Thursday, September 4, 2008


I mentioned James in an earlier post. James is a priest, well he was, now he is a minister in a non-Catholic arena. Anyway, James dug Annie out of the grave; freed her, parented her, challenged her, loved her, listened to her, scolded her, played with her, cared enough to even shake her once, and he promised her a life time friendship and then one day he was gone.

This is the first time you are hearing of Daniel and Jill. We were all on a path together - each with a unique purpose, an "it" in my design. Each one I loved. Each one hurt me. In many ways it was worth it.

James stood on altars preaching of Jesus and how Jesus lived in all of us. He added that when we shared our truth we were doing as Jesus intended - to be "broken and poured out" so others could have hope. He likened this to what 'Eucharist really meant' and that each of us are called to be Eucharistic. I was spinning in a world of religious garb and gospel and old Catholic-Italian guilt and traditions, incense and crosses, white collars and black robes, sacred ground, boundaries being crossed, words of love - whispered at Daily Mass, promises, purpose - I felt special, chosen by God to have one of his church leaders guide me, love me, believe in me, and to whom I trusted my secrets, my "it's". I really felt like I was being touched by the right hand of God. In that moment in time, I believed I was.

James introduced me to Jill. She was very wounded and James wanted me to help her, me! I grew to love her and her me. We became the very best of friends.

And so James and I continued on our journey. As our mission became more complicated he felt he could no longer be my pastoral counselor. He referred me to the co-pastor, Daniel. I knew Daniel as such and Daniel was quite eager, actually too eager to 'take over' with my healing journey which freed me and James to pursue our pastoral mission of service to the broken. I now believed that God had sent yet another of his leaders to help me. I felt really special, chosen, and complete. I had James and our pastoral mission and intimate friendship. I had Daniel to help me continue healing, and I had Jill as my closest friend to share in all the wonder. God is good, huh?

James said many times that he saw a "gift" in me and from the concept of "sharing gifts" we developed a 'Pastoral Counseling Center'. I was really way too young and naive to do this but James believed otherwise. James wanted me to 'help others' who had a secret, "it", like mine. I was in awe of this man, this opportunity. I loved without question, was loyal and faithful and obedient to this man of God. I believed that through James I was serving God. I believed that with all my heart. James insisted upon it. Or better said - he made sure of it.

Daniel and I continued 'seeing' each other weekly for 'counseling sessions'.. I followed his counseling directives as if they were commands from God himself. Daniel always said that Jesus was guiding him. Along with the counseling Daniel began showing up at my house unannounced. He often came with gifts; candles, flowers, breakfast foods and the like. It wasn't long before he had invaded every area of my life. We began to go out to dinner, dancing, and spent hours at my home. He would do chores that 'the man' would do - yard work and repairs, etc. He insisted I keep our personal relationship and our counseling relationship secret from James. I was 'caught' in the middle of two priests, each with their own agenda. Daniel and I eventually went away for a weekend. There was no turning back now. The secret was bigger than me.

Jill knew. She saw. She was too weak to save me. I was still saving her along with James. I felt so guilty not telling James. I wanted to but I couldn't because I thought he would hate me, blame me, leave me and abandon Annie. It was all too much to figure out. As time went on Daniel convinced me that the only way for me to be free and healed was for him to recreate my "it". He assured me that Jesus himself was inspiring and guiding him. He insisted that the more real he made 'it' the more I would have a victory and be free. He said over and over again, "I am sacrificing all of myself so you can be well - the Daniel that loves you would never do this. I am doing this for you, for you, for you......" I believed him.

It was harder and harder to pretend around James, but I did it. Daniel was 'in my head', 'in my heart', in my healing', in my everything. I couldn't escape him and his commands. I couldn't let go of him in our personal relationship. I think I loved him. It's all so blurry now. I do know he arranged for me to sell my house. He had a lawyer draw up papers turning everything over to him. He intended to use the proceeds to add a room on to a home he owned and I was going to be a "kept woman". It all made perfect, logical sense at the time. I did whatever he asked, feeling like an obedient child of God.

