Just when you think you’re good.
Just when you think you’re happy and healthy and on the road to recovery.
Just when you think your past is behind you…
It comes screaming back to smack you in the face and beat you over the head with the fact that you’re a failure, a loser, and broken beyond repair.
There’s no coming back from that past.
There’s no hope.
You screwed the pooch and now you must deal with the consequences.
It’s just swell.
I haven’t felt this way in a long time. A long, LOOOOOOONG time. But, lately, it’s been creeping back. Little by little by little.
A Facebook post here, a text there, a homily… a letter… a lecture over coffee.
“Annie, you’re broken. Your life is in tatters. And there’s no coming back from that. But it’ll be okay. You have your cat and Jesus. That’s all you’ll ever need.”
I knew I never should have fessed up about my divorced status to my Catholic coworkers.
I knew I shouldn’t have become Catholic.
I knew somewhere, deep down, everyone was secretly judging me for the ass hat’s mistakes.
It all started when I told my priest friend I was divorced.
So, he told me to get an annulment.
Then, I became Catholic.
I became a divorced Catholic going through an annulment.
Life was fine. I mean… it was weird… and kind of lonely… but fine. I was doing what my priest friend wanted me to do. I was staying on the straight and narrow. Mass every week, confession every month, service projects when I could, keeping the whole “divorce” things under wrap and staying away from online dating sites…
Until I got asked out.
But a fellow divorcee.
A non-Catholic divorcee.
“What the heck!” I thought. “I’ll get a free dinner, we’ll compare tragic marriage stories, and I’ll make a good friend.”
So, I went.
And I fell head over heels, madly in love with this divorced non-Catholic dad.
You’d think this would be a good thing, a happy thing, a cause for celebration.
Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no, no, no.
Not in the Catholic church, it’s not.
In the Catholic church it’s a reason to call you on the carpet and beat you over the head with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“Don’t you know dating as a divorcee without an annulment is ADULTERY? Why are you committing adultery? Why do you hate Jesus?”
Don’t get me wrong, I was strong enough in my Christian faith to know this wasn’t true, but… my priest friend saw things differently.
And so it began…
A scolding over coffee: “Are you lonely? I know it wasn’t a mistake for you to become Catholic. Why can’t you wait until your annulment is final and find a good single Catholic man?”
A flurry of frantic test messages: “Jesus tells us He hates divorce. You are still married to the ass-hat. You are committing adultery. Why are you doing this?”
A not-so-subtle homily: “We should praise and encourage these faithful Catholics who are choosing to embrace a chaste, single lifestyle – separated yet still married to their spouses! This is their cross to bear in the face of divorce – and they bear it well!”
A biting Facebook post not directed at anyone, but the message was clear : “How dare you “faithful” Catholics praise and “like” the new relationship of a divorced Catholic! You are encouraging adultery and mocking God!”
And I would shrug it off and laugh and say, “I know where I stand with God my Father. I know I’m in His will. I know this relationship is a blessing from Him.”
And yet… the little nagging voice…
What if the priest IS right?
What if you ARE committing adultery?
What if God IS just as disgusted and disappointed as the priest is? How dare you commit this sin against a God you claim to love?!
You’re divorced. You’re broken. And now you’re going to add a multitude of sin on top of it?! What is the matter with you?! How stupid are you?! Sure, God still loves you, but you made your bed. The ass hat left you. Now you deal with the consequences. Live like he’s your husband and don’t move forward until the Church gives explicit permission for you to do so! He’s not going to bless you moving forward! He’s only going to bless you in your sorry state of robotic obedience to the church! But He’s certainly not going to bless a new relationship! Who authorized this?! Certainly not God… and most definitely not the church!
Until you’re so convinced that you’re wrong and so beaten down… that it just becomes easier to throw the blessing under the bus, and go back to your sorry situation of blind obedience. Being in their good graces is better than having them think you’re destined for Hell. And being the champion people-please I know I am… I’m sometimes willing to give up the blessing in exchange for their approval. The fact that I would take heartbreak and devastation over having a priest think ill of me shows the depth of that people-pleasing addiction.
I wish I had never joined the church. I wish I had never gotten asked out. I wish, I wish, I wish. Life is easier when you live in stagnation instead of fear of failure and regret.