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This is a moderated blog is a project of the Ruth Institute. Have a story to share? We're listening.
Posted on: Friday, February 19, 2016
While I was growing up my parents would argue a lot. I thought their fighting was just a normal thing that grown-ups did. As I got older I would try to intervene and stop them from fighting.
One night when I was 12 years old I woke up at about 3AM and heard my father yelling. I came downstairs to see my mom on the phone with 911. I sat down on the couch with my dad. I found out eventually that my parents were getting a divorce and this was the last night that they were spending together before moving out. I remember my Dad yelling that he didn’t understand how you can be in love with someone and be married to them for over 20 years and just stop being in love with them.
The police eventually came to our house to try to get my dad to agree to leave for the night. He did not want to because he worked for our house and so they told him he either had to leave or they would take him. He was mad at the officers and asked for a moment to say goodbye to me, saying you would want that chance too if you weren’t going to see your son again for several months. The police officers told him to stand up and place his hands against the window because he was under arrest. I immediately ran upstairs and went to the bedroom that overlooked our driveway. I watched as the officers took my dad into the car in handcuffs and drove away. This was the last time that I saw my dad for several months.
I immediately fell into a deep sadness, having a very hard time ever wanting to go to school or do anything else. I suddenly could only see my dad every other weekend and had to walk far away from my house for him to be able to pick me up. My parents tried to have me see counselors, but they were not ever any help. No one ever told me why my parents would no longer be together other than that they did not love each other anymore. I could not understand how they could stop loving each other after being married for so long. It was not until I was 22 years old and heard Dr. Morse speak that I ever heard anyone talk about how much divorce impacts children. I grew up very lonely, only ever having one or two friends while at school and never having a social life outside of school or sports.
I still do not feel like I have a family that I can go home to. I rarely visit my family because it doesn’t feel like home, and I have a hard time feeling like they love me. We did not go to Church after my parents' divorce, and I eventually became an agnostic. I only ever knew of God and never saw him as being three persons who loved me.
I was gifted the grace of faith at the beginning of this year and since coming back to the Church have found an incredible amount of love and support for the suffering that I have gone through and still carry with me today. I am so thankful for the Church’s teachings on the indissolubility of marriage. I still carry a lot of pain with me but I have found immense relief in knowing that I am a victim, my parents separation was wrong, and that I was not wrong for being hurt by it. It helps knowing that my parents are still married in His eyes and that God still very much so loves our entire family.
Looking to the future, I am happy that God has gifted me with the incredible grace of a vocation to religious life with a Fransiscan Order. I am happy
that I am finally home-sick when I am away from the brothers as they truly feel like family. I am also able to finally fulfill the deep desire
that I have always had within me to spend my life serving those in need.
Submitted by S. R. December 2015.
Posted on: Friday, February 19, 2016
My mother left when I was six. My sister and I went to a beautiful old house we called “the home” - a group home for girls whose families were under stress.
We were fed and dressed well, had lots of play time but, even with my sister there, I was scared. I saw Matron rub a twelve year old girl’s nose into
her urine-soaked sheets, and I had seen her pull down underpants in public, in order to spank other girls. That was when I began to live on the margins
and keep watch. Like the kid in the movie 'The Blind Side’, I became "99% self-protective”.
At age eight I went back to live with Daddy. I hardly can recall my mother but Dad remains my hero. He and I shared long evenings reading or listening
to the radio and talking about plays, music and politics. With him, I participated in anti-apartheid marches. My love of history came from trips
we took to ancient places like the Roman ruins at St. Albans and, every year, we went by ferry to his Irish homeland. I loved sitting on deck at
night, singing old Irish songs.
By my early teens I began getting in trouble and ended up in boarding school. The school was in a 19th Century mansion, its grounds filled with exotic
plants, lakes, a swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts. A tolerant staff kept watch over us. We danced to juke-box music every weekend. Boys
and girls found all kinds of secret places to meet - in fireplaces, by laundry baskets, in the woods and at the trout stream. And we knew not to
go “all the way”.
By 1965, the naive little boarding school girl, heavily influenced by an atheist/socialist Dad, went to nursing school and became a bleeding heart.
