I'm really struggling with this and my kids and I left a church activity early last night over this.
(By the way, I don't belong to a Catholic church, just to be clear.)
The church we have been going to seems to, among the most active women, be rather cliquish. I've talked to two other women (moms my age) who feel the same way. One said, "I've been a member for 7 years and haven't been able to get into [either women's group]. They told me to be involved I needed a mentor but, oh well, no one was available for mentoring." Everytime they post on Facebook they "desperately" need volunteers for something, they turn this lady and me down via email. Then they persist in soliciting volunteers.
Last night I again ask to sit with some ladies at the informal supper. "Oh, I think this seat's taken."
I was thinking maybe I'm being paranoid/moody/defensive/etc. Over the past few weeks I've been "warned" by several people that these ladies "close ranks" and you have to be "a certain income" to be accepted.
One of the "popular" ladies was talking about my kids and, not too far from us. She was talking about my choice of pumpkins I brought for the pumpkin decorating and complaining about my son's jacket and "weird" behavior (he's on the autism spectrum) and said, just loud enough for everyone to hear, "I don't think they should let atheists in the youth group." I took that as directed about my son. The first night of youth group he confessed, in his matter-of-fact autistic way, that he believe he is "currently an atheist because science can't prove otherwise and I'm a man of science." He was very gracious and let them know he was open to being there and learning about Christianity.
Another mom made a point of sending her daughter over to my 7 year-old to tell her that she's having a big birthday party but that my daughter is not invited. "My mom wanted me to pass along to you that I can't invite you. I wanted to but she said no."
There's more. Just some passive-aggressive behavior and general sense of unacceptance by this same little group of women. It's a small congregation as well. These things tend to happen in smaller congregations. EVERY TIME I volunteer for something I get turned down, unless it's the older ladies or the guys.
One of these women snapped at my teenager last night and upset her (my older daughter is a very polite, quiet girl). She was walking down a hallway and our other priest had left a light on in, I think, the library. The woman snapped at her to "go back in" and turn it off. My daughter tried to tell her she hadn't been in there and didn't know if others were in there. The woman snapped at her again and started to mumble loudly about the "heathens" running around. My daughter is a very respectful girl and came and got me for advice. She actually wanted to go home at that point.
I also got told not to hang out with a new friend, S., I made at the church. She is a "troublemaker" and our dealings with her will "reflect poorly" on me and my teenager (who hangs out with one of the new friend's two teenagers). S. is very polite. She is a smoker and a free spirit, for sure, but I was unaware she was such a "bad influence."
I just need to vent. A lot of this is not tangible stuff I can write. You know what I mean? It's that weird vibe and little comments that keep adding up. I'm trying to step outside myself and not feel unwelcome by this little group. I have a hard time feeling like I fit in anyway.
I'm trying also not to be so picky about things. Part of me feels like I'm looking for excuses to leave this church. I feel like I'm growing spiritually. I've been doing informal RCIA, reading, and doing a correspondence course. I'm also joining a "Why Catholic?" group. Maybe part of this is my growing disenchantment with my denomination and deep-seated desire for something more conservative and wholesome. Part of this is my own neuroses. On the way home last night I caught myself having an old, unhealthy thought, "Well, why did I think a Christian group was going to accept me, anyway?" (Many, many of my experiences with Christianity have been negative.)
Thanks for letting me vent!