I’m sorry for the things I said as a Catholic.
TRIGGER WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE, SPIRITUALITY, CULT MENTALITY
As a child, our beliefs are chosen for us. Our name, gender, birthplace, religion, family, language, the clothes we wear, and even the food we eat.
Growing up is realizing that some beliefs that raised you were toxic and limiting.
I realize that what I say will not resonate with everyone. I mean no harm to anyone who is still Catholic and still living in their faith. I want to take this time to celebrate that. If you are happy as a Catholic, or on any Path, BLESS YOU. Bless you, to the Moon and back! I am most happy when I wake up and see people living their best life, and being their best self. If your spiritual practice makes you a better person, I am happy.
This is my story about why it doesn’t resonate with me and what I have found instead.
I was raised in a Radical Traditional Roman Catholic family. We went to a Latin mass, covered our heads, and wore dresses past our knees. I lived a very sheltered life, and I thought this was normal.
I don’t know if the sentiments that my family had are ideas shared by the whole of all Traditional Catholics, but it seems to me that more often than not common themes are very popular with Rad-Trad families. I was raised to believe racism, sexism, and homophobia were normal and even celebrated.
I clearly remember hearing language about Sp*** and N****** growing up. The kind of things you don’t say in public, but is well and alive in the culture of evangelicals and other radical religious sects.
I never noticed black or brown families at church with us. In fact, the whole time I was a Rad-Trad I only ever met 1 Black family, and 3 Hispanic families. Take a minute and think about why that might be? Growing up I thought that different races had different religions. I didn’t understand that religion was not a race-specific practice.
Perhaps I grew up thinking there were no Black Catholics because many people in my community thought the way my parents did? Maybe there aren’t many Black Rad-Trads because that group of people KNOWS they aren’t welcomed in that specific community.
I could go on and on, and on, and on. About the aggressions, I noticed going up. I don’t have time for it. I don’t want to dwell too much on that. I want to just provide a base-line of knowledge and insight on how I grew up.
There was as much racism as there was homophobia and sexism. Calling people f*gg*ts. The people close to me calling people sluts for the things they wore. Culture perpetrated mostly within the church that women should stay home, listen to their husbands, and raise children. That birth control was abortion, and that both would send you to hell.
I don’t think I ever had a good “relationship” with my religion as a child. In 8th grade, I was sent with my siblings to stay with my aunt and attend Catholic school.
There were so many unfamiliar rules. You couldn’t dye your hair, or wear make-up, or talk about music or tv shows.
I overall enjoyed most of my experience going to Catholic school. In a year I learned a lot about my faith, and about humanity, and I developed new connections and ideas. I thought that I was finally getting the hang of this Catholic thing and that maybe I could learn to love it.
However, when the year was up, it was time to go back home and live with my mother. My Aunt told me that she had visions of me. She told me that if I went home to live with my mother and went to public school that I would go to hell. (If she ever reads this blog, I’m sure she will believe her visions.)
She told the priest about this, and he had a private conversation with me. He told me that “UNDER PAIN OF MORTAL SIN I must tell my mother that I did not want to stay with her. That I wanted to stay with my Aunt and continue to go to the Catholic school.”
My mother is by no means a stable person. She never has been. I don’t speak with her now, but I pray she finds some stability. Of course, her 14-year-old saying this to her was very distressing. I told my mom I wanted to stay with my Aunt, even though it wasn’t true. I created a rift and a problem in my family because a spiritual authority figure told me that I would go to hell if I didn’t listen to him and obey his will.
High School Years
Take it or leave it. What I say here is not for everyone. Not everyone will believe it. Not everyone will resonate with it. But this is my story.
When I started high school, I began to have encounters with spiritual beings. My Catholic religion would say that these beings are demons. It was a terrifying experience and few years. I became very emotionally self-destructive because I was overwhelmed by the negative energies that I was experiencing. I was a straight-A student. Didn’t do drugs. But I used to self-harm, withhold food from myself because of body image issues, and isolate myself.
Throughout my life, I was always taught to pray if I felt scared, but praying never made the negative presences leave. The only thing that helped me was a Spirit Guide.
Catholic language would say this Spirit Guide was a Guardian Angel or something. But I physically felt this positive presence enter in my life. Maybe this was the answer to my prayers? Anyways, He was and is always with me, shielding me from dark energies, and keeping me safe. I often dreamt of him in high school, and this was comforting to me.
I began to develop more of a relationship with myself and my own power. I relied on and believed less and less in religion. The way I looked at it: Religion had only caused rifts and problems in my life.
Leaving the First Time
Too many things happened. Too many for this blog post. But I will get into in another when I am ready!
