Anthony and I maintained a long-distance courtship until shortly before I turned 18, whereupon he moved to where I was safely ensconced at a conservative Catholic university. Our arguments grew in number when we spent more time together, but I pretended nothing was wrong. After all, I should feel guilty. He was trying to encourage me to grow spiritually when I wasn’t willing to take chances and trust in God. Still, I loved him, and even though I hated how he told me what to do at times, I knew it was in my best interest.
That spring, he drove me home from school, where my parents were waiting. Unexpectedly, they called us in to discuss the state of our relationship. Having only received encouragement from them throughout the year, we were a little startled at this, but went willingly. They confronted us with concerns brought to them by a family we attended church with; we were not emotionally or spiritually mature enough, and our relationship was moving too quickly, especially physically.
My first reaction was anger and hurt that they would suggest I had broken my vows of purity (which I had not). The next concern was what was meant by too fast? We were courting, and as far as I was led to understand, that meant we were involved in a serious relationship with marriage as the goal. I was certain I wanted to marry him. Physically, we kissed on the cheek and hugged and held hands. Spiritually, I pointed out to my parents that he was challenging and encouraging me in my walk.
Undaunted by our arguments and defenses, my parents decreed that they did not feel we were ready for this relationship. To illustrate this point, and help us grow as respective individuals, they were instituting a one year moratorium on our relationship. We were not breaking up, but merely putting a pause on the way things were. During this time, we were to have absolutely no contact with each other, whatsoever. Flabbergasted, we had no choice but to accept.
I was hurt and angry and broken on the inside. I felt like they didn’t trust me anymore, and I didn’t understand. I was mature enough to go to college, and to start a relationship, but now they had to put it on hold, citing that I wasn’t mature enough to continue it… but wouldn’t break it off altogether. That summer I made the decision to move out, transferring to a college near some friends, and I moved in with them.
I had multiple opportunities to enter into contact with Anthony, but I didn’t want be so willfully disobedient. I had honour thy parents hanging over my head, despite the aching of my heart. I avoided conversations with him on my blog, on forums we were both on, and tried instead to concentrate on prayer, fasting, and spiritual growth. Inwardly, I was crying to the Theotokos and asking her what I had done wrong to deserve this.
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce