I’ll start off this week with some data for March.
As far as the polls go this past month, most people feel that anyone who was connected in any way to abuse should be investigated. The majority of readers say that they do not believe in psychics and mediums. If we can’t sleep, most of us rely on taking prescription meds to help us get the rest we need. And, as far as Lent and following what the church is doing, most people said that they no longer follow any religious protocols or services.
Stat–wise, the blog had 357 views this month, with the top five views coming from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, French Guiana, and the Netherlands. The blog now has 87 followers. And, once again, anyone who would like to write a guest blog, anonymously or with their name, is welcome anytime to do so.
I just finished reading a couple of hundred pages of Bishop Howard Hubbard’s deposition regarding the alleged cover-up of abuse during the time he served as bishop for the Albany diocese.
A couple of things that stood out for me that kind of brings to light some of the ridiculousness of what goes on behind the walls of the priesthood….Bishop Hubbard was asked if celibacy also meant that he was not allowed to masturbate. He said that was correct. Seriously? How does that even have to do with why priests are supposed to be celibate? Who made these rules? When asked if he had ever “broken that rule” he could not deny that he had.
Next, he was asked how he as a celibate man could relate to the average person who needed counselling or absolution in confession regarding sexual matters. I’m paraphrasing and condensing these answers, obviously, but the bishop said that he is a sexual being and that being a sexual being helped him to relate to people on a human level.
He also said that when he learned of a priest abusing a child, he would counsel them, remove them of their duties, and send them for treatment for a period of time. He said he did not laicize them or call the police to report a crime due to the respect of the priesthood and for the good of the congregation and their faith in their religious leaders. He also said he did reach out to some of the victims, who he said seemed shaken by his call, so he assumed that it was better to not reach out if doing so would upset them.
This seems like priestly propaganda. On some level, I even find myself saying…we keep sins confidential, etc. We maintain the integrity of our church. Yes, bless me, father, let’s move on to the next Hail Mary and forgive our brothers. It’s ingrained.
When further prodded as to why priests were not punished with a crime, the bishop replied that he was not in the position of reporter. That part was not up to him. He says that this is the way it was done in the 70’s and 80’s. Well, perhaps it was done that way because nobody questioned how things were done and so they were able to do it that way.
Remember, too, that the sex lives of Catholics were authorized by the pope. Birth control was not allowed. Abortion was/is murder. Homosexuality needed to be converted out of a person. I had a cousin who for years we believed the story about how she was sent away when she was a teenager in the 50’s because she needed to heal from Tuberculosis. It truly did not dawn on us that was a cover story. She had a baby. We learned that before my aunt passed away about 20 years ago. There were things that we just did not discuss.
The more stigma and shame we can attach to something, the less we are going to want to talk about it. I was reading this week about a woman who said that Hugh Hefner had raped her when she was 18 and living in the Playboy mansion. Like Cosby, he gave her “something to relax” and she took it because she trusted him, lived in his house, and he was in charge of her career. She said that the experience made her flashback to being raped as a child by her grandfather. This was many years ago, and she is just now able to talk about it.
Sometimes people are afraid or ashamed due to past trauma. Sometimes it does take time to realize what happened. And sometimes, we live in a state of normalized trauma that we are too afraid to be released from.
Just like for me when I left my husband and found that nobody was please with my actions, that very act triggered something deep within me that brought forth years of stuff I had deeply buried. I was going against what everyone else believed. Everyone else held all of the control. But everyone else also held something else for me….my feeling of safety.
I‘ve spoken with people who are having a very hard time separating their emotions. They are trying to separate what they see as being the right thing to do, and what feels comfortable emotionally. When your boundaries have been set your whole life by other people who tell you how to behave and how you should think and that individual thoughts or beliefs are wrong, such as being raised in a church with leaders who will not be very pleased if you step out of line, going against what you have known in every cell of your body can create emotional duress.
And bravery is all well and good and as they say, “Life begins outside of your comfort zone”, and whatnot, but then we take a look at Joan of Arc and the witches of Salem and we realize that there are still people out there who will happily light the match for us if we jump in before we are ready to do so or without support. Just reading the deposition made me feel uncomfortable, remembering how confused I was when everything was turned around entirely on me. I was labeled a danger to priests. Seriously. The first SNAP person that I met, Barbara Dorris, told me that I should get a tee shirt that says that just because. “I am a Danger to Priests Everywhere”
I want to also point out that when a priest needs counselling, he turns to a fellow priest. When I suggested to my boss that he may want to talk to someone other than a priest, he made some big “to-do’s” about being in conference with his buddy. Once when I told him that I was going out for lunch and I passed by a room on my way out, where the door was open and the two of them were sitting there talking, facing the door, which was weird. The other time was for dramatic affect two days before I was fired. I wasn’t working that day, but the whole place was wondering what was going on and why was Father D. locked in his office with this other priest for hours. Something was brewing but nobody knew what it was.
Drama. It was for dramatic affect.
When I start to write a blog, I never know where it will take me. I usually ask for guidance so I can put something out there that someone can relate to. Today I was going to write about reflections of our lives. I got sidetracked.
