We have little control over the thoughts/emotions that pop into our heads. We do have control over what we do with those. That’s true for all of us. We never know what or when something that we perceive is going to trigger a thought, emotion, or a memory. It could be something we see, hear, smell, feel, or touch. Many times those spontaneous triggers cause us to think about very pleasant memories. But, those triggers can also instantly take us back to a place where we don’t want to be.
I was watching a video of the young Darci Lynne perform with her pet rabbit on America’s Got Talent. If you’ve time to watch any of it, I can just about guarantee you’ll really enjoy it. Anyway, as soon as she gets to center stage she bursts into laughter. Simon asks her, ‘why are you laughing’ to which she responds, ‘I don’t know’. I was happy for her and very impressed with her talent. But then, suddenly, I was a bit overwhelmed and just wanted to cry. I did my best to choke it back, holding it inside of me, but I asked myself, ‘What just happened?’ Why would something as beautiful as that make me sad? What was behind that sadness, I mean? I don’t know for sure, but then, out of nowhere, I got a bit angry and perhaps resentful that I wasn’t happier, especially as a child. Writing these things down may not always communicate what I’m trying to help you understand, but I hope it gets you close enough.
I reflected back to my impression of myself at her age, and what I saw made me sad. Why wan’t I a happy child? Would it have been possible for me to grow up in the environment I grew up in and be that happy of a person, or even happy at all? I don’t know. Then I imagined what environment she might’ve grown up in to be that happy. Her mom on the sideline seemed well adapted, too. The answer, if we could know it, seemed to be pretty clear to me. I’d be willing to bet that she grew up in a loving, nurturing environment. I wish everyone could, but realize for many, that’s just not the case.
So … what about those who were deprived and starved of the love and nurturing that all children need to be healthy, well adjusted adults? What about them? What about those children who suffered sometimes horrific, repetitive abuses at the hands of those who should’ve been trustworthy? It’s in our DNA to trust our caretakers. They’re left holding the bag of rubble that they have to somehow piece together to have a reasonably happy existence. Aren’t they? They’re left in a society that preaches ‘get over it’ and seem to suggest it’s so easy. And for those who struggle with trying to just ‘get over it for the rest of their lives, it can feel like a very lonely place. A place where people don’t understand the challenges many victims face. We’re expected to overcome our difficulties sooner than later. I agree with that last statement, in principal.
That’s all fine and dandy, and those attitudes have been engrained in me, and result in the significant progress I’ve made. However, there’s much guilt, shame, and self-blame at my repeated failures. There’re residual effects that never seem to go away. But the reality of where I am just doesn’t match where I need to be, to be a thriver, and I don’t always know how to reconcile the two. What am I doing wrong? Why do I still have significant stuggles with trying to recover? So many why’s and so few answers.
Am I alone? And if I’m not alone, why not? Why are there other victims still struggling with their recovery, even into their golden years? I know I’m not alone, but ‘should’ I be? I mean, do I have inherent deficiencies because, especially at my age, I’m not further along? And it’s not the ‘little things’ that I’m concerned about. No, it’s the big ones that still significantly impact my life in ways that are deeply disturbing. I’ve talked about this in other posts and don’t want to go into it here. Will it ever end?
Don’t misunderstand me, survivors must take responsibility to do the work it takes to overcome those difficulties to the best of their abilities. But how long should it take, or is it even possible for all victims to reach the point of being a thriver? Know that there are many resources to help those facing the consequences of early, severe trauma. But they have to be sought out. If you’re not getting what you need, or are interested in seeking out additional resources, see my ‘Resources for Victim/Survivors & Loved Ones‘ page, on the main menu, for a list of some resources available. Please let me know of more that I could add to that page, as there’re many. However, even with those resources, recovery is more difficult for some than it is for others. Some never get the chance to be thrivers as their grief and failures at recovery overcome them. What does that say?
I share my experience to let other victims know that they’re not alone. I’ve been struggling, from birth really, to recover; to be a thriver. My recovery efforts stared as soon as I was aware that there was even a problem. Some of my siblings, even my mom, have told me what life was like for me, even from the time of my birth. I was an unwanted child and was told by my mom that I was treated that way. So, it’s fair for me to say that my struggling started from birth just to survive. My siblings are no different. I see the negative impacts that still affect their lives.
