I went through a phase of great piety in my early teens. By mid-teens, I left the church, angry with the clergy and nuns for having poisoned my childhood with the fear of eternal damnation, making me feel worthless (and especially so as a girl – I overheard a priest say, "Girls are so stupid"), defining me as a sinner who at best would spend several centuries in the fires of Purgatory, etc. And the strange cult of suffering: God sends suffering to those He loves. If you suffer here in this life, perhaps you won’t suffer as long in Purgatory. The body was obscene, and a woman’s body especially so.
Eventually those beliefs and attitudes struck me as insufferable. The Church’s strange obsession with “impure thoughts,” which were to be confessed: the type and the frequency. As adolescence progressed, the burden of it all was too much. I was attached to the ritual, and the figures of Mary and Jesus were dear to me; but the church doctrines struck me as increasingly absurd, embarrassing, and psychologically and socially harmful. (As a friend who converted in adulthood said, the church is a crumbling shell around a radiance.)
Daughter of the Church
The fact that only men could be priests, and only boys could become altar boys, was certainly not lost on me. The poem below is part of my “Grandmother’s Laughter” sequence: