Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Some thoughts on Sensationalist 'teachers' ..... and the truth that evil is banal, everyday, and not at all exciting.
I know the History of The Vatican, going back to when the first 'Official Christian' Church were 'allowed' in Rome - it was immediately co-opted by the system, and every church since then has also been co-opted, often willingly - the truth about Official Christianity, and Judaism from which it sprang, (along with Bhuddism, Taoism, HInduism etc etc) is that they have ever been about control, profit, power - and the only assured way of keeping all these three is to abuse people into compliance; those that refuse are murdered.
It constantly surprises me when people 'discover' what is well known by those who survive ....
It's not as though any of this info is hidden, or even obscure.
Jordan Maxwell and others like him are effectively jumping on the bandwagon, as are many 'teachers'... who promote fear rather than courage and clarity.... whose books do well, whose shows do well etc etc... all the while the survivors work pretty much on their own.....
None of them ever talk about their own experiences as children, the primary dataset of any survivor.
Lots of people, an I used to be one of them, are fascinated by this kind of info, the boogie man.... Evil is banal, normal, basic and not at all exciting... and I wanted to avoid that experience of evil in my own life....
But hey, most people think children are not naturally intelligent, (that they need to be taught) not naturally creative (they can be trained or some few are 'talented') and need to be told what to do, (or they'll go wild! ) and most parents see their children as extensions of themselves, and most people think slapping a child is ok.
Mist people in this society think human beings are the most intelligent form of life on Earth.
Most people have NEVER done an honest appraisal of their childhood experiences. Not their fault, it's just that in an abuse dynamic it pays to avoid certain truths...
Most people have no understanding that the worst of the abuse is but part of a spectrum of abuse behaviours, and that without the gentle abuse that is all but invisible, that is 'accepted' behaviour, the worst cannot sustain.
I suggest reading some Alice Miller and some decent anthropology, especially first contact stuff to get a better picture...
Start here :
Prescott, Violence and the Mother Child Bond
Hunter Gatherer Parenting, Children, trust and learning... 2 parts
Alice Miller :
You might feel I am taking a stern tone here, .... but if you really want to help Hollie Grieg, and other survivors of child abuse like her, (and there are far more than you would like to believe) you HAVE to understand the depth of this issue, you must do the work required, (some of it quite personal) and not fall for the sensationalisation that is currently a massive part of those campaigns... that sensationalisation is part of the protective shield that people are using to avoid looking into their own dynamics as part of this abusive society, and is why so many are trying to 'fix' things....
And the secrets hidden in each of our own personal dynamics are absolutely key to breaking the cycles - only the FULL truth can set each of us free enough to NEVER be co-opted by abusers in any form, be it gentle or severe.
Keep in touch.... make it less exciting and more banal, and then face the truth with courage and determination .. this is a long, long walk we are taking.
Best be fully prepared.
Do what you love, it's your gift to universe
Saturday, 15 May 2010
A recent discussion held into the wee hours with a good friend brought out a few insights for both of us. We were chatting about parenting. And society.
We spoke of empathy and of ethics. We looked at why ethical committees of every kind routinely fail to stem the tide of abuse, corruption and other blatantly destructive behaviours.
The failure of ethics in western civilisation is perhaps definitive of western civilisation.
What are ethics?
Wikipedia describes Ethics as follows…
"Ethics (also known as moral philosophy) is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and bad, noble and ignoble, right and wrong, justice, and virtue.
Major branches of ethics include:
meta-ethics, about the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions and how theirtruth-values (if any) may be determined;
normative ethics, about the practical means of determining a moral course of action;
applied ethics, about how moral outcomes can be achieved in specific situations;
moral psychology, about how moral capacity or moral agency develops and what its nature is; and
descriptive ethics, about what moral values people actually abide by.
Within each of these branches are many different schools of thought and still further sub-fields of study."
The key in this description is the issue of MORALS.
Wikipedia describes MORALS as follows …
"Morality (from the Latin moralities "manner, character, proper behavior") is a system of conduct and ethics that is virtuous. Morality has three principal meanings.
In its "descriptive" sense, morality refers to personal or cultural values, codes of conduct or social mores that distinguish between right and wrong in the human society. Describing morality in this way is not making a claim about what is objectively right or wrong, but only referring to what is considered right or wrong by people. For the most part right and wrong acts are classified as such because they are thought to cause benefit or harm, but it is possible that many moral beliefs are based on prejudice, ignorance or even hatred. This sense of term is also addressed by descriptive ethics."
