Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Secret Kept No Longer (19)

I sat in the chair opposite the man that I had grown to trust with the most intimate details of my life. I found it ironic in that moment that I was seeking hope and help from someone who held the same job as the man who did so much damage years earlier. A trusted religious leader has almost infinite power over their followers and to abuse that power is as devastating as if he were truly a family member or a part the victim’s home.

“Shit! this is real?!” I thought. For a week after I mailed the letters, I was on the edge of implosion. Constantly questioning . . . will my memories be affirmed or denied? Contested or ignored, the wait was taking the very breath away from me.  Part of my soul wanted AFB to deny the charges against him. DENY! so that I could be the monster. DENY! so that I could be the pervert psychopath.  DENY! so that I could put a bullet into my brain and put everyone out of their misery. Me.  This internal battle was laying under the surface of my sea of calm that allowed me to play with my children and be with my wife.

The smaller, less boisterous part of me, wanted confirmation of what my body was saying.  A validation of the pain and torture that I had long forgotten the second it was perpetrated. A secret kept no longer. I needed to know it was true or I was false.

The chair I sat in grew strangely oversized and uncomfortable, as if it were made completely of angry bees. “Would you like the good news first or the bad news first,” Derrick asked.

“Always lead with good news,”  was my brief reply. I could hardly speak.  

I took my clothes off and began to straighten the polished cherry wood desk.

“The other pastor got your letter, we both agree that it is the most well written letter we have ever read regarding this topic.”  He continued; I shifted in my chair trying to focus on what Derrick was telling me. “He told me if it had not been written this way, he would have ignored it and moved on with his day. Instead, he called AFB into his office and spoke to him about it.”

“Go make copies.” AFB’s voice ordered, I put my clothes on and went out into the hallway and into the adjoining room where the photocopier was. It was out of ink, I had to use the manual copier with a hand crank on a roller, a mimeograph.

“First, AFB is not on staff at that church, he does not do counseling, neither is he around children. He works as a consultant for some of his unique skills.”

“CONSULTANT?? Unique skills?” I thought. “That better not be how to get away with rape.”

I took off my clothes again and handed the copies to AFB. I then continued to straighten the piles of papers on the credenza opposite his desk. Oops! I forgot the original on the roll . . .

“I spoke with the other pastor for three hours, and because of your letter he wants to meet with you. Perhaps, later if you’re ok with it we can meet with AFB as well.”

As Derrick continued I couldn’t get any closer to the edge of my seat without falling off. “He said that he and AFB met prior to calling me. AFB admitted to the news articles and to what he had done to you.”

AFB came out from behind his desk, and we began to dance, rocking side to side he held me close, I could smell cheap cologne and sweat on his tie. . .

Derrick continued telling me about the three hour long phone call.

AFB stands behind my naked body, He whispers into my ear. “This is going to happen.”
“As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after thee.” AFB begins to sing.

THAT HURTS!!!! That is not supposed to go in there!!!!

“After the scandal in 2002, AFB left Longmont and moved to the Colorado Springs area, he sought out the other pastor for help to repair his fractured marriage. If it wasn’t for that person AFB would be alone.  He shared some of the details of the scandal at the time, but the other pastor did not know the full extent of what had happened and was caught off guard.”

“So he gets his life back and mine is broken because of him?” I said bitterly.

“I took a walk the other day,” I found my words again, “It was going to be my last walk, I needed to decide his life or my death.  My life or his death. I needed to decide how I was going to unleash my revenge. I walked for hours and hours until blisters formed on the bottom of my feet. I needed to choose.”

“And what was your conclusion?” Derrick asked me.

“It was the hardest decision of my life. I really wanted to hurt AFB in a way more painful than he ever hurt me. I visualized constantly what I wanted to do to him. Like, shove a the small end of a baseball bat into his mouth and break all of his teeth. Or, stand in the middle of his church sanctuary and scream out, THIS MAN! Even possibly, creep into his house in the middle of the night and quietly set it ablaze, blocking every exit with fire, brimstone and toxic smoke” Derrick nodded his head knowingly. He revealed that many times he had those same thoughts of torture and revenge upon his own perpetrators, he then gazed deep into my eyes as if looking into my true soul.  Because he understood, there was no judgement, he then let me finish.

“I decided that I love Jesus, and that I want to see Him one day.” I continued. “If I hurt AFB I won’t see Jesus, I’ll be left behind and I don’t want that. If I believe in Jesus, then I must believe He will help me through this.”

I then read my prayer to Derrick.

“Dear God,

You said I would have peace, But I am tormented by my past.
You said I would have joy, but I am so unbearably sad.
You said I would have healing, but I am fractured and broken.
You said I would be able to move on, but how am I supposed to move on from something that affects me every day?
You said I need to forgive, but I am so very ANGRY!
You said you would help me, but I feel your absence.

HELP ME!”

I finally looked up and saw the tears streaming down my pastor’s face.  I became aware that my face was wet with my own tears, but this time, in this moment they weren’t tears of terror.  Something had released from inside of me.  I was suddenly no longer alone, or a fraud.  I had been made justified, but I was not smug in knowing.  I was humbled and a layer of guilt and fear peeled away like peeling the outside of an onion--there were many more layers to go.  Derrick grabbed my hand and prayed for me.  I don’t remember the specific words, but I remember being washed over in warmth and love that can only be described as “otherworldly.”  I felt God for the first time in many years and yearned to feel Him more.  My regained relationship with Him was fragile, like the delicate film of soap bubble, but it was there again.

Before leaving, Derrick set up a tentative meeting with the other pastor.  It would be about a month away due to scheduling.  Derrick was taking a much deserved sabbatical with his family so we would meet upon his return.  I left feeling like I was floating.  I felt light for the first time.

I picked up the kids from the secretary at the church and somehow made it home.  I told my wife about everything and we held each other close. Both of us experiencing the joy of AFB’s admittance and at the same time sorrow of the reality.  

For the next month I was for the most part as close to normal as I had ever been.  Sure, I had moments of doubt and anxiety about the meeting, but things seemed to not be as centered around the event in such an intense way.  I was still conflicted with self doubt and why I should “be happy” about the turn of events, especially the day after the meeting, but it seemed like my family was slowly taking priority in my thoughts.  Maybe I could heal from this.

  
iamnotbubba