What kind of hit me this week was, once again, I was feeling like…why is this person acting this way? Why is he treating me this way? And then the thought came…he is acting just like his father used to. Well, how did he notice his father did that and fall into that pattern? And what is always the answer? You think you can get away from behaviors and how other people treat you. You think you can move out of your parents’ house, or that you can leave your husband…but then, you begin to notice that no matter how much you have tried to help your kid…your adult kid…you realize he has an unhealthy dynamic going on that is directly affecting you. Hmmn.
And once again, you sit there wondering why the world is crazy when all you have ever done is rescue someone again and again and…yes…again. And for some reason, you seem to be the object of everyone’s anger when the person that you are trying to help gets dumped on…again. But you keep failing to notice that you are involved somehow in this pattern.
Our lives reflect what we put out there. What we accept. How we’ve told others it’s okay to treat us. We’ve learned this behavior. Sometimes boundaries seem too painful to erect. We’ve come to believe somehow that without our help, other people will die.
I used to buy my adult son lunch every day and drive it over to him…using my whole lunch time…every day…just to be sure he had something to eat. Because he was living with an abusive person. They both had lived with me at one time and this person finished the rest of my pain meds after my surgery, used up my expensive bath stuff I had splurged on, ordered stuff in my name, and was an emotional vampire with my son. I went to court, had her served with papers, tried to evict her, and then he moved out with her so she wouldn’t be alone. It was then I began to bring him lunch and pizza I was given from the guys who came into the donut shop who gave me free pizza for the leftover donuts when I left work at night.
Then they moved back in with me and one night she went too far. When I thought she might physically hurt him, I followed them up the stairs and when she screamed something at him, I told her to sit the f*ck down and to shut up. Then I told her to get her things together and that she was leaving the house that night.
Okay, I ended up paying for a motel room for her for about six weeks. And wrote to Mental Health and got her on their list and told them that when the six weeks were up, I wasn’t responsible for her anymore. She’s fine. I hear from her when she thinks I may have received her check accidentally. My son hasn’t seen her since that night seven years ago.
The problem is, you can never really save anyone. You can fix situations temporarily, but they have to want to get help. And then you ask yourself, am I really helping or am I enabling?
I have heard similar stories from other survivors. People who have issues with their adult children. Creating boundaries with adult children can be difficult. And I see a lot of bravery in those who have put the effort into enforcing those boundaries. Much respect to you.
So, my question is, how do we put up boundaries when we feel that by doing so, chaos will reign, and people could get hurt? There are times when I feel that I have my nails dug into an icy slope. It’s hard to hang on, sometimes, and it can be painful, but it can be more frightening to let go. And I share these personal stories because I feel like I have done nothing in my life to go looking for drama and yet it seems to find me.
The common denominator has always been me in the middle. So what is going on? I know I suck at boundaries. But what else can I do?
My first step has been to get a good therapist. A person who is not involved in your life who you need to hold yourself accountable to. Lucky for me, I have found such a person.
I share with her that I have accomplished such and such. This is moving along okay. I need help in this area of my life, how do I start? I know that it is helpful to me to break down bigger issues into smaller steps and just keep moving forward.
Another thing that could help is joining twelve-step groups and groups for co-dependency. Also, survivor Dorothy Small is constantly researching survivor healing and sends many things along to me, which I will begin to share with this blog weekly.
I don’t want to end up at my mother’s age still asking, “How do I fix this?” by trying to fix a disease and only recognizing the symptoms and someone else’s problems without seeing the illness in myself.
It can be scary to realize that you may need to change something in yourself for unpleasant things to stop repeating in your life. But we have to ask ourselves…what is the alternative?
See Bishop Hubbard’s Deposition below. Have a great week!
4 thoughts on “Reflections of My Life”
Thank you for this reflection and the stories here. Everything you have shared is very helpful! Is the Albany Diocese deposition stuff available online?
Regarding Bishop Hubbard and his method of handling sexual abuse. “He did not laicize them or call the police to report the crime due to the respect for the priesthood and for good of the congregation and their faith in religious leaders.” This is infuriating. Complete b*** s***.
There was also a mention of a day of prayer & penance for victims and survivors. Wonderful. All I have to do is say a prayer or two and my nightmare will go away. This is also infuriating.
Finally, this is what I don’t like about any organized religion. People who can’t think for themselves let their religion dictate their thinking. Catholicism teaches that birth control is not allowed. I believe that birth control is a must. Abortion is/was murder. I believe a woman has the right to choose, it’s her body, her decision. Homosexuality needs to be converted out of a person. I have learned from a member at my Saturday SNAP meeting that this is not possible and inflicts more mental, emotional, and psychological pain on the person.
I will not let the Catholic church and all its hypocrisy tell me how to think or make any decisions for me based on their teachings. My ongoing recovery from drug addiction and sexual abuse has given me the humble self-confidence to make my own decisions.
Again your blog here is wonderful. Thanks for Sharing, I believe that it is by sharing our stories, our experience strength and hope, is how we grow, and how we can change things. I want to remind you and everyone, that not only are priests abusive of their authority, but gurus are too. My story in Getting Beyond… a memoir that I will be publishing is about an abusive guru. I is also about getting beyond childhood sexual abuse and codependency. I would be willing to write a guest blog.
Absolutely…send to Albany@SNAPnetwork.org