Assisting with abortions was part of the surgical rotation. I never thought to question the morality of it and none of my peers did either. There
was no public discussion about it, no talk about women’s rights. It was a scandal for a young woman to be pregnant outside of marriage. They were
my peers, and I wanted to shield them.
When Evangelical friends put a Bible in my hands, my life changed radically. By the time I read the Gospels the third time, I was sensing a protective
and tolerant Presence, yet I struggled with accepting Christianity. Then came terrible nightmares about dead babies. I felt prompted to read my
Bible and start writing. I realized I was dreaming about the abortions I’d participated in and which, for fifteen years, I never had a second thought
about. In nursing school, I had believed as I was taught, that the baby was a “blob of tissue”.
The words of Deuteronomy 30:19 jumped out - “I put before you Life and Death, choose…” I saw two armies, one standing behind Jesus and one behind
Satan, and my inner ears heard, “there is no gray area”. It was a mandate. My choice had to be an eternal one. After 29 years I went back to the
Church, and I was (flinchingly) in the pro-life camp.
However, I continued, as a Public Health nurse, thinking that birth control was a lesser evil than abortion and that the Church’s teachings were wrong,
until I learned about the beautiful spirituality of natural family planning. I began to remember women who had strokes as a result of birth control
- and malignant hypertension and pancreatitis. Could my sister’s death, from pancreatic cancer have been avoided if she had not taken birth control
for thirty years?
Following a hunch, I discovered many horrid complications of artificial contraception besides abortifacient properties - cardiovascular disease, cancers of breast, liver and cervix, egg-producing male fish, personality changes, sterility, miscarriages and STDs.
I know now, as my 69th birthday approaches, that the Church had wisdom about the terrible consequences the sexual revolution would bring - long before science began to identify them.
Submitted by L. P. February 2016.
Posted on: Wednesday, February 10, 2016
I am a child of divorce. I am a 52 year old father of three children. I am married but in a mixed marriage. We do not share the same faith background. I am the third child of four. I have two older sisters and a younger brother. My mom was 15 when she got pregnant with my oldest sister. My dad was 19. They were married 6 months before my sister was born. They had four kids in five years. My sisters are actually 11 months apart (Irish Twins).
My mom was raised Catholic and actually had the notion of being a nun. My father did not have a strong faith background and was nominally Christian. He converted to Catholicism before they were married. My sisters, brother and I were very close given our proximity in age. We were all baptized and received Holy Communion. My sisters were both confirmed but neither my brother nor I were confirmed.
About the time I was in seventh grade my parents began to fight. They would spend hours every night screaming at each other in the laundry room in the basement with the washer and dryer running, but it did little to muffle their yelling. My dad never inflicted any physical harm on my mother nor did she to him. They verbally abused each other for about a year. Then when I was in 8th grade they announced their divorce. The four of us were completely devastated. We huddled together to protect each other.
My Dad moved out. Over the next several years he would drive by the house and find ways to taunt her or try to reconcile with her. It was torture for all of us.
He remarried around the time I turned 16. From the very first day and up to this day I did not get along with his wife. She has always been emotionally unstable, and at one point attempted suicide. I hated my dad for the divorce, for marrying her, and I had little respect for him. I still have not completely reconciled with him. Our relationship is tense, and I see him almost every day.
My Mom stayed in the house and lives there still today. She remarried to a man I have not liked from the beginning. He has had health problems and has been on disability for the last 25 years. He only briefly worked when they were married. He did not own anything substantial at the time of their marriage. His medical bills are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars but are all taken care of through the VA. He is barely mobile and can hardly get around the house. He has driven us all away from our mother. When she calls us to help her with something, we are all reluctant because of the drama we have to deal with. I rarely talk to my mother on the phone because he is in the background interjecting comments.
I left the church as a teenager and did not return until my oldest daughter was born 18 years ago. My wife was raised in an Evangelical church, and she and I have gone to separate churches every Sunday for the past 18 years. She raised our daughters in her church, and I go to mass alone.
