The Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat

After Christine contacted me over the phone about the weekend retreat i was apprehensive. I had never gone far away from home other than my first trip to New York city. I was going to a place that i never been. Spending a weekend with other individuals i didn’t know frightened me, Not only that, But the retreat was based on the catholic religion, i grew up in a christian household. I knew of some differences between both religions, but i also knew that God and the son was apart of both. I asked myself, is this okay? can i intertwine Christianity and Catholicism? Does this make me both catholic and christian? Is that even possible? I prayed and, god let me know that it didn’t matter, as long as i came to him, served him, i would receive my healing either way, as long as i put him first.

Rachel’s Vineyard was a  three-day retreat program, open to mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings of aborted children as well as those who have worked in the abortion industry. That weekend helped retreatants begin healing from their loss through group sharing, a memorial service and Mass.

I feared that the people who were there to help me heal would try to convert me to Catholicism (my anxiety). I thought that these two religions couldn’t mingle.  Feeling afraid and not knowing  what to expect i asked My new love interest to join me. I expected a  “no” but it was the total opposite. He supported and wanted to join me with no questions asked. Weeks before the retreat Christine and i would email back and fourth whenever i needed support and i would call her when i had a bad day thinking about my abortion. She was so kind, understanding, and she never judged. she always reminded me that god loves me so much. It was a breath of fresh air. Days before the retreat i was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect or what horror stories that i would hear, i didn’t know if i would break down in tears while i shared my story. Was this retreat really going to help me heal from my abortion? was this some type of cult? was i going to a safe place? Was it wrong from me to seek healing from the catholic religion and not my own?  My thoughts were racing and my anxiety started to get the best of me. He stayed in my corner reassuring me that everything would be fine because he would be there. We drove an hour and a half to our destination and may i just say my anxiety was getting the better of me, then again my wonderful love interest  offered  words of encouragement and brought me back down from my nervousness. When we arrived, we pulled up to what seemed to be a church.

I wanted to jump back in the car and turn around to head home, but there was no turning back, i knew i needed to do it. I thought to myself “were going to sleep here”? i was expecting a spa, nature type of environment, i began to tense up, at least him and i would be able to share a room right?  Christine met us outside and gave us details on what the weekend would be like. Her presence gave me a sense of calm, her tone of voice made me feel safe. There were two other couples there along with a few single women. Christine gave us a tour and showed us where we would be staying.  When i walked into my room there was a beautiful scarf that had been handmade just for me,

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My note from my Rachel Vineyard Staff

a letter on top of it with a beautiful flower. There was also a pen and pad to write down thoughts or any inspirational thoughts that might have come to mind.  Justin and i also learned that we had to sleep in separate rooms, we should have saw that coming, but we made it work.  An half hour later we were called into a small room. We wasted no time going into introductions and explaining why we were there. There was also living scriptures. We all sat around in a circle with Christine and 3 other staff  who helped her to coordinate the retreat. Christine then asked each one of us to share why we were there and what we hope we will get out of the weekend. The stories i heard made me tear up. Many abortions and miscarriages, so much loss. When it was my turn i looked at him, he gave me a look,  a look letting me know “i’m here”. I started to tell my story and couldn’t get it out before i burst into tears, thoughts of the clinic, the operating room, The pain all came back. He held me and whispered to me “i’m here baby i’m not going anywhere let it out”. At this point everyone who had shared their experience cried with me. I will never forget that feeling.  Christine thanked Justin for supporting me through everything. I was thankful that god had brought me a man that i could be vulnerable with, a man that could see all my scars and love me for them. We all stood after stories were shared, Christine and the father of the church led us in prayer. I had the biggest headache from crying and snot continually dripped from my face into my soggy napkin.  After the session was over we had dinner in the dining room. He and i talked to young married couple about their experience. Tom and Chen (not their real names) had suffered from miscarriages after Chen had  an abortion.  They told us that they were planning on getting pregnant soon but wanted to come the retreat to heal the loss of their other pregnancies. They were a really nice couple and we all had many things in common. After dinner we all headed to our separate rooms. I hugged him and thanked him again for coming with me, even though he had nothing to do with my abortion experience.

