By Q. Jones
For the past few years, I’ve awoken each day to the same unstated question: “Who will win today, the light or the dark?”
That’s what the last few years have felt like – a pitched battle for my mind and my soul. Some days, the mere thought of asking the question scares me.
I’ve been asked to write a few words regarding my healing journey. I apologize for the use of a pseudonym. I do this to protect my children. I have a sufficiently difficult time protecting my own faith in light of my experiences. I hesitate at exposing my children to the same confusion.
I also apologize if this is painful to read. Frankly, writing this is no small task for me as the character of my journey changes every single day, but as I have learned, there is power in sharing truth.
So how did the journey begin? At this time, let’s forego extensive talk of the harm.
It’s enough to say that over the course of many years a very sick priest groomed and took advantage of several very young boys and their desire to serve God. Unfortunately for me, I was one of those children. He took advantage of their closeness to Christ and their love of the Church. He abused and misused their innocence, belief and goodness for his own needs. And because of who he was and what he represented, they trusted him.
Some didn’t survive. I was one of the “lucky ones.” I’m still here, sort of. For years, I didn’t remember. I just ran. I didn’t know from what but running felt safer. I was the neighborhood kid who “made good.” I was successful. I ran some more.
I earned an education from a top Ivy League school. I kept running. I became a successful professional and built a good reputation for myself. Underneath it all, I knew that I was running from “Something” dark, I just didn’t know what it was. Distraction was my friend.
Eventually, I remembered, and I recognized the Something for what it was. I was able to run for a little while longer, but the effort grew more difficult with each year. I used my blessings and my knowledge to help other survivors. This gave my pain meaning and it worked well for a time. But I was getting very tired.
Could No Longer Run
One day I awoke to find that distraction was both no longer sufficient and too much. I could no longer run fast or far enough. I had grown weary. The darkness within me was everywhere and the weight was suddenly more than I could bear. The faith that had sustained me for so long had been crumbling. And then everything fell apart completely.
On the dark days, I feel like a man who is drowning. I try to swim to the surface, but the Something keeps pulling me back down. And, as I tire, it gets harder to swim and the light gets further away. On these days, the light feels like a fading memory whose only purpose is to taunt and tell me that I will never again feel better.
That I will never again be the man that I was or the man that I should be for my wife and children. That the faith and belief upon which I foolishly base my life are both pointless and meaningless. That I am truly worthless and naive, and that my weakness has betrayed my family. Those are the days I feel that the only purpose served by hope is to make the inescapable darkness all the more cruel.
Not all days are dark. These are the days when my powers of distraction (that served me so well for so long, but then failed abruptly) enable me to look away from the pain, confusion and anger. On such days, I recognize the good and I am able to focus on the light.
On those days, I feel as if I may be getting better and that my nightmare is ending. On these days I don’t let myself remember the dark. Forgetting is so much better.