Denial is a River
It's an old joke. Someone would say the word 'denial' and someone else would retort, "isn't that a river in Egypt?"
Actually, I never fully understood why folks found that funny, but I do know it was a trope that was and is still used today.
Denial can flow like an aimless river.
Let me explain.
I happened to be conversing with a woman on TikTok about a prayer I'd recently posted. It was an early morning post and I wanted it be raw and relatable. It was a prayer about abortion regret and repentance. It was the kind of post that I’d hope would strike a chord with someone who was hurting and felt hopeless. The prayer must have hit this one particular woman some kinda way because she immediately responded defensively. That was not the chord I was hoping to strike but, at least, it was a response. I’d used words like, ’sin’, ‘sorry’, ‘forgive’ etc. in the prayer. These words sent her straight down the river of 'denial’ regarding her own abortion.
I can commiserate with her denial because I too drifted on that river for 20 years…That river, which went nowhere, actually distracted me from naming my abortion as the sin it was and denied me the chance to grieve. I also missed the opportunity to feel sorry for what I'd done and ask God to forgive me. I pray she and I can maintain an ongoing conversation which could potentially, gently lead her to an understanding of the true nature of abortion and why denying the act does not change the fact. That can only happen if and when I earn her trust and can show her a safe pathway off the river of denial that is taking her nowhere.
I am coming to understand that when we get to the stage of denying something significant we are actually acknowledging something else equally profound.
So, I am choosing to share with my new TikTok friend a piece written by poet Gwendolyn Brooks called "the mother". Ms Brooks, a bold activist, was inspired to write a poem of acknowledgement and, dare I say, regret about abortion. Read it for yourself and decide, but I offer it to my new friend, who is clearly Pro-abortion, as a way to step out of the river called denial and onto the solid ground of truth. It is as true and honest an account of abortion regret as I have seen written in poetry. I want her to feel the anguish Ms. Brooks felt as she attempted to hold on to conflicting values. The poem is both gut wrenching and beautiful and I find that it keeps me on solid ground and out of the river of denial.
I'm not sure if it will resonate with my TikTok bud or not but it may stir something in her or in someone else; It is that powerful.
Here is "the mother" by Gwendolyn Brooks.
Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.
I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children.
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches, and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?—
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.
Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
By Gwendolyn Brooks copyright 1963.
To read more about Pulitzer prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, go to: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/gwendolyn-brooks.
Join Arise Artists this Thursday at 7pm as I read this poem which is my selection to celebrate Women’s History Month. You may RSVP at AriseArtists.com. Let us come into acknowledgement of the act and the fact of abortion so that we can allow our river of denial to flow into God's Sea of Forgetfulness.
Listen as Helen Baylor sings "The Sea of Forgetfulness"
Much love and many blessings! Sylvia