Long story short: My mother kicked me out of the house when I turned 17. I was sent to live with my dad. I didn’t know the guy. I had only met him 2 or 3 times in my entire life and talked to him a handful of times over the phone.
My dad is gay. All of my life I was taught that gay people would go to hell and that there was no point in associating with them because we would not be together in the afterlife.
I got to know my dad. To love him, even. My dad is the nicest, most honest, most loving, most humble human I have ever met. One day I thought to myself: If my dad is going to hell, then that’s where I want to be.
That was the moment where I lost faith in my religion. I don’t believe that an honest and just God would punish someone to eternal damnation for expressing their love to another human. In fact, I don’t believe in hell at all.
Sucked in Again
I got married, had kids, and was not in contact with my maternal family because of their toxic behaviors.
I felt bad for my aging grandmother though. She’s older, no one speaks with her, so I picked up the phone and started talking to her. She talked to me for a few months and then convinced me that my children would go to hell if I didn’t get them baptized “by a real” priest in the Radical Traditional Church.
Even if I no longer believed in the Catholic faith, I had to protect my children. Just in case there was a hell, I needed to protect them from it. So I started an 8-month long process of “Convalidating” my marriage in the Catholic church.
I was married by a judge. But this was not seen as a “real” marriage in the church. So I had to go through Catholic counseling and Marriage classes to be able to have my marriage “blessed” by God and Man. I spent 8 months of my life abstinent from my loving husband, and he supported me through all of this. (We had TWO kids.) Looking back, it was unnecessary stress on my marriage. And it was a pointless process.
I am still angry that I allowed myself to be manipulated into practicing something I didn’t believe in.
There were two distinct events that made me finally leave the Catholic church. I will speak on one of them. The other is so involved and complex, that it has to be saved for another day!
My oldest son was old enough to start Catechism Classes. I held him out of the classes for a year, with the intent that I would put him into classes the next year.
I had this spiritual awakening, a vocation, an experience. (This will be the other blog!)
I came to full awareness that summer that I COULD NOT put my child(ren) in those classes. They would teach him about Catholicism. They would teach him that he was full of original sin. They would teach him that he must partake in their rites and rituals or else he will be tormented for all eternity. Him and anyone else who rejected the doctrine.
I often refer to these types of moments as “cosmic downloads.” The universe granted my full awareness of my situation and left me to make a choice. I chose to leave and never look back. That was the summer of 2017.
A few months after leaving the church for good, I began looking for spiritual nourishment elsewhere. I found it in women’s circles. I met a woman once in September 2017, for a meeting. She is a Pagan woman. She dances with the moon and makes candles and potions and is a lovely individual.
I didn’t see her again until January 2018. When I met her she recognized me. She said that she had been praying for me, and sending me clients. She asked about my business and was genuinely interested in my life. She wasn’t superficial, and she actually cared about me as a person, not because of my spiritual practices.
Later that year I was contacted by someone I went to church with for years. She wanted something from me, and that is why she reached out to me. She didn’t know what I did for business, and she didn’t care what I was doing in my life.
This was a woman I spoke with every week for 20 or 30 minutes after mass for years. A woman who I had shared my life and my struggles with. Did she have a poor memory? Or did she really not care about me?
This may seem like a simple and silly experience, but to me, this was confirmation that I was doing what I needed to do. It was confirmation that I had found a community of people who genuinely cared about me and wished me well.
A Dean at a local State University resigned from his position in 2018. This was a man I went to church with. The article made it seem like he was encouraged to step down because of his radical views about women’s place in the world. I will not link to that article or give any more detail than that.
For me this was again confirmation that I was on the right path, doing the right things for myself. This man could not have been an impartial professor at this college. And I, as a woman, would not have wanted to be one of his college students.
A little separation was good for me. It provided space for me to sort through my emotions and thoughts about religion. And seeing that story trend on national new sources was really shaking to me.
I was a part of a cult. A fundamentalist religion. I didn’t know it at the time. And it took almost a year of being away from it to realize it.
This is where I am coming from. It’s not an excuse for my past behaviors. If I have hurt you I am not asking you to forgive me. I do ask you to understand that I am a different person than I was even 2 years ago.
I am sorry if I ever made you feel inferior to me.
I am sorry if you are gay and I ever distanced myself from you.
I am sorry if you ever wore an amazing outfit and I judged you in person or in my thoughts.
I am sorry if I let our relationship fall apart because of my religious beliefs.
I am working to undo a lifetime of damage that I incurred. I am working to re-write a lifetime of negative religious associates and programming. I am working every day to be a better version of myself. To be a me that I am proud of.
Thank you so much for reading this. I hope it brings you comfort if you are going through growth in your life.