 

I had a hard time sleeping that first night. I was in a new place and even though it was a holy place, it was also terrifying. I didn’t know what to expect, were they a cult? were they planning something sinister? My anxiety was at an all time high and i stayed at alert just in case there were plans of any ill will(pure paranoia) The Next morning came and i had slept horribly. Breakfast was served in the small dining hall on the first floor. He and had communicated the previous night about how they would wake everyone up for morning breakfast and activities, also thanked him again for coming on this journey with me. My new love and i sat at a table with Tom and Chen.  They smiled as we walked towards them to sit and talked about what we thought the day was going to be like.  I finally felt like i wasn’t alone, i finally felt like god set this up for a reason.

The day was filled with testimonies and prayer groups. They split us up into small groups and we would meet in different parts of the church. One of the exercises that broke me down was The Role Play. One of the councilors would pretend that they were one of the people who might have contributed to our experiences, they were also there to just let us vent. As everyone participated in the exercise i stared to sink into my chair. There were no limits, there were no guidelines, we were freely able to express any and every emotion that we felt or were feeling in that moment. I saw anger, pain, hopelessness, all the things that i had experienced. I saw tears, i heard cries, i heard yells, and no matter what the counselor she still managed to conduct this exercise in a respectful and supportive way. Once the last person finished, i started to feel hot all over, my heart was beating at an alarming rate and i felt my palms starting to sweat, my palms never sweat, but instill i knew this is what i came here for, this was apart of the healing. She called me and asked me to sit in the chair facing her. “Who am i today”? “Express how you feel, don’t hold back, i will be playing a role”. I looked down nervously and started to rub my hands together, “You are my ex” i replied quietly, “Okay”, “what did he call you”? she asked “he called me C.C”. “Okay, What do you want me to know”? “I want you to know that these last few months have been hell for me, i’m angry with you because you were supposed to take care of me, you were supposed to take responsibility, you lied, you broke my spirit, we were supposed to do this together.” “What did you want me to do”? She replied “I wanted you to protect me, i wanted you to honor your word, i wanted you there with me at the clinic, i wanted you there for the recovery process, i wanted you there”! I started to feel a burst of anger, i started to feel my knees shake, then there it went, the tears started to draw up. “Well” she replied, “What do you want me to do about it now cc”. I stared at her for a moment, and in that quick moment, she sounded just like him, that was something that he would say. My face was wet, and my heartbeat slowed down, “i want you to say your sorry, that’s all i want to hear”. She stared at me and she leaned over and said “i’m sorry, i’m sorry you went through that, and i’m sorry for letting you do it alone, i’m sorry”. I broke down, she held my hand and she rubbed my back, it was a comforting feeling, i cried the hardest I’ve ever cried in my life, it felt like a the dark heavy weight that i had been carrying had suddenly been lifted. The anger, the resentment, that hate, it all dissipated. On that day i believe the lord had laid his hands on me, his spirit moved through me, i felt at peace, but i found myself drained by the end of the exercise. Towards the end of the day the whole group met back up in one room and discussed what they learned about themselves. Everyone went around and shared their experience, even Justin. Even though he didn’t experience loss at that magnitude, he talked about different kind of loses he had experienced within his family and friends. I knew on that day, at that moment, that he would be my biggest supporter.

 

   Conclusion in Pt. 6

Pic Credit: https://mfsdiocese.ca/ministry/healing-reconciliation/rachels-vineyard/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where My Girls At?