That last line is crucial. Moral beliefs are based on prejudice, ignorance or even hatred … they leave out fear (which drives all three of those definitions) and of course what they are really talking about are BELIEF systems.
I have long made a profound distinction between 'beliefs' and 'knowledge'; the former is mental, the latter experiential; an easy analogy is thus : living in the wild, a belief about where or what is food can get you killed, knowledge will ALWAYS feed you.
Likewise we all KNOW when a 'wrong' has been committed, as any infant will quickly inform you. The truth of it is felt first, then thought about. Or not.
Natural Creatures live in knowledge and they thrive. It is obvious that the natural world KNOWS what it is doing, though that knowing is perhaps quite different from the current definition of knowledge made by ‘civilisation’. The Acorn KNOWS how to become the Oak Tree. The rain forest knows many things, from how to create rain, to how to build topsoil, filter water and share ‘resources’ so that all benefit. And it’s obvious that none of this could possibly be the outcome of a series of mechanistic ‘programmes’. The levels of precision that pertain to natural living process are far too intense for mere mechanics.
What is absolutely certain is that vast parts of the human species, mostly those who live in or around what is known as ‘civilisation’ currently live in belief, and that civilisation accepts only one form of knowledge as being valid – the reduced knowledge of science, and that part of the human species, while many, (24% of all adults uses anti-depressants at one time or another) do not thrive, but merely survive in an atmosphere of fear, be they wealthy or impoverished. Faith is common place. Empathy is rare.
Experiential knowledge is routinely ignored. Tony Blair and George Bush, and many, many hundreds of thousands of people worked together to launch the wars in
Afghanistan and , in full knowledge of the possible consequences for the people who live in those countries. The imposition of IMF policies around the world is another example. The BP Oil spill currently destroying the Iraq Gulf of Mexico is another… Empathy has no place in these activities.
That civilisations and hierarchies tend towards morality as a system, an externally imposed set of rules is the norm, the base. Indeed all civilised religious belief systems outline in some detail a range of restrictions that are supposed to be guides in moral behaviour, and while certain commonalities exist, such as ‘thou shalt not kill’ and ‘honour thy mother and thy father’, there are massive variations, which fall under the cloak of ‘cultural differences’ and which while they are protected by the concept of ‘multi-culturalism’ or ‘free speech’ or ‘religious freedom’ actually work to divide people along cultural lines – what is accepted in one culture is maligned in another.
Likewise Secular Law is divided into what is called ‘common law’ and ‘statuary law’, or ‘civil law’ and ‘criminal law’ and there’s a further division under the guise of ‘contract law’. And there are hundreds of thousands of pages of detailed definitive law concerning how citizens in any state are to be controlled, managed and the affairs of local and national governance conducted.
Nowhere in any of these is the word empathy used. Thus ethics in business, law and religion are most often devoid a discussion of the fundamental quality of empathy, a quality that emerges from within the very biology of life. I have written of this before, so there is little to add other than empathy is a bio-logical imperative. Well actually, there is. It can’t be stated often enough that empathy is, amongst many things, not least the ability to feel ‘into’ the world in ways that enable a thorough comprehension of what it is that is being felt into – a form of observation of reality that pertains to every cell, a reading of the habitat and all that is in it.
To fully sense the ‘other’ in human terms, to feel what the other might be feeling, not merely to ‘understand’ it as an intellectual exercise and to be able to respond appropriately is the core of mother-child bond.
The baby in the womb lives in an empathetically direct connection with his or her mother, and this is a two way communication that operates at the biological level as much as the conscious level. For that link to be conscious, the mother herself has to be aware of that link and attuned to it. For that link to survive birth, the child-mother bond must absolutely not be broken, and must be retained throughout infancy… mere ‘care’ does not suffice, for the infant feels the fact of the missing empathy, and the developing neural pathways of empathy do not grow.
Another way to look at this is to understand that an empathetic parent cannot strike a child not because she or he knows it is worn, but because he or she ‘feels’ the impact of the blow upon the child even as the thought arises, as though they themselves were being hit. And chooses then to engage with the child, as one would with another person of equal standing…
When an a baby or infant is left to cry, he or she is learning that their gurgling communications will not be understood or empathetically felt and therefore not responded to, and so learns to cry to alert the parent to his or her need as the only means left. The same applies to all dysfunctional childhood behaviours – they are the learning’s that arise from un-empathetic parenting.
