Sins of the Fathers
ChrisOLeary.com > Sins of the Fathers > Lucky?

As a result of 10 years of interactions with, and the "assistance" of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, I came away believing I was lucky.

Nothing happened.

I had dodged a bullet.

Yes, I had spent significant amounts of time -- often alone -- with a priest who abused several other altar boys.

But he hadn't done anything to me.

Or so I thought.

Then, over the past few years, I have come to understand that I wasn't actually lucky.

I just couldn't remember what happened to me.

In truth, I was sexually exploited, abused, and ultimately raped by a priest over the course of four years.

So was I -- and am I -- truly lucky?

Lucky?

Hell yes, I'm lucky.

I'm still alive.

I've battled Cancer, Diabetes, and the Catholic Church and I'm still here.

I learned about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and came to understand at an early age that that voice in your head -- the one who says stupid and sometimes terrible things -- is normal.

And you can learn to ignore it.

Which makes it speak up less often.

I have four amazing kids and they have an amazing mom and family who have stepped up and in to help.

I have an amazing and supportive family. While they didn't always understand what was going on or what to do, they're learning.

I have great friends. Even though I have a hard time reaching out to them, I still feel connected to them and know they're there for me.

While for years I felt intense shame, I'm lucky enough to be able to just decide to stop feeling shame about something that I didn't understand, much less remember. Many survivors are not so lucky.

While for much of the year I feel like I'm dead -- I can see my family but not interact with them -- I'm not actually dead. I can call my kids up and talk to them and take them out to dinner and be there for them. Which is more than many people can say.

Finally, while you'd think this experience would destroy my faith -- and it did when I was younger -- I've actually come to better understand the example, message, and purpose of Jesus Christ.

And to see it in the example -- and courage -- of great men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson.

To understand what courage really means and to be able to follow the examples of Jesus Christ, Dr. King, Jackie Robinson, and others and do what needs doing in order to ensure that children are safe.