ellensagh

7. A New Day

At work, a guy from Probations and Corrections phoned Tamara’s House and said he would like a workshop for Department of Justice front line workers. As we were talking, he said, “I’m a sex offender kind of guy” and I could hardly finish the conversation. We set up a workshop at the conference centre at Jackfish Lake by North Battleford.
 For days lines from a Catholic hymn were in my head:
 “The sun is rising, a new day is dawning
 Hope will soon flower in the birth of all justice”
I went on my own to a Native Storyteller at a local hotel. I saw an aura around the guy throughout the talk. When I went to thank him, he said he hoped I’d find what I needed to heal.
 In June 1995, I had bought a black doll, as that’s what I felt like inside. Now, June of 1997, I bought a huge white doll. I felt comfortable enough with the guy I was seeing to take it to his house to show him. I was moving towards a sexual relationship with him and had my first experience of my heart sings. When I would touch him, my heart would sing. What an incredible experience!
 I took a break from work one day and sat in the afternoon sun beside the river from 1:00-2:00 p.m. My mom, coping with 10 kids, used to say, “It’s a man’s world”. I saw 2 women and 17 men jogging the path along the river and hoped we were moving to “It’s a woman’s world” and then the thought changed to “It’s our universe”. I saw a magpie lying on its back with its wings of iridescent blues spread wide while it was sunning itself. I wanted to learn to relax like that.
 I was thinking non-stop of ways to get my book published. Wondering if I could ask people to pre-buy the book and if that would be ethical; being I was a social worker at Tamara’s House and who would I be selling my book to? Would I sell them at the workshops?
 My friend from England wrote me letters about going to Spain, the Mediterranean or to live theatre, which gave me ideas of what I want in my life; new possibilities. I wrote to he,r telling how I felt I was coming to terms with my Catholic background; knowing it will always be a part of me, a solid foundation of spiritual strength on which to expand. I wrote her the wonderful things in my life about going weekend camping to the oldest national preserve park in Canada; seeing a fox close up with a Mallard duck in its mouth, long walks on the preserve; sunset over the lake, how I had slept lots.
 My lawyer phoned saying sending me the Statement of Defence from the Church and Allinblack. She had read my book and said was no problem if I wanted to self-publish. I was trying to decide if I should give part of the proceeds to Tamara’s House. I told some of my sisters, my mom and a sister-in-law and pre-sold eight books that weekend.
 I got my hair cut in a real spiky look – short and standing up all over my head. Shocked my family.
 I went to a six week session group with two other women and a man on Understanding Fear and Moving Through It. The counsellor leading it was one special woman. She had not showed up once for one on one counselling session and we were able to work through it. One of my biggest struggles was wanting to matter to someone. We did an experience on losses. We wrote our losses and mine poured out; childhood, spontaneity, church, concept of God, Jesus, health, pneumonia, marriage, family, community life as I knew it, mother and a father, pleasure, sexuality, no one there for me, peace, trust in women and men. That day felt like my loss was my inability to cry. Was pissed off at all the losses. Felt like was feeling for the whole world and sometimes, as if feeling the pain of past generations. Fear that I didn’t matter. No one there for me. would it ever be over. As if I don’t know something everyone else does. Fear I’d be in the wrong. Be alone, no one to share with. When I was done sharing, I went into deep quiet crying and feeling like never enough time for me. Wrote fear means a blank wall I need to push through.
 There were days I’d still have flash backs, but they didn’t seem like my memories. Flashback of a person in car, beside me – passenger seat, exposing himself. No idea who it was or that it had ever happened to me. Sometimes I would sound like someone else. My kids would point it out to me that it was happening, and I didn’t know why it was happening or what set it off.
The statement of defence of the Diocese of Big City arrives. It’s six pages and hard to understand. I read it but like I can’t comprehend it.
