Christie117 – I will say this from first hand experience. I was married outside the Catholic Church and without permission from the Church many years ago. I divorced after less than 1 year. The priest I went to said that I was in a marriage that was not recognized by the Church and the priest gave me absolution after confession and was able to participate fully in the sacraments of the Church. Eight years later I was able to get married in the Church but the priest got what he called a mini-annulment. However, what has to be determined is if the civil ceremony you were married in was approved by the Church. There are at times certain circumstances that the Bishop MAY and that’s a big “may” allow a marriage outside of the Catholic Church as long as there is a priest present. The couple has to go through marriage preparation in the Church. I had a nephew who got married in another denomination because his bride-to-be parents refused to allow her to get married in a Catholic ceremony as she was not Catholic. After talking with the priest, getting permission from the Bishop, and going through marriage preparation they were married outside of the Catholic Church with a priest present. The marriage was recognized as being valid and was registered in the Sacramental Records of the parish they attended classes in.
You were probably in a marriage that was not recognized by the Church, was living in sin and thus were not able to go to Communion. In my case the priest told me that all I needed was to go to confession. However, it’s best to talk to your parish priest, give him all the details of the why’s, when’s, where’s, how come’s, and etc.
God Bless you..