Parents whose own childhood experience they have forgotten, who have themselves been left to cry (as has been, and remains, common in many civilised and religious communities) find this crying distressing, not because of what their children are experiencing, but because the wounding’s they have forgotten are being stimulated again. And so they seek to control the child to protect themselves. This is a dynamic that pertains to society, to governance and to all controlling behaviours. This dynamic is of course rationalised as being ‘for your own good’.
Many people will attest that the beatings they received as children did them no real lasting harm.
The truth is that within civilisation and most of not all organised religions that link is broken, damaged, avoided and lost. Someone somewhere intended that break, that loss. Someone somewhere sees some personal benefit in ensuring that that loss is near permanent.
And that is the loss of empathy, a lost that ethics alone cannot counter. This is why ethics fails to deliver.
This is all carefully masked by the way people, as infants and children, and then as adults are forced to ‘adapt’ to this dysfunctional state, by the rationalisations of Organised Religions, Civilisations Institutions, Economics and Science and by the need to ‘survive’ in a coercive world, where food, shelter and the basics of life are denied all those who for whatever reason do not work for the ‘economy’.
Adapt or die out is the message to all the indigenous peoples who live on, within the land. The history is clear on this, and the practice exists today, and is in full flow. Adapt or die is the message to the natural child. That is what Ritalin says to children who resist the imposed hypocrisy of their parents and the State Schooling system. Ritalin and SATS replace violence as a means of behaviour modification.
The result is the same either way. Damaged children. Some, who show the symptoms, and are ‘diagnosed’, and the others who mask the symptoms and successfully conform. And work for the ‘economy’.
That lack of empathy inhere’s in much of what even avowedly ‘good’ people are led believe – for many religions, those outside of their particular belief system are condemned, and thus even good honest people will routinely act in destructive ways. Even good people support the troops. Some of the troops are good people too. But that should in no way be used to excuse them from the consequences, the truth of what they are engaged in.
We must begin to return to empathy as a primary source of information about HOW to live together, with each other as people and with all of nature as equally living beings if we are to thread a path towards a sustainable human existence on Earth.
Kindest regards Corneilius
Do what you love, it's your gift to universe
Saturday, 8 May 2010
Empathy and Power are two mutually exclusive realities. The exercise of power over others destroys innate empathy, transforming it at best to sympathy (charidee) and at worst it becomes a form of 'intelligence' gathering, the kind sociopaths engage in order to exert greater control over those they seek to control. They call it knowing your adversaries 'weaknesses'.
The recent elections in the UK are an example of that lack of empathy, in that the Illegal war in Iraq and Afghanistan is not an election issue, nor is the bail-out of the irresponsibly greedy investment bankers.
The 'deficit is however a very important issue because all parties are agreed on one thing: the debt or deficit MUST be paid, and it will be paid by the ordinary citizen!
Another example is the Roman Catholic Church's response to the witnessing of so many traumatised people, survivors of a world wide Institutional system of Residential Schools, a system that was and remains Policy; as was the landing of three Black Hawk helicopters of the US 7th Calvary on the sacred burial grounds of Wounded Knee last week. The same 7th Calvary that slaughtered 350 unarmed men, women and children and had the temerity to call that bloody event a 'battle' worthy of a battle pennant. The landing was touted as a 'peace offering'.
Think on the reaction were some Germans to do something similar, and drive a few tanks into Treblinka by way of an apology!
If anything defines this 'civilisation' it is the almost complete lack of empathy more than any other single factor.
Canadian Oil Company, Talisman Energy, is currently attempting to invade the lands of the Achuar people, to exploit the 'resources' that lie under their land, land they have lived on, and eaten of, for tens of thousands of years. They are wedded to the land in ways few 'civilised' people understand. Talisman will utterly destroy that relationship, and is supported by the Columbian State, a state that is also 'advised' by Tony Blair, who also 'advises' JP Morgan, UBS and Israel and the Palestinian People. Tony Blair is a Roman Catholic convert, a man who placed his hand on his heart at the Chilcott Iraq Inquiry earlier this year, and told the world that he sincerely 'believed' that the Invasion of Iraq, which was proven to be illegal, was the 'right thing to do.'
His lack of empathy for the 1.3 million Iraqis who have died violently, the millions of Iraqi orphans, the hundreds of thousands of seriously maimed children apparently makes him a good candidate to advise states and huge multinational banking corporations.
As regards the sociopathic gathering of intelligence, marketing targeting infants and young children is but one example.