I was asked a question the other day. They asked”Don’t you feel lonely without friends? I mean it’s good to have a life outside of us”. “Nope” is what I replied knowing damn well I was lying. I wanted to really say “Hell yea I miss my girl friends”. So I’m finally saying it out loud, I MISS MY GIRLS!!!!!! I understand that people who built everlasting bonds  loose touch and connection. Between careers, family, responsibilities, and making time for personal Rest and relaxation, it can become challenging keeping up with your girlfriends AKA your aces and or your ride or dies. I know I could have done things personally to make sure my friendships didn’t fizzle, but to be honest, i was always socially awkward. I have always been reserved, quiet, and pretty much by myself, Hell my Barbie dolls were my only friends as a child. The older I got the reservation became frequent and I didn’t know how to make  friends. I was familiar being by myself and my loneliness became natural. I was the quiet girl from Richmond California, and most of my peers called me “white girl” because I talked proper, was a huge fan of the group Nsync, and always had my big ass head in a book. It was hard for me to fit in with the “It Girls”, I was socially awkward. The only friend I had was My girl Mekia my best friend from elementary school. She would come over and we would dance in front of a Blowing fan with my mother’s good sheets wrapped around us singing and dancing to Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and other Selena classics, ( two black girls from Richmond being hooked on Selena for quite a time). We had sleepovers, we would ride our bikes up and down 23rd street, and make frequent stops to Hill Top mall’s Claire’s to buy Nick knacks with our allowance. We would argue over which boy was the cutest (Usher, Justin Timberlake, or Marques Houston) We told each other about our first crush, but she ended up moving to another part of town and we attended separate schools.

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Adams Middle School Richmond Ca, (1998)

I missed her, even though we talked on the phone frequently, she and I Eventually had to adjust to being apart. She went on to make new friends, while I sat lonely and miserable attempting to make friends. Eventually when I entered Jr. High and slowly started to come out of my turtle shell. I would talk to classmates here and there, and judging from my peers spotting the Justin Timberlake mini poster I had in front of my clear binder Pocket I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed this amazing group.  Some of my peers had similar interest (cute white boys with blonde curly hair). At that moment I realized that I was not the only black girl in my jr. High that had a thing for white boys. I was ridiculed by my peers for being a “Black Girl” who went crazy over entertainers that didn’t look like me, but I didn’t care, I was convinced that Justin Timberlake and I would wed, and when we did, they wouldn’t be invited.

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My Room Richmond Ca, (1999)

I built some of my best friendships over Nsync and The Backstreet Boys. Not only did my new friends have the same interest as me, but they also looked like me too. Finally, I felt like I wasn’t the “whitewashed” girl everyone perceived me to be, there were others!!!!! 

I met Jamie, my ride or die, my Thelma to my Louise in  Junior High. We bonded over Nsync, and I was shocked when I learned we had more things in common other than boy bands. We clicked instantly, and from then on we were there for each other’s Teenage and early adult years. She was there for me through every heartache, crush and vice versa. I also built a friendship with another girl who lived in my neighborhood. We also became close. As we got older we were into the IMX’s and the B2K’s, not excluding Nsync, we were still hooked on them of course. Two Years went by and friend Kim(not her real name) moved to another state. I was devastated, I had built yet another bond with someone and they were leaving, but at least I had Jamie right? I decided to move to Stockton California with my aunt to attend my sophomore through senior year at a new high school. I was sad that I was leaving but I was excited to enter a new beginning. I needed a new environment and I thought maybe I could make new friends. Even though I lived two hours away from my sister/BFF we still remained close. At this time Mekia and I would keep in contact but it wasn’t the same not having her there, but once again, I had Jamie. I would go to Richmond to spend weekends with Jamie at her house, and she would spend some weekends with me in Stockton.  The distance never affected us because we were like sisters. While in my Junior year in high school I made new friends.

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Junior Year (2004) Kelli (bottom left) Ic’ee (upper left) and Tequilla (upper right) 

In Stockton California We all met through a chance encounter all caused by Stockton’s thick winter fog, The bus we were waiting on was late, it was a group of us girls waiting for that long yellow bus to arrive, so we decided to walk to one of the girl’s house to warm up and the rest was history.  From then on we became close, we would hang out at lunch and eventually after school. I liked these three girls, they were nice to me, and we had things in common. I felt so good about the friendship I had with these girls, so much so  that I introduced Jamie to them, we all clicked. We would all go places in our big group and for the first time in a long time I felt like I belonged, I didn’t have to fit I with the popular crowd because I felt popular when we were around each other. It was a sisterhood. Thereafter I met another girl we had two classes together, as soon as we talked and got to know one another, We clicked. we had a similar interests. She was the funniest outgoing person I ever met.

