Seeing the Light

doorway

I’m almost there. After years of writing, rethinking, and revising my story, the final pieces are finally falling into place, and I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Within weeks, I should have my book published on Amazon. After that, I’ll announce it to the world and do a little ditsy dance of joy. It won’t seem real though, until I hold a copy of it in my hands. But for the time being, the pesky little voice that has been telling me to get back to work, has stopped

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Where’s It Gone?

Where’s it gone?  My self-esteem. Don’t know if it’s because I spent so many years in the habit, humbling myself or if it’s simply because I’m human, but my sense of self-worth fluctuates downward a bit too often. I recently called a halt to my floundering three-year relationship with my significant other and I’ve been scraping bottom more than usual since. Funny thing how I measure my worth through someone else’s eyes–that someone who has rejected me.

Though I tap, use affirmations, read uplifting messages, and meditate daily, I spiral downhill. I rely on the steady encouragement of close friends, and yet still struggle. The face in the mirror looks back at me with sadness, even though I smile. “Oh well”, as Mom used to say “This too shall pass”.

I can only hope.

Today’s thought from the Sedona Journal of Enlightenment provides me with hope:  “Bring your hands to your heart and feel within every cell of your body, ‘I am divine love.’ Can you feel that? Allow every cell in your body to recognize this. From this divine, compassionate action of receiving you already comprehend and trust the gift of you. You are divine love. You are divine. You have always been and will always be.”

Falling

The rain has arrived and so has fall. Along with the leaves,  I’m falling ever so gradually into a new and unfamiliar lifestyle. Living alone. Bit by bit, I’m falling out of loneliness and into being okay by myself. My two cats keep me company and my home is small enough that I don’t feel lost.

Many years ago, I joined a communal life after having lived in a large family with seven other siblings. Then I  lived shoulder-to-shoulder and elbow-to-elbow within a community of nuns for nineteen years. After that, I continued to live with others–in and out of relationships–until now. I only lived alone for a brief time in between two of my relationships.

So it doesn’t feel right.

Friends tell me I should enjoy it, but I don’t.

Of course, being with someone doesn’t mean I was never lonely. I mostly felt alone in the convent, even though surrounded by others. I go into detail about this in my book. Which I’m still presenting to potential publishers. Eventually. By then, maybe I’ll be happy living by myself.

Until then, I continue to sometimes stumble

and fall.

Invisible

sept writing

It’s no wonder I struggle with issues of self-esteem. Until only recently, it had not entered my mind to consider myself a victim. In fact, I pride myself in being strong and resilient at my age. However, I recently stumbled upon some information on the topic of cults and mind control, and saw how applicable it was to my early convent years. During my first five, pre-Vatican II years in the convent, my companions and I were deliberately subjected to a gradual erasure of our individuality. Much like the military, we were broken down and then systematically reformed into more acceptable products.

In short, we were brainwashed.

According to Rick Ross, the founder and executive director of the Rick A. Ross Institute—an expert on cults, controversial groups and movements—there are warning signs of groups and individuals who use such mind control techniques. I recognized each of those listed in an article quoting Rick by Dr. Phil:

  1. 1.Cults enforce a controlled environment: Loved ones are cut off from family,

no communication.

 

In my story, Once Upon a Convent, you will read about how the convent enforced this rule and how it affected me.

  1. In cults, there is a necessity to break down the sense of self—the self-esteem–to literally attack them as individuals on the basis that they are wrong

and that the group is right.

Knowing this has begun to help me “put myself back together” again. My book gives evidence of the erasure of my personal identity.

  1. Instill a new sense of identity: a group identity

that reinforces and outlines the right behavior and the right way of being.

Wearing the habit and following the rules took away who I was as an individual—even as a teen-ager and blossoming young woman. To this day, I feel somewhat lost when I don’t belong to some kind of other-ness—marriage, partnership, or communal endeavor.


  1. Isolate: Cut off from outside world. Fear keeps them trapped

inside the environment of the group.

 

Even without fences, guards, or chains, we were trapped within the remote confines of a rural community, far from old friends, family, and the rest of the world.

The process of writing my story has unearthed the similarity between cults and my convent experience. I understand now, why I sometimes feel invisible. Like I wouldn’t be noticed unless I was gone. In the convent, I remained unseen, unless I allowed the dust in my assigned hallway to accumulate to any measurable degree. I was important in my performance of duty. Had there been no one to dry the pots and pans during my nightly dish duty, someone would have come looking for me. Or had my assigned spot in chapel been unoccupied during prayer, my absence would have been noted. As long as I fit into my prescribed slot in the communal machine, no one gave me a second thought.

Except my parents, who regularly wrote me about how much they missed me. Otherwise, I felt erased. Unimportant. We were taught that invisibility was a noble way for nun to feel. It was an indication that we were advancing toward the state of being without ego—of becoming humble. I quickly mastered the art of melding into the crowd within days of my entrance.

Had our differing attributes been highlighted, we would all have been enriched. Instead, we were individually erased. Expected to regard everyone equally; melt into the background, and act as one.

I still know how to disappear, but it no longer feels right. I remain marginally unsure of myself, and find it difficult to fade out. I still work on accepting myself as a unique individual. On some level, I’m still overcoming a deeply instilled sense of unworthiness.

Though my head definitely knows otherwise.

in the Grove

grove 2

A grove of trees consoles me from the opposite side of the park outside my patio. Five trees as one. So, even though I feel completely solitary on this day of golden light, I remember. It’s been said that we’re never really alone. Especially not in a world of more than a billion people. Neighbors reside so closely above and beside me that  draw my blinds in early evening. Reminds me of the convent where I struggled with feeling alone while living in a five-storied building with two hundred other women. My excuse then was that we weren’t allowed to talk to one another, except during brief periods of recreation. Otherwise, we observed Silence.

I yearned to talk.

To be seen and heard.

We stood alongside one another in rigid line, bumping elbows. We obediently did our best to ignore one another and stay focused upon an invisible god.

Though I no longer have to, I keep Silence again and live alone with my two cats.

Except for the grove of five, who keep watch over me from across the lawn.

Crowds

I’ve rarely lived alone and have no desire to. It doesn’t take living in a separate house to feel isolated. All those years in the convent taught me that. We had rules back when that forbade us to get close to anyone. . . even one another. The only one we were encouraged to get closer to was God, and that could be pretty lonely. That was often my experience, even though I was surrounded by nuns.

Loneliness is a recurring theme in my yet-to-be-published book, Once Upon a Convent