Her first encounter with her future husband inspired Yalixa to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation to confess the two abortions she had as a teenager. Through our Hope & Healing mission, combined with the gentle affirmation of her husband who simply stood back and allowed God’s work to unfold in her, Yalixa came to a place of profound healing. Experiences with an Endow women’s group helped her discover a newfound strength in her femininity, leading her to a deeper understanding of the beauty of her role as a wife and mother. We sat down with Yalixa and her husband, Rob, and asked them to share their journey.
Can you share your story?
Yalixa: I was 16 years old, and I found myself pregnant. I didn’t know what to do. I was so afraid. I remember hearing other girls saying how easy an abortion was and how you didn’t have to be pregnant if you didn’t want to. So I remember thinking, “Oh, it’s that easy. I don’t have to be pregnant anymore.” I went through with the procedure, and I didn’t tell anyone. I basically just forced myself to forget about it. A year later, I found myself pregnant again. I thought, “I have no other choice but to do what I did last time. I want to go to college. I have my whole life ahead of me.” So, I had my second abortion at 17. Again, I decided to completely forget about it and just move on with my life. At 27, I met Rob.
What was special about Rob?
Yalixa: I was drawn to Rob because he was a man of faith, and I really admired and respected that. I had left the church a long time ago, but meeting Rob made me think about my faith. I hadn’t told him about my past, yet something about one of our first encounters made me want to go confession – for the first time after 16 years – to confess those two abortions. Yet, even after my confession, I still didn’t feel completely healed. There was still something missing. After we were married, I started to experience a lot of guilt and regret about what had happened. I opened up to Rob and asked him to tell me everything he was thinking and feeling. Reading and talking to Rob about my experience really helped me to pursue deeper healing.
Rob, what was your experience when Yalixa shared her past abortions with you?
Rob: Anyone who knows me knows three things: I love God, I love music, and I’m super pro-life. When Yalixa shared with me her past, I felt like, here I am, the ‘super pro-life’ guy; I’ve read a billion books, I have all these pro-life arguments, and here I am being told by God to shut up and just love her. You know? Just love her. Be there for her. I definitely didn’t want to overstep and get in God’s way. And there’s no greater example of this than Jesus, of just sacrificing everything you are, and your life, and the things that you wanted to do for the good of someone else.
How did Jesus lead you to a deeper experience of healing?
Yalixa: When I went on a Sisters of Life retreat, I met Sr. Mary Teresa, who told me about the Hope and Healing mission. At my first Day of Prayer and Healing, when I started to share my story for the very first time, I completely broke down. It was finally being able to speak about it that made me come to the realization that I needed to forgive myself in order to heal and to move on. That was the piece that was missing. Once I started going to the monthly Gatherings, the weight started to lift, and I became more liberated. God brought me there, through others. There’s something so powerful and beautiful about being surrounded by women who have gone through the same thing. I love the sense of sisterhood that we have there. We’ve all been through it; we all get it.
You have experienced a lot of healing by being in communion with others. How has your experience in Endow encouraged you on your journey of healing?
Yalixa: Sr. Veronica invited me to join an Endow women’s group. She was like, “It would be a perfect place for you!” This group is about women empowering and uplifting each other. We all love the Lord. It feels so good to feel like you belong there. There’s something there that brings out your strength and the beauty. I remember reading about St. Edith Stein; she had this beautiful strength about her. It’s almost like I found a little bit of myself in her, and I experienced a solidifying of my own strength as a woman in learning about her.
Rob: If there’s one thing that’s prevalent in this world it’s that women in particular don’t know their own worth. They don’t know how much God loves them, how precious they are, or how precious is the ability to give life. That’s something so unique, so powerful, and so beautiful.
Since you were married, you and Rob have been blessed with children. Can you speak on how you have grown in your identity as mother?
Yalixa: I find a lot of healing in just being with my kids. Just being with them, you know? And it can be anything. Like, the other day, I was home all day with them, and we colored, we did art, we did music, we prayed … in little moments like that, I find healing. I find my strength in being a mom. Seeing how my kids look at me, no matter what I’m wearing, even if I don’t have any make-up on, they just see Mom. It doesn’t matter. It’s like I’m seeing another layer of meaning to marriage, to motherhood. God has revealed to me what kind of a woman He wants me to be, and I try to live my life as the best wife and the best mom that I can be. I’ve learned to appreciate myself, and I know that He made me beautiful. I am reminded of the goodness in life when I look at my children and when I see the world through their eyes. It keeps the hope and love alive. It keeps me going.
Originally printed in the Spring 2018 issue of Imprint.