SNAP: Stories for Living

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Story #4 – This Healing Journey

I was molested by a priest in the rectory of my church in the winter of 1965 when I was eleven years old. For thirty three years I told no one.

Forty three years later I was sitting in a classroom. At the last minute I had signed up for a Chaplaincy class.

Each day the instructor encouraged us to change seats in order to get to know someone new. Four days into the class I sat next to a bubbly blond woman. Half way through the day, I leaned towards her and whispered, “You’re a survivor.”

She shot me a puzzled look as the instructor lectured on. Ten minutes later during break, we chatting in the hall. “How did you know that?” she asked. “I don’t know. I don’t even know why I said it.”

We swapped stories of our abuse experiences. It felt like we had known each other all of our lives.

She told me that she was attending a SNAP conference the next day and that maybe I should consider going. I thought SNAP was some strange fringe group, but the serendipity of the last week led me onward. I signed up on the website and made hotel reservations that Friday morning. Lost in the Washington suburbs for several hours trying to find the hotel, I missed the first night speakers.

The next day we met the most amazing people. The walking wounded carried their pain and sorrow in their facial expression and their posture. When they spoke their stories broke my heart. Yet they were speaking from a place of healing. Many attendees, polished and articulate wore their scars invisibly. Everyone was welcoming and encouraging. I was no longer alone. The past didn’t have to cripple me anymore.

I had been telling myself for so long that it was all just a figment of my imagination. When a psychiatrist spoke everything changed for me. Some of the phrases he cited as examples of abusers manipulating children were chillingly familiar. I clapped my hand over my mouth. It was like hearing a recording of what was said to me that night so long ago.

I am thankful for God and the circumstances that have led me on this healing journey. I do not blame God for the bone headed choices that people make. I only pray that my abuser can admit his sins, allow God to forgive him and maybe even give me a chance to say that I forgive him as well.

Note: this story is from 2009. View other 2009 stories and 2009 voting results. View current stories.