Sunday, November 6, 2011

Love, Life and Sacrifice...Why?

Why is it necessary to leave so many of the thing you love in order to leave that which you do not love? Love, it is a word which identifies for some a word which describes the ultimate emotion, for others it is as ambiguous a word, one can imagine. In reality, it does not matter. The fact remains, in order for me to leave a marriage that was destroying me emotionally and spiritually, I would have to leave the man that I promised to love, honor and cherish til death do us part. Well, death did cause us to part. The death of who I was, who I wanted to be, who I felt I had been designed to be. I did love, honor, respect, and cherish the man that I met when I was only 16. I loved, honored, cherished, respected and care for to the best of my ability all that we shared together. It came to an end. The long drawn out period of neglect and abuse that I suffered in the name of loyalty and love could no longer be ignored. I had developed a duality as a coping strategy. I put me up on the shelf and stifled my growth at the age of 16. Only weeks before my 17th birthday. When most girls were experiencing the joy of being a Senior in High School, I was struggling to stay alive. I was humiliated to the point that I turned over control of my life to someone much more powerful than myself. I do not wish to spend too much time beleaguering this point, but, what I do want to address is the loss that I have suffered as I sought to gain my life back.

Divorce does something terrible to the individuals involved. The individuals extend to households that no one could imagine that it does. I was born and raised in Kankakee Illinois. It was my home town. I knew the cracks in the sidewalks that led to downtown Kankakee, the cracks that led to Cobb Park. These were the places that I walked with regularity. I knew the church that I would long to sing in, the smell, the color of pinks and golds that adorned the walls. I knew the statuary. My children knew them too. I made sure that they would know them. They would respect, love, and honor the church for the beauty that she is. My home town would not be mine anymore. As easy as he took my innocence at the age of 16, he would take all that knew from my earliest memory of me. To say he stole it is in my heart the truth. I did not give it to him. I never imagined that I would not remain in the church, in my neighborhood, in my community. The reality is, I had to go. Constant harassment, defilement, fear, drove me away. I left after 2 years of being divorced. Leaving him actually caused more distress for me than I imagined. I had hoped that he had become stable enough for me to start my life over. There was only one way to start my life over, to leave.

As a Catholic Christian, I had done the ultimate sin against the church for a lay person. I was no longer in keeping with the sacrament that I took when I was only twenty five years old. I was married in a civil ceremony when I was only twenty years old. After some time, I felt in order for my children to be raised in a solid Catholic home, our marriage would need to be blessed by the church. The irony here is that if I had never had it blessed, the church would not have recognized the marriage as a sacrament. But, I did it to ensure that my children would be easily able to make their sacraments.
I remember feeling as I stood before the priest with my now ex-husband, that the Lord would bless this marriage. That somehow my ex would have a change, a profound change. That now I would be treated better, that I would be a honorable Catholic wife. I would now be able to sing in the church that I grew up in. That my children would complete which was denied me when I was a little girl. I was taken away from the community that I loved, my friends where I was quite popular, and accepted at the end of third grade. I would become a public school kid. It took a long time before I attained acceptance, and it only lasted a few years before my ex would defile my understanding of myself.

I committed my life to many things, to being a mother, a friend, a sister, a wife, a music minister, a community activist. These were the things that I believed defined me. At the core of this definition was my role with the church. My relationship with Jesus Christ and my understanding of my role in that relationship. I was special because I could sing to Him. I could minister with something that most could not. My voice. I had no idea that leaving a destructive marriage would destroy that which I loved most. I had no idea that I would no longer minister in front of my children, or now my grandchildren. I would never have imagined that leaving him would deny my grandchildren from seeing their grandmother in her sweetest light. In her role as a cantor in the church. All the weddings, funerals, masses that I sang on a weekly basis were gone.

This is all heavy on my heart today because today I will go to church with one of my students who has sought me out because he knows I am Catholic, and he wants to become one. He sees the same beauty in the church that I see. He asked me to take him to church. I want to show him the absolute beauty, I want to minister to him. I want back what I once held so dear and was equally able to express. How can I tell Sister, the liturgist, the RCIA director that I am divorced, and now living with a man out of marriage. It is sad that in order for me to be who I am and love how I love that I cannot minister in the way that I love to minister, through my music, in the church. What journey am I on, and where is the One that I love taking me? Today I will sing from the pew, in the church that I love and trust that He knows my heart.