There's that old cliché about breakups, "It's not you, it's me". I recently wrote about my convent life. That is coming up on 14 years ago. And, all those years ago, that cliché proved to be true.
I've been thinking about the breakup lately. That is what it was. I was in a relationship; I realized it didn't fit; and, I ended the relationship. Did I end it in the best way? No and I can admit that. When I look back on it, I wasn't in a single relationship. It was a complex dynamic.
There was the relationship with God or what I tried to believe to be God. That breakup wasn't too bad. I mean, once you admit to a lack of belief, then the rest just falls into place. So, this one doesn't really fit the cliché. This is more of, "It's not me, it's the lack of you".
Then, there is the breaking up with the Catholic Church. Again, not quite so difficult, especially once the God breakup was done. But, for this one, I will admit that it wasn't the Church's fault. I just was no longer able to be faithful (see what I did there).
Here's the part I've been thinking about; this part is kind of messy. In the history of the Community of Sisters I was #998. While I was there, I once said to some friends that the song says, "One is the loneliest number", but for me, it was 998. Then I broke up with a Community, over 100 women. I walked out on them, literally. I packed up my shit and left.
Every so often feelings will come over me, pangs of, I'm not sure what word fits the best, perhaps guilt? In a group of that many women, I cannot say that I knew them all, but some I knew well...very well. Those are for whom I feel the pangs.
While I was visiting back in Cleveland last month, I was shopping and spotted one of the sisters with whom I had lived. I immediately became uncomfortable. She was busy with her cart and looking around. Then, we came close to bumping into one another. We made eye contact for a brief moment. But, I can honestly say there wasn't a glimmer of recognition in her eyes. I was glad to avoid actual contact because, well, awk-ward. But, that incident did bring up thoughts about the breakup.
The other day, I saw one of the sisters on Facebook because we have mutual Facebook friends. She was one of my teachers for all 4 years of high school. I was struck by how much she has aged. Then, I started to think about her. I wondered if she'd take my friend request if I tried. She is a kind and gentle person. Then, I thought about things being strained between us, perhaps, because of how things ended with me and the Community. I'm just not sure what I want to do.
Every once in awhile, my parents will see some of the sisters. They will tell me, "Hello" from them and how they asked about how I was. I always wonder, in these moments, what they thought of me when I left. Maybe the breakup was harder on me.
One of the messiest parts of the breakup was losing one of the sisters who had been such a presence in my life since I was 14 years old. I didn't order a class ring in high school. She ended up giving me hers. We were very close. We tried to hang on after I left. I would still talk to her when I moved to Colorado. Things changed, though. Life was different. I lost the connection to her that I once had. The change in our relationship made me feel that I should no longer have the school ring she gave me. I sent it back to her. That was not her, that was all on me.
Would I go back to those relationships? No, absolutely not. The reality of the reasons for leaving would still exist. Would I change the way I left the sisters? If I knew how to, then I probably would.