The Healing Power of Community

by | Feb 24, 2021

Reclaimed Story exists to help women get unstuck from things in their past that hold them back from living the life they were created to live.

Through a vibrant life with Christ, Biblical teaching, and honest community, our passion is to bring hope and inspire healing.

This past weekend, we were able to fulfill our mission by working with abortion survivors. I (Denisha) survived my mom’s abortion attempts. In the many areas we serve women; this one is incredibly close to my heart.

Abortion survivors worldwide joined together for the first-annual virtual retreat.

The Abortion Survivors Network (ASN) hosted survivors from six different countries who came together for a time of encouragement, empowering, and equipping. Words can’t describe what it is like to look into the eyes of living miracles, even if only over Zoom.

Since we had to move to a virtual retreat in February, our heart was that everyone would feel close together. Ahead of the retreat, Nancy and I sent everyone who registered an “Experience Kit” filled with resources and goodies to make sure everyone knew how special they are, even when we are all miles apart.

Melissa Ohden, the Founder of ASN, described the day best.

“It was a time of being encouraged by what we’ve survived, the transformations that happen as we find community, heal, and are equipped to use our voices. Most of our survivor community had never interacted with other survivors before.”

“Imagine being told by our world that you don’t exist. Imagine then, how powerful it is to come face to face with people like you.

“Imagine what it’s like to be affirmed in your experience. That you matter, no matter where you’re from, what type of abortion you survived, and when.”

“Imagine being given tools to lift the burden that you carry, tools to communicate, when you’ve struggled for years, if not decades, for the right words.”

“Imagine being told you have a family always supporting you, cheering you on.”

“As someone who has faced rejection almost everywhere you turn, that’s life-changing. I have the incredible honor to be a part of a community that deserves to know they are loved. That deserves to be seen, heard, and acknowledged in our world, not silenced, shamed, and marginalized.” ~ Melissa Ohden Founder/Director, The Abortion Survivor’s Network

Many emotions have been shared and processed since Saturday. You see, being survivors means we have so much in common we could write a book about just the health issues, trust challenges, body memory, nightmares, etc., that came from the attempt on our life.

I didn’t know that was a thing?

I remember the day like it was yesterday. The rush of adrenaline made my arms and legs go numb. An empty, hollow feeling surged through my stomach. I held my phone tightly as I read my dad’s reply after I texted him, asking if my mom had considered having an abortion when she was pregnant with me.

She didn’t just consider it… She had one!

When you find out at 42 years of age that you survived an abortion attempt, your whole perspective on life changes, I began to question so many things.

Am I supposed to be alive? What if the abortion had been successful? Am I worthy of love? Why did I survive? Who else knows about this? Did I have a twin? What else do I not know about my life? What does this say about me? Am I alone in this?

Those are a few of the thoughts that flooded my head and my heart in the days following. I was convinced that I was alone and the only one who had ever survived an abortion procedure. You don’t hear about survivors on the news. You don’t hear about failed abortions at all.

The thief comes only to steal and kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:10

A few weeks after learning my story, I finally decided I would do it: I would step past my point of comfort and search the internet for “abortion survivor.” I expected Google to redirect me to another search; instead, I found my tribe.

I found The Abortion Survivors Network.

I was stunned and relieved to know that I didn’t have to navigate this experience alone. These were people who had gone before me and asked many of the same questions I was wrestling with, and they understood what it was like to discover this painful truth.

Bravely, I typed an email to a total stranger and shared my story. In response, I received an authentic email from a real-life person filled with understanding and hope that it was possible to belong.

Soon after, I began to meet other survivors. I connected with amazing people who lived their own unique stories and were gracious to love me right where I was. Those people who were once strangers have become some of my closest friends.

We have found community, and it is a privilege to extend that gift to others who seek it.

In addition to founding Reclaimed Story, I serve as the Healing Program Coordinator for The Abortion Survivors Network. Our healing curriculum, written by Melissa Ohden was written by a survivor for survivors.

Community fosters healing.

I have read that connection with others reduces stress and anxiety and leads to a more robust immune system. It also leads to acceptance, a sense of belonging, and a shared understanding, something that I had to experience to believe.

As overwhelming as my story was to me at first, I now see how all of my life experiences have led me to the place I am today. I’m a former pastor, a survivor, and a community builder.

Those who know the bitter sting of rejection deserve to know the loving acceptance of people who understand what it’s like to be in their shoes.

If you would like to learn more about the Abortion Survivors Network CLICK HERE.

Reclaiming Life Together,

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