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So if the Church is so holy ..

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

Speaking up - this happened to my own Dad at the hands of a catholic priest at St Bede's College in Whalley Range, Manchester. The repercussions run deep. The damage lasting, far-reaching and profound.

It's my belief that this is going on in many 'high places', with the church being just the tip of the iceberg - the evidence is so overwhelming when one cares to look.

God only knows where it began in other institutions if it didn't begin with the Church! Maybe it had a lot to do with how the representatives of the 'so-called' Godly religions of man seeped into every area of education - from the upper echelons of initiation into the worlds of business and politics, to the lower - the herding of 'the 99%' into the domains of subservience to them.

The normal human sexual urge being turned dark, sinister, ugly, controlling and shameful by its repression under some misguided idea of 'purity'. What could possibly be 'pure' about sexually predatory behaviour being inflicted by a deeply damaged adult onto a child?

And what of the normalising of this dark and insidious practice by those unable to have any clear-minded view of the wrongness of it, having potentially had their own innocence stolen in childhood - no doubt under threat of some terrible happening - even if that were 'just' that nobody would ever believe them, leaving them at the mercy of the relentless, perverted and repulsive abuse of their persecutor/s?

What of the fractures created in the child's life and family? What of the disbelief, the accusation - implicit or explicit - of lying or fantasizing, of making it up with malicious intent? What of being labelled difficult, disruptive or of having it said 'there's something wrong with that boy/girl' - on top of the excruciating anxiety and pain of the reality being rained down on them? What of the crashing end of any sense of 'normal', and of being safe / protected / loved / lovable that fell down like a guillotine - the irrevocable severence from all that had been unquestioningly there before?

What of the forever changed relationship between parent and child; the rejection in the child's times of greatest need for comfort, reassurance, understanding, validation, love?

What of the fear and shame of being touched - directly or indirectly - by the repercussions of the original abuse? What if it was too dangerous; too boat-rocking; too family-shattering to speak of? What if the fear kept that person feeling like they were carrying a ton of bricks on their back; that they would never be able to share or offload? What if they carried that like a responsibility that was theirs alone to bear, being crushed by it a little more each and every minute of each and every day?

What if they didn’t know that having loving feelings and/or a sense of loyalty toward the source of their pain in spite of the ‘thing’ they did is not somehow a reaffirmation that there must be something wrong with them? What if they tortured themselves with guilt for even wishing they could open up with this frightening, too heavy for their tender years to make sense of, relationship-altering truth for fear it could never be put away again once it was out; or that healing could possibly still take place; that expanded understanding and forgiveness might still be possible?

What if they didn’t realise that painful and difficult - traumatic even - conversations could be had and that whilst it may bring excruciatingly uncomfortable and agonising challenge and very tough re-defining all round, nobody would die from that and in fact, might even have been redeemed?

What if they didn't yet understand that other, and certainly different, levels of acceptance, compassion and comprehension, or maybe even continued relationship might have been possible; that relationships could still hold the potential to be healed - changed, no doubt, but with persistence, and truth, and remorse - recoverable from? What if they might have found that the bomb they held off from dropping, that weighed them down for so long, was survivable?

What if they’d known they could choose to walk away without guilt if there had been no other option, in later years and not take with them the punishments of others who could or would not relate to them respectfully, believingly and lovingly in their truth? What if the years of self-flagellation could have been saved if only they had known they would still have power - to choose?

What if they could have been told, over and over, for as many times as were needed, that it wasn’t their fault, that they hadn’t asked for or deserved it, that it wasn’t even anything to do with them that this happened .. but the painful re-playing-out of damage done to someone else?

What if the child became so utterly disconnected and disenfranchised from a system that hurt, let down, degraded and defiled them that they shut down, retreated, shied away from all their richest possibility, their joy, their aspirations?

What if the hurt was so great that they lived only a tiny fraction of their unlimited potential for fear of being hurt and rejected all over again?

What if society went on kicking them .. over and over and over ..? Blaming them, shaming them, blocking them from truth, from screaming out their pain in a way that would be heard, vindicated, absorbed, learned from?

What of all the long and lonely days and nights, sat with head in hands, maybe a bottle of hard liquor or two, or a needle or a line of some white stuff to numb out the self-hatred, the isolation, the aloneness, the rejection; the feelings of being unlovable; the damning conditions of 'we'll love you but only if you don't mention THAT again; the implicit message in that; the pain?

