I used to be a fairly active poster in these forums, but real life has kept me far to busy to post lately. I’m writing here now because I have finally realized that I need some help.
This is going to seem very jumbled, and I’m sorry. I’m going to try my best to organize my thoughts for you so that reading this isn’t too confusing.
I was raised loosely as a christian. What I mean by loosely, is that I was taught about God and Christ and even taken to church time to time, but beyond that I didn’t have much a spiritual foundation. God was not an active element of our family household.
When I was about 13 my dad remarried. My stepmother was a Catholic, and being married into her family- my father was expected to convert and to from that point on raise my sisters and I as Catholic.
Because it was forced on me, my initial conversion was colorful. I fought it, as a young teenager. My stepmother was not expressly a bad person, but she did a lot of bad things to our family, likely without meaning to. I won’t go into too much detail on the how’s and the what’s of it.
When I was about 17, I’m not entirely sure what clicked, but something finally clicked. Maybe in part it was for the positive attention I would receive and maybe it was simply because I was exhausted with fighting- but I finally embraced Catholicism. Not only did I accept it and believe it, but I embraced my faith so tightly that by the time I was about to graduate high school I was fairly certain I was going to become a nun. I had a vocational counselor and I was researching various orders.
However, that wasn’t my vocation. It became to clear to me over my discernment that as much I as loved the lifestyle of the sisters that I needed to be able to fall in love and have children. My call to motherhood was much too strong to ignore. I grieved over the loss of my calling. I had convinced myself that I was going to become a nun and then having realized that that wasn’t what I was meant to do I was very upset and distressed. I didn’t know what to do with my life. My faith was shaken, but not swayed… yet.
Having graduated high school, with no finances or grades to get me into college, I didn’t know what to do with my life. All I knew is that I needed to get away from my abusive household. So I panicked and did the first thing that offered me a secure means of doing so. I joined the military.
Now I know what you are thinking, jumping from wanting to be in a convent to running around in battle dress is quite a stretch. But somehow I managed.
Here’s the problem that this whole story has lead up to. At some point, close to around the time I left home at 18, something about my faith began to brake. I couldn’t quite place it at the time, but I knew something was off… something was wrong. I felt less connected to God than I had before.
This feeling only amplified over time. I believe that when I was 18 I was just barely beginning to step into what is known as “the dark night of the soul”, a period of doubt and struggle that many faithful must go through. Unfortunately- I entered my dark night and never left it.
I am now 21. I am happily married and have one son (Jason, 12 months old). I’m not in the military anymore. I’m using my GI bill money to go through school to become an elementary school teacher. I have adapted well enough to being a student again and the rest of the time I am a stay at home mom and house wife. I am very happy with my life now, but there is one thing that has me in great distress…
As I mentioned eariler, I began my dark night and nearly 4 years later I am still in it. It has been a very drawn out struggle. It began with nothing more than a feeling of detachment from God. Over time it grew into a feeling of complete loss- of being completely cut off. I could not feel God anymore. Still I kept my faith and went to church. Time pressed on, though, and slowly that feeling of loss slowly began to submit to doubt. I started questioning existence and life. I hit a point where, though still going to church, I felt much grief because I was beginning to believe in my heart that I was only trying to believe in a fairytale because I was afraid of dying. I slowly stopped believing in God, but constantly trying to, constantly going through the motions.
These feelings were only amplified by the fact that I had no one to help pull me out of them. My husband is not Catholic. I did not foresee this as being such a struggle when I married him, but it is. I love him. We don’t have problems in the marriage, but it’s such a drain on me that he isn’t the spiritual support system that a husband is supposed to be, not to mention the sadness I always feel when I realize that he will likely never convert and all I can do is live by example. He is a good husband and allows me to raise our son Catholic, but he will not convert and I will not force him to. Not only is my husband not a good support for my faith, but the Catholic family I once had was always so far away and bad at keeping in touch and now that my dad has divorced my stepmom they have estranged themselves. I am now the only Catholic in my family and really have no one to turn to for spiritual advice.
This is why I have turned to this forum, sadly. I am reaching out for spiritual advisers and a sort of extended family, fellow Catholics to share my faith with. I dont’ have any friends or family who share my faith, and that lack of fellowship I think is what turned my dark night of the soul into a dark span of years. In the end I am the one at fault, but everyone needs support.