Collage: June 28, 1999 I am trying to take care of myself on a quiet scale, not drawing a lot of attention. Inside is demanding attention. My eyes tell the pain inside. Adult me has kids inside that need and deserve attention. I hurt. I was hurt over and over and the losses are compounded; packed like compost inside; they have been fermenting and now ready to explode. Time has come to take it all off; take last defences down; the walls; the bricks that I had to build to get through day to day; the masks I showed the world; like I know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I know except I know I’m in pain – as if 3 parts inside: the adult, fun loving woman who wants to water the growing in the world, the beautiful youthful mommy inside who wants to be there 100% for her children and the child in me who is emerging. They are coming into their own power to have fun with everything in the whole universe.
 Wrote in my journal. Have a dream of someday being able to support myself, have fun; a holiday; fly somewhere if I want to.
 Went to a counselling session; picked out a picture of a girl in a cave; rock all around her but in front of her is the way out. I wrote:
 She’s laying there so exhausted,laying on front to protect herself. I want that woman to stand up and be proud of all that she did to survive. I have been cowered down by fear, hiding inside. As if the world has held me captive. I’ve been lying down – hiding my eyes to survive. Now I’m proud I did that. I’m so scared inside. No longer scared I’ll be in the wrong. I wasn’t in the wrong. Scared it was my fault. It wasn’t. It was something I did. It was nothing I did. The hurt will never go away. It will go away. The adult me hasn’t done enough to help the little girl. I’ve done well. I did the best I could. I took good care of her. Now I cheer at myself.
 I see enough. As if because of what happened to me, I see what has happened to so many. Seeing leaves me so passive, so sad. It’s when the inner and outer world collide that it becomes overwhelming to know what’s inside is common to us all – deep sorrow at what has been lost and can never be regained. I was crucified over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.
 I wrote down why I would self-publish my book. Why I want to do this:
 1) for me
 2) putting myself first before work
 3) learn self-publishing
 4) belief in me
 5) others have asked for it
 6) fun/exciting
 7) give others hope/understanding of own lives – universal pain
 8) learning
 9) believe it makes a difference
 10) is educational
 11) useful to me in book form
 12) closure
 13) tangible symbol of what I lived through;
 a) of others support
 b) of support out there
 c) of others belief in me
 14) Help in times ahead
 a) when I’m in the pain
 b) when I’m going through court case
 15) Could be a step to a new path – new journey
 16) validates others experience
 17) feels like its time
 18) summer project
Then, with the help of a friend, I wrote out the Statement of Defence of Big City Diocese in my own words.
1)They deny everything that they don’t deny
 2) They are a corporate body
 3) a) can’t owe fiduciary duties if that’s not true, b) it is true
 b) have never had any authority over Allinblack
 c) that I or anyone else has never at anytime thought, believed in my own mind has ever seen the corporation as having any authority over Allinblack. Because I’ve never perceived it. They don’t owe me.
 4) They have never employed Allinblack. It that’s not true, then this is. They are still not responsible because the bad things he did were not in his job description.
 5) The bishop might be the guy. Everything we say from now on is based on if you can prove that the bishop screw up is the corporation’s screw up – the full owing applies.
 6) Who was bishop when
 7) Allinblack was a priest at Church, Sask 
 8) Neither they or bishop knew or ought to have known about my assault, the likelihood or the possibility or that Allinblack might do that. If that’s not true, then this is.
 9) If we did it now, we still did the right thing or was thought to be the right thing to do at the time (Don’t apply ’97 standards). Therefore, they are not negligent.
 10) They (corporation or the bishop) did not conceal assault of me.
 11) statement of claim #13 – law does not apply to these facts. (Occupiers liability)
 12) they weren’t legal owner of church
 13) no matter what they did or didn’t do, they didn’t cause the assaults
 14) as soon as they heard about allegations they did everything they could even though they weren’t wrong
 15) statute. of limitation is up to third party liability or occupier.
 16) My delay in bringing my actions makes them less able to defend this action.
 17) dismiss the claim with costs

Then I did the same with the three page statement of defence that included Allinblack and the Diocese of the Big City.
* defendent, diocese of Big City denies each and every statement in my statement of claim except where admits.
