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I can probably pin-point the moment when my relationship with him began to fall apart.
You see, he was quite the golden boy in the church. Poster child. Success story. Still is.
For a while, I was too.They loved me. And I was successful. Just not a success story. Because my success all happened before the church. So they couldn’t attribute my success to the church. To be honest, they were my downfall.
There was no time to work. Everything was devoted to the church. The whole of you. Also, I don’t think he liked me being successful. I do have legitimate reasons for thinking this, in case you’re wondering. I just can’t talk about it.
Me being the least successful of the partnership was extremely beneficial for him. Because he held all the power. The church loved success. Success meant popularity. And money. I know the moment the moment the tide changed. It was me they came to when we entered the church. Me the leader would single out. Until I wasn’t. I knew my sheen had dulled and his brightened when it was him they went to first. He whose hand was first shaken, whose back was first slapped.
Is such a weird thing; the ego. You can say you don’t give a shit about all that, you can say you don’t care if you’re not loved but you do care. Because it’s a great feeling being loved and admired. Horrible when what follows shortly after is indifference. Is like being wealthy followed by being poor. Not a good feeling.
At church we would have these sessions which are kind of like therapy sessions but not, because therapy, we must remember, is the devil itself.
These sessions are when you reveal your deepest, darkest secrets. So yes, like Confession. But unlike Confession, it’s a requirement, and unlike Confession, if the person administering the session feels you haven’t ‘confessed’ enough, you’re not allowed to leave. I’ve been kept in that room for hours! Is like an interrogation. They break you down to a point when you’d do anything or say anything just to get the fuck out of there. I would have committed to a murder just to leave.
I’m half-Italian, you see. It’s in my genetic make-up to require feeding every hour. So being kept away from food made me angry. Frustrated. Made me desperate.
I can’t be sure, but I think they knew this.
So one day I found myself revealing how I was fourteen when he and I first met. He was twenty-four.
And it was fine. Left the session, stopped at In and Out Burger and went home. He came home moody and distant but there was nothing odd in that because he was often moody and distant. He loved you when he wanted to love you and it was a raging love. Made you heady and desperate. The rest of the time he didn’t really care. He was selfish like that. And of course you spend the entire time wondering what it was you had done to cause the distance. Because how could he love you and then be so indifferent?
But then the following day I was called in for another session. They wanted to talk about when he and I got together. How I had led him on. How I had seduced him in a way.
Now — in all honesty here — I hadn’t thought about how old I was when he and I met. Didn’t think that there was anything wrong with it. Honestly, didn’t. He wasn’t inappropriate and I hadn’t been taken advantage of. Yet when my church tells me I was wrong, that I was the one at fault, I was outraged.
And also sick inside.
Because I knew what it all meant. The church saw this as bad publicity. The church knew it meant their golden boy was not so golden. And the church knew if he and they were going to come out of this clean, that he would have to distance himself from me, and all of it had to be my fault.
I was a liability.
Foolishly, I thought he’d come back. I thought he was going through the motions, keeping everyone happy and when it all died down he would come back to me.
But he never did.
He let me be sucked dry financially. Let me be sucked into the ‘clergy’ as I had no money and therefore no option. He let me and everyone else be treated like second class citizens.
Admittedly, at the time, I really did think it was my fault. I believed that I had been inappropriate. That I was a fourteen year old hussy. Hadn’t my dad called me a slut at sixteen? I must have been. I’d lured him in. I put his reputation at risk.
Now, I cannot believe it. Now I know the onus was on him, the adult, to do the right thing. If a fourteen year old kid had sex with a four year old, would you blame the four year old? No. You wouldn’t.
The whole situation is one of the reasons they would want to keep me quiet. The other would be the evidence of what he and others like him said in their sessions. I copied the video files, but I’ve not looked at them. In truth, I’m too scared to do it. Too scared of what I would find. Surely I can’t be the only one? There have been stories. Insinuations. Everything would fall apart if if people found out. If I found out. Him. The church. Me — we’d all fall.