Dear Catholic Upbringing,
Thank you so much for your interest in my morals and values, as well as your commitment to my fast-growing inferiority complex and panic-inducing sense of shame.
Unfortunately, at this time, I cannot accept you. And by that I mean, I’m going to try my hardest to forget you.
Not to be like, super rude, but you probably should have seen this coming. Sure, sure, you had me as a young kid. I went to Mass. I made art proclaiming my love for Mary. I said the rosary a couple times on my own. I loved Easter and Christmas—but dude, that’s only because there were candy and gifts involved. It’s kind of a cheap trick, if you think about it. I mean, you must know that you suck. Otherwise you wouldn’t be bribing children with candy, like some crazed clown or something…
Moving on. You tried your darndest at my Catholic high school, but even then, I started to question the daily cannibalism that is Communion. That always seemed a little off. I knew better than to eat Jesus’s flesh at Mass. I knew that would just flatter you. So I always sat out, much to my teachers’ dismay. And again, not to be like, just terribly offensive, but after that big conference on abstinence you sent me to, I totally went home and did the complete opposite with my boyfriend. And we didn’t even clock 300 hours of hand-holding before kissing, like you made us promise we would. Sorry.
God, I can’t even insult you without apologizing. Can’t you see you’ve done enough damage?
But it’s not just about the sex. I mean, it’s a lot about the sex. For instance: you sent me a very harsh woman from Ireland to be my sex-ed teacher. Her catchphrase was, “Sex is great, but you can’t have it.” Say that out loud with an Irish accent. It’s awful. You did that to me. She also said that masturbation was bad for you and tbh that was super confusing, because I had already found my sister’s Cosmopolitan magazines and they said the complete opposite.
And then, anytime I won an award, you made me say, “Honor and Glory to God Alone.” Ummm actually I won all those awards by myself. Because I’m smart. God didn’t help me with that. Like, when I was studying, he wasn’t highlighting shit or holding up my flashcards. When I was taking my exams, he wasn’t writing the answers with lightning in the sky. I worked hard so I could get into college and move far away from you. “Honor and Glory to God Alone.” My ass.
But let’s be real. Do you remember when Sister T called my sister and I bastards when our parents divorced? Literal bastards. I remember it well. I was 13. And that feeling of illegitimacy haunts me. Like, I just don’t think Jesus would call a kid a bastard. Get your story straight. I talk about you in therapy, by the way. And it’s not nice.
You, Catholic Upbringing, you are just really confusing. So, as I said, I’m going to officially “pass.”
Peace be with you,
Your hymns suck.
Bridget Lillethorup lives near some train tracks in flyover country. She is a graduate student and teaching assistant in the English department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her work can be found in The Rupture and Atticus Review. She is a blog editor at Literary Mama.