After several years of therapy and sobriety, I had accidentally found myself at the equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous’ Step 6. I had accepted my defects of character, accepted the fact that I wasn’t quite the superstar I thought I was, and I was now to become ready to have the higher power remove my defects of character.

It was at this time that my first experience with the Catholic Church occurred. My sobriety brought with it a renewed quest for health. I ran, I swam, I lifted weights. I became healthy, participated in sports, and looked pretty good, if I may say so myself. I went to the gym every day.

After a good workout, I would sit in the hot tub at the gym. Late at night, under the stars in the warm evenings of California, I would reward myself with a long soak. It was there that I met a very nice man named Mike. We would occasionally meet up in the hot tub, talk about current events, our lives. He knew I was single and he made it clear that he was single. Our hot tub meetings eventually led to greeting each other with a kiss on the cheek, and then a light peck on the mouth. One night, that peck on the mouth became something more than a peck and he asked if I would be interested in going to “his place.” I turned him down, but thought I might take him up on his offer another time.

So one day, I walk out of the gym and see Mike in the parking lot, with his back to me. He was wearing a dark suit, and I went up and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and the last thing I remember seeing was the clerical collar. Mike was, in fact, Father Mike. And, “his place” that he wanted to take me was, presumably, his church in the next town.

Long after, I realized that I wasn’t the only girl that Father Mike had tried to pick up. And it wasn’t long after that, that he his clerical collar was officially removed. But an experience such as that – smooching with a priest in a bathing suit – is one that doesn’t breed confidence in the church.

I never completed Step 5. I never asked God to remove my defects of character. I simply attempted to remove them myself and I still have a long way to go. Maybe Father Mike was God’s way of telling me to get it together myself.