Spirit in the Sky
This blog was written by Adults Sexually Abused by Priests (ASAP)
I am going to start off this week with an email that I sent to follow up with the Diocese. I had a face-to-face meeting with Mr. J., who is the go-between/screener for the bishop, and later on had a Zoom meeting with Mr. J., the bishop, and another SNAP member. Having had six months pass since that meeting, and having not heard a word about anything at all, I decided to follow up. Here is the email:
Hello again, Mr. J
It’s been awhile since my meeting with Bishop S. regarding the sexual harassment and abuse of power directed at me from Father James D. and I was wondering what if any actions were taken or if anything was uncovered during his investigation. I know Bishop S. said that nobody had come forward to him about Father D., but was his background checked and also the reason why he was moved from his residence at a rectory to his own apartment? Also, just to reiterate, while it is true that many people, women especially, find themselves on the receiving end of unwanted attention at work, never have I ever felt so uneasy, so threatened, so vulnerable, so alone, and so betrayed as I did with the incident with Father D. that caused me to lose my job in November of 2016. Not only was it made clear to me that I would lose my job and perhaps more if I did not do what Father D. demanded, the workplace was hostile and his requests that I initiate sexual intimacy were both horrifying and demeaning.
In addition to the abuse I suffered at the hands of Father D., in what state is it legal for Human Resources to tell someone who is pleading with them not to say anything due to fear of retaliation that there will be no secrets and everything I said will be laid out in the open to someone who had told me that I could end up in the obituaries and that he was a dangerous man? And how is it legal to fire someone and then turn around and tell them… ”as we agreed, you resigned”? If anything says “cover up”, it’s that. These things were done quickly while I was still in a state of shock and depression when I did not realize fully what had happened.
Not only did Father D. sexually harass and threaten me, but he also lied and defamed my character to those in Human Resources and to my co-workers. While I told Bishop S.that now that he was aware of the situation, the rest was on him and his conscience, I had asked for restitution and I believe that I am absolutely due compensation for losing my job, almost ending up in the E.R. for depression, then ending up in the E.R. twice in the six months following my unlawful termination.
Yes, I sent emails to Father D., which is how everything was turned to blame me for everything. (Which is a page right out of the Narcissist playbook) But I was doing the only thing I could think of doing at the time. Being on the receiving end of gaslighting and trauma bonding with an abuser in power over you, emotionally traps you. I thought about asking for a transfer to another department (which I had asked Joyce about when called to her office) but I was afraid of arousing suspicion and questions and his anger.
Plus you begin to not trust your own judgement. I was terrified to do anything. I couldn’t talk to Father D. and get a straight answer from him. It was all head games and talk about trapping his cat into domestication and I was always wrong or not doing what I should to please him.
It’s made me take a hard look at the Catholic church and I have lost all trust when it comes to priests and their teachings and motivations.
I understand you cannot tell me everything you know, Mr. J, but I would appreciate an update on the situation.
I don’t know, of course, what will become of this email. Either it will be ignored in the hope that I will just go away, or they will set up another meeting with the bishop…which I doubt, or they will throw a small sum of money at me, or they will ask if I want to go before a Tribunal….which at this point in time will most likely not convene.
Does it make me angry that they can get away with this? Of course it does. Do I think my effort was in vain if Fr. D. continues to be a priest and I don’t get any compensation? Will they have won? I’m not so sure about that. For one thing, Mr. J., the liaison, believed me. And just by the action of doing this….going to tell my story….a ripple effect went into motion.
The same is true for every blog written. And every time a survivor tells their story. Every time a secret is brought to light somewhere, the ripple continues. We cannot see where the ripple goes. But it is there. We never know who we may influence.
I got an email from someone with a news headline. I see the headlines. We all do. I personally don’t think that rehashing the news and the negativity it brings has a place when it comes to healing. And we are all healing.
And, oh boy, do we all have triggers. A warning, the following may be uncomfortable for some people.
This past week, I watched as my dog, who I love very much, got sicker and sicker. I took her to the vet when her pain medicine made her extremely constipated and she needed relief that I could not give her. More bloodwork determined that her kidney failure had advanced dramatically in the past 3 or 4 weeks. It was recommended that I get her Pepcid as she was passing blood (sorry), and Metamucil to keep her regular after they gave her an enema, and that I come in to pick up a week’s worth of injections to give her at home daily and another medicine to give her daily to bring down one of her electrolytes that was extremely high.
Yesterday I had to make the hard decision. She was refusing food and vomiting whatever she tried to eat. Although I would have given her my own kidney, I knew that keeping her alive each day would mean sticking her with a needle and forcing medicine down her throat and forcing her to drink.
As anyone who has loved and lost a pet knows, it is a very difficult decision to euthanize a pet. Luckily, I was able to get someone on the phone who advised me not to wait any longer and that they would send someone over in a couple of hours. My son helped me get her into the back of the car in her bed and she was aware….which as you know, makes you feel horrible….but she could only lift her head by then.
She was in her own bed surrounded by the people who loved her and who she loved. And yet, afterward, through my tears, I noticed that I was triggered into self-destructive thoughts. Not overwhelmingly so….but they were there. And I happened to wonder if those thoughts were now triggered when I felt loss. Was this now an automatic two-fer?
I believe in spirit communication and dreams and such. That in itself makes a person seem a bit crazy. I believe in what I cannot see. Hey, wait a minute….that seems familiar some how.
Anyway, there I was last night in my dream, angry and lashing out at everything that didn’t seem fair. Stupid stuff in the dream but it was a big deal at the time. I was feeling like I did not belong. So in the dream, I decided to run away. The hell with it, I thought, I just don’t care what happens to me. I just have to get away.
It was then (in my dream) that I saw the dog. It was running towards me. I realized that wherever I went, the dog was going to follow, so I had to take care where I went so I could take care of the dog and it wouldn’t get hurt. I bent down and the dog happily ran into my arms. I hugged the dog tightly and felt all of the pain go away.
I kid you not. True. I know my little girl is happy now and that she thanked me and told me she loved me and that she is well and that I need to be also.
Do you believe that my dog actually came to me in my dream? It doesn’t really matter now if anyone else believes that, does it? It was helpful to me. A thought I choose to embrace has helped me with my loss.
What does losing a dog have to do with anything having to do with priests and abuse and the whole sad state of the world you may ask?
Perhaps nothing at all. Perhaps everything.
Please remember to take this week’s poll. If you would like to do a guest blog, please let me know. No meeting tonight. See you all next week.
Read more and take the poll at Adults Abused By Priests.