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.