* Corporation admits its a corporation
* states in law incapable of owing fiduciary duty and never has exercised eccelestical authority over Allinblack
* denies it employed Allinblack so not vicariously liable but if relationship of employee and emplyer existed still not vicariously liable as acts and ommissions outside of any such employment
* the corporation is authority to discipline and placement of parish priests
* who were the bishops and when they were bishop
* admits Allinblack served as parish priest with dates, places and that it was within bishop’s jurisdiction.
* Neither corporation or bishop knew or ought to have known of alleged sexual assualts of Allinblack
* All allegations of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty or duty of trust are denied.
Another Statement of Defence is sent and I do the same:
* except where admitted, Allinblack denies each and every allegation in statement of claim.
* Allinblack admits he was a priest serving at Church, Saskatchewan 1956-1967.
* Allinblack admits pleading guilty to indecent assault related to the plaintiff and received a sentence of incarceration for three years, served 24 months before release.
* Allinblack denies he informed Diocesan Corporation of Big City of any misconduct concerning plaintiff or anyone else.
* Allinblack puts plaintiff to strict proof of the damages sought.
* Allinblack requests plaintiff’s claim be dismissed with costs.
When I talked about Statement of Defence with people, they’d say things like people are not less aware, knowledge hasn’t changed, people’s reaction has changed. They saw the church as responsible for education, training of priests and of observing their moral character, to create a safe environment. I thought about ways to prove the church knew, whether I should go to the parishes where the priest had been prior to the one where I’d been abused.
 I wailed so much that week. I asked friends and they did help me make a list of ways to nurture myself: massage, therapeutic touch, connect with nature, time off work, put self first without hurting others, ask for hugs, learn to touch self, ask for reassurances of safety, hold people accountable for actions, cry, wail, rage, listen to music, ask someone to rub my back, trust my body, don’t do it all in one day, honour how I coped, breathe, recognize and acknowledge my own pain, let others nurture me, collage, ask someone to hold me, rock me, lay healing hands on me; give from my overflow only, call someone, good food always and lots of water.
 I was out in the country by the river by myself, looked down the river and as if I saw something or someone on the hill side; like a 10 foot pillar or being; mostly black; but as if black wings; or like a Haida totem pole or something. 
 I had a meeting with my lawyer. She had her husband who was a senior law partner in the firm come in to the meeting. I found out Allinblack’s lawyer wants the church lawyer at an examination for discovery as well. Both lawyers suggested I find out the woman’s name who had been abused in the parish before me. The male lawyer asked me if I would take money from the church even if no proof they knew. I said yes.
 The next day they wrote the church’s lawyer saying tentative date for examination of discovery was August 8, 1997 and asking the church to clarify if diocese’s offer to contribute some money to assist with Ms. Speak’s counselling expenses incurred or will incur in connection with this matter and whether this offer remains on the table in light of the fact that there is ongoing litigation in this matter.
I went to President of Saskatchewan Social Workers’ Association and asked him to read my letter regarding publishing my book by pre-selling. He read it and pulled out $20.00 and gave it to me. I opened up a business account; went to a business centre to ask about copyright forms.
 My daughter and I went to the summer exhibition together. I was to meet up with the guy I was seeing but never saw him. He said we walked right up to each other and I walked by him as if he didn’t exist. He told me he didn’t want to see me again.
 Had a week holiday and was in intense grief all week, felt so alone, tired of it all, as if no one cares, having to work so hard, trying to figure it all out, to find the truth; did the church know? When? How come it doesn’t feel finished? And the grief I felt over the end of this male companionship relationship. I wrote and wrote in my journal. I can’t stop thinking about him. As if I’d go round and round over the same thing and wasn’t going anywhere. And then I’d question do I want a relationship? What do I want? A sexual relationship? When it clicks? When it just happens? If it doesn’t do I still want us to be friends? I wanted someone who was interested in me. My life, my reality, would ask me questions, ask me out, want to come see me, meet my friends, my family.