Another is the vast dataset of first contact writings that described the indigenous peoples who lived in and on the lands taken for the Church and various States over the past 600 years or so. The data shows that the vast majority were egalitarian, peaceful, stable societies. Those who recorded their observations, for the most part honestly, were not fully aware of the use to which those works would be put.
The history reveals the intent. That intent is proven by the ways in which the Australian, Canadian, Thai, North American, Columbian and many other Governments are treating the first peoples of those lands those States lay claim to, even today,even as I write people are being killed for 'progress' and 'souls are being saved'. Indeed.
The rationalisation that converts 'virgin' territories into 'leases' for exploration, mining and development is one of many rationalisations of absolutely irrational behaviour - the destruction of life for profit.
Residential Schools, Magdalene Launderies, Uranium Mining, People Trafficking, Cocaine, Heroin, Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Ritalin, Lockheed, Mossad are all part of the same pattern of destroying life for profit.
Here's a very fine article on the History of Debt.
Let me start with the institution of slavery, whose role, I think, is key. In most times and places..........."
Read it, it's easy enough to understand. Debt and Violence are lovers, entwined and inextricably linked. He ends with a positive note. I agree. It's not all bad, though it is pretty ugly in most places...
The truth is out - when people who have been isolated can come together, and share their stories, they begin to form a dataset that cannot be denied. This is what the Catholic Church Residential School revelations are showing. Witness reports are reliable, when they can be verified, as they are. Mainstream Society cannot ignore these data, without becoming complicit.
The isolation of the individual is Societies condom, protecting Society from it's most feared STD : solid truth disclosure.
The isolation of the individual is Societies condom, protecting Society from it's most feared STD : solid truth disclosure.
I have a song about this : here
Tell the truth, YOUR truth; that's how you start to bring the system of power down.
Do what you love, it's your gift to universe
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
My Adverse Childhood Experiences, or at least some of them…. this is incomplete, just a few brush strokes, some outlines....
Warning : some of the details within this text are graphic, and may be disturbing to read. Please take care to be aware of the possibility of adverse reactions and triggering, and to be gentle with yourself, to take it easy and to only read as much as you are comfortable with. My story is but one of many, and in some ways nowhere as brutal as those of so many others that I have read and heard and witnessed.
I offer these words in the hope that reading will encourage others to write of their stories, to help in the process of recovery, to say to ALL Survivors.... you (and I) were innocent children, we were powerless to do anything about our situation, and we any guilt we might have, any shame is not ours; it belongs rightfully to those who harmed us and to those who protected them, those who knew and did not act.
It has taken me a long time to recover, to reclaim the sweet little child, full of curiosity and sensitivity, willing to explore life and desirous of becoming a contributing member of the community, developing my talents to enhance my life and the lives of others. It has been a path of frustration, fear, desperation, shame, denial, avoidance, dysfunction and disappointments. I am not there yet. I still suffer from PTSD.
I would never say it made me the man I am, or that I learned any valuable lessons from the trauma - I would say that i survived in spite of what happened, and had it not happened, I would have found my beauty as a human being much earlier. That said, I am so glad that I have found that within myself. I survived. And now to a certain degree, I thrive.
"There are things that happen, that should never happen, and there are things that should happen that do not, and these can have a tragic and terrible impact on a child and on the life of the adult that child grows to be."
Each survivors story is unique, each path towards recovery it's own path, and no-one can be judged for how long it takes, how many times one may 'falter'. Moralistic Judgement of the behaviours of Survivors after any soul or psyche wounding trauma are part of the abuse system, and I have no time for them.
All Survivors deserve the best help that can be provided, the most empathy that can be aroused, the deepest respect for their journey, and they deserve justice....
And lastly, this : ALL children deserve to be treated with total empathy, with love and respect, by all adults. Kahlil Gibrans Poem, 'On Children' expresses this eloquently, and I recommend reading it, again and again. It's been a resource for me, a source of comfort and guidance, throughout my life.
Let me talk awhile about what it was like, what my experience was ….. at least what I can recall of it… it's not always easy to describe the events, and it's often easier to describe what it felt like to me. It is not easy to understand why I buried those feelings, just to survive - but there was no one there for me, no one at all.
It's not so easy either to understand how those wounds and buried pain resurfaced many, many years later with devastating effects, not only for me, but for those around me.
The setting : I was born the 10th child of a sickly Irish Catholic Farmers wife, daughter of landowners, married to a nouveau riche Irish Catholic Alcoholic who was doing his family’s bidding and resisting in the only way he knew, by going along with it, resenting it and drinking: which combined with his own childhood trauma led directly to abuse within our family.