Posted on: Tuesday, February 02, 2016
The uproar over the Obergefell decision by the Supreme Court, as well as over the Planned Parenthood videos of aborted infants, has brought to light in my heart the brutal, circular journey I myself have made from devout Catholic school boy of the 50s to passive, liberal “hippie” of the 60s and 70s, and back to recommitted catholic – a gradual process that started in the 80s and continues to this day.
Specifically here I feel called to reveal the mindset that allowed me to rationalize my participation in two abortions of my own children with two separate women during my 20’s – not in the form of a confession, but to illuminate how pernicious this type of thinking has become in our culture, and how difficult it can be to overcome without a foundation in faith.
I was in the mid 70’s a young man attempting to make a living as a songwriter and musician in Los Angeles. I met a young Hispanic woman who was bright, articulate and as totally engaged in the whole drug culture and sexual revolution as I was. We began an intimate relationship that resulted in the conception of a child. When she gently notified me of this event I did the typical male prevarication thing and we ended up deciding to seek an abortion. I say “we”, although I’m pretty sure in retrospect that was not the solution she was hoping for. So I gave her the money, she had the abortion and our relationship ended rather abruptly.
I eventually met my future first wife around 1977, a woman who had grown up in an abusive family environment as the only daughter of a pedophile father and violent mother. We moved in together and in a very short time she became pregnant. I remember the look of disappointment in her eyes as we discussed the inconvenience this child would place on our lives. This time I was an active participant in the murder. I clearly remember sitting outside the door and hearing the whirring and sucking sounds of the machinery as our child was removed from her womb and disposed of like so much trash – or possibly, as we now know, sold off in pieces to some research lab. I saw the raw effects on the mother immediately as she came out of the recovery room to be driven home by me, her accomplice. She was absolutely devastated by the experience and for several days nothing I could say or do was any comfort to her.
Eventually we moved on, got married and had two beautiful boys, although the marriage was very stormy and ended several years later in a bitter divorce. As I began to recover from my profligate life and tried to guide my children through the treacherous rapids of the post-divorce world, I started to feel the tug at my heart every time I became intimate with a new woman. But I eventually realized that my behavior was inconsistent with my beliefs, and I struggled with celibacy, slipping many times before falling in love with a woman who understood my dilemma and was willing to support a Christian courtship.
I am now over 30 years clean and sober and married to that same wonderful, faithful woman, who is a Catholic convert. We are active in our church and community and have started a very successful bible study in our parish. I have at long last accepted that human sexuality is not the ultimate physical/spiritual experience I formerly thought it to be, but only a dim reflection of man’s participation in God’s unending creative glory. Used morally, a very great good – used immorally, a very great evil. But the tale bears telling if for no other reason than perhaps the chance to stir the consciences of other folks like me who were led astray and now find their lives empty of meaning as they pursue the gods of mammon – yet may still hope to find the one God of the universe ready and waiting to love and forgive them.
My constant prayers go with them.
Posted on: Monday, January 25, 2016
I am a sixty-one year old adult child of divorce. My parents divorced in 1956 when I was two years old. My mother remarried in the same month that the divorce was final. My mother had full custody of me, and my new step-father raised me into adult-hood. I had minimal contact with my natural father especially after he remarried a couple of years later and produced four more children. He became busy taking care of his family, like we all do. But his absence in my life as I was growing up bothered me emotionally a great deal. I was in enough pain that I started smoking pot at about twelve years old and drinking alcohol at about thirteen whenever I could get it. Smoking pot lasted about twenty years, and I use alcohol to this day.
I found out that my mother became dissatisfied in their four year marriage and hooked up with a friend of my father's (while she was still married to my father). This new man in her life became my step-father, who raised me. I did not know this information until I was sixty years old, just a few months ago. All through my life none of my elders told me what really happened, not even my father. For at least fifty years I had misplaced blame for my parents' divorce. I blamed my father. When my father remarried, he was married until death, about forty-five years. My mother has been married four times during her life.
After learning this information now, I am in anguish thinking that if I had only known this information when I was twenty and was able to process it, maybe I could of had a relationship with my father over all of those years. In my humble opinion, I think the sexual revolution may have started a long time before the 1970's. My testimony to the negative effects of a divorce when children are involved is that I am sixty-one years old and I am still emotionally disturbed about my parents divorce that happened sixty years ago.