 I had so much emotion to release and was thinking men have been the losers too in this patriarchal society, expected to be the strong ones and to show no emotion.
 My aunt phoned the diocese, saying she’s planning for a reunion and needs to know a listing of priests and the parishes they handled and then provided the list to me. I was more than touched.
END OF ILLUSIONS
Something’s going on inside me oh so deep.
Gut wrenching, gut tearing, preventing me from sleep.
Everything on the surface seems shiny bright and clean.
But underneath it’s swirling; a nightmare in my dreams.
I don’t like this lonely world that I share.
I want a world of laughter, loving and some care.
I don’t like what goes on in this world we call our home.
When so many are so hurting and feel so alone.
I want to be a part of creating a better space
where love and laughter tears and fears always have their place.
Where sadness is accepted and there is always time
to be there for each other until everyone’s just fine.
TOGETHERNESS
Know that you are loved from deep inside my heart.
That I am right here with you in the sunshine and the dark.
I alone can do some things but together we can share
The emptiness inside me and fill it up with care.
Right now its a gaping hole that’s black and lined with mud.
Black will become my strength as I change the mud with love.
The tears still inside me have churned up all the crud
And allowed me to see the truth and give it one last scrub.
As I release the fear of what will happen next.
I can live in the moment while writing my own text.
A matter of simplifying less at work and more at home.
And if we all pull our weight our spirits get to roam.
We’ll fill our lives with lots of love and good things to eat.
We have survived and we will thrive. It’s been quite the feat.
We’re on our way together to better times ahead.
We’ll live so much easier without the fear and dread.
I can go to sleep easy knowing the sun will rise
And that I can handle even cloudy skies.
The next day at Tamara’s House a new woman came in and wanted help to find out where a priest was now. Two priests had abused her when she was young, I wrote in my journal, “nearly threw me, was unbelievable that the universe works this way”.

Collage – What I want. In the moment. Design my life from being big in the world to being beautiful inside. See better, look better, live better, be more beautiful inside and out. Creativity flowing out of me. In flight and in touch with life. Inventive building of my life with theatre, film and music; the mountain of truth is here where I challenge the future, the power of words – can do a lot for society. I know money isn’t big for me, less is more. For super growth and better returns, its time to quit smoking. I want to hit the high notes of my life song. I want a different world. One of peace, sunshine and love. Taking it all off, means leaving the loyalty behind; misplaced loyalty to do with church and family, I’m still in character, letting my light shine and wanting to share my world with all who fly with me, even the ones who are struggling, the ones going backwards when all they want to do is go ahead. We all share the same planet and I want to be with them making our world a better place to live in.
 Went for a walk in the country. Found an old piece of a tree – wrote feels ancient, like me – Chinese dragon, breathing fire – wise, wise owl who’s seen it all, feel like in my past could have been Aboriginal. I can relate to how they must feel; the church dictating to them and trying to crush them in the process through assimilation. I will go back to dust and whatever the church says or does, they can’t get me. Another song comes:
GRIEVING ALONE
My heart is breaking, it’s crying inside
I know it is opening improving our lives
It hurts to be here, it feels so alone
I know its a part of finding my way home
Always so tired feel like I’m beaten
No new ideas, only feel like weeping
Wanting to be with someone who cares
Someone to laugh with someone to share
But where do I meet him when I’m feeling like this
Someone who’ll love me, in spite of all this
They must be out there: men who’ll do their own work
Who are out on a journey getting out of the murk
Why do I need them when I have all my friends
My soul is searching its making amends
For all that has happened, happened to me
To have some faith again in humanity
They’re half of the races in this land of our own
I want to walk safely on my way home
It is cold comfort that some of them see
Or are able to hear what happened to me
If they don’t do nothing and they can’t take a stand
And redefine something what it means to be a man
Searching for power leads to disgrace
And it is our lives that have been displaced
I want the power over what happens to me
Now I have it, I still have to grieve
Grieving is sadness anger and more
It’s saying good-bye to what is no more
A happy childhood fun in my teens
A marriage of sharing a life of peace
I have years ahead of me more than are gone
I can fill it with flowers and my life song.