As our personal relationship took on a new direction so did the liberties taken in the counseling escalate. Daniel was priming me weekly - taunting me with a yard stick as the teacher did - saying things in my ears that he insisted I tell him that the teacher had said. He groped and fondled and used his hands and the yard stick as the teacher did - only after he prayed and drank scotch while telling me how beautiful and brave and truly loved by God and him I was. Reminding me again and again that the Daniel that loved me would never hurt me and that he would sacrifice himself so I could be free. I was lost in Daniel's delusion - Daniel's professed, Jesus inspired, delusion. I was his proof.

And so came the night of the final recreation, this was "it" - Daniel was crazed, maybe it was the scotch, and I was fucking petrified of him. He demanded I do what he said, he was rough and wild and he yelled loudly not to ever resist him!!! I did though, I did. He was behind me, leaning in to me, using the yard stick to control me and trying to unzip and pull down my jeans. I fought back - turning around and pushing him, his arm came across my chest and I bit his forearm. He hit me in response, backhanded me so hard that he split my lip and the force knocked me down. I remember him over me, shaking me, insisting I get up. I couldn't. He promised me he wouldn't hurt me anymore. He helped me to the couch and then left. I was in shock.

James came to the rectory library where I was. He saw me - shaking and glazed over - he made me soup and held me. He called Jill. She came too. I told them everything. Daniel was told by James the next day that he had to leave and that we would keep it secret as to why. It took six months. We all pretended. James undid all the legal issues about my house and other monies and belongings. I had a leather jacket and a gold and tiger eye ring of Daniel's. He had my bank books and house deed and mortgage documents. We exchanged items through James. Daniel was not allowed to have any interaction with me nor was he allowed to do any type of pastoral counseling - per James!
I still worked with James, and Daniel was at most meetings to keep up appearances. Eventually James read a 'goodbye' letter from Daniel to the parish community that he was leaving. Daniel was already gone.
I thought James had protected me and kept our secret because he cared about me. I was wrong. James was planning to leave the church and get married. If it ever got out about what happened to me with Daniel under his reign he would have never been accepted in to another ministry. I knew this to be true because I decided to sue the arch diocese for what happened with Daniel. I went to James to ask him to 'tell' what he saw and how he made sure Daniel left the church and why. James said he knew nothing and had no idea what I was talking about. I thought I was going to lose my mind. That betrayal was worse than anything Daniel ever did to me. It is one of my "it's".

And so James was preparing to leave and he did and along with his leaving the Pastoral Counseling Center was closed. Jill was devastated and almost died over it. Literally, almost died. James and I intervened just in time as our last act of compassion together. Jill eventually went away too. I lost James, Daniel, Jill, my faith community, my religion, my job, all in a matter of a few months. "IT'S"!!!!

This is a very complicated part of my design. Some would say I am too blame because I was of age. Perhaps there is some truth to that. Everything I did was my choice. It made sense at the time. And I do not see myself as James or Daniel's victim. I also know, without a doubt, that my consent was never authentic. In order for consent to be authentic it has to take place in a mutual and or equal context. Any time one person has power over another (as defined by role), it is not mutual or equal and therefore any consenting is not authentic - as in doctor to patient, lawyer to client, priest to church member, therapist to client, teacher to student, employer to employee, etc. Years later, I still wrestle with this part of my life. The losses and lessons are endless, way too much. So be it.

More on Jill and the gang later.


P. E. Nolan said...

My friend Cretin, who has an It of his own, sent my a song once by a band called The Dead Milkmen.

Partial lyrics:
Life is Shit
Life is Shit
The World is Shit
The World is Shit
This is life as I know it.

The song leads to the big finish with this verse:
And when my friend and I were done
We went to rest upon the sun
Cause life takes from us the things we love
And it robs us of the special ones
And it puts them high where we can't climb
And we only miss them all the time

I wish you could find Dennis, and I'm glad you've got your house.

