My daughter Felicity phoned me yesterday afternoon. We’ve been talking a lot since I started writing her story of being a teenager and young adult with an undiagnosed mental illness. I have revisited difficult times while writing about the past, exposing my failings and being honest about my feelings. I wanted to make sure my stories weren’t causing Felicity any pain.
“You do realise I’m writing about how I felt at the time,” I said. “I no longer feel the same way.”
“Of course I realise, Mum!” my eldest daughter replied.
“So you don’t mind if I keep writing?”
“No. It’s good to hear the story from your point of view.” Then she added, “But you can write about other things on your blog too. Your posts don’t all have to be about me!”
“But I do have to keep writing about you,” I interrupted. “So many people want to hear what happened next.”
And this is true. These posts have been very popular. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback, both publicly and privately. I am grateful for that reaction for Felicity’s sake. Maybe her story will help someone else.
“I haven’t even written about the main issue,” I said. “We haven’t yet discussed the diagnosis of mental illness.”
Somehow this story is taking a lot longer to write than I anticipated. This is because Felicity’s story isn’t only about undiagnosed mental illness. It’s also about the experience of being an enclosed nun.
My next post will conclude the convent story. I’ll be moving onto Life After the Convent. But before that happens, I’d just like to post a few links to some additional stories both Felicity and I have written about the experience of being a nun… just in case anyone is interested.
I wrote A Mother’s Heart on the day Felicity told me she wanted to join an enclosed order as a postulant. My words express the grief I felt as I anticipated Felicity’s departure. Rereading the story I am struck by how simple I thought the situation was: Felicity was going to do what she felt was God’s will. To be called to the religious life is a great blessing. Joy and peace would soon take the place of grief. The religious life through rose-coloured glasses, maybe. I attempted to contain the experience within an ordered story which now feels artificial and contrived.
In The Offering I once again described how I felt losing a daughter to the religious life. It also expresses my pride for a child who was willing to give up her whole life for God.
I ponder the possibility of giving another of my five daughters to the religious life in the story I Am So Very Weak.
I revisit some of the same issues in all these stories, retelling many of the details each time. Probably this was necessary to make each post stand alone as they weren’t part of a series.
I think everyone will enjoy the post: What Do Nuns Actually Do All Day? This is a picture story Felicity drew while she was in the convent. Her artwork is delightful.
In Human Contact Felicity talks about what it is like to live in a convent where physical contact is very minimal.
Felicity ponders what it means to be a Soldier of Christ in the final post.
I hope these posts are of interest to anyone wanting to know more about Felicity’s convent experience.
Now I guess it’s time to write Life After the Convent.
PS My apologises to anyone who has arrived at my blog hoping to read some stories about unschooling education. I hope you will browse my archives (there are a lot of unschooling posts hiding behind the label buttons!) until my blogging life gets back to normal… very soon, I hope.
Image: Felicity with Charlotte, Gemma-Rose and Sophie, when she was a postulant.