Wednesday, December 19, 2007

the sh*t has hit the fan

I think I want to fly back to DC now.

Last night, I went out to dinner with my mom and sister. While waiting to order, my mom started grilling me about Jesse. She wanted to know everything there is to know about him and his family. Some of the questions she had already asked before. Others were new. Regardless, I had no problem answering them.

And then we got on the topic of religion. As you already know, my mom is devoutly Catholic. She knows that Jesse isn’t Catholic and she wants me to make him convert. Seeing as that I am not exactly a practicing Catholic, I think it would be hypocritical of me to ask my boyfriend to convert if he wants to marry me (for the sake of argument, let’s pretend he does). And seeing as that I have some serious problems with the Catholic faith, it would be hypocritical of me to even get married in the church.

So then my mom called me out on how I never go to church any more. She wanted to know why. Honestly, I am really sick and tired of lying to her about ‘occasionally’ going to church and maybe it was time for her to know the truth. But the restaurant was certainly not the place.

I refused to answer her question, but my mom pressed me for an answer. Since she was so insistent, I decided to tell her. “Mom, I’m sorry, but I can’t be faithful to a religion when I don’t agree with its actions or teachings. I have a hard time moving on past the fact that the church did nothing about the pedophile priests except move them around to other parishes so they could have a fresh group of victims. I have a hard time accepting that the Church says gay people cannot express themselves emotionally or sexually even though God made them that way. And I have an especially hard time accepting the fact that the Church doesn’t approve of condom promotion to prevent HIV transmission. The fact of the matter is that the world continues to change, but the Church doesn’t. I’m sorry, but this isn’t 1950.”

I could see the look of hurt in my mom’s eyes. I was hoping she was thinking, All those years of Catholic school have gone to waste. But instead, she blamed herself for my straying from the Church. And what's worse is that she got all emotional over it.

“If you’re father were here, he’d be so disappointed in me. If you had stayed here instead of moving to DC then you’d still be going to church like you used to. I should’ve never let you go.”

I hate when she brings up my dad to guilt trip me.

The truth is that a long time ago, I learned to think for myself. I questioned my faith many times and even brought my questions to priests who could never give me a satisfying answer.

The last straw was when I went to a Saturday evening mass at a church in downtown DC. During the sermon, the priest got political and starting telling the congregation how abortion was wrong. Yes, I already knew that was one of the opinions of the church. But this sermon had nothing to do with the gospel. And I was sick of sitting there, listening to a priest preach against a choice that I support. I decided right then not to compromise my personal beliefs for that of the Church. On that day, the Church and I parted ways. I refused to be a hypocrite anymore (except for when I’m home and my mom forces me to go to church).

My mom hasn’t said a word to me since dinner (the silent treatment is quite popular in my family). Jesse arrives tonight so I’m hoping that will thaw her out.

I’m not sure how to make up with her even though I really want the rest of this vacation to go smoothly. I’m certain that she expects an apology from me.

But I refuse to apologize for who I am.


MadameMeow said...

You shouldn't have to apologize for who you are and for your beliefs, especially because you've done nothing wrong.

Be strong and may the rest of the visit go well.

Shannon said...

She should've "never let you go" to DC? What, were you under 18 at the time?

Parents are so weird.

Anonymous said...

Dont worry, your mom will come around. My dad was very devote and he eventually accepted that I had left the church emotionally. He never liked it but he accepted it. Just continue to demonstrate you are an ethical and kind person - that is what religion is about anyway in my opinion.

you know what I miss most about the church and I dont see it anymore. Their committment to social justice - it's the one thing that could have kept me relatively faithful. But I never see or hear priests talking about poverty or racism--it's like they've adopted all the GOP's talking points about abortion and gays and that just leaves me cold. What's more they dont protest the US' now official stance on torture or the death penalty, or if they do it is very muted compared to their other opinions.

My favorite memory of church is from the early 70s. I was really young but can remember so vividly (I even remember the color of the priest's robes) this sermon on how racism was a sin and people who discriminated against blacks were discriminating against Jesus and spitting in the face of God. In the early 70s in New Orleans, believe me, this was radical stuff. ~erika

Jilian said...

You know - for a healthy relationship with your Mom - she's going to have to start accepting who you are and quit with the drama - it might take her time but this conversation was a step in the right direction. You can't keep hiding who you are to make her content. It'd probably be good to remind her how much you love her - and just because you have some different opinions doesn't mean she did anything wrong :)

Mom's are supposed to love unconditionally correct. Families are supposed to respect each other :)

I'm sorry your trip home has been so dramatic :) Maybe it has to be to see some change though :) Hope you find some Joy in the rest of your trip!

jOoLz said...

i agree wholeheartedly with jilian, and i have .02 to add in re your mother's and sister's fondness of the silent treatment. i haven't read your archives, and i don't know how/when you lost your father (*h* btw... i lost my mom a year ago and i know how hard it is). i suspect he might be the one you got NOT being passive-aggressive from though?

the whole silent treatment thing makes me want to vomit. my father does the same thing. it's so very disrespectful, the silent treatment. i mean, have your feelings, and own them to the point where you can express them. that way, even if i don't agree with them, i can accept them.

and using your dad in a guilt trip is just LOW.

one more thing: i too am a recovering catholic. i'm an atheist actually, but i did the whole catholic bit, and allowed my mom to guilt me into being confirmed. what fried my ass about it was she wasn't even going to mass when she made me go to ccd to get confirmed! after that, i never let her guilt me into going to church again. that might be more than you can handle (esp at christmas!), but in the future, if you find something else to do with yourself instead of going to mass with her, she might get the idea. capitulating on this matter isn't going to bring an end to it.

i bet jesse's in for a big hug tonight, and good luck with the rest of your visit!