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#464314 - 04/21/14 03:04 AM Reconnecting with the Church Myself on This Easter

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 3816
Reconnecting with the Church has been a process. I have met with the Diocese and parish, a Jesuit priest who brought me into the chapel where I attended Mass in college, attending Christmas Midnight Mass and this weekend the Easter Vigil Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception along with attending Mass on and off over the past months.

Easter Season served as a re-awakening of faith traditions I had strayed from years ago. As the effects of the burying the abuse for decades unraveled my life, the church served no purpose in my life, it was the source of pain, hurt and betrayal. It was in the cellar of a place I was taught was holy and safe, a place people came to pray, ask for forgiveness, receive the body and blood of Christ and for decades a refuge for those in need. It was a place of goodness and kindness so how could it be badóthe church was a contradiction for me. It caused pain and anguish that those who have not lived can never understand or accept. When the past came to the present, a schism of faith traditions that were so integral in my life occurred and a schism within my being overtook.

This Easter season after a year of receiving support and compassion from the church and diocese of my abuse I have slowly begun to reconnect with the church. It is not unconditional or blind faith that I practice today, but rather see the church as human with its goodness, holiness and frailties, imperfections and human errors. I have been guided by people of kindness and generous of heart.

On Saturday we attended the Vigil at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. My friend has wanted to attend the Vigil for years but never made it. Shortly she will be leaving for her next overseas assignment so there was no better time. This is difficult for me but we knew this time would come. I have cherished the time and I so appreciative of how she gave me life, hope and fulfillment of all aspects of who I am. She taught me I am good, whole and can give and be loved. The last Mass I attended there was for a cousinís ordination 37 years ago. My concern in attending, the length of the Vigil, including arrival to secure a sit of almost 4 hours and to sit in darkness of the Basilica with candlelight for an extended period of time-fearing the darkness would bring the past back. I was in comforting company and I am happy to report the safety I felt kept me in the present and the feelings and sense of abuse did not come to be.

The Vigil was reminiscent of happier times in my life. Our eldest son was involved in the Church. As a family we would attend the Easter Vigil. It was referred to as the Mega Mass due to duration. Saturday nightís vigil at the Basilica easily earned the same title. However, over time the family began to waver from attending the Vigil and for the last several years of our time at that Church I was the only one to attend with my son. I would help with set up, break down and once manned the sound equipment (and that was an experience). I remember those times fondly. Saturday night brought back good memories and none of the abuse.

Today we attended a neighborhood egg hunt. It was wonderful to see the children run and become excited when they found an egg. It reminded me of the years I would have a silly egg hunt for the children in our backyards. I remember their faces and expressions when they found the egg which had a silly tasks to be done or some insignificant reward. It went on for years and came to an abrupt end. I would video the day but where those tapes are today I do not know. I will always remember those days in my mind. My friend loved the story and said I did my best. She said someday they will appreciate what you did for them and realize those that put an end to a tradition were grappling with their own issues and need for closeness.

We then spent time talking about other traditions I tried to bring to the family, the annual Christmas tree cutting trip with friends of mine. We would visit tree farms in an attempt to find the perfect tree and lunch at the old inns in Western New Jersey with friends. It was a drive but I was doing the driving. This was done for a few years until for some found it had become a burden. I enjoyed and remember the times we went, I remember the good times. Friday nights were always pizza night in our house. Somewhere along the way we began to make boboli as a family. It was fun shredding the cheese, covering the crust with sauce, cheese and pepperoni. It had everyone in the kitchen. Like everything else it came to an end. I remember the fun, the smiles and the laughs around the center island. I would hang streamers early in the morning of the childrenís birthdays, trying to make their day special. This went on for a few years but was ended not by me. On holidays I would take the children to the park and play pig and when living in California this could be any holiday. There were many happy memories for me.

We continued to talk and I remembered so many good times. We laughed and I could see the childrenís smile and hear their laughs. She laughed and her smile made me realize how wonderful it is to share memories and thoughts with someone without eves dropping, bringing others into the conversation physically or verbally or being told this is the way it is. We were talking and listening to each other and it was just us.

She asked, why did the traditions come to an end? I said the children became older, hearing over and over the activity was stupid, sleep overtaking lives, and more so not for the right reasons. Some saw no joy in anything. I realized I rolled over when challenged on these activities and let them lapse. I know my own past controlled me and I did not see value in continuing the activities or myself as they were dismissed by others.

She reminded me everything I did for them was from the heart and one day the children will remember the laughs and good times. They will no longer see truth in the words and actions that ended traditions but see someone who truly cared for them. She made me feel good and hopeful.

It made me remember how important these activities were for me, doing things as a family and being with the children. I will always have these memories.

Easter this year was a reawakening for brighter tomorrows and remembering good and happy times. It reminded me I have been blessed in recent times with people who gave love and support to me that has allowed me to heal. Now it is up to me, to move forward, live the life I deserve and not only to dream the dreams but to live and achieve my dreams. Now the abuse is a part of my life but it is not my life. It is just many moments of my life.

#464331 - 04/21/14 12:41 PM Re: Reconnecting with the Church Myself on This Easter [Re: KMCINVA]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4250
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
(((Kevin))) -

your progress is so amazing as to approach the level of miraculous. i know that there was a lot of work and pain and difficulty along the way - but the change in you is so remarkable when you compare the before and after.

there are two components to this that i see as extremely praiseworthy and (unfortunately) rare.

one is your willingness to give the church another chance and to work toward reconciliation and not let bitterness toward the perp and family members hold you back.

the other is the church's efforts to show compassion and take steps toward trying to do the right thing to acknowledge the damage you suffered, seek forgiveness and rebuild trust.

i congratulate you on what you have overcome and rejoice with you in celebrating a significant and very personally meaningful accomplishment.

