Set me free: The Roman collar still has me in a chokehold.

This man haunts my nightmares, when all I want to do is see Eric in my dreams.

Yesterday morning, as my mind began to awake from a deep, restful sleep, I shifted my body ever so slightly, and a searing pain shot through my neck and left shoulder. I tested the motion again, and knew this pain wasn’t going away with few ibuprofen. I was frozen. I was stuck. I couldn’t look down. I couldn’t look up. I couldn’t look left. I could’t look right. My face was pointed slightly down and to the left, and that’s where it stayed. I couldn’t shower, I could barely dress. I had to call for help to take care of my children and drive me to the chiropractor.

But why? Why so much pain? Why have my left shoulder and neck been aching so much for the past week, month, year, several years? Why, all of a sudden, did it flare up, causing me such agony? It’s because I’m stubborn. I started to write about Eric. I followed God’s lead. And then, when he was leading me right where he wanted me to go, I told God, “no.” I won’t go there. Not yet. Not until I’m good and ready. You can’t make me!

You see, there’s something about me not a lot of people know. I hide it well, even from myself. I am an angry person. I have a small cauldron of boiling black tar simmering in my heart. I intentionally keep the fire lit, intentionally stir the pot, dredging up old memories, old hurts. So now that I know this, the solution is easy, right? Just dump the poison, rid your body of the toxin. No. This anger is mine. I tend to it, make sure it stays fresh, but doesn’t boil over into other unsuspecting chambers of my heart, into other’s hearts. And while I’ve managed to do fairly well shielding the innocent, there’s one person I can’t protect from this weapon: me.

But why would someone want to be mad? Want to be depressed? Because I rose from those ashes. And if they’re swept away, what proof will I have that I rose in the first place? And it’s my secret weapon, my super elixir I can draw from should I ever need it. Because in my anger fantasies, when it’s me against the demons who destroyed my faith and family, it’s how I win. It’s how I find the strength to chew them up and spit them out. So why so much anger? Why do I have such hatred lodged deeply in my heart?

– Because my brother wasn’t just sexually violated at the tender age of twelve, it was at the hands of a man who masqueraded as a messenger of God.
– Because we didn’t know about the abuse until less than a year before his suicide, and he’d suffered alone so long.
– Because the first person at the Diocese my mother told about the abuse admitted the perp was a known pedophile (he now denies this). They knew. The bastards knew.
– Because this same person went straight to the psych ward where my brother was on suicide watch, and heard his confession. Heard his confession for a sin he didn’t
commit. I’ll let you guess why.
– Because Eric wasn’t the only one. There were at least four other suicides related to the same pedophile. It was like mass murder.
– Because his perp is in a low-security facility, living a relatively easy life. Torture children for thirty years, forcing some of them to such mental duress that they take their
own lives, and this is the punishment you get.
– Because some of those who shuffled this pedophile around from parish to parish, knowing full well what he was capable of, are still held in high respect in the community.
And when they give the invocation at large, community-wide social gatherings, the sound of their voice incites my rage and I refuse to stand up. I won’t pay my respects. I
– And there’s more. So much more. So many others. They didn’t just take my brother. They took some of my family who will never be the same. And they took the one thing I
had to fall back on. The one thing I could turn to was gone. My faith.

So, this pain, in my neck and shoulders? This pain, that’s limiting my motions, affecting my entire life? It’s a physical representation of the anger that I carry with me. It hurts. It’s heavy. It’s ruining me. I want to set it down, but I’m scared. Scared that letting go means losing a major part of me. Scared that letting go means losing my connection with Eric. Scared that letting go means admitting defeat.

But they’re not carrying this burden. I am. I wish I could tell you I’ll wake up and be healed. But I won’t because I’m not quite ready. The Roman collar still has me in a chokehold, but not for much longer.



10 thoughts on “Set me free: The Roman collar still has me in a chokehold.

