I am “mourning the loss” of my vocation. In August 2015, when I went on a weekend retreat with the Carmelite sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, I was told that I would not be accepted to their order, and that I have a “gift” for working with families and “helping them heal”. I was also told that I should consider a vocation to matrimony because “you’re full of life”. Which of course my sarcasm picked up on, later. I felt completely called to their order, made peace with the little things I disliked. I was in; so I thought.
Once I was denied entrance I did not have the chance to process the loss or to even consider what would be next for me. I had the financial concerns of not high enough income to meet my basic needs, leading to several job interviews, low-balled salary offers, and my employer giving me a raise 6 months after the fact. In short, financially, I had been living 10% below COLA. Which doesn’t sound like much until I compared my $47k (pre-tax) salary with my $51, 172 annual costs. These costs were not based off of going out every week, clubbing, none of that: oil changes, rent, LADWP, car insurance and loan, student loans, and health bills all added up to more that I could earn in a single year.
Last year’s ordeal ended with a raise just before the holidays, but not before I had learned to can jams and jellies for family and friends for Christmas – taking 10$ for food and $10 for supplies. My sister and her then-fiancé gifted my parents great things, I, jam. Beautiful Cran-raspberry jam. Anyone who returned the jars over time has gotten new jellies and jams: blueberry-Lemonade, watermelon, raspberry.
Fast forward to December 2016, I have my license, making me an LCSW. I hope to move at the end of my lease to a different area and cleaner, more spacious apartment. I will begin looking for new work. As usual, I’m making quilts and playing with my 2 hamsters in the evenings. This fall I made apple-pomegranate jam. I enjoy it for giving treats, but not as a solitary Christmas gift which I was forced into last year.
Have a blessed Advent.
In the past few months, once the last possible application date came and went in January, I’ve become more lonely. Not in the “I want a boyfriend” department, but in the “there’s no one I can turn towards”. Except Christ.
Through the years of discernment I had always heard of people discerning “singlehood”. Prior to moving out of my parents home, I thought I understood that. Living on my own, not accepted by any religious order and not having discerned marriage, I can say that’s not really appropriate. Friendships and weekend activities cannot begin to replace the graces and assistance available through community.
Singlehood is not a vocation, it is a state in life. Like being a parent, it can be part of the vocation of marriage, but it’s not the stopping point.
Very little consoles me in this time of knowing I’m without a community. Personally, community is important because I do not have family support. There is a lot of pressure to enter into marriage by my family, especially now that my sister is engaged. Most of my friends are married and of those, many with children. Others are in religious life.
I don’t fit in.
I try not to cry about it.
The Eucharist is the only time when I’m not upset or unsettled. Only He helps.
For Christine, a friend, who is seeking entrance to the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Los Angeles.
Visit the link below for her whole story, if you cannot financially assist her, PRAY.
Since September as you all know, life has taken a very interesting turn for me. In that time I have had to reorient myself to an entirely different way of thinking. I have had to go from the idea I be in a convent by now and wearing a religious habit and waking up at 5 a.m. everyday and praying for 2-3 hours before going to work.
To having to consider that this is the rest of my life: I make breakfast for myself, I go to work; I’m lucky if I can make it to daily Mass. I come home and I’m alone and maybe I get around to offering a Rosary, maybe I find time to destress enough to read my Bible or just some spiritual reading. In the middle of all this I’m supposed to be interviewing and studying for my licensing exam.
In doing interviews I have found the greatest struggle is justifying why I have over 4,200 hours of supervised experience and why I have not taken my licensing exam. And I went on an interview 2 weeks ago at an agency that I really like the idea of working for. It is a partial clinic and partial field time and it sounds awesome and fantastic. It would pay me what I am worth as a person and it is very intriguing work to me in that I continue in what I’m doing but it also has the appropriate levels of challenge. I get to retain my knowledge of social resources within SPA 8, too. And then I did myself a disservice in the middle of the interview.
I said I was a lazy person for not having completed my hours.
No! I have to clarify this in some way that is professional appropriate and I think I’ve lost my opportunity for a really good job. And its really sad and scary. That we live in a society where I can not be honest about who I am and I want to set that straight here on the internet for all to see.
I have 4,200 hours of experience because I was trying to enter the convent and become debt-free. That takes diligence and sacrifice; it’s not a mark of laziness.
Propriety states we do not discuss religion race politics or sexuality in an interview. So how do we do this? How do I sit there in my next interview and say I wish I could say I was lazy and that’s why I have so much experience and not a license to show for it? Rather than finding a way to say “Hey, I’m not even just a spiritual person. I’m a true believer. I’m such a true believer, I was going to lay down my life for Christ in a convent and take vows of chasity, poverty and obedience; and I have been pursuing this dream since I was 16 and I’m now 31.” And somehow how does this not become a burn against me; how does it not become a mark, a scar? Am I such a fool?
Get used to the elevator music.
I’ve been studying for my LCSW exam. I want to take the law and ethics portion as soon as it’s available in January 2016, then the clinical portion sometime in the spring. I put off getting the license because I thought I’d be in the convent by now. One of the ways I’m motivating myself too study is by only sewing on the weekends if I’ve converted and can explain a new study area/chapter. Initially there was a decrease in all frivolous ventures which led to unrelenting anxiety. Therefore no moratoriums on leisure.
Teaching myself embroidery has led to this:
Secondly, I’m job hunting. I’m interested in places that are partially clinic based, and less field time (so damn tired of driving everywhere). I still want to work among the low SES population, and continue developing my bilingual skills (I’m frustrated by it, yet have some ego employed in the venture). A diversity of cases should be available in the position, which has led to applications filed with the VA, substance abuse, eating disorders, &c. Since there’s no convent in my near future, I need a career, not a passing job position, which is the state I’m currently in. I asked for a raise in October and was told “We’ll see.” This is corporate-ese for “No.” My supervisor is a aware of my hunting, having been listed as a reference. This is about being able to have savings, put food on the table AND live comfortably. To be able not only to take time off from work, but afford going somewhere! I haven’t been on a vacation in more than four years, and the vacations I’m referring to were camping trips.