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Senior year (2005)

I could say that I had friends. I was finally adjusting to my new life in a new place. After graduating from high school, we were in each other’s lives for a moment. I moved back to the bay area to go to college and my girls stayed in Stockton to do Continue their education. We started to hang out less, even though we would chat on the phone from time to time. Jamie and I picked up where we left off when i moved back to the bay area and we were hanging with each other all the time! When I would visit my aunt in Sacramento California the girls and I would hook up and hang out since they only lived 30 minutes away from my aunt. 

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Shay, me and Kelli (2006)

When I would go back to the bay area we would talk on the phone and text. We all had our own lives at this point, so the phone calls would slow down and when we couldn’t get a hold of each other, Jamie was there, watching my back. The sisterhood bond that i built with my girls was slowly fading. I blame part of it on myself, but I knew that we would still love each other even though we were not around each other like we were as teens. We became older and faced our own individual journey’s, It happens.

Some of us moved to different states for school, some of us were just getting the hang of being responsible adults and figuring out what to make of our lives.

Jamie and I would still hang out along with another girl I met in high school Diamond(not her real name). Her, Jamie, and I had gotten really close. They were there for my transition into adulthood, they were there transitioning with me. They both were there for me through silly boy troubles, my abortion and depression. To be honest, while going through my depression i admit i pushed them away, I became more and more of a recluse. My depression hindered me and it affected my relationship with Jamie.

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Jamie and I (2007)

I didn’t want to hang out with my girls and when I had the had time to, I turned down every fun invitation. I was so closed off, I don’t think that Jamie had no idea the extent that the depression had over my life at that time. Jamie had been there for me when decided to terminate my pregnancy, but after i fell into darkness. Depression took away the most important thing to me; my girls. I felt that if I talked to them about my depression I would be looked at as a burden.  I didn’t want to keep talking about my depression with them, for one, I was the Debbie downer all the time, and two, I wasn’t the same Cecilie they had grown to love. I was not myself and I was embarrassed for them to see me that way, weak, and vulnerable.  To this day I don’t think Jamie really knew how dark of a place I was in.

2009 is when I met my now husband, Diamond, Jamie and I didn’t see or talk to one another a lot. Partially, my fault, I didn’t make too much of an effort because I was so busy getting to know this new guy and all my energy was spent on my happiness. Diamond  and I continued to talk over the phone when we needed one another for advice and support, she was also busy being a new mom. By this time Jamie had a child. I noticed that her and diamond’s time was taken up by motherhood, and I was just getting into this new relationship with my guy. Somewhere between my relationship with him, and my relationship with them, communication was lost in translation. I felt a strain between all three of us. We even fell out and had a big argument over something i cant remember. Some things were said and i knew then that the connection had severed, and things weren’t going to be the same as it was. My sisters were no longer. They say “people come into your life for a season, a reason, or a lifetime”, Was that the case for all my fizzled friendships? Did God only place them there for a short term? All the laughs, secrets, and fun times? that’s it? it’s just over? Like that?

I needed my girls to be there through the happiest times in my life, and I needed to be there for theirs. Baby showers, births, Bridal showers, engagement celebrations, weddings, job promotions, all those experiences should be shared with your closest friends. By no means am I perfect, I don’t even think I was a perfect friend, but I did the best I could to support and be there for them, and that was all I could have done. My girls from high school also had children of their own, in which I’m very happy for them, we talk from time to time. Whether we decide to connect again or not, I still hold those memories we created, and think of them pretty often. I hate to admit it, but yes, I definitely feel lonely in my life right now. Other than my co-workers, my husband, and dog, I have no social life, So I often ponder the question; “Where my girls at”?

“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.”
– Ally Condie

Have you  had  similar experiences with friends? Did you grow apart overtime?  If so, what could you have done differently? Share your thoughts below ⬇⬇⬇

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