WARNING - CONTAINS ADULT CONTENT.
By the time I was thirteen years old, I was very interested in becoming a Nun. I knew I wanted a close relationship with God. I wanted to be the best Catholic girl I knew how to be. I loved going to Mass on a Sunday, I loved going to communion and confession to confess my sins. Each night before bed I would say my prayers.
I felt a very close connection to God and I had a yearning to want to be his servant, that was until I was about 14yrs when I started to become curious about boys and my body and realised that to be a good Catholic girl and to become a Nun meant I could not be interested in being a women and everything that came with that. No children, no loving husband, no SEX.
That really sucked, I recall feeling so confused, why can’t I have both? Why can’t I be a servant of the Lord, do his bidding as a Nun and in his service as well as be a Women in all that a Women is with Marriage, babies and a husband. It did not make sense to me, and I had to have a talk to Jesus about how hard it was and that even though I wanted to be in service to him, that my curiosity of being a woman and my strong desire to be married and have babies was too strong to ignore. I told Jesus that if I had to choose then I was choosing to be a Mum as that was my whole purpose in my existence. I wanted nothing more than to get married to a wonderful man who loved me and to have a large family.
By the time I was 16 years old I had moved far away from my deep connected relationship I had experienced with Jesus as a young girl and had entered a very confusing time within myself and my relationship with God.
I very quickly realised that what the Catholic Church was asking of me to have a relationship with God was never ending guilt. I was always in the wrong, I was never good enough and over time I could see that I was not worthy enough to be in God’s world and I came to the conclusion that I was going to hell so what did it matter anyway.
You see I was confused; I was curious and all I wanted was someone to love me. I confused SEX for love and attention for care. I was an attractive, happy go lucky young women. I flirted and loved the attention of the boys, I thought they really did like me. I look back now and see how naive I was and understand that the reason I was raped was because I did not understand that they didn’t love me, they didn’t even care about me. That they were young men who wanted to have SEX and I seemed to be a willing participant.
Yet, I never wanted to have SEX with the boys, I wanted to be seen, I wanted to be important, I wanted attention. I craved, I yearned, I desired, I needed to be wanted by someone and I was so confused.
I learnt from a young age, to be loved meant to be hurt. But that is a whole other story. Because I was promiscuous, I knew that the Lord was disappointed in me, that he would not love me unless I changed my ways. But I couldn’t change my ways because I needed to be loved.
I had left home and joined the Defense Force when I was 17 years old, and it was so hard. I wanted a relationship with God, but I could not stop being a sinner. I hated myself for being a bad person and continued to be a bad person. And by being a bad person I was seeking connection in all the wrong ways.
I drank alcohol, I took drugs, I slept around, and I was so alone. From the outside I looked happy and fun, and, on the inside, I was desperately alone and isolated. I went to church only to feel more isolated and alone. I did not feel welcome, I was a young girl, and I was not good enough to be at church. To go to church, I needed to be someone else.
When I was 18 yrs old I met my husband, I was so happy to meet someone who really like me. He did not want to have sex with me, he liked me so much that he was afraid to kiss me. I did not understand that. I thought there was something wrong with me, I had never experienced this before. He courted me and I felt confused and happy all at the same time. He was the first man I met who was kind to me and showed me attention and didn’t want sex in return.
Hallelujah, I was no longer a sinner I was married! On my wedding night I cried to finally be living as a Wife and no longer sinning. I had not realized how heavy the load of living in sin was to me, until the night of my wedding.
Thankfully my husband was a catholic, so he understood my strong emotions around this, and he was happy to support me to reconnect with my faith in the Church and to raise our son’s Catholic. Life went on as it does, and I continued to bounce in and out of my faith. I desperately wanted a loving relationship with God and Jesus. But it didn’t seem to matter how hard I tried; it was never good enough.
If I prayed, unless I was on my knees’ it wasn’t good enough. If I went to Church, unless I went to confession it wasn’t good enough. If I put myself first, then it wasn’t good enough. If I was a human being, it wasn’t good enough. If I prayed it had to be a certain way and it was never good enough, or long enough or often enough.
I felt that it didn’t matter how hard I tried, how good I was, how faithfully I lived, I was always failing. I couldn’t do it right! I felt this constant pressure to be better, to try harder, to work harder. The guilt was deep and never ending.
I could not connect with a God who was going to send me to hell because of simple pleasures, everything felt like a sin. Over my life I challenged priests and church leaders. I was angry that I would see people go to church and ‘pretend’ to be good people on Sunday and then be not nice for the rest of the week. My brain could not comprehend this, I could not accept that this was okay. And yet week in and week out this is what was happening.
You can go to Church on Sunday, stand at the front of the church, sing the loudest and ‘pretend’ to be a good person…then be unforgiving outside of that one hour each week and then preach that you are a good person.
TO BE CONTINUED...