2007 STORY #42: MY GUARDIAN ANGEL!
It was the night before my 30th high school reunion in 1999. I didn't plan on going. My world was crumbling around me. My trusted pastor betrayed me, and he methodically ripped my family apart. I was on the outside looking in as my now ex-wife was defending and "dating" him, telling our four daughters she was thinking of marrying him. They were, of course, devastated and at risk of having the predator living under the same roof where he could cause them even more unthinkable pain. I was in no shape to get together with high school buddies and friends, barely able to keep up a conversation without crying.
But my mom told me to go to the reunion. Maybe I'd meet someone. Yeah, right, I thought. Who'd want to talk with someone like me who's so messed up emotionally right now? But I did go to the reunion, reluctantly. And I was so glad that I did! I met the love of my life that next night. My guardian angel! She's the reason I'm here today--for I know without her I may have died.
She turned my life around, offering me a sympathetic ear. She was not judgmental. She listened and listened and listened some more. She made me laugh and cared for me when I cried. I survived and flourished. I had cocooned myself in and didn’t want to tell anyone about what was happening to my family, hoping it would just go away. My angel scribbled notes as I told her my horrendous story of pastoral lies and deceit, and she helped me protect my daughters from the pastor with her letters to bishops, police, prosecutors and lawyers.
She got me to move towards those who could help--like the wonderful and caring people at SNAP who provided me the opportunity to get in front of a microphone and scream out the injustices happening to my family. There I gained strength and support from others suffering as I was suffering. I was no longer afraid to speak out, and we've found strength in numbers.
Over seven years, my now fiancée not only learned how to write a novel on my behalf, but she and I co-authored a book and got my story published for all to read. The book is helping not only to heal me but many other victims of clergy misconduct and abuse as well.
I told her from the beginning that I was a good guy, and she believed me. Today, eight years after meeting at that reunion and dancing the night away, we're still together although we live in different states. She's patient and understanding of my obligations to care for my elderly mother, but some day we'll marry and live together happily ever after.