I had buried my parents and a brother by my mid-forties, ending a lifetime dread of going broke supporting them in nursing homes. Grief took dread’s place and I slowly learned to appreciate freedom from my family’s problems.
All of my therapists and most of my friends had told me to break with my family. My brother was paranoid schizophrenic, and my parents drank and took problems out on me. I persisted in thinking my love could save them. The off-and-on years of therapy, of hours talking to whomever would listen about the ongoing cruelties in my family—well, we never could have known that by the time I was 45, such conversation would be moot.
I’ve lived much of my life backwards. I started taking care of my alcoholic, often ill parents before first grade, and continued until middle age, rather than beginning then as so many of my friends have done.
My first paid job was in elementary school as a babysitter, followed by jobs and careers including berry picker, housewife, musician, antiques dealer, software engineer, writer, and website manager. Along the way, I took college and university courses and gained a few certificates, but I considered engaging in a full degree a waste of time. I chose to curate my education.
Today, while some of my fellow baby boomers that lived conventional lives are retiring, I’m unemployed, having recently pursued a theology degree, of all things. My next round of careers is uncertain.
I reside in Las Vegas, whose Strip I despised in years past as a tourist and conference attendee. I referred to it as Hell. It was the last place I ever thought to live, for I’m not a “Sin City” girl. Yet, after living around the US the last five years, after 30-some moves, and countless motels, my little place in the Paradise neighborhood is easy for now.
I’ve owned homes, traveled overseas, sort of been around the block in an eclectic way, and now pushing 60, I adore a non-materialistic, quiet way of life. This is as much spiritual progress as common sense.
I’ve ended my spiritual practices (more on that later), though I still talk to God around the place. “God” isn’t what I once envisioned and talk is from a lifetime of habit. Too much of my former dialogue with the Almighty was born in desperation from my abusive childhood and fundamentalist hellfire church involvement.
Seven years ago, after decades outside the hellfire church, I discovered the welcoming Episcopal Church and loved it. I jumped in with both feet to the choir, office work, High and Low Mass. I relished my first Lent. I soon had a burning bush moment, when my Arizona diocese’s head of Commission on Ministry recommended I aspire to the Priesthood. Oh boy—what happened in the following few years was really the end of God as I knew her.
Continued in A Pilgrim’s Journey, Part 2: People are the Thing