A lot of buttons are being pushed for me this week. First and most importantly, I guess, would be that I have a virtual meeting with the bishop coming up this Wednesday.
The fact that it is a virtual meeting is both good and not so good. I’m used to attending virtual SNAP meetings for one, and also, I don’t have to go into the diocese building after hours into the bishop’s suite to see him. I will be on home ground. I will be able to have notes in front of me and a strong drink if I so desire. And I can keep a bucket nearby in case I need that.
The not so good part is that I won’t be able to look around the room to be sure nobody else is there.
I don’t know who else has gone to see or talk with people at the diocese. I have to think about what I expect from the conversation if that is asked of me. I have to be ready also for the possibility of the Spanish Inquisition.
Victim shaming and blaming. Why did I do this? What didn’t I report that? What proof do I have? Do I realize how serious an accusation this is?
I think about my time spent in Human Resources and how anything that I said I was told would get back to the priest. And I thought about how he said he would kill me and how I could end up in the obituaries and how the social worker who worked with him ended up with his brains all over his car.
And how I was told that I was the danger. A dangerous woman. With the flash of an ankle, priests will be fainting in the pews in Rome. Who knows what else would happen if I stayed working in that diocese building? Total collapse of all of the bricks in the walls, most likely.
Yes, for sure, they were casting out sin and upholding purity when they walked me out of there and told me not to come back.
So, I am trying to take the time to get the facts together as I know them and I am going to expect that they will be asking me why I didn’t report him and why I seemed like I was going along with things.
Because, it took me so long not to feel like a very bad person.
Why? I am so ashamed and so embarrassed that I allowed myself to believe this man and that I made so many excuses for his behavior. And that I tried to protect him and to help him and that I thought that somehow, this whole thing was God’s plan because it was a priest and somehow maybe God was giving me an ultimate intimacy test or something. Help your fellow man. Be unselfish. No, that can’t be it….back and forth.
And I will tell you….I will tell you that supposedly he got many women to approach him and initiate sex with him. I don’t know how many, but I know he officiated at someone’s daughter’s wedding and then “got involved” with the mom. Don’t know any more details.
Knowing that I was not alone in being drawn in makes me feels somewhat better. Knowing that this has happened to many men and women makes it better because I felt I should have known better because I was not a child.
I was afraid. I was angry. I was physically exhausted. I was looking for my power in this situation with the priest. I felt that I was being coerced into being raped. I actually thought that to myself….I was being forced into performing a sexual act that I was not only extremely uncomfortable about…but I also felt that what he was doing to me was extremely degrading.
He had given me the choice of his office or my car. He said nobody goes to his apartment, and I was living with someone. Now, this was not a lover’s thing where it was that we are so hot for each other that we are going to find a bathroom stall or the back of a car or the corner of a building when nobody is around. This was a non-negotiable. And this was not romance.
So the night after he screamed at me to get out and I knew I would be fired if I didn’t comply, I sent him the email telling him that I would do what he wanted if he would meet me at a hotel.
It is because of this email that nobody will take my case. And it is because of this email that I was accused of being a danger to priests. And it is because of this email that I was fired, and almost ended up in psych lock up and ended up in the E.R. twice for physical ailments.
I realized after I had sent the email that I might be in more trouble with him than I had been before. I had told him that I was not going to be the only one taking a chance if he wanted what he wanted….because I could not just walk up to him and do it.
I thought in some way that I was taking my power back, but I only ended up thinking….what am I doing? This is just more humiliating. And again, I thought I could perhaps reason with him in some way to make this easier for me.
So, yes, I can be judged. You wanted this. What did you wear to work that turned Father on so much? You must have lingered in his office longer than you should have.
Basically…..what did I do and what didn’t I do? When the actual question should be….what did he do? What caused me to write this email? Why would they fired me and then tell me that I had chosen to resign? At the time, I thought they were just being kind. Now I feel they wanted to cover up their tracks.
So many layers of difficulty here. I was sinful for sending a “suggestive” email to a priest. I sexually harassed him. He could prosecute me. I must have been in love. He said that was a problem for him. I wish you could see his picture. You would laugh at the notion of women swooning for him.
In my own family I see the remnants of the old days affecting me. The days where what men do is excused (sorry guys…my family) and women are seen as having no say, no opinion, and no rights.
I was upset about family matters the last couple of weeks and was talking to my mom. And once again….this is a family thing but it does reflect the old believes…and beliefs that are still being clung to and affecting people today.
The topic was about grandchildren basically. In my family, besides me and my mother, it’s all guys. Cousin, brother, sons….guys. There is also alcoholism. That is something we call “relaxing with his friends”, or “he likes his beer”….never what it is. We don’t look it square in the eye. We make it prettier than it is.
My brother has three children by three different women. One child I knew for seven years before she was yanked out of our lives. The second one I got to see once or twice. By the third one, the relationship lasted until the child was about ten and he still sees her. That child has issues of her own.
Then we have my older son. Two children by two different women. My grandchildren. I had to take him to court in order to see my grand-daughter. The older one I got to see more often. Between the mother’s in all of these cases remarrying and wanting to cut ties and the fathers…issues….it has come down to the fact that my two grandchildren don’t talk to me and I have to accept that.
