Losing my religion

“I grew up in rural Ireland in a Catholic family. I was a deeply religious child who prayed daily and loved to read about saints, especially female saints. I dreamed about being a saint myself when I grew up; preferably one who was martyred for her beliefs. Frustrations with the Church’s rules arose in my teenage years, I didn’t question my faith, but the seeds of doubt were sown. In 1970, I married my first love and was disturbed to learn that he was an atheist. I prayed for him every Sunday at Mass. The world of non-belief seemed quite scary to me, but as time went by, I became more loosely connected to my religion and one Sunday, I impulsively decided to not go to mass for the first time in my life. Later, I was worried that God would punish me, but nothing actually happened. There was no thunderbolt from the heavens. After that, I never set foot in a Dublin church again. I would say it took a good decade to rid myself of the baggage and the residues of catholic guilt still remain and flare up from time to time. I became a mother in 1974 and at 10 months old discovered that my son was profoundly deaf and on the spectrum. In 1976, two years later, my marriage ended, and I moved to London with my son. This should’ve dawned on me as the thunderbolt I was waiting for, but I found myself in an environment where nobody was interested in religion. Nobody carried the baggage of a guilt-laden Catholic upbringing. It seemed like freedom to me. Thoughts of divine retribution for my non-belief creep into my mind from time to time but I have learnt that guilt is a monster which is slow to expel.”

This series was highlighted by the South Dublin Libraries supporting marginalized people living in the South Dublin Council area.