Ever feel like you’re caught between a rock and a hard place?
Fighting between the life you had as a child, and the one you’re trying to build yourself as an adult?
That’s where I am right now.
I guess it happens to all of us. Suddenly high school finishes, and we’re granted maybe one year of leniency before we’re out on our asses. Moving out. Going to uni. Getting a full-time job. Making grown-up friends. Suddenly we’re growing apart from the family, friends, hobbies that kept us together in our teen years. For myself, I was a violist. I was an avid member of the school band, and captain of the Celebrations team at my Catholic high school. Even in my gap year, staying at home and working, I found an orchestra and a parish council to keep that part of me going.
Three years later, my viola sits lonely in the corner, and the thought of going to mass makes me cringe a little. I’ve lost a lot of who I was, and a lot of people can’t handle it. Well, my family can’t. They’re not really sure what to do with me anymore.
Okay, let’s get specific. You can probably guess that my family is fairly religious. Mass-every-Sunday religious. No-sex-before-marriage religious. Get-married-in-a-church-or-the-sky-will-fall-down religious. And I found my way to deal with that, despite a constantly wavering belief in Jesus – I became the organiser. I organised masses. I was involved. Readings, music, offertory, ministry of the Eucharist, parish council – nothing was safe from my determination to be involved. Oh, sure, I had a Wicca phase as a teen – dressed all in black, wore velvet, did spells – but that was quickly quashed under my fear of my parents’ reaction. I was the oldest, and shy. I wasn’t cut out to be rebellious, despite the heavy metal and the red lipstick. (Not overtly, anyway. I’m pretty sure my mum wouldn’t have approved of the Nora Roberts novels I was racing through.)
Cut to me now. I moved straight out of home to live with my then-boyfriend (now fiance) of four and a half years. I was anxious; it was my first true act of rebellion against my parents. They were devastated. But I’d never been happier. I hated going to mass alone, with nothing to do once there but listen. So I stopped going, and began to visit a witchcraft supplier every time I was in the city. Gradually I began to accept that the things that had held me together as a teen didn’t have to occupy the same roles as a young adult. It took me even longer to be okay with that.
I’m not religious, but I think about God – try to struggle out what he (she) means to me – every day. Some days I think I’m atheist, some days Wiccan, some days agnostic, some days back to good old Catholic. Some days I just don’t give a shit, and block out all of that vicious, dividing bullshit.
Some days I hate where I am now. I wish I could go back to the way I was – young, naive, accepting. Then I remind myself that if I’m not questioning my existence, my place in the world, I might as well be dead. Because I’ll never be any good to anyone – as a lover, sister, writer, daughter, friend – if i’m not always questioning and challenging and growing.
(And yes, the title is from Luke 2:10, when the angel appeared to the shepherds bringing “tidings of great joy.)