It's funny the way some people get alarmed when you start getting a handle on just how pissed off you are about your Its. Eventually, you master the It. Become the victor not the victim. Easier said than done, for sure, but not impossible. And Thank God for sending you your husband. She's very smart that way.

And guess what - that Tom Petty song you mentioned at TGT, it's on half my play lists!

P. E. Nolan said...

Please excuse the typo. Should read "me" not "my"

Cretin is still so pissed at me that I must get flustered when I think of him. Oh Well

Gail said...

Hi Trish -
Dennis is so beautiful. We saved each other back then. I have tried to find him via various searches. No luck. I Love the song Trish. Especially the big finish.
And my husband is pure and strong. He has no macho baggage crap - I sleep surrounded by pillows, especially in back of me. I build a fucking fortress. He never takes it personal. Whatever I need to do to feel safe is fine with him. He knows all of my past and he has definitely gone to that rage about which you wrote but mostly he just never interferes with mine.
A funny side note - I just told the bartender a day or so ago how Jill and I paint-balled the priests car. It was so good to do, I mean it was fucking wonderful. Talk about victor!

And Trish - that om Petty song huh?
I am going to just take a risk here and give you an old email address, one that I just never deleted. If you write to me there I can then go ahead and email you back from my real email.

here it is:

more later
with highest regard

P. E. Nolan said...

the server wouldn't let my gmail through - but I bet money you can find me on Plenty of Fish and contact me there. It's safe enough

eric said...

Very brave of you to share this. To the extent that something possesses the capacity for good, so it goes with the capacity for evil. Silence is the nail in the coffin.

May others be healed from your story.

Gail said...

Thank you Eric, Thank you.


JN1034 said...

Glad you wrote and suggested we read these posts. You are much stronger than you realize, even with pillows embracing you. Sometimes the scars we carry are like proud reminders of our weaknesses and strengths, and how others tend to take advantage of our trust and innocence. But it's great to see you writing about this and sharing yourself so freely. Your openness helps others open themselves. Your vulnerability makes it okay for us to be vulnerable and share our stories. Thank you.

Wonderingsoul said...

Dear Gail...
Just read the first of your suggestions.(Thank you by the way; It's a very good idea to do that. I don't hink I could suggest any of mine cos nt sure they say much really... but then, i only just started).
In terms of what I have just read Gail, in all honesty, I feel devestated that you have been so horrendously let down by those in whom you placed so much trust.
I hear your confusion about being 'of age' and about responsibility... but nothing changes the fact that you were a victim of a pseudo psych who was clearly abusing a position of responsibility and acting out his own (in my opinion) sick fantasies. Add to that the abuse of boundaries and the denial that follows...
Thank you for sharing so honestly and for inviting me to read.
I'll read the others tomorrow (late here) but wanted you to know...
I'm glad you have found some of the restoration that must have come from your husband and children. You sound like one amazing lady to me.

jss said...

This is quite a story, one hell of an "It". I know very well the concept of the "It" in our lives, I have one hell of an "It" myself. I suspect there will be more for both of us.

Thanks for pointing me to this.

Gail said...


It means a lot to me that you took the time to read this AND you have not rejected me. Some do, ya know?

Love Gail

Patricia Singleton said...

Gail, thank you for suggesting that I read this post. I feel sad that you had to experience this. People in places of authority should have more integrity that these two priests had.

Amanda said...

I began reading this knowing that the ending wasn't going to be a beautifully painted picture ... however as I went through it, I hoped that I'd be wrong. I'm sorry that this happened to you, it was not okay. And it hurts my heart that someone else has experienced this type of pain ... I'm sad that it was you. I appreciate you sharing your story though - I know there is power in telling it. Good for you, for doing that. And in sharing it, you are helping others feel less alone, less shameful. You've made me feel that way, thank you.

I'm glad to have found your blog and am grateful for your support. Thank you for all of this.

Love, Amanda

Julie G said...

Wow Gail-you have so much depth and courage. I can only imagine how painful and confusing this experience was. I admire your honesty. Look forward to talking more when we see each other.