But something triggered an emotional reaction in me this weekend….as it does…it will flare up and the wound is opened, and then I go back to sleep with acceptance….but when I was talking to my mom about how I was upset, I felt that I was being blamed. And I also felt that I could not have an open conversation about it with son #1 because it was like walking on eggshells and I also…no matter what he has or has not done….do not want to hurt him….by basically pointing out the truth, really, but still
But I was raised this way, I realized. You do not poke the bear. You exist within chaos and it is your job to make sure that nobody has to talk about anything at the end of the day.
So, I hear my mother, as usual, tell me that everyone has problems, and that I should be happy for what I have, and that I have no idea what anyone else’s life is like and that the mother’s really gave my son a hard time seeing the kids and how about her? She has not seen her grandchildren. (Truth be told, she has at times refused invitations to see them and refused to go to court to get visitation)
So I said to my mom…..listen, I don’t need philosophy. I don’t need to hear you defend anyone else. I just need you to tell me that (what happened that day) must have hurt and that you are sorry that it happened to me because I am a good person and I don’t deserve that. I just need a verbal hug from my mom.
And my mom said….that’s up to you to do for yourself. And then she added….you are quite a hothead.
And it was in that moment that I realized basically that has been what I have been doing in my life. I have learned to live in chaotic situations with no emotional support, being told that I need to understand and excuse people who treat me badly. And to not acknowledge my feelings less I upset them.
And it is not my mom’s fault or anyone’s fault. it was the way I was raised and I didn’t know any better. And it was the way she was raised. And society and the church in many ways has supported a patriarchal system.
I remember growing up hearing that a woman should be a cook in the kitchen, a lady in the living room, and a whore in the bedroom.
My dad used to talk about how he had to hire woman for “men’s” jobs whether they were qualified or not.
My brother borrowed my parents’ car for a date one night. When my mom and I went to use the car, I saw something stuck to the passenger side door. It was a used condom. My parents said nothing. I came home after curfew. My father called me a slut.
I was told that the women was solely responsible for what happened between a man and a woman because a man “can’t help himself”.
I was watching “All in the Family”, a show that watching it now, shows a lot of what it was like in the 70’s….in one particular episode, Gloria laments to Mike that she fears if she gets a job, she won’t be able to keep the house for him as well as she should. This was less than 50 years ago.
I was also recently watching a show about serial killers. Well, predators, you know….and a specialist was saying that people are different now than they were 40 or 50 years ago. They are learning to be more cautious, less trusting and more vocal if something doesn’t feel right. So the thought is, that perhaps predators may find their work more difficult with that and with DNA evidence and people becoming more aware.
But we have a long way to go. A very long way. Kids have not stopped being abused at home. Abusive parents are still given custody. Incest still exists. Priests are still being moved around which now makes me suspicious.
Has our inner dialog changed much? Not as long as the public dialog is still saying that women aren’t supposed to enjoy sex, because if they do, then they must like rape….and if a woman enjoys attention, then she must then be responsible for letting a person with evil intentions get close to her.
And I hate making my mom the target here because she really is a lovely dog-loving, remarkable woman, but she has the beliefs with which she was raised.
She still does not believe that there is anything wrong going on inside the church….and is very concerned that with Covid, the church will run out of money.
She’s not alone in those beliefs. And she had not heard that the Catholic church was granted billions….yes, billions with a “B” dollars in Covid survival funds, before small businesses got their chance. I’m not political…just stating facts.
But anyway, my own inner dialog is what I need to rely on when I speak to the bishop this week. It is not a question about what I allowed or didn’t report or how I chose to handle the situation. I did not initiate the situation. I had no idea there was a situation other than a personal one, and really…what am I doing?
I. do. not. have. to. explain. myself.
I don’t. He knew exactly what he was doing…from the very beginning…to the day that I was fired….when like a mafia boss signaling it was time to make the hit….he emailed me saying he was getting into his car and was on his way back from the meeting he attended. Very strange email indeed. Until five minutes later when I got the call from H.R.
He knew what he was doing. And they probably already know about things he has done in the past. And they need to put this on record so it doesn’t get buried.
He’s the one who needs to be called out for his behavior and not allowed to continue to counsel people or work on the board of a college anymore.
My inner dialog…the background music of my life…..needs to be strong and supportive and filled with self love.
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4 thoughts on “Background Music”
A lot of us will be thinking of you on Wednesday! You got this!
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Oh thank you so much!
Well thought out and well said. One of the things that jumped off the screen was why are they asking me all the questions and not asking him any.
I don’t know. I said what I felt and what I thought should be done. He said I was describing what he’s heard other survivors say. I was told that my book was placed in his file and that there would be an investigation. I asked about compensation. Perhaps I felt it was more of a wait and see at this point. Nothing else I can do on my end. He said he had never heard a complaint about this particular priest before. I don’t have any other questions at this point. I may later on. My brain was a bit numb, I think. It was a step I never thought I could take because I was afraid of what could happen.