Am I Still Catholic? (Does It Matter?)
I grew up Catholic. I went to church every Saturday night or Sunday morning. I ate fish on Fridays and gave up Mountain Dew for Lent. (I mean…MOUNTAIN DEW!!! I about died from lack of sugar and caffeine!) I went to CCD every Thursday. (I think it stands for Catholic Catechism and Doctrine? Maybe?) I picked a Saint for my Confirmation. (Rebekah. Yeah. I don’t get it either. There is no fucking Saint Rebekah.) I didn’t like our drama queen priest Daniel, but I couldn’t place that queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach (**until this creepy old dude tried to entice me away from my dad’s side with bunnies when I was sixteen. BUT I digress.)
Something changed after I was raped. I mean, there I was, this good little Catholic girl, and while God saved me from the creepy old dude (**okay, I’m going to tell this story, but at the end so it doesn’t detract) I succumbed to desire to go on a date with my beautiful little rapist, and ended up being points in a stupid game. POINTS. In a GAME. Nothing changes your perspective like putting a price on your body.
I was angry with that pretty little bastard for a long time. I was angrier with the mind-fuck I dated for two-and-a-half years afterward. And then I found God. In a book. No, it wasn’t the Bible. The book is called Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch. It’s not scripture, it’s funny, and real, and it’s love in its rarest form, unconditional and non-judgmental. I’m almost loathe to tell you about it because it’s a huge source of my inspiration.
God isn’t in a church. God is in you. God is in me. God is in every conversation, every interaction, in every mouse click that brought you to me, and here we are, you reading, me writing, the highest form of me being Who I Am, and you being Who You Are.
Still, I wanted to get married in the Catholic church. Maybe it was to please my parents. Maybe it was to satisfy that little girl’s dream, the one who dreamed of knights in shining armor and who did not yet know of the world of elves.
The Catholic church did not want me, however. My husband (the Lemur) is not Catholic, and our views are not Catholic. To give you an example: he finally just nodded his head and said yes, he would allow our hypothetical children to be raised in the Catholic church, rather than refusing the thought that we would ever have a child. Keep in mind, this man met my whole crazy family and STILL wanted to marry me, so yeah, he knows all about birth control. We each have alarms on our phones set for pill time each day.
That was another bone of contention for the longest time…I refused to take birth control. While in part due to the additional counseling sessions we had prior to our wedding, this was also because it really messed with my hormones. When my doctor said the pill would help with my bi-weekly periods and constant cramping, I balked because THE CHURCH. But when I finally agreed to try, holy shit, my whole life changed. I felt well enough to actually WRITE. Not only did I write, I wrote a five-book fantasy romance between two male elves. o.O Birth control makes you like the gay? I should have done this years ago.
Now, I go to church with my parents to share an experience with them, but I don’t go to church on my own. My time is better spent reading a book, writing a scene, or spending time with my husband. I commune with God in each of those things, and in all things. If you think that’s blasphemy, then maybe you’re doing it wrong.
**Creepy Old Dude:
My dad restores old cars. He’s good at it, so when people retire with enough money to restore their old cars, they call him up and offer him the job. One such retiree lived in Cedar Rapids (yes, like the movie), and met us at a Highway 30 interchange so the retiree would not need to drive on gravel to get to our house. My dad was teaching me how to drive a stick-shift, so he asked me to drive him to this meeting.
We are country folk. When I stopped the car, we got out and stood around in the summer breeze, taking in the muggy, mosquito-filled air. Dad started to get antsy because he’s a clock-watcher, like me. The retiree with the old car was maybe five minutes late, but then, he had further to drive. Finally, the retiree arrived. While they walked around the retiree’s car, a 67 Caprice convertible, I stood by the driver’s side of our car, waiting.
Now, we’d driven by this particular interchange I don’t know how many times, and every time, I noticed the dilapidated trailer that sat just off the highway, but looked so run-down that you would never believe anyone lived there. Well, something one would never notice from the road: there were live rabbits in hutches on both sides of the door.
While my dad and the retiree discussed the Caprice’s needs, this creepy old dude came outside to tend the rabbits. Rabbits are not my friends. A classmate brought a rabbit to show and tell in first grade, and the fucker bit me, so yeah, not a fan. The guy fussed and fidgeted with the rabbits, but I did not move from the side of my car. AT ALL. The creepy old dude kept glancing at me, and motioning me over, but I just shook my head. Then, he approached me with these really weird cards in his hand. They were “Magic Picture” cards, where you had to stare at them to read the meaning. Unlike the usual pictures, these were word phrases. Creepy, right? The dude positioned himself between me and the car, and moved us toward his house.
He gave me some line of bullshit about some other girl who hung out with him but was in the army now, and wanted me to go behind the trailer to “see the baby rabbits.”
“No thanks, Sir. I don’t like rabbits.”
That’s when he grabbed my arm. I’m not a farm girl, but it was early summer and I still had some track and gym muscle. I pulled away from him with a snarl like, “Don’t you dare touch me,” to which he said, “You’re a rude little bitch.” Pretty sure my response to that was, “Fuck you,” which left him muttering something about whether or not my dad knew I had a mouth like that. No. He still does not. To this day, I don’t swear in front of my dad, but I came close that day.
I ran back to my dad, and stood between him and the retiree, annoyingly close to the point that my dad yelled at me and pushed me out of the way. The retiree was the one who noticed the creepy old dude, and asked me if I was okay. Fuck no, I wasn’t okay, but how could I say so when trying to keep a brave face for Dad? I didn’t cry, but my voice shook when I told them what happened. My dad promised we would never stop there again, and I helped him restore that Caprice all summer. Our reward: a family trip to Adventureland (Also like the movie), where I met the beautiful bastard who raped me for points…
A final note: the final magic picture card before he grabbed my arm read, “Keep the faith.” Appropriate that this story fits with a blog about questioning my Catholic faith…