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Hi!

Im not sure why there would be, but I’m wondering if there are any former nuns on this page.

I entered the convent when I was 21 (after wanting it since I was 6 and formally discerning for over 3 years) and needed to leave after 3 months. I unfortunately went through some pretty bad emotional abuse and that, combined with depression, forced me to leave. (I’m not trying to bash religious life in any way.) I went into a great denial after I left and thought I was going to go back right away. 

Its been 10 years since I left and I still have dreams about it- some where it’s full of anxiety and some where I’m desperately trying to go back because I miss it so much. I had one of those last night and I woke up literally thinking I was going back until I fully woke up. 

Im wondering if anyone who has left has experienced this and how to let go? It’s like my soul isn’t fully over it and still misses it and I don’t know how to heal that. 

Any advice is appreciated! 

Thank you ! 

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While I fully recognize this is a forum for discerners, I too think it's important to recognize that not all "matches" between individuals and communities are "made in heaven."  IMO, the most importan

I left a cloistered contemplative heavy-on-the-silence order just before I reached solemn vows. It was a process of growing shock for me over the last 2 or so years there as I came to really know in m

I am in a very similar situation as the original poster and many others who have replied. I felt a call to the religious life since I was a teen, discerned, and entered a convent when I was 25. They t

Hello Kim,

you may well find a few of us here. I left as a Postulant myself, not due to any abuse, but because I realized that this community is not my vocation.

When you think about "going back", do you want to go back to the specific community where you were, or back to religious life in general? From the few words you write about it, it is not clear to me whether you happened to enter a seriously dysfunctional community - or whether "normal" community life (plus depression) turned out to be too overwhelming for you. If it's the former, you could look at a few other communities and see if one of them is "yours". If the latter, you could possibly start with thinking about what it is you want to go back to? What's missing in your life now? And is there a way in which you could have this?

Do you know https://leonieslonging.org/? You may find some useful resources there.

 

 

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On 2/8/2020 at 10:40 PM, Kim said:

Hi!

Im not sure why there would be, but I’m wondering if there are any former nuns on this page.

I entered the convent when I was 21 (after wanting it since I was 6 and formally discerning for over 3 years) and needed to leave after 3 months. I unfortunately went through some pretty bad emotional abuse and that, combined with depression, forced me to leave. (I’m not trying to bash religious life in any way.) I went into a great denial after I left and thought I was going to go back right away. 

Its been 10 years since I left and I still have dreams about it- some where it’s full of anxiety and some where I’m desperately trying to go back because I miss it so much. I had one of those last night and I woke up literally thinking I was going back until I fully woke up. 

Im wondering if anyone who has left has experienced this and how to let go? It’s like my soul isn’t fully over it and still misses it and I don’t know how to heal that. 

Any advice is appreciated! 

Thank you ! 

I left after 2 yrs and it's been 12 yrs for me. It wasn't my choice to go. I'm happily married now, I still have the dreams some nightmares related to the convent. I think, like the death of a spouse, the loss of the life you thought you were meant to live, the family you thought you were meant to belong to, is not something you move on from, but it becomes easier to live with and accept. 

One question is, have you closed that chapter completely. If you are still discerning religious life, your previous experience will loom large in your psyche. 

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On 2/9/2020 at 9:14 AM, Dymphna said:

Hello Kim,

you may well find a few of us here. I left as a Postulant myself, not due to any abuse, but because I realized that this community is not my vocation.

When you think about "going back", do you want to go back to the specific community where you were, or back to religious life in general? From the few words you write about it, it is not clear to me whether you happened to enter a seriously dysfunctional community - or whether "normal" community life (plus depression) turned out to be too overwhelming for you. If it's the former, you could look at a few other communities and see if one of them is "yours". If the latter, you could possibly start with thinking about what it is you want to go back to? What's missing in your life now? And is there a way in which you could have this?

Do you know https://leonieslonging.org/? You may find some useful resources there.

 

 

It’s dreams of going back to the specific community. As if I’m blocking out any bad that happened and just missing the good stuff/people. And it’s not like I want to give up the life I have now (teaching kindergarten and running a non profit animal rescue) but I can’t seem to let go of what I wanted for so long. It hurts that it blew up in my face so quickly and I didn’t even get time to really fall in love with it.

I would hate to think that the whole community is dysfunctional, although I know that can happen. I’m hoping I just got put with a dysfunctional directress that didn’t know to properly deal with things. 
 

Overall, I’m thinking this is just me not being able to let go of things not working out and being haunted by that. 

8 hours ago, Lilllabettt said:

I left after 2 yrs and it's been 12 yrs for me. It wasn't my choice to go. I'm happily married now, I still have the dreams some nightmares related to the convent. I think, like the death of a spouse, the loss of the life you thought you were meant to live, the family you thought you were meant to belong to, is not something you move on from, but it becomes easier to live with and accept. 

One question is, have you closed that chapter completely. If you are still discerning religious life, your previous experience will loom large in your psyche. 

I am not discerning anymore. I do my best to not think of it, but I will have flashbacks during the day at times and then nightmares at night. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD from two different therapists. I will admit that I am a very sensitive person, so maybe it’s partially my fault for not being strong enough, but it’s hard to hear you are a horrible person everyday when you are trying so hard to do everything right. 

6 hours ago, BarbaraTherese said:

Welcome to Phatmass, Kim. :)

Have you heard of this website: https://leonieslonging.org/

I entered twice.  Once before and once after Vatican II.  Both were very short journeys and after the entrance post VII, I realised I was not called to religious life.

Yes, I looked it up when Dymphna suggested it and emailed them! I know they offer to find counseling, but I would love to to do a group therapy concerning this. It’s helpful to know I’m not the only one that has nightmares. 

