A Public Apology

Sunday, March 18, 2018

If you're a Sister I ever lived or worked with or got close to, a former co-worker in a state far away, maybe a Sister or priest from another community who knew me through mutual friends or by sitting in the same pew at church, this blog entry is for you.
If you're not any of those people, well, feel free to read anyway and please learn from me.

Someone recently asked me "If you could go back in time to right before you left and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?"

I had never thought about that question before, really. But, to my surprise, the answer easily slipped off my tongue - "I would tell myself to share with more people that I was struggling, to share with more people that I was leaving."

I had been with the community for five years, both in initial formation and as a Sister. I had thought about leaving various times during those years but shared that struggle with less than a handful of people. The truth was, although I had seen some Sisters come and go in the community, I felt ashamed for even thinking about leaving. So, I kept it a secret.

When I finally decided to leave, I was at peace with my decision, but telling all those Sisters I had grown close to - I had lived in five different houses, lived or worked with over 30 different Sisters, and had grown to love even more - was daunting., I didn't.
Besides my local community and the Council, I called maybe two or three and talked face-to-face with about that same number.

And then I just stopped...even though so many more people were on the list.
Maybe you never received that call. Maybe you never got that face-to-face conversation. But your name was probably on my list.
The list I abandoned because I let fear win.

It wasn't that the Sisters I told reacted with anger or distress. In fact, almost all of them reacted with love and compassion, despite the sadness they felt. It was that, even though I knew I was making the right decision and I felt peace in that, I was ashamed that I was letting you and all those Sisters - my family - down.

So, instead of trusting in God, instead of trusting in you, Sister that I loved and loved me, I gave into shame.

You, Sister I loved, found out I was leaving not through me, but through a letter sent out the day I left. Because I now live in my small corner of San Antonio, because I no longer work with and next door to the Sisters, because my visits home are often quick, I probably haven't seen you since.

I had to grieve when I left the Daughters. But the biggest difference is that I knew the grief was coming. I knew this decision was made; I knew I was moving out on October 1st, 2016 and had started to make preparations beforehand.
Unless you were one of the lucky ones that got that phone call before I gave up on my list, it hit you like an unexpected death on October 1st, 2016.

Maybe you gasped when you saw the letter but were able to shrug it off in a few days, thinking "Well, that's how it goes. That's discernment for you."
Maybe you looked in shock, a million scenarios running through your head, wondering what happened.
Maybe you aren't a Daughter of Charity at all and found out through my Facebook update.

Maybe you wrote or called right after I left and I didn't answer. That time, it was grief I let win. In the beginning, if I received emails or letters from Daughters or others, I left them unopened because I just couldn't bear to see what was inside, much less your name. I thought I didn't have the strength.
Maybe you didn't write, you didn't call because you didn't know what to say.
Maybe now, a year and a half later, you still don't know what you would say.

And maybe I left you with a broken heart.

I'm not so egotistical that I believe you must be crying over me still, thinking about me every minute. Maybe you don't even think about me anymore. Life has moved on. So much has happened since that October day - maybe you've moved, maybe you've changed ministries, maybe you've had some big life events that I've missed.

Nevertheless, I do know I hurt people. I hurt people I love, probably including you.

And for that, I'm sorry. Words cannot express how sorry I am for the pain I've caused. It's heartbreaking for me to know that I've hurt you, but I know it was even more hurtful for you to read that letter or that Facebook status and to feel tossed aside and unimportant when you thought you were such an important part of my life (and no, you didn't imagine that, you were an important part).

I don't regret leaving the Sisters, but I do regret hurting you. More than anything in the world, I regret hurting you.

Despite not seeing or hearing from you for so long, you still are such an important part of my life. The memories we've created together, the conversations we've had, have shaped who I am, even as a laywoman. They have shaped my faith; they have shaped my work with the poor, and they will shape my future.

I wish I could find every single one of you, people that I loved - Sisters or otherwise - and apologize to you face-to-face but you're spread out all over the country. So, until I get the chance, this will have to do. It's only a beginning, but I hope it means something.


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