|ChrisOLeary.com > Sins of the Fathers > TOC > Haunted
That's the best word for it.
To describe how I feel about MY SPOTLIGHT.
And its aftermath.
Still, nearly twenty years later.
Because of what it did not just to ME, but to US.
To my family.
Because I'm still LEARNING what happened in those dark and scary and desperately confusing days.
Not just what HAPPENED to my family.
What I DID to my family.
What I put them THROUGH.
Yes, without realizing it, but nonetheless.
It affected me.
But it also affected US.
Meaning they're as much survivors as I am.
And that realization leaves me absolutely RACKED with guilt.
That I couldn't prevent it.
A guilt that TORMENTS me, awakening me in the middle of the night.
I'm just SO sorry.
About what happened, and what I did, as a result, in the weeks and months after the publication of the original Boston Globe SPOTLIGHT articles about the Catholic sex abuse crisis in early January 2002. Which led to the publication, by the New York Times on March 3, 2002, of an article entitled...
...that named a priest from my childhood as an abuser.
People don't understand, because I still don't completely understand, what it was like to, completely out of the blue, see one of your favorite priests — and PEOPLE — named as an abuser. To have to face, because you're suddenly CONFRONTED with, the consequences of what happened, without even understanding what's going on.
And it's one thing to do this to ME, but to do it to my FAMILY...
So I'm racked with guilt.
In part, I can only guess, because it's the same time of year?
Because it FEELS the same?
How I've been told — how I fear — it happened.
It's the Spring of 2002 and my now ex wife is sitting on the blue sofa in the family room at my parents’ house. My youngest is still just an infant, mere weeks old, and is cradled in her arms.
And my younger son is cowering in the corner.
She's talking to my mom.
Because something’s wrong with me.
It’s a few months after the release of the original SPOTLIGHT reports. And a few weeks after my own, personal SPOTLIGHT, which is how I refer to learning about my favorite priest from childhood being named by the New York Times as an abuser.
And, even though both my friend the cardinal and an independent psychologist gave me the all clear, telling me nothing happened, I got sick.
Snapping at the kids.
And my wife.
I was doing all these things to them, without even realizing it.
And I can't get the image of that day out of my head.
Or the guilt.
How I feel as a result of what I did to her and them. Without knowing it, yes, but nonetheless.
No, I didn't MEAN to do it. I didn't even KNOW I was doing it. But I still DID it.
It still HAPPENED.
And it scared the crap out of me because, at least once, I did notice it.
When I screamed at my oldest, over nothing, as we drove back up from Florida, just days after I first learned about it.
And the reason it's bothering me now, in part — and one reason it's bothering me so MUCH — is because I only recently LEARNED about it.
Nearly 20 years after it happened.
When my mom mentioned it, recently.
She gets very frustrated with my now ex wife, sometimes for a good reason, but I can't help but remind my mom that my ex wife is as much of a victim of the Catholic sex abuse crisis as I am.
As are my kids.