My older brother was beaten regularly. As was my father before him. There was other abuse ongoing, though I was hardly aware of it. All of us were affected by this cycle of abuse. All of us scarred in one way or another. Life in the family household was chaos. There was little emotional or psychological stability for any of my siblings.
My mother had MS, and had lost 4 chidlren before I was born - there were 4 living sisters and 1 living brother. I was a sickly baby, my birth requiring specialist medical care, a complete blood transfusion, born by caesarian and I spent 6 weeks in an incubator. I was certainly damaged, traumatised, though this was unintended, as I now understand from the evidence emerging from neo-natal and peri-natal studies, which I have written about elsewhere.
One of my earliest and most clear memories are of being left at a Convent boarding School, called Killeshee, at the age 5 or so, dressed in sandals, socks, short pants, a bawneen jumper, transfixed, terrified to my very core, listening to a Nun who towered over me, as she revealed to me that there was a God who knew everything about me, that I was befouled with the stain of Original Sin, of Adam and Eve’s transgression against God, and their weaknesss before the Devil in the form of The Snake, and that my very soul was eternally damned, and that unless I obey the Laws of God I would be cast forever into a burning tortured Hell.
She explained to me the meaning of venial sins and mortal sins, and their consequences with regard to the meaning of purgatory, of hell, of limbo. I don’t think I understood the full meaning of her words, nonetheless I feel utter terror seep into my very core,
She appeared to me to be livid with rage, her face contorted, encased in her nuns habit, and to me she was as an immense and all powerful, a dark brooding monolith standing above me and I felt that woman’s rage penetrate me as a complete body shock.
I froze. I was literally terrified rigid. The thought of hell seemed as real to me as her assumption of my sinfulness and guilt, my worthlessness as a person utterly proven.
I knew there was no escape, no possible salvation, and shame, guilt and fear surged through me,
I stayed frozen in that shock and fear for a long, long time.
I am standing in the back of a classroom, in the months that followed, ashamed and terrified, tears streaming down my faces, trying desperately to not move, trying not to not speak but I have to, so I stand out from my desk … because I have just poo’ed myself, and there’s piss and shit seeping out of my pants, running down my leg, onto my white socks, onto my brown sandals … I am in a state of shock and I do not know what to do. I am also excruciatingly embarrassed. And frightened.. I move, and the teacher, a nun notices the ‘dsiturbance’, and immediately starts shouting at me, she is disgusted with me and makes it plain for the entire room, the shame deepens as I become aware that they are all aware… ….. I am pulled and pushed out of the classroom, and I am made to stand outside the door. I wait. Standing in my own shit, encased in a stench of my own making, I wait. I shiver and await my punishment, utterly alone.
I am standing in purple frilly underwear, like a girls swim costume …. Only there are no girls, just boys and nuns. It’s sunny, and I am standing in the middle of a quadrangle, with children walking around me, jeering me, spitting at me. They are being directed to do so by an raging Nun, I am, like General Custer, surrounded on all sides. Unlike Custer there is no glory nor is there a sense of an enemy. I am feeling a visceral combination of obstinate silent rage and unutterable shame. Rage at my powerlessness, shame at my humiliation. This is what one Nun devised as a punishment. I do not recall what it was for, though I am told by my brother, later on in life, that I fought quite a lot. Apparently I was a ‘troublesome’ boy. A ‘difficult’ child.
I am standing in a line-up, with other boys, and I am once again, silently terrified, and we young boys, at age 6 and 7, are standing on the polished wooden floor of our dormitory, which from memory included a wooden panelled hallway, leading to wooden panelled bathrooms and past a nuns bedroom, a room that was ‘guarding’ us.
I am in line, and I am holding up my underwear for inspection by a nun. There is a small poop mark on my underwear. An angry shrieking voice confirms my fears, and I get roughly pulled out of the line, I am slapped and publicly told off about the poop mark, shamed once more in front of everyone else; I am sent to wash my underwear…. This was a regular experience, and obviously, given my previous traumatic shitting experiences in class, I am being targeted – however at the time I don’t see it that way. I believe that the nuns are right and that I am wrong and I accept their judgement of me as defining me.
I am in a large assembly hall, with all the other boys. We are all wearing white arran jumpers and shorts. It’s a weekly gathering, it’s a Sunday. We are lined up in rows. The Nuns are listing the crimes of individual boys, and punishing them in public. Ritual humiliation for the benefit of our souls. MY name is called, and I am expected to walk up to nun at the front. I do so. She reads a piece of paper, she declares some offence I have committed, like a hanging judged, her loud pious and angry voice denouncing my crime to the entire assembly.