How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, ‚ÄúViolence!‚ÄĚ but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#464334 - 04/21/14 03:05 PM Re: Reconnecting with the Church Myself on This Easter [Re: KMCINVA]

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 3816

Thank you for the kind words. I like how you summarized the two components I faced.

I have learned on this journey, bitterness, hate, grudges only bring harm to those that hold them tightly. I battled letting them go for a long time--maybe it is age and the realization life is short. I have also met many who live their lives this way--looking for the good in others and trying not to judge because they understand we all carry scars and wounds--some visible and others hidden in our hearts and being. They are aware they too carry scars and wounds, no one has a perfect life. They have taught me perfection does not exist and anyone who claims perfection in self, family or relationships are in denial and burying wounds that effect their lives. I can believe the impact, because I buried something so diabolical and evil because I believed it was my fault and I deserved it, so I went back and back for more. Now I know and accept it was the priest who was responsible and not I--the guilt and shame are gone. The only way is to talk about the abuse, because silence and shame go hand in hand. I want no one to suffer.

We all err in life, to let go of what may have been said or done is easier and less trying than to carry the grudge or hate. For my perp,I do not forgive but my feelings towards him are neutral. I remember sitting in front of his house on two occasions over the past two or so years, waiting for him, anger and hate in my heart. Fortunately he never emerged from the house, because I do not know how I would have reacted. My doctor feared I would dissociate and have done something I would have regretted. I am thankful it did not occur. He is old and his time of judgment will soon be here, when is not my decision, but I know one day as he waits at the gates he will reflect on they life he made others live. As for those who were not there for me or triggered the past, I want them to have a happy life and fulfilling life. I now understand and they may not yet be at this point, they need to do some self reflection in order to heal.

Even at work, I have learned positive energy is what sustains and allows us to grow, negative energy holds us back and is quite exhausting. I had so much negative energy and emotions from the abuse for over 4 decades, I was truly exhausted. Exhaustion I believe played a role in my unraveling--I was too tired to keep it a secret any longer. But it was a long process that took its toll on me--mentally and physically. In hindsight I remember hearing from my T, supporters here and in support groups and doctors what I needed to do. It sounded too easy, but as we all know the journey is marred with landmines, strong winds that push us back, a moment of strength to move forward and back we go again. And finally one day we find the peace and life we deserve.

For me bitterness is gone, I am happy to be here today. My doctor when we began this journey said to me I deserve many happy tomorrows. I never thought I would find those tomorrows, but I have found many of them. There are still moments of anxiety but I now have learned to cope with them in a healthy way and not resort to the dissociative states I learned in the church cellar as a child. I have finally outgrown that coping mechanism--I was a slow learner--taking me 45 plus years to learn it was a coping mechanism that the child used to survive the times in the cellar.

I too was surprised, or should I say stunned by the compassion of the church. I was fortunate to meet those that see the injustice and destructive effects of the abuse the priests inflicted on so many. They were knowledgeable in all aspects of how a child copes, how a child tries to survive, the sad effects of addictions, compulsions, and suicide. They talked about fugues, dissociation and PTSD as though they were the psychiatrists I met.

I was fortunate to receive a level of validation that was sufficient for me. I also learned your environment and those that surround you are vital in the healing process. It took me a long time to change my environment despite warnings from the medical profession, my T and supporters in support groups.

I only wish every child who has suffered this abuse is able to get help at the earliest age possible, so they can have a long and fulfilling life. This hopefully will allow them to escape the horrors that the abuse can inflict on them throughout their lives. And for those like me, who did not come to terms until later in life find support, heal and have a life they deserve. I know my journey is not over, but I am better prepared and able to keep moving forward.

Writing of my journey and where I am today, reinforces the good that has come from this journey to heal. I have accepted the bad that came from the abuse and my need to deny and bury the abuse. It reminds me I cannot fall back to denial because I never want to be in that dark place ever again.

Lee thank you for your support and being an outstanding board to my writings in the bad and good times.


#464336 - 04/21/14 04:41 PM Re: Reconnecting with the Church Myself on This Easter [Re: KMCINVA]
I Want 2 Thrive Offline

Registered: 04/04/14
Posts: 110
Loc: Florida, U.S.A

I am proud of you for this step. Reconnections are difficult.

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind" C.S. Lewis

#464390 - 04/22/14 12:54 PM Re: Reconnecting with the Church Myself on This Easter [Re: KMCINVA]

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 3816
I Want 2 Thrive

Like the name. Thank you for the kind words. Re-connections are difficult and for me, the Church will never be the same. It does have redeeming features but its imperfections are more visible and apparent now. Like everyone we all have positive and negative aspects of who we are--the Church is no different. I also believe the reconnection was facilitated by someone who made me feel safe, valuable, appreciated and loved.

Thank you


#464407 - 04/22/14 06:18 PM Re: Reconnecting with the Church Myself on This Easter [Re: KMCINVA]
jas4159 Offline

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 483
Loc: New Hampshire
wonderful step. it is a process and you are an inspiration to so many and me. reconnecting is very difficult and it is a process.

your message is one of hope.

thank you for posting.



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