A/N: I’m cycling through some anger and bitterness here again. If that doesn’t sound like something you’d like to read, you can click away. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Today, I untethered myself from one of the last strong connections I had; my home parish.

I pulled in last Sunday, thinking that maybe I actually would still like to stay, if just for my priest friend. Then I saw one of the men who harassed me with dirty, degrading talk and invasion of physical boundaries. I saw how people were doting on him, caring for him. I remembered how everyone seemed to have an excuse ready for him, how quick they were to belittle my distress. I instantly changed my mind, though only today, I sent an email to officially inform them I’m “transferring to another parish” (though really, from how I re-victimized and re-traumatized I feel in whatever church I go to, I’m not sure how honest a statement that was).

That parish was my home for 7-8 years. It was my spiritual and emotional sanctuary. It meant so much to me, after all, it was one of the last places I went before I tried to kill myself last year. It was where I went to sleep one night when I couldn’t bear to go home. I poured so much love into that place. I thought I could have a long-term home, a family there. It was nice while it lasted, I guess, even as all those really bad things happened over the years. Now, I don’t really believe in “long-term” or “family” anymore.

My connection with even my priest friend is fraying. He says he believes me, cares for me as his friend, his sister, and yet…because I have no proof, if I stayed, I’d have to resign myself to living with that man, those people, being shown every kindness, held in such high esteem, while I’m rejected. “No proof, no abuse,” so they say.

So again, I’m the guilty one, as I have no proof to show for their guilt…which, oddly enough, seems to be well enough proof that I’m guilty of lying or “making a spectacle of [my]self”. Again, I’m the one who has to accept unconditionally the abuse of another for sake of the family, and never, ever expect or hope anyone to keep me safe, stand up for me. Again, I’m the expendable member of the family.

I realize I don’t have a lot to offer. I don’t have much by way of family; I don’t even have their name anymore. I don’t have an exciting history of military service, of being in a reputable spiritual order, or any other great accomplishments to my name. I slowly stopped volunteering in the kitchen, in the choir loft, in the school, in the garden. Most of the people I looked to as family are gone now, and/or rejected me. Now, I’m back to how I was when I first came there: an estranged, mentally-ill girl who sits alone, hiding her tears, anxiety, and anger under a veil.

I’m often told that I’m wrong for seeing things this way, but from where I stand, for whatever reason, it just seems that God saw fit that I’m not given justice, safety, or love. But why? I asked God today at church, “Why? Why did you deny me these good things? Aren’t you my father? Am I not one of your children? Am I just some kind of monster that only looks and sounds like a human? That’s the only way I can see how it makes sense; if you’re a good God who loves His children, protects them, sees justice is done for them, then I must be actually bad to be constantly denied these things.

My counselor likes to say that forgiveness is the “completion of justice” (how very convenient). My priest friend says forgiveness means not letting all these bad people hurt me or have any power over me anymore (still don’t get it). They both tell me, along with the guy I like, to find good people who will love me, who will stay (what’s the point?).

Really, what is the point? What’s so great about love? Is it worth all this heartbreak and rejection? Is any love, or even any proof of love, enough to make the pain of having no proof of my innocence and honesty go away?

If I’m brutally honest, the way I see it, my abusers have won. All those bad people, all the people who abused me, bullied me, sexually harassed me…they’ve won. Who cares if eternal punishment (may or may not) be waiting for them after this life is over? It means nothing for me here, now, or even ever. They’ll still be remembered well, just like that dead abuser. They all love them more than they love me. They hate me more than they hate them, even after they learn what they’ve done to me.

They won.

I really don’t know what I’m going to write next for IBIL. How on earth can I write about love when I’ve so much proof that it doesn’t exist for me in this life? I still don’t really believe in marriage or family or faith anymore; it always ends, it always has some kind of price tag attached to it, some ulterior motive, some standard I have to live up to to earn it.

If love is something I can have, why don’t they prove it? If they think I’m a person they value in their lives, why don’t they prove it? If they “believe” me, “care” about what happened to me, why don’t they prove it? If my safety and peace of mind matters at all to them, why don’t they prove it? If proof is such a big deal to them, why don’t they prove it?! “You shouldn’t need proof,” they’d say in so many words and actions. I guess, then, that they shouldn’t need any from me either.

Either way, I can’t really trust their proof, though, can I? I believed people loved me in the past, and look how that went. I’d take whatever semblance of love they gave me, and hold them as proof in those dark moments as reasons why I should hold on. But it wasn’t even real.

Is love ever real? Does it ever last? Does it ever drive people to protect others, advocate or them?

…Well, there is this blog. Maybe that’s proof. Maybe I should just look inside for proof of love, since I can’t seem to find much or any out there in other people for me. Maybe God wanted me to be someone who just gave love while not being given love; that’s not a monster’s role, is it? At least, not a bad monster. Maybe I’m the good kind.

The moon and stars shine only at night, in the darkness. The darker it is down here, the brighter and more abundant they appear. There are many beautiful things that happen only at night, amidst all the bad things that happen. If my world is so dark, always in nighttime, should I just try to glow like the moon and stars, in spite of it all?

I’m not nice to people in hopes that they love me. I never was. I don’t expect anything in return for what I do or what I give, and I’m learning to kill the confusing disappointment that happens when my kindness is met with cruelty/apathy; it hurts unnecessarily more when I desire, despite my intentions, something I can’t have. Still, it’s very gratifying to be kind, to give, to be there for someone. It’s a good thing, being able to be a reason why someone has a good day. I don’t really have a lot of smiles left in me these days; the flower in my hair seems to smile enough for some people. That’s nice.

I’m really not sure how to conclude this. Maybe this should just be a “to be continued.” My story isn’t over, after all. Maybe there’ll be a twist in the plot. I hope it’s a good twist…

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