What of the abusive & dysfunctional relationships that kept the damaged self-image from healing; from coming back to life; from reclaiming its beauty and its wholeness?

What effect would the theft of their innocence, when IT was said to be normal in order to buy the uneasy and frightened compliance of a confused and brainwashed child - who would one day grow up to maybe self-harm / self-medicate / self-destruct; maybe to have no feeling of control or right to privacy over their own body and mind due to the intense invasion at such a vulnerable stage of their emotional / psychological / social development by someone they should have been able to trust and feel safe with; maybe to forever be confused and tormented about their own sexuality thanks to the involuntary reactions of their bodies so long before they understood anything about that; maybe to never feel able to trust or love or function in a normal healthy relationship; maybe to have a permanently skewed concept of boundaries that might lead them to hurt and/or damage others whom they love; maybe to develop a notion that sexual behaviour equals how one shows, gives and receives love; maybe to feel forever soiled, spoiled or turned into 'damaged goods' that nobody in their right mind would ever want; maybe to feel consumed with rage and irrationally intense emotions in the darker, most lonely moments of self-inflicted isolation with no way out; maybe to become the very thing that had cursed them and pass on their own pain in an endlessly repeating pattern?

I saw the effect of the hidden shame of my Dad in many ways, in hindsight. He raised the subject with me on a summery countryside walk together a few years before his death at age 84 in 2013 and it hurts me now to remember how uncomfortable it made me feel, not knowing how to respond except to awkwardly suggest that he might find some peace and healing through speaking to a counsellor about it, but he dismissed it as too late now and the subject was dropped - like a crushing lead weight on the ground we walked on, forever seared into my mind like a gps pin dropped onto the landscape so that I could return to that exact spot even today and feel the heaviness and agony of it.

I have no doubt that he wished he'd never said anything and I wonder now what he might have wanted to tell me had he dared to continue beyond his own, and my, discomfort; had I dared to breathe through my own unknowing and keep my mouth shut and my ears open to allow it to unfold the way it maybe needed to for him to have raised it in the first place.

I felt I was probably the wrong person for him to confide in about such an intimate subject, being his daughter, and especially as he was a proud man not given to talking about feelings, even though he wore them so openly with us, his kids. In my deepest, most painful truth, I must acknowledge that I became scared - that any further revelation would forever change our very close relationship; that it would somehow unbalance the loving dynamic that had always existed between us or maybe even put an incredibly difficult strain there, between us, that may may be too difficult for either of us to fully recover from. Maybe I was too hasty to respond; maybe my response shut him down without my even realising it. Maybe he'd agonised for years over opening up, because he was also a very private man, with no real friends to talk to other than his children, grandchildren and his sisters - all of whom were of course raised in the same very dignified and staunchly catholic family.

I imagine he may have tried to talk about it once, way back then, when something could have been done to stop what was happening; to vindicate his pain and to bring the offender to justice before he and others like him damaged anyone else. I imagine that his resolutely church-going parents would have shushed him, thereby ensuring that shame would be a constant gnawing companion for the rest of his years, giving rise to consequences far beyond his original torment and affecting others who loved the ultimately sensitive, fun, playful, loving and troubled man whom I adored, in a myriad of ways.

Like so many dark secrets, this must be brought out into the open in order to break the taboos and begin the cleaning out of the institutions that protect, deny, deflect and continue to turn the thumbscrews on those who had the awful misfortune to be caught up in the whole sorry mess.

Please click the photo to the right to open the link with the original post on my Facebook timeline and the amazing comments and feedback shared in response to my original share in the early hours of the morning I wrote this. I was deeply unsure about sharing this - until I read the comments, and then deeply inspired to add to the post (you have seen the edited version above if you've got this far!) Thank you, to those wonderful people, who encouraged me to speak out more of some painful and powerfully impacting truth from my own life.

This is where the deep compassion for the suffering of men in this patriarchal model for life really began for me - the close up and personal witnessing of some unknown (at the time) deep, dark secret damage done to the pure, beautiful, gentle spirit that was my Dad, and - I believe - his lifelong struggle to heal the wounds cut so deeply into his soul so long ago.

In loving memory of my Dad. How I wish I could have listened better .. ❤️

A Handful of Comments on This Post

(From first sharing on 3rd September 2018 - what convinced me to start a Blog!)

This is a brilliant piece of writing, bless you <3 xxx


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