I did an exercise where you write a couple losses on paper; mine were people don’t take responsibility and no one there for me. I made a boat out of the paper, was going to let it sail away down the river and it immediately sank. My thought. It’s gone just like I am from the church. I knew the church would lie, obliterate me without a blink of an eye and feel, if I died, a funeral would be put on for me and then I wouldn’t be spoken of again.
July 28, 1997
Release is what I ask for
An end to desperation
An end to the hurting
Feelings of desolation.
I phoned a woman in small town eastern Saskatchewan; a town where Allinblack had been priest before coming to the parish where I was abused. She knew nothing about Allinblack ever being there. My sister phoned someone she knew there. They talked to a few people about Allinblack and why he had left there. She phoned back saying most she found out was Allinblack was to marry someone and all of a sudden left in a hurry leaving that woman in the lurch, trying to find another priest to marry her. I decided to go to that town myself. A song came out.
The wounded within cries out in the darkness
Be with me as I let in some light
Care for me gently, lovingly listen
Stay with me throughout the night
Crying, crying, crying, sighing
It’s so unfair what happened to you
Weeping instead of sleeping
I can’t forget what’s happened to you
I’m changing and rearranging all the things I was led to believe
I am thinking and rethinking what it is I hope to achieve
I went to a friend’s and cried. When I read her the poem, “Know That You Are Loved”, she saw my aura and described it as a yellow light around my head and going straight up from the crown and said I should publish my poems. Another friend who considered herself a witch said take a blue rock with me to that eastern Saskatchewan town. That night I was at an ice cream shop with another woman and there were these tiny stones for sale. I bought a blue one and knew it was time.
 I drove to the town. To the Community Help Centre. They gave me about ten names in the community that might know something about the Catholic church background. They gave me a little room with a phone. Two people answered and said they would talk to me. Most others heard me out, took my name and number and said they’d get a hold of me if knew anything. Most people basically said it was common knowledge that he abused girls but said no one ever talked about it.
 A couple in their 80’s had me over, said above, and then said their son had just told them the year before about being abused by the priest after Allinblack. They talked of the guilt they go through.
I came home and wrote downs the gains I’ve made on this journey:

I am more than a survivor
I have built community
I handle myself well in nearly all situations
I can relate to people on so many issues
I can be there for myself and others
I know how to deal with fear, anger and sadness
My purpose can be my experience as it relates to the bigger picture
My life can unfold now. I can be at peace in the world, in the universe, fill my life with good. I can work on small issues one at a time.
Realized I wrote the first book when I could no longer find a purpose for the pain and suffering. It gave me purpose to continue the journey.
The church’s lawyer let us know in a late July letter that the church’s committment to fund treatment is not conditional on me dropping a civil claim. It indicated if we submit receipts for past expenses; they will consider. We also could let them know any future costs we anticipate and they will consider but they said last phone call from my lawyer said I was finished treatment.
August 8, 1997 – Wrote “Today is the day Allinblack has to squirm”. It was the Examination for Discovery. The lawyer let me know what he learned…nothing. Allinblack denied it all.
 I spent my next days off and every moment after that sorting everything in my house, down to the crayons from raising four kids. I burned my wedding dress.
 I made a list of 250 people who had been part of my life. Thinking of doing a major mail-out to people regarding pre-buying a book. Wondering where/how I could find an editor. A new song comes:
I’m searching for peace everyday
I’m searching for peace in various ways
I’m searching for peace inside of me
Why can’t I find it – I still have to grieve
The answer is there. Why is it so hard
To let go and feel from deep in my heart
Cause I’m all alone, just the earth and the sky
To witness the tears I still have to cry
I’ve now learned to wail out the sorrow and pain
I’m saying good-bye to what might have been
It’s hard to accept it was never much good
The illusion was there I kept thinking it would
Be there for me – care from the heart
Was it like that right from the start
The only caring there was came from my heart
I gave it my all in all that I did
But doings no good if it prevents me from seeing
What is the best, the best thing for me
I want peace in my heart the answer eludes
An end to the pain from my being exudes
My path will come if I wait and see
And treat myself gently I will be free.
