I was always an anxious kid with intrusive thoughts. My first memory is having a panic attack at age two. I have another memory of wanting to cut myself at age four. As I got older, I got more and more scrupulous. The church teaching surrounding sex, especially impure thoughts, always had me worried. I didn’t seek out information on sex, unless it was from catholic sources. I remember being twelve or thirteen and worried I had committed a sin of adultery because I found my sister’s married guitar teacher cute. I was miserable.
I remember being twelve and reading the Priests for Life anti-choice FAQs about abortion. They consider it an abortion to remove an ectopic pregnancy unless you also remove the portion of the Fallopian tube the embryo implanted in, reducing the chance of future viable pregnancies. Even as a twelve year old, I was like “kay but…. the embryo isn’t going to survive in the Fallopian tube? Why would it be wrong to remove it?” No one had a clear answer. Catholic adults in my life would waiver and dodge the question.
One I was an older teenager, I started to get frustrated with my lack of understanding about sex. I knew all the emotional propaganda, but none of the actual details. I wrote in my journal at age eighteen that I would tell my future daughters about the nuts and bolts of sex, so virginity could be a choice made with information, not out of ignorance. I didn’t know how to use tampons. I was 20 before I used a mirror to look at my vulva and vagina, and I was so shocked and disgusted, I dropped the mirror. I remember that and I am sad. Now I find my vagina and vulva beautiful and powerful. But seven years ago, it was a thing of shame and mystery.
Then I was sexually assaulted, twice. This sparked a period of time where I used my sexuality to reclaim my body. I knew what had happened was rape, but using that word to this day is hard.
I contracted HPV, because I had been told that condom use was faulty and unnecessary.
Then I came out to my priest as bisexual, an identity that had been stirring since I was about fourteen or so, but had suppressed. He was the first person I came out to… and he told me there was no such thing and I was mixed up inside, and recommended pray away the gay camps to me, as a 21 year old. I walked out of mass that day and didn’t look back. Several years later, that same priest was revealed to have an Ashley Madison account in the data leak.
I also started realizing that I could be a good person on my own. The christian ideal of a good person felt more and more sinister. I felt out of place in protestant and catholic services alike.
Last summer, I had a psychiatric episode where I understood and felt somatic sensations of sexual abuse in 2 distinct parts of my life. I did intensive EMDR therapy and through that feel very strongly that I was sexually abused by a priest during my first confession. The memory recall is complicated. I have somatic sensations of abuse and shaky memories. But it is enough for me to know something happened.
Currently? I find a lot of peace praying to goddesses. I have four I seek intercession from. I don’t really care if they are REAL or not, because it’s a way to reduce my anxiety. I consider my patrons to be evolutions of a mother universe, which feels infinitely more loving than the concept of God.
But I would also be okay if there wasn’t anything beyond the human experience. It makes my day to day life easier, but I often use reasoning from atheist philosophers, because that makes sense too
The nice thing about not being christian is it is okay to have a duality between personal belief and also science. I couldn’t do that as a catholic. Even believing in evolution required belief that there was still an ADAM AND EVE, from which the whole earth came. Nah. Life is an experience and I get through it. Is there a god energy? Maybe, I feel the synchronicity sometimes, but that is for my own peace, not as a testament of truth.
I consider myself an ex-catholic. I don’t foresee a future where I return to the church. The sexual abuse of children, the sexual shaming of healthy instincts, the lies surrounding sex, identity, and health, are enough reasons for me to stay away. But I pray to Mary frequently, often with classic catholic prayers.