  1. Cat,
    After reading this, All I can think of is our study we are doing right now! ” STUCK and on page 31 it talks about As we admit our weak places. our hurts, our brokenness, God can freely move into those spaces. We depend on him more and on ourselves less as we soberly view ourselves as broken.
    then it gives us 2 Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecution, and calamities. for when i am weak, then I am strong.
    then at the end of the page it ask? – How could this verse transform your view of your own weakness.
    I pray we can see where we are weak, and broken every day! So that we can view our weakness, then I am strong!
    God bless Cat! Love ya ♥

  2. And they took the one thing I
    had to fall back on. The one thing I could turn to was gone. My faith.
    No Cat your Faith is in God , not any man, as you told Melanie. Leaving the anger behind will never cause you to lose what you had with Eric, maybe it could help you focus on all the happy things, You know the old saying “if you stay angry or hold a grudge you are letting “them” win.” Don’t let them win Cat you have a great life to enjoy, tell Erics story and get it out there, then let the anger go, and cherish the happiness.

  3. Cat,
    Your courage and gift for writing is amazing! The intense pain, anger, and resentment can and will go away as you release it. You have a right to keep it as long as you wish to. In my personal experience, I have those same “hidden” –maybe not so well hidden at times– chambers of anger in my heart for the same and different issues that I’ve encountered along this journey of humanness. Releasing the anger that has taken root in that section of your being is a scary, painful process. However, God promises to refill the “hole” that is left as the anger is released. I encourage you to ask Him what gift He has for you. He has a plan and a purpose for your journey. He has filled the voids that releasing my anger had created. He will do the same for you! I know it’s scary, leaving the known (even if it’s unhealthy, painful known) for the unknown, I’ve done it. I still have areas in my heart that it needs to be done, but I’m not there yet! Ya know?

    The strength you possess and portray looking at these “demons” is awesome and evident!! Your daughters are fortunate to have a couragous Mommy that can and will be able to show them how to walk through pain as life comes along. You show them how to laugh, cry, enjoy, and embrace life!!! Those 2 babies are soaking up their Momma’s strength. It may not always feel like strength, but it is……sometimes you just have to run around the yard screaming like a maniac to get it all out!!! It’s ok and God has blessed you in providing 80+ acres to run in!!!

    Love you cousin!!

  4. Cat, our family has thought of yours frequently over the years; most particularly of your Mother whom we love with all of our hearts. I never knew you & really hadn’t thought about how this atrocity could have/did affect you. I have always heard that there is no institution more powerful than the Catholic Church. Who are you the maddest at: Larson or all of those who covered up his sins and passed him from one pulpit to another? Or are you mad at God because he “allowed” this to occur? We pray for a cancer victim to recover and he dies? So? We pray for rain to save our crops, our precious small farmers, our own pocket books and still it doesn’t rain. So?
    About the same time that my wonderful sweet Dad fatally fell from a ladder while trying to break into his neighbor’s house because they were gone on vacation and had given him the wrong key and he was responsible for watering the beautiful flowers that were inside, Charles Manson was found guilty of slaughtering how many people and merely sentenced to life in prison. Over the years, he has gotten a college education and makes unbelievable demands which have often been granted but yet I am not to question why God allowed this to happen: my Dad dies and this bastard lives on! This forever has eaten a hole in my ‘faith’!
    What would free your heart? Larson’s unexplainable death? The knowledge that the meanest of prisoners used him as their girlfriend on a daily basis (yes, I know he isn’t in prison); a public execution? (I think I would enjoy seeing this!) I’m kind of an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth person! I could shoot Charles Manson and never bat an eye!
    Don’t misunderstand my bluntness. I’m THAT kind of person too. Just trying to give you food for thought.How has your Mother dealt with all of this?
    And Melanie, I quite agree with Cat over your marriage; but I might have to take my wedding photos to a professional and have Larson’s face nicely obliterated.
    By the way, I don’t hesitate to mention his name. Will not refer to him as Father or Mr. because he deserves NEITHER!
    To quote you, “If dull is what you’re looking for, I’m sorry to disappoint!”

    • Thank you Malena. I’m already feeling somewhat better, mentally and physically. I was able to mop my kitchen floor today. Never thought I would rejoice about that.

  5. this so called priest married pat and i, makes me wonder if we’re really married. hope you get to feeling better, cannot imagine what you and your family have had to deal with. many thoughts and prayers.

    • Oh Melanie- This is something I never thought about. Of course you are really married. After all, it was God who joined you together, no matter what man performed the ceremony. Your thoughts mean so much to me.

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