Submitted by R.A. October 2015.
Posted on: Tuesday, October 20, 2015
by s.f. (ny, ny)
When parents don't love each other, they don't love each others family. when they don't love each other's family, they don't love the family of their child. the child feels alone and can't show too much love or devotion to either side.
when the parents remarry and have children, they love that new spouse, and that new spouses family. the first child has to watch while the parent loves and gives preference to that new child's whole family.
this state can continue for the first child's entire life. watching the parents ignore 1/2 of the first child's family, and giving preference and love to the latter child's entire family.
i have lived this as the first child. the anger at the callousness and unfairness never really subsides. And then they wonder why you're angry and why you never really seem to "get over it."
when the parents don't love each other, they should just give the child up for adoption rather than making the child live like that.
Posted on: Thursday, August 27, 2015
I just want to say what my reaction was when I understood that night, when I was seven, what was the meaning of the word "divorce."
My entire sense of family as unity and sanctuary was swept away completely, as if the house itself had been taken away and we were all exposed to the elements and directed to fend for ourselves.
It brought on a sense of being unlovable, of possibly being at fault, of being horribly imperfect, of needing to be completely self-reliant, of needing to be perfect, of needing to never share any insecurity, problems, fears or anything else that might annoy other people.
Despite having been, in time, truly healed through grace, the wound ran deep. I was lucky in that I had two very good people as parents and had all 4 grandparents. Despite this obvious advantage, the lack of confidence, the lack of direction, and the cross of scrupulosity were crippling.
The grace of it is recognizing the same wounds in others; and knowing that just having the glimmer of an idea that we were individually created, by love and with a unique purpose, is an irresistible lure back to the trail that leaves one fascinated and starving for God and His love.
Between Mary Kay and Pro Life, God has put a fire in the belly, a courage and a generous, but always needing more of, patience. It is very easy to love when all these broken are seen as cherished children Jesus aches to bring to Heaven.
By J. A. Submitted August 25, 2015
Posted on: Friday, July 17, 2015
"Honestly I'm devastated by my sister's divorce. But I'll never tell her how much I miss my brother in law :/"
We found this sad image on Whisper.sh.
Posted on: Tuesday, July 14, 2015
My first step to help others is sharing my untold story.
I was born in 1969 and grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. My life as a child was not without tribulations but it was rich in memories of playing
outside, spending the summers on beautiful Cape Cod and spending time with family and friends. I live now in Canton, Georgia with my husband of thirteen
years and four beautiful children. Anyone who sees me and does not know my story would not see me as a victim or a survivor of anything, but I am a
refugee from nearly two decades of the Hook-Up Culture. The ideology of the Sexual Revolution, the belief that casual sex is harmless as long as you
use a condom, the notion that it is empowering for a woman to be free sexually, nearly killed me. I am moving into the realm of being a survivor. This
is my untold story.
Despite the bright and shiny veneer, my life for nearly two decades prior to meeting my husband of now 13 years and prior to us having our four beautiful children, was wrought with an ever-increasing darkness, degradation and hopelessness. For two decades my life was marked by alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct and sexual abuse. This dark time, while not my fault, is my responsibility to share with others to expose the deceptions at work in my life through the culture.
What really crushed me spiritually and physically were my college years. Already partying and abusing alcohol in high school, I set off to Penn State “the party school”. At Penn State, I completely abandoned my faith and any notion of a spiritual life as I delved into Women’s Studies and other liberal academic pursuits. I learned that hooking up was not only acceptable but expected. One particular Frat Party during my Sophomore year marked the beginning of my spiral downward. I met a cute guy who really took an interest in me. We talked and I remember he had a great sense of humor, one that matched my sarcastic New England humor. He kept giving me beers and the sad thing is that his “generosity” did not even register as a “red flag” for me. That night he raped me in his room. I was intoxicated almost to the point of my usual black out. The next thing I knew a Rape Crisis team was whisking me to the ER or somewhere where I was given a physical exam. The doctor attending to me said that I sustained injuries and that this was no act of love. I met with a kind campus detective who showed me different pictures of suspects. The man I identified was in fact a serial rapist soon to be on trial from another victim. After that trauma, I became more sexually promiscuous. I blamed myself for the rape, living in shame and self-hatred. I slept with so many men I lost count after thirty.
