
        2017 Mantra

        ~OR 

        Don’t Recover. Adapt.

        The news makes me want to vomit. I’m demoralized by the American presidential election, disgusted with the global rejection of those displaced by war, confused by war period, angry at routine segregation and oppression, and the rampant injustice and violence makes my insides curdle.

        But if recovery is getting back to normal and normal  is slaughtering, ravaging, ridiculing and degrading our neighbors, then I don’t want it. I don’t want to go back to a normal where fear begets discrimination and pride births peonage.

        I hate that we’ve almost forgotten about Emily Doe simply because another tragedy upstaged the atrocity. I hate it. I hate that we saunter from one sickening unnecessary evil to another. I hate the heartache. And somehow, this pain is so familiar to me.

        I stand in solidarity with Emily Doe. One night I shared a taxi with a close friend. We agreed to drop me off first. And then he asked to use my bathroom. Of course. Why not. I told him to use it and let himself out. I was exhausted and going to bed. I said goodbye. And then I woke up to the sound of my bed knocking against the wall; my sweatpants waistband closer to my knees than my ribs. I’ll stop there. I won’t say I was raped. He did stop. But I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in months. I want to move. I want a new bed. I want to burn my sheets. Just like Emily wrote, “I wanted to take off my body like a jacket” and throw it out with the garbage. I still do. I get it, Emily. I ache with you.

        And Orlando. God. The agony radiates through my soul. My stomach crawls up into my throat every time I try to read the details of the horrific night. I wish I didn’t know what it’s like to lose someone to violence, too. I wish I wasn’t familiar with getting middle-of-the-night calls that someone has been shot. Killed. I wish I didn’t know what it’s like to huddle on the floor in a corner and pray the bullets miss you. And your brother. And your mom. I wish I hadn’t been to more funerals than weddings – two of them children, murdered in the streets. I wish I hadn’t lost my dad without saying goodbye. I get it. To all the family and friends off the victims, I ache with you.

        I don’t just empathize. I understand. I cry with you.  And it sucks. And it doesn’t get better. It doesn’t get easier. And I hope to God we don’t recover.

        re cov er

        As I – we – are surrounded by loss, I’ve realized two simple truths: 100% of people will die. 100% of people have faith (even if you believe in nothing, you must believe in that nothing with all of your soul). So it makes sense that 100% of people will experience grief at some point. Whether it is the loss of a life, the dissolution of a relationship, a stabbing violation of trust, the pain and betrayal is universal. You are not alone. 100% of people understand.

        All of us have experienced a version of emotional trauma that leaves us with a gaping void in our spirit.

        Most people will try to ignore the emptiness. It’s so much easier to remain where we are comfortable and unchallenged. We act like everything is fine. We try to recover. We try to go back to normal. But if recovery is getting back to normal and normal is slaughtering, ravaging, ridiculing and degrading our neighbors, then I don’t want it. I don’t want to go back to a normal where fear begets discrimination and pride births peonage.

        I don’t want to make a recovery to that. I want a relovery. I want to adapt. I pray that we will adapt.

        Adapt to lead with love.

        Adapt to allow space to grieve.

        Adapt to remember.

        Adapt to be nonjudgmental of our neighbors. All of our neighbors.

        Adapt to look within ourselves first.

        Adapt to identify our prejudices and control our actions.

        Adapt to own our emotions.

        Adapt to respect others’ emotions.

        Adapt to uplift others’ decisions.

        Adapt to celebrate our differences.

        Adapt to be a willing student.

        Adapt to use I-phrases; not you-phrases.

        Adapt to stop blaming.

        Adapt to admit fault.

        Adapt to apologize.

        Adapt to be brave.

        Adapt to let go.

        Adapt to name our fears, insecurities, and silence them from the inside out.

        Adapt to improve someone’s life, not take advantage of it.

        Adapt to honor your neighbor as yourself.

        Adapt to make unselfish decisions.

        Adapt to protect and care for strangers.

        Adapt to ask for help.

        Adapt to constructively cope with dissonance.

        Adapt to release control.

        Adapt to include instead of condemn.

        Adapt to be confident.

        Adapt to know when to stop.

        Adapt to speak up.

        Adapt to accept.

        Adapt to back off.

        Adapt to listen.

        Adapt to learn someone’s story.

        Adapt to see people.

        Adapt to be thoughtful. Curious. Caring. Gentle.

        Adapt to be kind.

        Adapt to heal.

        Adapt to unite.

        Adapt to forgive.

        Adapt to understand.

        Adapt to empathize.

        Adapt to love.

        This much I know is true: we will find a new normal. We’ll eventually stop crying every day. One day, we’ll stop thinking about it every day. One night, we won’t have nightmares, or cry ourselves to sleep. Or replay the instant over and over again. One day we won’t occupy that strange space of something that is ending. One day relief will come for longer than a handful of minutes a few times a day.

        One day we won’t occupy that strange space of something that is ending.

        But some days the sadness will feel fresh again. Real. Surface-level. Raw. It might be in a year. It might be in five years. It might be in two months. We might get dizzy when the wave hits us. When what’s left of that empty pit of loss peeks out from our core and tugs at our memories. It could be a smell. Or a song. Or a stranger’s voice in the distance that has an eerily familiar cadence. It won’t get easier. It won’t get better. But we will adapt.

        ~OR

        #speakwoman #prayfororlando #peacefororlando #gaypride #orlandopride #weareorlando #adapt #recover #stoptheviolence #regrouprebootrebuild #emilydoe #rape #roadtorelovery

        Before Memorial Day

        It’s a holiday. While I’m on-call, many of my fellow Americans are doing the yooj: gushing over the all-too-rare magic of a long weekend without the sacrifice of one priceless Vacation Day or a sacred PTO cash-in. Yes, one of those Mondays that has something to do with the military and too many of us have no idea whether it is Memorial, Labor or Veterans Day. The only thing that triggers brain activity: Day. Off. Fer’ Murica.

        It’s the unofficial start of summer with a widespread epidemic of day drinking, lounging, sun poisoning and wishing for still just one more day like this.

        Don’t wait until you almost lose someone to see someone.

        One more day. It’s Memorial Day. What we’re supposed to think of is those that are serving, those that returned from serving, those that died serving, and those that disappeared serving. This video (again, wrong Monday Military holiday, but same thing…), really got me in the feels:

         

        There’s something beautiful and aching about the desperate, automatic, instinctual throwing of limbs around the body of someone you love and miss…like you have to touch them with as much of your bodily surface area as possible and you’ll never let them go again.

        My boys hug me like this. It almost brings me to tears each time. I want to freeze the moment and hold them forever. And I know one day they’ll be too cool for me. One day, they’ll start doubting and pulling back and refraining. One day, they’ll tone it down like the rest of us.

        We’re muted. We’re diluted. Until we experience the threat of loss. Until that stabbing wake-up call;  that one instant it takes for us to start seeing each other again.

        I wish these stunningly passionate wordless expressions of deep affection were more common. I wish we’d be like eager uninhibited children, or the military-relative that has been on-edge for two years or more. I wish we would greet family before leaving for work on the Tuesday after a nice long holiday weekend  and instantly do the same when that awful vacation-hangover workday is over.

        Don’t wait until you almost lose someone to see someone. They don’t even have to be in uniform. Hold them now. Embrace them before they’re deployed. Before the diagnosis. Before the accident. Before the 911 call. Before the coma. Before the hospice. Before the abandoned Facebook profile. Before the memorial. Before the void. Before the hole in your spirit. Before they are a memory. Go cling to someone you love while you have them.

        Happy Memorial Day.

        ~OR