I’m Jewish. Born and bred. Your very own living, breathing matzo ball, and card-carrying member of Chabad and Hadassah. Okay, okay, so maybe I’m embellishing just a smidge and I’m not really a Hadassah member. But the point is, I could be. That’s why so many would find it out of character that, notwithstanding the long line of Jewish American princesses from which I hail and staunch devotion to the Jewish faith as evidenced by my much sought after brisket and chicken soup at holiday time, the Catholic Church has continued to fascinate me ever since adolescence.
Perhaps it began in my Lawn Guyland home. With my surreptitious and forbidden reading of The Thorn Birds, as I sat hidden from sight on the burnt orange shag carpet of my parents’ walk-in closet, nestled deep within the forest of my father’s pinstriped suits and my mother’s Cher Bono-esque dresses.
And later continued with my love of any film involving a good old-fashioned exorcism. I mean, what member of the tribe wouldn’t be captivated? We Jews would simply find the right docta to eradicate a pesky ole case of demonic possession. And, as my ex-husband would probably agree, two Midol are usually sufficient to do the trick.
My interest in Catholicism lasted well into my adulthood and took me so far as a first date with a Presbyterian minister I matched with on Tinder (shocking, I know, even by Tinder standards), the closest I could ever have come to dating a Catholic priest. Unfortunately for me, although a great guy, Ralph de Bricassart my collared friend was not. (No, he didn’t wear the collar on our date. That would’ve been way too weird, even for me. And I’ve been out with some pretty strange dudes in my time.)
All kidding aside, the Catholic doctrine that interests me most, even to this day, is the Sacrament of Confession. To my knowledge, the Jewish religion offers nothing of the kind. To cope, we stereotypically harbor our sins and then feel guilty about them afterward. Hey, for whatever it’s worth, this time-honored tradition has survived for more than 5,000 years and continues to go on strong as Jewish mothers everywhere can attest.
However, I do believe there is real value in getting feelings off your chest. Bam! Right out into the open. Instead of letting emotions fester, and becoming hurt and angry as they do. Go ahead. Try it. Blurt something out. I HIGHLY recommend it. Believe me, it’s so much better than getting stuck. Stagnated. I know because that’s how I lived during most of my marriage until its cataclysmic end three years ago. As I learned the hard way, sticking your head in the sand can mean only one thing: you’re going to get sand in your hair. And because you’ve got to rinse it out sooner or later, I say wash that man right out of your hair – and fast. (Oh, you’re just figuring that out now? Of course this is about a man. Isn’t it always?)
But, alas (sigh), because I’m only a wannabe Catholic, there’s no confessional booth waiting for me, nor an impartial ear that will bear witness to my sins during times of need. Only a dressing room at Bloomingdale’s and my Jewish mother reminding me with pointed finger that any regret I feel for hanging on so long was my own doing because I’m the one who chose to go “back in the fold” (some strange colloquialism that has to do with following the rest of the herd or, in this case, harem) over and over again with a guy who, after the first few months of dating, claimed he never misrepresented his intentions toward me (and, I can only presume, many others).
She was right.
Though conceivably it should’ve been, that understanding was still not enough, and one ordinary day I professed my former feelings in a text. So high school, I know. Here I paraphrase: I was in love with you and you never truly cared.
And guess what? After I hit send, I felt a sudden release like I had never before experienced. (Um, not that kind of release. Get your mind out of the gutter.) It was so much of a rush that I almost followed up my confessional text with another sharing my exuberance. I said almost.
You may be wondering, was I sorry afterward?
Buyer’s remorse is a feeling with which I’m intimately familiar. My American Express card can vouch for that, having seen more than its fair share of returns during my shopping heyday pre-divorce. But as I re-read my confession seconds, hours, and even days later I had no regrets. I still don’t. Nope. Not a one.
What he said, or didn’t say, in response is of no consequence. I was finally done, once and for all. Set free by my own big mouth accord, the only way I could ever have been set free, my only sin having waited so long.
Love is a gift. Who we love – who we give that love to – says more about us than it does the other person. That said, I don’t think we can ever choose who we love. When we fall in love – and that love is reciprocated – it’s pure magic.
This was not.
What I do believe is that we can choose whether we continue to love. When we love someone who doesn’t love us in return, at least not in the way that we want or deserve, who doesn’t treat us well, and who doesn’t make us feel good, we cannot love with all our heart. And so we don’t actually love at all, only pine.
Which means all along we haven’t been open to meeting The One we are meant to love, The One who will love us back wholeheartedly. Perhaps it’s because we weren’t yet ready. Perhaps it’s because the timing wasn’t quite right. Perhaps it’s because we simply hadn’t met him yet. I’m not entirely sure.
But what I do know for certain is that it’s important to have faith. Not only in him (whoever him may be) but also in ourselves. Because, you and me? We are worthy of love, and so much more.
Forgive me, Mother, for I have sinned. I hankered for a man who didn’t want me and I behaved like a schmuck. I’m sure as a mother that was painful to watch.
I hope you can forgive me because I’ve forgiven myself. And finally moved on.
Will you know when you’ve found The One?