Hi, my name is Lloyd. I was born in the mid-eighties and grew up with a particular syndrome that was both untraceable and undefinable, yet it had very particular characteristics. It made me suffer endlessly. Psychological trauma is a terrible thing to endure as it bears no physical mark and thus people do not believe that you are actually suffering at all and just mark you as ‘odd’, ‘different’ or even ‘special’ in certain cases. Because they don’t understand, they mark you as an outsider. As it turned out, I understood perfectly well and this was the cause of my anxiety.
Growing up in Ireland I was quickly taught “what you don’t know, won’t kill you” as the axiom goes. I grew close to the parish priest from a very young age and we had an enduring and endearing relationship. I served mass and spent time with him as he became a family friend. The relationship was above board, nothing underhand, it was so far removed from anything of this kind, however this deserves mentioning. He was a great, kind and compassionate man whom I loved greatly. I found myself looking towards him, interested in him. He sort of fascinated me. I assumed that I had a natural orientation toward religion or spirituality. We grew close and I associated with him all of the fatherly qualities a young boy might need, though when I asked the question, ‘may I call him daddy’, the reply was ‘no, just father like everyone else.’
This greatly troubled me. When he died in my late teenage years, I became intensely isolated following his untimely death. I withdrew into myself and could not fathom why this man’s death would have such an effect upon me? We were close but it was not as if he was my biological father? The intensity remained. Though the memory of him faded, the side effects of anxiety welling up within me did not subside. It was like I had an uneven surface upon which I was standing but sensed smoother ground lay near, but I could not access this surface and so I remained, uneven, anxious and disturbed. I lead a troublesome and turbulent, intoxicated introduction to early adulthood, somehow always chasing something, occasionally breaking down, and sometimes giving way to the subdued tears that had lain dormant for many a year, a tear over Father, the priest.
But then a Saturday night arrived many, many years following his death. My life had calmed but I possessed no sense of identity, no sense of belonging and the topic of father was rarely if ever broached. I began to read some writings of the old priest and recognised within the story, similarities which bore witness to my own life. All of a sudden it was as if a surge of life came forward bellowing the assertion ‘he is my real father, isn’t he?’ I voiced the words to my mother and when a single tear graced my beautiful mothers left eye, my whole self, clicked. It was as if two Lego pieces came together suddenly and without expectancy. This suspicion had long lain dormant within me, but society never had room for these thoughts, these ruminations.
My suspicions were either, by nurture, quelled within me; the suspicions of my true genealogical origins, or self-quelled by my own reason: ‘how could he be, he is a priest?’ My reasoning was fashioned out of the nurturing forces that would not allow my truth to burgeon in my life, thus secrecy not ‘privacy’. Privacy assumes a choice, secrecy does not. What choice had I? My mother had tried to get help but was given out to in confession twice by the priest and another time in 2011 in her home diocese. She was shown the door on many an occasion by priestly ministers dishing out ‘pastoral care’. It was then that we met with Coping International through some psychologist friends who recommended the project fully and explained what it stood for.
Soon after we heart of the Coping Project we received good news. Both my mother and I had been awarded eighty hours of personal therapy at a location of our own choosing by Towards Healing. This came about by calling Towards Healing and asking for counselling directly. Since 2011, I have received over sixty hours of one to one therapy, and why? Why would I need counselling? Firstly, hurt is entirely subjective and what is painful for me might not affect you in any way and vice versa. However, what if I told you that part of what you know of your own self, of your own parents, I will take and put it away permanently out of your reach. I will leave you with a trace of memory of all detail; however I will deny that what you feel is actual reality, leaving you confused. What if I told you that I will cut the ‘genealogical umbilical cord’ because of an agenda of embarrassment or whatever, because it suits me, severing any ties to either your natural mother or father? What if I told you that some core truth, important to you and your personal development was going to be hidden from you, because something else was more important? My biological father whom I knew and loved had wanted to tell me but could not; “they will bury me” [the church authorities] he lamented and wanted to tell me when I was old enough. One thing I can say, he did love me and the time he spent with me, toys he bought, hugs he gave and kisses upon my cheeks and hands truly belied the relationship that I was lead to believe I was experiencing. There are something’s that you cannot hide, and in my heard I recognised and saw my daddy and thankfully he saw me too.
I am grateful to Towards Healing for affording me and my mother, both, a professional and confidential service of psychotherapy paid for my late father’s home diocese for which he served the people with a heart and a half. Now I see what R.D Laing meant when he said, “There is something I don’t know that I am supposed to know. I don’t know what it is I don’t know and yet I am supposed to know…” (1) No matter what your story is, I urge you to step forward into the quietude of counselling and not to feel any shame or hurt, but over all to fell fully yourself for who you really are minus the lies, the shame, the taboo and sensationalism. The Catholic Church are now paying for their own children, children we long suspected existed but you and I knew perfectly well. Hope, not hate.
God Bless, Lloyd.