I sat down to write a piece about how I have spent a lifetime feeling unsafe. It’s taken two years to strip away all the layers of the anxiety I have felt my entire existence. I am doing the work it takes to dig into my psyche and my soul, challenge thought patterns of the past and complete my journey of finding peace. But I can not help but incorporate the Pennsylvania Catholic sex abuse scandal as part of this post. It’s current, relevant and unfortunately reveals a greater truth.
I was brought up strictly Catholic, complete with a healthy dose of paranoia, anxiety and guilt. It is very important to note here that I understand some of my readers had a very healthy Catholic upbringing complete with a faith they cherish today. I do not wish to disrespect that and I am happy for you that you had that experience. But not everyone did. I am not condemning an entire religion based upon my personal experience. But I ask those of you who did have a positive base for faith to consider the abuse of power that was perpetrated and the blind eye that was turned.
I was taught to put all my problems with God. I was told if you do the right thing, God will protect you. I was taught that if you follow Jesus, he will never lead you astray. I believed if you paid your dues in suffering, there would be a Heaven on the other side. I believed all of it and I felt safe when I thought of that. But along with those words, I experienced the actions of complete emotional neglect and an environment filled with constant and disproportionate anxiety based upon nonsense. I was taught to fear and against my will, I was directed to hate. I woke up one day to a monumental crash that the illusions I had built an entire life upon were false. My safety net collapsed and I became crippled with anxiety.
I can not fathom on top of all that, being raped at the age of 7 and then have it covered up. What those children, and the children of all the sex abuse scandals within the Catholic church endured, not only collapsed their view of an institution, but solidified that they would never feel safe again.The church’s power was used to destroy the lives of countless. It enrages me how many people were taken advantage of; good people, who wanted nothing more than to do the right thing in their lives. And the imbalance and abuse of power demolished them.
This knowledge, my experience and my efforts to climb out of the dark fuel me everyday to question power and to question privileage and the abuses that grow out of them. Silence around abuse has destroyed so many people across this entire planet. And many do not have the courage to seek help because they are so crushed by guilt, imposed by the very powers that were supposed to protect them. Religion can be a crutch for people to look the other way and still think they are going to heaven. Prayers will not fix this. We must question and we must listen and we must do. We are all we have and we need to start looking to each other, not up in the sky, for a resolution.