I guess I'm kind of old (44) to be walking away from my "faith", but a lot of things are finally hitting the fan, and I've spent the past year and a half dealing with the fallout of some pretty evil stuff, all of which has resulted in me realizing that it's time to stop playing "good girl" and stand up for what I believe - or what I don't believe, in this case.
I probably had the typical upbringing for an Irish Catholic girl of my generation -- very conservative parents, mandatory mass and rosaries, etc.
I also happened to have the most misogynistic father of all time -- I was not allowed to speak at the dinner table, only my brothers were (I had five of them, and was the only girl), I was to find a husband because marriage and motherhood were my only worth, sex was a dirty, necessary, distasteful thing that wasn't to be enjoyed, merely endured.
I was sent from Catholic grammar school to convent school, and the only good news there was that things had loosened up a bit since Vatican II and some of the younger nuns were actually kind of cool. AAMOF, I can't say I had any bad experiences with my high school nuns. My grammar school nuns were nuts, of course, and one of them was finally removed from the classroom after she split a boy's skull open from hitting him on the head with a metal paperweight she kept on her desk. Not that she was brought up on charges, or anything, of course. But, anyway, some of my more liberal attitudes actually originated with the younger, hipper, more "liberated" nuns of my teen years.
But my father wasn't having any of it...
Those views were NOT to be aired. Ever. Especially by a female.
Long story short, I did the unthinkable and got pregnant "out of wedlock", was sent to a home for unwed mothers and "gave" my baby up for adoption. In those days, you weren't given a choice. The baby was taken from you before you could even see it or hold it. I heard my baby cry for less than a minute, and that's the only knowledge I ever had of her. The papers were "signed" two days after the baby had been given to the waiting couple. I sometimes wonder if they ever knew how they got that baby -- how so many adoptive parents got their babies from Catholic agencies. I wonder if they were complicit, like my parents were, or if they were lied to, too, and don't know what that baby cost someone else, probably for the rest of her life.
Afterwards, I was told never to speak of it, and I was slapped hard and called a "drama queen" by my father once when I was caught crying afterwards. I was sent to a small, Catholic girls college and wasn't allowed home except when the school actually shut down and sent the students home.
I married when I was very young to the first man who asked me, had a baby right away, and then another, and then found I couldn't have any more. Not that I minded, really, I was happy with my family as it was, but try answering the oh-so-accusing questions about why one "only has two" from the sancimonious Catholic breeder crowd sometime -- they're practically accusing you of having abortion after abortion just because you haven't come up with another baby yet.
My husband is Catholic, although not very strictly so, more culturally than religiously. My kids were baptised mostly to please the families, but they both refused to be confirmed. This was the first time I began to put my foot down. My parents, my husband's parents, and, to some extent, my husband, were upset. My husband's family threatened to go to our parish priest and have him "force" my children to be confirmed. I held my ground, and it felt good, especially when it came to my daughter. No way was I going to force her into Catholicism against her will.
I was still going throught the motions of being a good Catholic, but my heart hadn't been in it for the longest time. My heart hadn't been in much, actually, since my experience. Then, several years ago, I began to notice the creeping rise of conservatism and legalism in the Catholic church. The language was frightening -- more like something you'd hear from the worst sort of Bible-Belt fundamentalism than Catholicism. And then it began to sound like the worst kind of Islamic fundamentalism. The rise of this new conservatism shocked me into looking very long and hard at this Church I was supporting by my presence, as half-hearted as it was.
What I saw frightened me. And it brought back all the feelings of having deserved what I'd gotten -- of having been bad and dirty and having deserved having my baby taken away from me -- stolen from me. My daughter was nearing the age I was when all that happened. The past two years or so have been a real wake up call for me. This church, this hateful and punishing god -- this is NOT something I want for my children.
What they did was wrong. What my parents did was wrong. And they did it because of this selfish, hateful religion they adhered to in which the only thing that counts is following all the rules and punishing the right people in order to gain one's own "salvation". I will probaby hate myself forever for not screaming from the highest rooftop at the time, and for not refusing to be "good" and play along, and for allowing them to make me think I was less than pond scum for so long.
The final straw has been this most recent anti-gay campaign on the part of Pope Benedict and all his hangers-on. The bigotry and hate coming out of the Vatican now are obscene. Obscene. I've seen what the church has done to women over the centuries -- not just to me and girls like me, but to the women who were forced to endure pregnancy after pregnancy until their bodies just gave out, or until they escaped into alcoholism, or begged their doctors for unnecessary surgery just to prevent that 1oth or 11th or 12th baby. I can't sit back and be part of an organization that is bent on hunting down the gay members of their organization and publically categorizing them as less than human.
So, that's me. A long story, and not very clear, I guess, but I feel like I'm just waking up from a bad dream and seeing things clearly for the first time.
I don't know what kind of god I believe in anymore, but I do know one thing -- the Catholic church is pure evil and it has been for a very, very long time.
Edited by aquamarine, 20 September 2005 - 05:17 PM.