5 hours ago, Glinda1 said:

Yes, I was in a community for about five years, left nine years ago. I still have very vivid dreams/nightmares related to the convent.

I understand completely. They are so hard and leave you so defeated the next day. Have you found anything to help you? 

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Well, I still have very vivid dreams about my career as a midwife, sometimes going back to my first years after graduation, right up to my last employment [which ended in retirement 5 years ago].  I think that's natural; the experiences of something so dramatic, and so self-identifying, mark one permanently.  Occasionally someone refers to me as a "former midwife" and I always think, Heck, I'm still holder of the CNM qualification!  I'm still a midwife, just not presently practicing!  If you enter a religious order, I think a part of you always remains in "religious life", even if you completely return to a secular lifestyle.

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I had my own try at religious life. I began in a cloistered community, then was moved to one of their sister monasteries because I had severe allergies and asthma in that environment.  I ended up leaving the cloister, then tried an active order.  While I was in the active order, all I did was yearn for the cloister. But it was not meant to be. I never moved past the postulant stage.

It was a hard adjustment to say the least.

Today, I have a daughter that is a very happy novice and at least one more that looks like she will enter religious life.  For giving up the one vocation, it seems I have received at least two more.

I write about my experience and how, by God's grace, I was able to overcome the ongoing desire here:

https://leonieslonging.org/2018/10/24/coming-round-full-circle/

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AveMariaPurissima

I entered the convent at 18 and left nine months later. It's been around six and a half years since I left. I don't recall having had any dreams/nightmares about it per se, but I can definitely relate with how hard it is to let go of those experiences. From time to time I go on these "nostalgia binges" where I scour social media to find anything and everything related to my former community. So many things about my experience there truly were beautiful and lovely, but there were also numerous dysfunctional aspects which have taken much time and grace to heal from. It's a strange combination of missing the community, the monastery, the Sisters, religious life in general -- but also being glad and grateful that I'm not in that community anymore. 

I'm part of a Facebook group for women who have left religious life. If you're interested in joining, feel free to PM me. :heart:

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I still live a consecrated life, though as a solitary (though I'm not enclosed.) I previously belonged to a Franciscan religious community. Leaving was not my choice - I was not what they wanted. I'll add that, years later, I did look into entering another congregation, but it wasn't until I 'lived in' with them for a little while that I realised I did not want to be in community life again. My original community had so much of a common schedule (no privacy, no time for one's self, anti-intellectual) that it was stifling, and I found that, though the other community I visited were nowhere near as strict, they, too, had too much common life for me to take - the more since, with reduced numbers, they had too many apostolates for each individual. A Sister who was 70 well might be teaching all day, then working with youth groups at night, then involved in more on the weekend.

It is horribly painful to be rejected from a congregation. Nor can one find much understanding - either it's a glib 'it wasn't God's will', or people think one is relieved, or others think one came to one's senses. In my case, I had entered when I already had an MA in music. I was sent to another house, under the impression that they needed a music teacher - which was a lie. (I was treated terribly - I suppose those in the other house had to prove I was terrible.) I had nightmares for years of the letter I received soon afterwards, "Easter is coming. New dawn, new resurrection. You will be going home, and can rejoice in knowing God's will for you." Since my spirituality is centred on the Incarnation and our deification, the resurrection is central in my thought - yet it was years before I could hear the world 'resurrection' without cringing.

It does not matter that, with hindsight, I knew that it would have ruined me had I stayed with them. There still was that tearing pain. In my case, it wasn't only nightmares about how I was treated at the end. I sometimes dreamt of the 'sunny side' of religious life, and thought that I was back in the community. Religious communities become like one's family (and we probably don't agree with - or even like - some of our family members.) It seems unthinkable that a family would cast one out - not a farthing, no preparation, and so forth. Fortunately, my parents were alive, so I had someplace to go, but even they drove me mad - 'there must be something you're not telling us' How would they dismiss you, with how they need people today?" (In later years, it was 'they don't even throw out paedophiles!') To have my family and friends thinking I must have done something terrible to be rejected only made it far worse.

If you still feel a calling to religious life, do look into the possibility of pursuing it again. (This despite nonsense about not 'shopping around,' or how 'God would have led you to it by now.') The foundress of the congregation where I once was had been dismissed from her own community at one point.

 

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Jumping in here because I haven't seen anyone post this yet: if you are experiencing stress and anxiety that is interfering with your mental and physical health, please consider seeing a therapist! There's no shame in seeking help and having a safe space to discuss your feelings and experiences, especially if abuse was involved. 

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21 hours ago, katherineH said:

Jumping in here because I haven't seen anyone post this yet: if you are experiencing stress and anxiety that is interfering with your mental and physical health, please consider seeing a therapist! There's no shame in seeking help and having a safe space to discuss your feelings and experiences, especially if abuse was involved. 

Oh, I’ve been to several therapists. They help for awhile and then I need to move on. I’m just at a point now where I don’t have the money to go to therapy. Teaching doesn’t pay much! 

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@Kim, Teaching should provide you with health insurance, which should include counseling in what is covered. And if you are a unionized teacher, that should also be a source of support. If your 3 months in religious life is still troubling you to this extent so long afterward, I have to say I agree that counseling is likely an important support to your healing. 

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1 hour ago, Nunsuch said:

@Kim, Teaching should provide you with health insurance, which should include counseling in what is covered. And if you are a unionized teacher, that should also be a source of support. If your 3 months in religious life is still troubling you to this extent so long afterward, I have to say I agree that counseling is likely an important support to your healing. 

I teach in a very small private school and we aren’t given health insurance. I do have it from the government, but finding a new therapist is a long and daunting process. I’ve done it before. I am working on that, but it takes time to find a good one unfortunately. 

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