Sincerest Apologies ahead of time for this long posting :p I cant explain myself well without being wordy..
I've been trying to take Vocation discernment more seriously lately. More than i ever have before. I'm 24, and I've dated twice in the past 2 years. I never thought much about my vocation as a young adult.But i knew that someday i wanted to be married and raise a big family. But being the shy and anxious kid i was, i didnt date til i was 22. i really had some maturing to do anyway before i was ready to be in a relationship. So, my first dating relationship ended after about 7 months when she broke it off in order to focus on school. It didn't break my heart that much, because i was finding that i wasn't as interested in her as i had previously thought. Shortly after we "broke up" i heard a homily from a visiting priest at my church about vocations. And he mentioned Vocations when he said how we need more men willing to become HOLY priests more than simply just more priests. I thought for a week or so about it and thought maybe i could look into it..but that idea left me and i continued on with life as usual. I didnt really feel called to that life, despite several attempts by our diocese vocations director to get me to go on a discernment retreat.
4 months later, i was dating another girl. This time it was tough, because a month into dating, she revealed to me that she had been cutting herself. It had gone on years prior to me knowing her, but had begun to resurface when we began dating. She hated herself and only found my attraction to her to be a "joke God was playing on her." She didnt see herself as worth it, and cut herself badly one evening while she was alone. I only learned of it 2 days after because i wasnt able to get in touch with her by phone. Turned out she had been brought to the hospital by her mother. It was horrible to see her arms cut up like that..and honestly i was terrified. But i chose to stay with her and see her through what she was dealing with. At the time, i didnt realize that issues like the one she was dealing with didnt just come and go. They stayed. The cutting continued for a while every now and then..and she contemplated killing herself one night after we had a serious talk about her issue and i brought up the fact that i was thinking about a possible call to religious life. I had been "feeling" like God was calling me to something other than a relationship with this girl, though i was still very fond her her. At this point, you might be asking "why did he still stay with her??" I was conflicted. I cared a lot for this girl despite her problems..and i knew if i broke up with her, she could have gone down hill even more. And still..the thoughts of religious life were beginning to literally preoccupy my mind. I began to almost become paranoid, if you will, that God was going to make me a Monk only because i DID NOT want to be one. He was out to spoil my plans of marriage, i thought. It bothered her a lot and we broke up so i could finally settle the matter. At this point, she was a LOT better off than when we started out. She was a much happier girl, and our friendship was still strong enough that we didnt go separate ways. So i decided i needed to figure myself out.
I even took a 5000 mile road-trip alone to Colorado to clear my mind :p Upon coming back, i felt a strong pull to resume my relationship with this girl, since any thought of religious life or priesthood had completely vanished. I did a TON of praying about it during my trip and it seemed legitimately like the right thing to do. But she wasnt too sure, and we dated another few months before agreeing to end it completely.
And that brings me to where im at today. I have thoughts about religious life now and again, but i still very much desire to be married and have kids. Im even interested in a girl i know, but im afraid to ask her out or pursue her if God might be calling me to another vocation. Yet again, it creates turmoil in my soul because i want very much to do Gods will, and i desire to serve Him by becoming more holy every day. When i think and pray about religious life, it only seems attractive inasmuch that i wont have to deal with the headaches of family and marriage, and most Monks and Priests i know seem to be very happy, content people. I desire to attain the level of holiness i see in some priest/brother friends of mine. But i also desire to be just like my older brothers who are all married with kids. When i start to get my heart set on pursuing marriage, i begin to get very anxious and fearful and start again to have thoughts of religious life. Its that feeling as if someone is standing on my chest, and it becomes heard to breath and i just feel like poop. The thoughts of religious life dont really bring me peace..they simply make me irritated and upset. I get very hard on myself and i struggle with lots of negative thoughts. Ive gone to discernment meetings, and ive met with a priest about this, and its just not helping me any. It just makes me stressed out and gives me migraines. I used to be super confused about it, but i will say that prayer has made me have a clearer mind about all of yet. I pray very often and visit Adoration. Im just still not sure of what God is asking of me to do. I feel like if i continued pursuing a religious vocation, i wouldnt feel drawn to it enough to continue with it and i would just be going through the motions. And if i pursued this girl im interested in, maybe i would continue to have thoughts of religious life. Some have told me im just afraid of being in a relationship again after my last one, others tell me that i could be "fighting" a call to religious life and thats why im always so anxious. What im asking is...what would you do in such a situation? Theres way more to say, on my part, but i'll end it here for further discussion :p