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Demons and Dark Corners

When we returned from Germany when I was fifteen, my parents sent my sister and I to the Catholic school rather than the larger generic version across the street because we were used to small schools and I think there were less than 400 in the one I ended up at. Memory is weird, so I can’t say for certain. High School wasn’t so tough for me, although I was a horrible student. I just had no interest in it.

Anyway, good call on their part. Even though I never really fit in throughout my three years there, I never had any problems with bullies or fights or feeling ostracized. Sure there was the odd asshole, but that was the exception, not the rule.

No, those first couple of years, my friends were mostly on the military base, that’s where the majority of my life was. At first, it was just like fitting in anywhere else, but military kids do that well.  I was an awkward teenager. Hey, in one form or another, weren’t we all?

My parents were still dragging me to church and while I was an altar boy in Germany and at the beginning in Penhold, I ended up playing the organ for mass, too.

Organ. In church. Here come the pedophile priest jokes.

Funny thing, because we had one of those and he set his sights on me, although I didn’t know it at the time. It felt like a big brother kind of thing. He took me skiing at Canyon ski hill, bike riding, etc. No alarm bells went off or anything, proving we aren’t the same people as teenagers that we are as adults, because all of the clues were right in front of me.

I even remember him making the comment once that I had ‘big hips.’ Tell me that’s not a red alert right there, but I was naïve and stupid. Nothing ever happened that I can recall, however, but my parents later told me that he wanted to take me camping once and they said, “No,” because by then, THEY were seeing the signs and got me away from him.

My parents told me that when they told me No, I was really mad and we had a big fight about it. I don’t remember any of this.

But it turns out he took a couple of other boys camping later on and ended up in jail for it in Ontario. I still wonder, though, because I have a visceral reaction when the subject of child sexual abuse comes up. It triggers my OCD like you wouldn’t believe. Last month, I watched the documentary ‘Call Me Lucky` about Barry Crimmins and his dealing with abuse and it set me off. I spent days in a deep dark funk, some tears, angry and bitter, but no specific memories. It’s still bothering me a month later.

Having spent way too much time researching child sexual abuse over the past couple of weeks, (that’s what my  OCD does), I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a clouded memory in there somewhere as many years of my childhood memories are just snapshots and I have some of the symptoms often associated with adult survivors of that shit. The fact that I have long dealt with anxiety disorders, depression, and am quick to anger could be indicators. I don’t like being touched much. When somebody touches my arm or leg, it creeps me out and I startle quite easily.

Although oddly enough, I’m a hugger. Man or woman, I would prefer to hug somebody than shake their hand.

My folks are adamant there wasn’t any indication of ever having been molested, but busy people with busy lives with the best of intentions can’t be everywhere. I hope they’re right. I suspect they’re not. Just a gut feeling.

What much of the research says is that you shouldn’t go looking for an incident if you can’t remember it, because the mind is a funny thing and my overactive imagination might fill in the gaps. Who knows what shit I could dig up and how much of it would be real? Everybody’s got problems and the root of my craziness could be any number of things, from a genetic cocktail gone wrong to too many Stephen King novels at a young age.

So I stopped going to church shortly after, but it actually had nothing to do with the creepy clergyman. When I’d just turned 16, going to church was a chore, especially since I had no real faith in it and am an atheist now. My parents still went but they didn’t fight me on it and I got on with the business of being a teenager and growing up.

It’s been thirty years, pedophile priest dude is dead now and I’m pretty sure he never got his hooks into me. But he sure as hell was grooming me for it, no doubt in my mind about that now.

And at least he didn’t ruin camping for me.