SNAP: Stories for Living

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Story #9 – A Proud Survivor

The word survivor has never been in my vocabulary. I thought that I was just out of luck and I had drawn the “short stick” in life. It wasn’t going to get better; just worse. I had to grow up fast. I felt like I had seen more evil than good in my life. I had very little support, especially when I needed it the most. Trying to handle my pain and deal with legal issues was a burden too big for me to handle alone. I almost gave up; I almost quit. I tried to keep my head on my shoulders and go through the motions of life.

All of that changed. This past summer I finally got the courage, supported or not, to go public with my case against the Catholic Church. I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be, but I didn’t care. I wanted to try and help others and I didn’t want to hide anymore. Not too long after I went public, I got an opportunity from my lawyer that would change my life. I was invited to attend the SNAP conference in D.C.

I was so scared to go, but I did it. As soon I got outside the hotel, I was greeted by warm, friendly people. I was so out of my comfort zone and nervous about what was in store for me that weekend. But it didn’t take me long to feel comfortable with my surroundings. The people that attended the conference seemed to be a whole different breed of people. I got so much love and support during the conference, love and support that if I had earlier in my life could have taken the years of pain and loneliness away. I knew as soon as I saw a nametag on somebody that they were one of the good people and it was nice for once in my life to be able to clearly pick out the good people.

To me, in a way it was sad to see so many faces, so many people who have been hurt in their lives by religious figures. But it was nice that I wasn’t alone anymore. The silence was broken and I was a part of a bigger picture now. I was able to let myself be supported by SNAP members for the weekend so I could take care of myself. I had never felt so free in my life: free to cry, hug, smile, and receive support all weekend.

I scooped up all of the good stuff I could hold inside. The conference and those people have forever changed my life. The word survivor is now permanently in my vocabulary. If somebody would ask me to say one word to describe myself, I would say it loud and proud I am a SURVIVOR and things are and will keep getting better.

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