My journey into survivorhood came when I met my husband. My husband was a devout Catholic who introduced me to the best and most highly skilled healing doctor in the world, Jesus Christ. My husband loved me into wholeness with acts not just words. He did sacrificial things for me that I never knew or even understood until after they were completed, things like fasting 40 days for my sobriety, praying over me in my sleep. You see my husband’s faith allowed him to see me as Christ sees me: spotless, without blemish. Then I began to see myself as being worthy of love. But the secret of my story is that his love brought me to my greater love: Jesus Christ. Only through Jesus Christ was I able to discover my true identity as an overcomer, a redeemed, beautiful, chosen, renewed, temple of the Holy Spirit. My one prayer is that God will use the transformation of my scars to help women reclaim the truth over their bodies, their lives.
Submitted on July 14, 2015.
Have you been harmed by sexual choices you made? Have you been harmed by the sexual, marital, or reproductive choices somebody else made? Please consider sharing your story. Go here to learn how.
Posted on: Friday, July 10, 2015
Dear Dr. Morse,
My name is Alicia. When I looked at the categories on your website, the one I wanted to select was "gay and lesbian lifestyle" refugee -- except in a peculiar way [Note from editor: Alicia is referring to the 12 Survivors of the Sexual Revolution, located here]. However, I've never had a lesbian relationship, and I've never been tempted to go out and get a girlfriend. It is also important for you to know that I have Asperger’s and that I am a Catholic convert.
I became active with an online community known as the Xena Online Community (XOC). It is for people who are fans of the Xena Warrior Princess TV series. The sexuality of the people on the board wasn't even a factor at first. The XOC had a large lesbian population but that wasn't the board's defining characteristic, and we had straight women and guys as well. Over time, the board became more skewed toward lesbian and the culture seemed to become more dysfunctional. I had many friendships that eventually fell apart.
That's my first problem when it comes to the marriage issue today. I don't know how to talk about it. I understand the way God's gift of sexuality works, I completely agree with the Church's teaching. I have done a lot of research but people on the XOC still called me a mindless sheep. That was actually where I ran into my first huge political struggle. It was right around the time the protect marriage amendment in Arizona went up for vote. At the beginning, the XOC people were pretty supportive of everyone's faith, but then people started posting the stuff about Christians being hateful. The militant lesbians of the XOC viewed the Xena board as their safe haven, and minorities like Christians were no longer welcome. That hurt, especially since the rules had changed on me without me knowing it. I've had a lot of friends, even Christian friends, post things in the last few days to the effect that Christians need to love people who identify as gay and lesbian before we do anything else. It hurts. I scream inside that I tried to do that, and they rejected me.
My first question: how do I cope with the memories of lost friendships? There are several people I used to be extremely close to who would now say that they hate me and I have no idea how much responsibility I bear.
My second question: how should I handle such situations in the future? The XOC was the first time in my life I'd felt accepted. The only advice I can get is "state your view charitably and agree to disagree." I guess that works in casual friendships, but it doesn't help much if your best friend just invited you to Gay Pride (completely out of the blue) and then took great offense when you said you couldn't go. The advice I usually get is "she shouldn't be your best friend, you should have other Christians" -- and I can't say anything out loud, but I always think that I tried to make best friends with other Christians and they rejected me. I don't think I can be effective in evangelizing unless I figure some of it out. If I make friends with someone, I give that person my whole self -- something I've had people tell me is a mistake.
Finally, a friend told me once that she didn't have a problem with me being Catholic, but that she had a problem with me refusing to give her blessing to her new same-sex relationship, then cited a couple of other Christians who'd just encouraged them. It seems like the world is exhorting us to keep our beliefs but be more loving in our expressions (whatever that means), and applauding "liberal" Christians who compromise.
I am looking for pastoral support on the questions outlined above. I would be honored to join the Ruth community, and I'm desperate for a spiritual director / pastoral support / resources on the emotional resonance of the marriage issue from the perspective from the outside.
Submitted on July 7, 2015.
Harmed by the Sexual Revolution? Go here to learn how to tell your story.