Yesterday I was on the Jennifer Fulwiler Show on SiriusXM The Catholic Channel and we were discussing the pressure of being Catholic in the world today. We discussed the pressure from both within the Church and outside of it. I didn’t really get into it, but I feel that pressure most when my life sucks and my spiritual life derails, which is often, like now.
I don’t want to be a whiney Catholic who seems to always have a crisis, even though I am a whiney Catholic who is always in crisis. Always. That really isn’t anything new; I’ve always been in crisis. I was born in crisis, literally. My mom gave birth to me all alone since my father never thought that my existence was worth acknowledging. He knew that my mom was pregnant, promised to come back and be in my life but never did. I guess you could say that he was the first man to abandon me and let me down. So yeah, I’ve always had a crisis of some sort in my life.
Being Catholic changes the way that I handle a crisis though, because I used to just look for a bridge to jump off of or I would hide my pain behind anger and make things worse, but now I have slowly started changing each one of those things with each crisis that comes up. It is a very slow process with days where I feel like I’ve fallen all the way back to the square one. On those days, it is very hard for me to get my butt in a chair and type out anything that sounds anything like a person who has found life in the Lord. Mostly because when I have bad days, I am angry at God, myself and I pretty much hate everything. I feel like anything I say or write that is happy is fake.
It’s really hard to be authentic when it seems like everyone in Catholic circles seems to be vetting people to see if they are really Catholic or Catholic enough or good enough Catholics, all of which allow for no kind of mistakes or meltdowns. As someone who lives in perpetual meltdown mode, it’s very difficult to deal with that kind of pressure to look like I have my shit together. I do not have my shit together. My marriage isn’t perfect, even if I do love my husband to the max and our love story is a great one, it has its moments of tremendous failure and pain. I need God in my life because I am a complete mess without Him. I’m a mess with Him! But at least with Him, I feel like I can find my way when I’m lost in the dark. I know where the Sun is even if I lose my way often.Then there are the non-Catholics who sit back and go “yeah, where’s your God now? Huh?!” which just makes me want to curl up in a ball and disappear since I find myself asking that question myself a lot of times. I often feel like the forsaken child who has been abandoned. It most likely stems from the fact that I was abandoned by my father, which will take a long longer than a couple of years in therapy to get over. I have lost a lot of people in my life. A lot of those people left because of things that are my own fault, but that doesn’t make losing them hurt any less. Being a Christian doesn’t magically wipe all that pain away, even if I do find joy in the fact that I know God loves me, that pain has to be dealt with. The worst part about it is that the more I let Him heal me, the more I feel whatever pain comes next. The less I hide behind my anger or numb myself, the more I feel and it’s very difficult.
Maybe it’s not that difficult for everyone, but it is for me.
Maybe we could just all give each other a freakin’ break, because even if you’re one of the people who like to make sure that other Catholics are Catholic enough, it’s probably because you can’t face your own shit, and I get that. I really do. I am a drunk and I’ve been avoiding that fact for a very long time by pointing out everyone else’s addictions. Now I have no choice but to face it and make a choice to change it or keep on being a drunk. That means that I really don’t have the energy to pass any kind of “are you a good Catholic” test. I need all that energy to face this crisis.
Please pray for me.