And then she gives me a sound beating with a cane, ten times or so, across my naked rear. I stifle my cries and try to not show any feeling… at age 6 I can master myself to mask the true emotions and feelings. After all this is for my own good.
I am in my bed and there is a priest at the end of my bed. I am in a cubicle. I am about 8 years old.
The priest, Father Mallory is my music teacher, and he Is here, again, to question me. We have already had confrontations, because I wanted to try out ALL the instruments in the School Orchestra and of course that led to an altercations with him.
“Crowley, are ye a man or a mouse?” he says, with a barely disguised disgust. I know the routine. He stands at the end of my bed, looming over me.
If I answer ‘man’ he beats me for standing up to him, for being ‘cheeky’.
If I answer ‘mouse’ he beats me for being a coward.
This happens every few days for a few months. I tell no-one. There is no-one to tell. I am utterly alone.
Brown teaches us swimming and PE. He was the one who threw me into the deep end of the swimming pool, fully clothed, plus my Pyjama bottoms, to ‘teach’ me how to swim, and how to save myself by removing my pyjama trousers and tieing the ends to make an air trap to support me. He forced me into the water, physically, after shouting at me and all this in front of the entire class and I was absolutely sure I was going to drown. I was being called a coward by this beastly man.
I struggled to stay afloat, I was terrified, never made any attempt to do the life saving trick with my pyjama bottoms, and somehow I made it do the side of the pool and was pulled up out of the water. I ran away, around the shallow end, and kept running until I got to the foot bath at the entrance to the dressing rooms, and just after that I fell, and hammered by head on the floor. I woke up in the infirmary.
I am standing in the kitchen. At ‘home’.
Which is not home, but is the house of my Grandfather, and my Aunts, who are my ‘guardians’. They took control of my father’s estate after he died, when I was 4. I am 7 now. They sent my mother to a Cheshire Home, and cut her off from her seven children. They were the ones that sent me to boarding school, as they did all of us.
And I am standing defiantly in front of my Aunt Sheila, who is liberally berating my mother to me. Even then my mother was a distant figure, I had no real memory of her. I have no idea what started my aunt off on this lecture. She is screaming at me from her position seated on a wooden kitchen chair.
“Your mother is not ill, she’s just too lazy to walk!” she accuses, after railing off other reasons why my mother was so dreadful … and she paused. Something breaks inside of me, I cannot take another word. Fury erupts and I slapped her on the side of the head as hard as I could … which wasn’t that hard …. But it was enough. She struck back, slapped me behind the legs, while she dragged me to where the cane was.
I was thrashed with that bamboo cane, and then locked in a room, on bread and water for two days.
When I was released I was given another beating, this time with a wooden spoon, and another severe warning. I was learning my lesson. There were many lessons.
This is a memory that used to haunt me. It is all I can recall of this. Something is shut down within me. Something dark. Or maybe not, maybe it’s just a projection, and amplification of how I feel in general. I am pretending to sleep in my bed. I am petrified. I am trying to almost not breathe, There are four dark shapes looming over me. I can hear their breathing. This is a boarding school. I am alone. This is a recurring memory. With it comes an existential fear, a wish for darkness, for silence.. I have never been able to go beyond this point. Am I making this up? I don’t know. Yet the FEAR feels real.
I am dozing early morning. I am 14. I sleep in my bed, in a cubicle again, with a locker, and half of a window, which I share with my next door neighbour.. A brother, a non-priest in hassock, sweeps in and pulls back the sheets and blankets, looks to see if I have a morning woody….and sweeps out again, without saying a word. He does this to a few other boys. We don’t talk about it. We are too shamed. We call him ‘Tiny’ because he is a small man.. He’s a bully. A red-faced dwarf version of Richard Nixon. His invasions are becoming more constant, such that we get used to them. He has a room in the middle of our dormitory of cubicles. We all hate him. We have him as an English Teacher as well as our guard. He and I have clashed on many occasions, mostly because I am good at English, I write poetry well, I can easily work out various levels and ‘meanings’ of poems, way beyond the limitations of textbooks.. He sees my natural intelligence as a threat.
With regard to these early morning inspections, we suspect that he likes to check on our genital ‘development’, but we don’t understand why. The morning woody was confusing to me too. We don’t understand and we don’t say anything. We are too ashamed of our own bodies.
I am on a low mountain side, heather all about us, on an old track, muddy, uneven and scattered with pools of still water, and we are on a school cross-country running exercise, In some ways this is an escape from the dreary, choking, monotony of the School itself, Mount Mellary. There is open sky and sunshine cuts through the fast moving clouds, rays of light beaming down on distant hills, rain can be seen coming in from the distance. The colours are grey, blue, brown and purple.
I am a first year student at a Cistercian Monastery, which is also a Reformatory. A school for troublesome boys. A school for boys like me. I had been expelled from my previous location of incarceration. And sent here, to be reformed by the strict ministrations of the Monks and the remoteness of the location. It’s truly remote, about 10 miles from the nearest town. Windswept and cold. Nonetheless I did well academically. But I was bullied lots and fought back. They called me ‘the bull’ because I would put my head down, tuck my chin in and charge my tormentor whenever I lost my temper, running at my enemy, fists flailing uselessly, as I could not see my target.
I am sitting beside a bigger boy who has just tried to touch my genitals, who tried to get me to expose myself to him. He is crying. His tears are flowing because I have refused. I sit away from him. I too am crying. I am lost. All alone. His assault was less concerning to me than my overall predicament, that of an abandoned, lonely, angry obstinate boy – I was unaware of sexuality as such, and all I was concerned with was how utterly alone I felt, how misunderstood, even by myself. How can I get away from here? These were my thoughts, though I would never have dreamed of telling anyone those feelings. I tried to run away twice, by walking out of the gates, on down the roads, with no real knowledge of where I was going to go, how far my ‘home’ was. On both occasions I was picked up and returned and punished. No one ever asked me why. It was more “What the hell did you think you were doing, Crowley?”
‘Empty Vessels Make Most Noise!” was the one of the most frequent phrases my Aunt used in addressing me. For the rest she was content with reminding me of the utter uselessness of my mother (a person I did not really know), the vast generosity of herself and her sister in taking me in, the sacrifice they were making by way of the family fortune they were amassing in their business dealings. Hubris. Arrogance. And a solid hint of insanity. Though it was later on that that perception came to me. It was confirmed many, many year later by a family friend, the consultant who looked after my mother while I was in utero. Funnily enough most other members of my family did not see this insanity. They denied it, we never spoke about it.
Different flavours of the same bitter fruit, at home and at school.
I am in a boarding school, the Cistercian Monastery. I am in bed, crying myself to sleep … I am cursing my father for his absence, for not being here to protect me. I fall into a fitful sleep and I dream. I dream of an apocalypse, a nuclear Armageddon. I see an explosion. And I go for a walk, running in my dream, looking desperately for the father who should be protecting me, enraged at being abandoned, all this in my sleep. I am found by a monk wandering the hallways. I am shocked into wakefulness.
I bullied my younger brother for most of our life together. I started fights with him, I deliberatley hurt him, and then as his tears flowed I turned and I blamed him: “look at what you made me do!” I would say. Where had I learned that trick?
So many adults used that exact phrase after or during a ‘punishment’. I used it later on upon my own children. Until I stopped. Until the day came and I recognised, and acknowledged, the fear and terror in their eyes.
And even then I did not understand what I was doing, I just knew I could no longer act in that way, not for myself, but for them. I could not stand their pain.
My Aunts often compared the two of us. I was always the ‘wrong one’. He was a ‘Crowley’ I was not. I never understood this. Nor did I understand my anger at my brother … which was really displaced anger, I now know this, it was the anger I felt towards my tormentors and then being unable to discharge it against them, did so against my brother. He probably did not understand it either, how could he have? We both suffered.
I remember being in the room of a priest, Father Flood, he was the school bursar and my trousers and pants are down and he is fondling my testicles…. He is smiling, sitting in his chair as I stand before him…. I am nervous… I can see another boys penis and testicles, they are brown and smooth and I am sitting on Father Floods lap.. … but I don’t remember being in the room and seeing he faces of the other boys… just their genitals. Father Flood takes my genitals and 'caresses' them smiling at me ... I don't understand what he is doing, I think it is a medical inspection.... i am unsure of what to do.
I am in a woodland, naked, covering myself in mud, talking to the trees and leaves and plants and to the ground… I am happy, alone, and I am, for this short while, free. Woods and fields and streams and solitude were my sanctuary.
I am being chased by a gang of boys, and I am tired, panicking and terrified…. I pick up a stone, a piece of slate and turn and throw it at the oncoming gang of boys I have to stop them, I cannot go on any further….
