I almost became a nun once.
The people who know me well just spit their coffees all over their computers.
I was in my mid-twenties, and was struggling. I was a college drop-out. I was a portrait artist (try making a living doing that). I went back to school for a bit to study graphic design, but was so unmotivated that I dropped out of my courses. I was dating really "inappropriate" guys, for lack of a better word. I felt so unconnected to the rest of the world. My job at an extremely sexist, almost all-male ad agency stank. My good friends knew I was in trouble emotionally, but couldn't figure out how to reach me.
I knew one of my mother's friend's daughters had become a nun, so I finally asked my mother if she could find out how I could talk to someone in the convent about joining. My mother was a very religious Catholic, so that wasn't such an odd request to her. She contacted the friend, and I got a phone number, called, and made a date to go to the convent to see about joining. Anything had to be better than the way my life was going. Don't even ask me what I thought I was going to do about sex, or lack thereof.
About a week before my interview date, I was wandering around my apartment and remembered the name of a psychiatrist I had seen for a few visits when I was in my early twenties. I called him, and he remembered me. I asked if I could have an appointment to see him, and he set one up for a couple of days later.
I had forgotten how unusual-looking he was. He was very short, and had trouble walking correctly, due to some childhood illness. He kind of waddled from side-to-side -- looking like a cross between Freud and Toulouse-Lautrec. He was very somber -- that was his style. We sat across his desk from each other, and I poured out my problems. When I got through talking, he said "Well, you're not crazy. You do obviously have problems dealing with various situations that arise in day-to-day living. I can help you with that."
With those words of hope in my head, I began my lifelong quest for "normalcy". I've seen a few different mental health professionals since then. My dear first shrink, who I credit with having given me a life, has since died. I've married a man who is a tremendous support to me. His children, now my children, have also contributed immeasurably to my happiness.
I hope I make them happy, too. Having watched my parents careen through life like two billiard balls, banging into each other and other people without much thought about what they were doing, I want to do things differently.
I want to be a support to the people I love. I want to be a good wife, stepmother, mother-in-law, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend. I want the people I love to love me back, and to feel as though they can come to me for anything.
So anyway, I never kept that appointment with the convent. It was thirty years ago, and I look back with a sigh of relief, and with gratitude to the man who opened the door of hope for me.