Sunday, November 1, 2009

Confession #4


     Forgive me Father Hate for I have sinned.  It’s been two weeks since my last confession.  Oh…and welcome back from your cruise.  How was it?
     …
     I know that’s a boundary violation, but after what I heard from your sub, Fr. Boundarilessi, last weekend during my “confession,” I realized that you closeted priests need someone to talk to.  And being a former priest myself, who’s come out of the closet, left the priesthood, and is now an atheist, I have no sacred cows.  You can talk to me about anything.
     …
     Oh, cut the crap, Father Hate.  I just gave you an opening to vent—about anything!  How often in life do you get that offer?  And what priest doesn’t like to talk about himself?  Come on.  You have my word that I won’t tell anyone.  This can all be under the seal.  Hell, you can even blaspheme the Holy Spirit for all I care.
     …
     Seriously, I want to help you.
     …
     Because, when I left the priesthood five years ago, I was a wreck: crushed, clinically depressed, and suicidal.  Every paradigm in my life was in flux—in question—and I didn’t know if there was a life for me on the other side. 
     ...
     Didn’t I tell you about the sexual abuse I endured at the hands of trusted priests?  And how it was all covered up?  I lost my career, my livelihood, and my community because I told the truth.  So yes, it was scary to come out, the most frightening thing I ever did in my life, but it was worth it.
     …

     Well, the bishop and my superiors told me to shut up, to go back to my parish, back into the closet, and to be a good little obedient priest.  After all, why would I want parishioners to know what happened to me?  It would only scandalize them, and everyone thought that the guilty abusers were good priests.  Hadn’t we had enough scandal already?
     …
     Yeah, it was horrendous.  I didn’t know what to do, so I drove to the icy Mississippi with the intention of driving my truck out onto it until I fell through.
     …
     Well, as I sobbed, parked at the river’s edge, my internal counselor kicked in.  I knew I had to call someone.  I knew that even though I couldn’t see any alternative, besides going back into my parish and dying of depression, I knew that there had to be another alternative that the veil of my despair wasn’t allowing me to see.
     …
     People do die of depression, Father Hate.  If it’s left untreated it can be a terminal illness.  A depressed and closeted priest friend of mine drank himself to death.  Every year over a million people kill themselves, and upwards of 90% of those suicides are related to mental illnesses.  So if you are depressed, seek treatment.  But, I’m not here to lecture you, Father Hate.  I’m here to listen.   As someone who’s been on both sides of the confessional and clerical closets, I have something to offer men and priests like you who are struggling with their sexuality issues.
     …
     No.  That wasn’t a come on.  I’m happily engaged to SHE.  Remember?
     …
     I’m flattered, Father, but we’re not in an open relationship.  And, thanks for coming out to me. 
     …
     But you did.  And look, the world didn’t end.
     …
    Now you’re changing the subject, but that’s all right.  I’ll answer, but then you’re going to talk to me.  You need to talk to someone.  Okay?
      …
     Good.  Well what happened that night is that I called a friend, and he talked me down from my suicidal perch.  Then I called my parents, who came to move me out of the parish the next day.  I didn’t, but that’s a story for another time.  What’s important is that from that moment on, I chose to live and to start taking care of myself.  There wasn’t a future for me in the priesthood and the closet.  Is there for you, Father?  Talk to me.  I’m all ears.


Postscript:  If you or someone you know is ever feeling suicidal, there are people that can help you.  Please call 1-800-SUICIDE.  For LGBT youth, call the Trevor Project.

Heretic Tom: gospelaccordingtohate@gmail.com


5 comments:

Gazelle said...

"Well, as I sobbed, parked at the river’s edge, my internal counselor kicked in."
This is such a powerful moment...I love the fact that you have an internal counselor.

Monica said...

Thanks for continuing to share your story with all of us, Tom. I am glad you made the decisions that you did and are still with us here today! *HUGS*

Mrs. Levine said...

This post is so chilling and tender. These stories are really important to tell openly. Thanks for being brave enough to do it.

Ht. Tom said...

Thank you for the comments,my friend.

Gazelle,after the decades of counseling, formation, etc. that I've had in my life, there is a little Augustinian monk with a PhD in psychotherapy residing in my head. His interests include depressive disorders, cognitive behavior therapy, and psycho dramatic therapy. He also likes donut holes.

Monica, I'm happy that I'm still here with you, too.

Mrs. L. and Gazelle, if you keep being brave in your blogs, I'll keep being brave in mine!

http://whisperedbetweenwomen.tumblr.com/

http://tracksofgazelle.blogspot.com/

Danielle Lenglet said...

You have a gift for relating your personal stories to the bigger picture, and you do it beautifully.