Only the stone slips from my fingers as I hurl it, and it slides away from my intended targets, slicing and twisting through the air, and I know, I know immediately that this is going terribly wrong. And I watch with dismay, with a sinking heart, aware of the trouble that is to come, as the piece of slate strikes an boy, Tom Carmody, who is one of the few with whom I am friendly, who is not at all involved in my torment, right on his temple … a flash of red, the blood spurts and he falls..
I run away, I run like the wind, blindly away, as far as I can get as quickly as I can and I hide in a field of long grass. I stay there until dusk, until a nun comes calling for me. She’s calling me. I hear her voice and realise I must stand up. I can hear her voice getting closer.
I don’t stand up, and she finds me, cowering, covering my head with my arms and hands, curled in a fetal position. She is gentle with me..She’s a ‘nice’ nun, Sister Rose. She brings me back to the Mother Superior and leaves me with her. I get a severe dressing down, followed by a solid thrashing, and I am taken by another nun to a locked room. I stay there for at least a day, with bread and water for sustenance, until I am released to my Aunts care….I am being expelled from this place… She drags me to the car and we drive home in silence…three hours in the back seat, in silence, dreading the punishment that is surely to come, feeling her silent rage building with every mile. The inconvenience to her is in her eyes my greatest sin.
Back at home, her home, I never really saw it as my home…she gives me another good thrashing, beats me across my rear with a wooden spoon and then a cane until I am really, really sore … I cannot sit down… she then locks me into a room for a two days, in solitude, on bread and water.
I remember waking up one Christmas day, all excited to see what Santa has brought me. I share a room with my younger brother. Our beds are parallel to each other. At the end of our beds are two large bags…. There’s fruit on top of both of them….. under the fruit in my bag is coal…. My brothers bag is full of toys and sweets. I feel terrible, really, really angry, disappointed, let down, envious yet powerless, because if I say anything I will surely get a thrashing…
I spend a lot of time daydreaming scenarios in which I get terribly hurt and am close to death, in a hospital, and those who had been my tormentors come to visit me in hospital and I finally get their attention, and some affection, I soak up their pity for me, their guilt …. I really enjoy these daydreams, and almost live the trauma of whatever imaginary sickness or accident I create in my mind … going right into it, feeling really sorry for myself, and then the feeling of joy as people come to see me and offer me their guilt laden support, some soft kind words, and gifts…
These daydreams continue until I am in my late 30s… they arise whenever I am sad. Some times they just arise from nowhere. I cannot stop them, I don’t want to stop them. I need the love. I will do anything, suffer anything for that love… in the day dream… in real life I just coast by, doing just enough to pass all kinds of tests… and never, ever remember being told I was loved or being able to say ‘I love you’ to anyone… and really feeling it.
I can't accept love from anyone, I cannot trust it. This is so painful. I cannot fully accept that life will cover me, will nourish me. I keep that locked away and try to love in spite of it. Fear rules my life. That was how I have felt for most of my life. Emotionally crippled, and I blamed myself for it all for so long.
THE BOARDING SCHOOLS I ATTENDED and some of those who abused me, i don't recall (yet) all those who did.
Killeshee 2 65-67 La Sainte Union Nuns
My memories of indivual nuns is blurred. I recall the abuse, not the abusers.
Willow park 4 67-71 Holy Ghost now Spiritans
Father Stanly, Head
Father Senan Corry, Rugby Juniors
Fr William Dwane,
Brother Aloysius (Andrew) Montgomery,
Brown, swimming teacher
Colaiste Na Rinne 1 71-72 Lay
'Ban an Ti' (The Matron)
Mount Mellary 1 72-73 Cistercians
Again, little recollection of individuals, I ran away twice.
I know I am not the only child to have suffered and that many suffered far far worse than I, and do even as I write these words......
What kind of Society rationalises these abuses?
What kind of Society trains young men and women to kill, sends them overseas, and calls them 'heroes'?
What kind of Politician refuse to acknowledge that this mistreatment was intentional?
What kind of person?
A damaged person, damaged by being born into a damaging Society.
What kind of person creates a mythology to 'explain'all this away?
What kind of person blames those who show the signs, the symptoms of such experiences, such as addiction, dysfunctional behaviour, rage, ill-health, psychological disruption?
What kind of person sees all this, and seeks to gain understanding, compassion and empathy?
What kind of person acts to ensure that these behaviours are absolutely prevented?
Kindest regards Corneilius
Do what you love, it's your gift to universe