Collage
I’m in the whiteness of my life, finding my own connections with the universal oneness of us all; letting the spirit move me in all I say and do. This is real life; a more balanced life, when I can laugh out loud or cry out my pain. I am a woman who searched and found myself. I am learning to live, to love, to accept love. I am at a new level of gentleness. This is the time of my soul – where I can be unpredictable in Spirit, pure in the essence of the real me. It can be an exquisite time; happy or sad. I can be shy. I can hold. I can be. Sensual can be my days and nights. I can design my life to be a magical reality. I will always have growing pains and they will be opportunities for my heart opening if I promise to take care of myself first. I know I have grown up when I can say what I need to say. When I can change my mind, when I feel free to change anything in my life. I want change. When I can be the mom I want to be. Consciously choosing what is right for me and my kids, having consistency they can count on; knowing relationship is paramount; friendship is based on truth and love. I am an exotic person who deserves an island holiday. Can be part of my future gifts to myself.

A new song comes:
FOUND
Now I’m not alone. I know that its true.
There’s something out there for me and for you.
Can I call it God. I can’t call it Lord.
I’ve been searching for years. It cut like a sword.
To be cut off from that I had believed was so true
Now I know its in me and in you
It’s in the love I gave every day of my life
It’s inside of me when feelings are rife
Feelings of joy, sorrow and pain
God is with me in sunshine and rain
The pain is in my ribs surrounding my heart
Is that how the myth of creation did start
All I know I now cry on my own
And it feels so good to not feel alone
Collage
I am at a new place in my life, a more peaceful place, where I speak up about injustice. I can give the appearance of calm and at peace in the world, go out and do sports and activities and look like the career woman who has it made. Through these 5 years – know I’ve found a rare find – the child inside who brings me hope and needs hope; her eyes are open and she never wants me to lose what I’ve found; compassion for myself; my wounded within who was unwanted for so much of my life and feels queasy at the thought of being forgotten again. She is my place of power and staying in touch with her is a road few people travel. She and I need to be touched, taken care of, to have faith in the future; believe there are good things in store for us; that we deserve the best; can wake up energized treasuring what the day ahead holds, living and loving in peaceful, elegant surroundings, making a home I can relax in and let my spirit out; my light shine with art, culture, beauty, flowers, plants, perfumes, candles, explore my Irish background and all cultures through good books. Time for adventure, love, a career, being a good neighbour to all, living here in Saskatoon where I can share the spirit that’s here, hands to help when I need them, beauty in my surroundings. I can experience the beauty in the world. It will only happen if I remember where I came from and bring the beauty to others.
I signed up for Irish Dance lessons. Wrote someday I am going to England and Ireland, and I’m going to get an oak table. Someday have a house.
Collage
Would someone tell the haunted, haunted girl inside that she is beautiful, that she can say whatever she needs to say, that she can do whatever she needs to do, that she no longer needs to be silent. There is no longer any honour in silence. I thought I was honouring God by withholding blame, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt and in so doing wasn’t honouring me – who is God. I can tell whoever I want whatever I want. I can mother me now. I can father me now. I am accepting how hurt I am, how hurt I’ve been and how much love and support I still need. I want natural support; care from people and nature and all that are a part of the web of life as I sort out who I am; my identity that was robbed from me by each of my abusers. I could call them identity thieves because it was like I had to change my identity to survive. I can’t accept the world as it is; that so much of this sexual abuse, domestic violence; poverty of women and children; where women and children are like property, so much of all this is still going on. I can no longer run from my memories. They are all with me all the time. I am reshaping my world. The time is now. I no longer can assume that something in the future is going to be there for me; that a God will be there to make things better or to make up for all that has happened to me. I have survived. I did it with others help – plants, animals and humans alike and I will continue to do it.

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