A Lesson in Listening

"A group of women who have had abortions will be meeting" read the sign on the women's room wall. Immediately I knew I wanted to go. But why? I had never had an abortion. Just seven months earlier I had lost a child to miscarriage. What was drawing me there?

The sign went on: "We are a group of women who, having shared this experience, have come together to support and heal ourselves and each other."

"This experience." Did I share it?

"We are beginning to heal through sharing our different experiences and realizing our common feelings and struggles through our conflict about having had abortions."

Would we have some common feelings about what we'd gone through? Certainly we would have differences in both our experiences and our feelings.

"Women who have had abortions are invited to come and share, ask questions, or just listen. All discussion and attendance are confidential."

Did I have a right to be there? Would I be infringing upon their privacy? Why do I really want to go? Wasn't I through processing my loss? I'm pregnant again; what will they think of that?

I went.

I WAS VERY NERVOUS as I walked into that first meeting. I am one of a team of campus ministers and thought about offering my "services" to them in this role. I knew though that this was not appropriate. They hadn't asked for my services, and inside I knew that I would be using my role as a buffer. Something to put between me and them. No, I needed to go on my own. I needed to be as vulnerable as they were.

No one said much at first. It wasn't clear who was leading the group or what would happen. There were seven or eight of us there. At some point one of the members who had, I later found out, founded the group the year before, suggested we go around, tell our names, and say a bit about why we were there.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 1995
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