The molestation by the priest was especially damaging because until then, I believed that I could get past the abuse, mainly inflicted by my dad, once I left home. However, the abuse by the priest left an indelible mark on me that no-one could be trusted; not even those in the ‘highest’ of authority. In spite of that, I’ve always maintained some sense of hope, or at least, managed to come back to it when I’d let hope go. It’s the losing hope that scares me the most and still threatens me today.
I struggle with thoughts that I might be better off abandoning my Christian beliefs, but I’m not ready to do that yet. Not sure that’s the right answer. But please don’t tell me to ‘turn it over to Jesus’, because He’ and His Church (the known child molesting priest) are part of the problem for allowing the abuses to occur in the first place. Don’t tell me Jesus doesn’t have control over that, because if He doesn’t, then He doesn’t have the control to affect a change now. He’s part of the problem for not answering my prayers, for being complacent. It makes me very sad and brings tears to my eyes as I write this.
Or, if you think I haven’t even done that right, please, at least, tell me why I should expect anything different. Tell me, in very concrete and new ways, how to ‘turn it over to Jesus.’ Tell me something I haven’t heard before and ,earnestly, tried to incorporate in my life to the best of my ability. Isn’t that what we all do? Our best I mean. Because the old ways, those suggested by good meaning Christians and even taught by the Church, ways that I thought I’d incorporated into my life, haven’t worked.
Another trigger, is that although it seems the Church is demonstrating contrition, the Church has been woefully inept at providing proportionate reparations for the damage caused to survivors of clergy abuse. Sometimes the damage is more pronounced than others. The damage can be quantified in some cases. Instead, the Church fights tooth and nail to provide any reparations or meager reparations, if any are made at all. There are countless examples of corporations providing survivors of much less negatively impactful negligence induced consequences. It would be refreshing, healing even, to see the Church practice the reparation part of repentance that it teaches. The Church’s reparations are a joke and actually cause more trauma to survivors. It’s my belief that the Church won’t be in communion with the saints until it does more for survivors. They seem to get forgotten. Parishioner demonstrate complacency by not demanding the Church do a better job in this regard. It’s pretty clear the Church has the ability just not the desire.
If I were writing a script for my earlier life, I would’ve written it differently. Many of us would, indeed. But the challenge has always been to write the script that I want for the life I’m living right now, and the life I will live in the future. I’m just not sure of how good of a writer I am or can be, figuratively speaking, of course.
I recognize that, given how open and honest I am about my healing journey, that many of my posts come across as being dark and heavy. But trust me it’s not all doom and gloom, there other other parts of me that have overcome some of the effects of the abuse. Please take the time to read an earlier post ‘the Most Amazing Woman.’ It’s not a long read but illustrates my point, to some degree, and might be inspiring.
Pope Francis, I appeal you to meet the needs of survivors of clergy sexual abuse by making reparations commensurate with the damage, emotional or otherwise, caused to survivors. I have ideas on how to do this. If you can’t do this, then I respectfully ask, on behalf of the Church, you to stop receiving communion until such time that the Church does. Because until the Church does, it will not be in communion with the saints. Sincere contrition is meaningless without reparations in kind. Demonstrate to the world that the Catholic Church is catholic; that is, the Church Jesus established with Peter as the rock, the first pope; that the Church practices what it preaches.
Thanks for reading.
Wishing you much love and peace,
“Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ― Mother Teresa
Consider sharing this blog with others. Victim/survivors of abuses, more often than not, carry this burden silently alone, not knowing how to deal with it or where to turn, but need hope. Loved ones and caregivers also need support. We never know who is or wants to reach out for help. This blog might be of help to caregivers and loved ones of abuse. Silence is deadly and if together we are able to help or save just one life, isn’t that worth it?
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An excerpt from the blog The Effects of Sexual Abuse Never Go Away” – “ A child is likely to be left with strong feelings of anger, fear, shame, hurt and disappointment”. That’s some of the reasons why 45 years later I’ve never told my story. Yes, it’s hidden and yes it affects me to … Continue reading Anonymous
Thank you for posting…Sharing intimate details is scary. Thank you for being so brave and for reaching out to others through this blog. I know much of your heart in this blog. Your openness and honesty is quiet beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
‘You make the reality of what you and other victims have suffered so very clear, but we all need to know that it happened. People want to help, we want to speak up and reassure, but sometimes, we just don’t know how. We are learning, hopefully. God bless you and your journey to complete peace.’