Anonymous – Transitional period upon Leaving the RC Consecrated Life
Suddenly faced with the world outside can be overwhelming; especially with no preparation and support. Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote a beautiful poem for a female friend ‘On Taking the Veil’. Here is material for ‘On Leaving the Veil, Female RC style’.
August is the worst month ever for me. Anyhow, I posted this yesterday on the discussion board, and I thought I would send it here as well since I know some of you don?t go there. I?ve been seeing that one part of my depression is transitional, and is probably a common experience for people leaving the Movement/Legion. Here are the posts; if you go to the discussion board you can also see Keith?s replies.
Anyways, I mention all of those details because they are things I had to worry about immediately after leaving RC. It just was not fair. For the past four years of my life in RC, I had not a concern in the world for the practical aspects in my life except the order in my closet and doing well in my classes, spiritual life, and the apostolate. All of a sudden, I was thrown back into the arms of my family, no money, only my parents to live with, desperately in need of therapy, ( an emotional mess) destitute of any spiritual guidance…need I go on? It happened to almost all of us. We were thrown back into lives we barely recognized as our own, they no longer belonged to us anymore, we had given away all our possessions as we never had any intention of coming back, and now we have to rebuild from whatever age we left off.
Let me try to organize this:
1. NO MONEY SAVED UP:
we had to get money. From the dirt: so much for
social security and retirement funds. We?ll be lucky if we can pay for today. I have heard of some people getting a little help, but they assume if your family can take care of you, they need not. But that is not fair because all the money I would have saved during high school and college is not available for me as I was doing God?s work at that time and now have no money saved up. It?s not impossible, but it?s hard. I?m not complaining; I?m just saying that it is a major challenge to catch up with the others in that area.
2. GETTING THE ESSENTIALS:
a car, a job, an apartment/house…It is emotionally draining to have to do all of that at once. It is stressful enough for people when they buy their first car. But most people don?t have to do that at the same time they are finishing school, trying to work to make up for the money they didn?t have a chance to save up…Since they have absolutely no idea how to obtain these essentials or where, they feel like lost chickens in the city.
Who is going to judge if they are making good decisions or being swindled? Nobody, and especially for those of you who left when you were older than I am, I assume this is a lot harder. How do you get a job? How do you get credit? Everyone assumes that we know this, when business classes were never part of RC formation!!!
3. RETURN TO THE OLD RELATIONSHIPS:
just when you thought you had left your family behind for good, and all their problems, God wants them to take care of themselves and not you, (you have a special mission within the LC/RC), you find that you have to go back. My parents are protective. I left home at 16. I returned home 4 years later, just as submissive and meek as ever, because RC did not encourage independence either. I have had to start again on that parental relationship, just as if I was 16 years old, not as the adult I am. The same issues we never dealt with at that age have to be dealt with now. This is exacerbated because of the problem of financial need.
4. RETURN TO THE OLD SELF:
I had to go back to me, as I was when I left home, and blend that identity with my 3gf identity and the person I wanted to be in the future. Before someone always told me who to be and I never had to think about that for myself. For the first time, it?s up to me who I am and what I do. It does bring a certain amount of fulfillment with it. Maybe there were parts of myself that I was glad to leave behind. Like my shyness. I think now I have accepted that as part of my personality, that I only want to have a few close friends which are (oh no!)
a particular friendship.
For me, this has probably been the most enjoyable portion of the process because I am a person fascinated by the workings of the psyche.
But I bet for other people, this area never gets worked out. In the LC/RC, we were taught to ignore our feelings
to swat them away like flies (direct quote of a consecrated) and that led us to be disconnected from our real selves, our desires, passions, dreams, and ideals. I believe that a lot of people leave and work hard at the other areas – money, the essentials, and their relationships, and forget the one they really are responsible for. I don?t think God is going to ask me if I worked out my money problems so much as if I followed my conscience and the spiritual path he had in mind for me .
My point in this long commentary is that a transitional depression after leaving the Movement is really natural and almost to be expected. Add that on to any symptoms one might still have from the actual experience itself, and you have an overwhelming mess of emotions and facts. All this is going on in one?s own head; with very little guidance as to what to do with it.
Rereading my post, I think it sounds angry. I wonder who I am angry at:
Or all of the above?
Do I chalk it up to fate?
Or am I angry that all of us have had to go through it, and not just me?
I think the anger comes from the knowledge that there is something wrong in this whole transition from consecrated to secular life, from LC to the world, and it could be handled better. For example, if they were not so secluded the cultural leap of returning would not be so big, and, er, Olympian.
I?m not saying they should change that. It is just food for thought, water under the bridge, fruit for the blender, fuel for the fire, rings on the phone, dead ends on the hair, a twist on the high beam, a color in
The Village, and a bronze medal where we should have had gold. I?m sorry that this should happen to people, and it would be nice if there was a way to avoid it, foresee it, because if there is anything RC members can do, it is to foresee and prevent
I think your observations are on the mark. As for your point (2), those are practical issues that can actually be addressed by Regain, or a similar organization. One xLC website run by the legion already attempts to address those issues, but it falls very short of really offering much benefit. It has a lot of very odd advice. xLCs often don’t even know what credit is… never mind how you build it, etc… How to apply to schools or jobs, etc… As for your point (1), it’s an excellent point that a lot of people discover when they leave, but short of the legion offering more (assuming they even give any now) financial assistance, there’s really nothing that can be done about that except for chalking it up to experience and moving on. In particular those who leave in their 40’s and 50’s suffer more from this than those who leave in their 20’s and 30’s.
As for (3) and (4), those are things that the individual has to work through, maybe even with the help of a therapist, if one is needed. As for the spiritual path, I think that a lot of xLCs take different paths. Some don’t really care for any spiritual path that may exist (i.e. they no longer have much faith, if any), others remain Catholic (conservative, moderate, or liberal in their beliefs), others may just see themselves as general Christians (without the organized aspect) or spiritual beings. For example, the closest I come to being
spiritual is my yoga time.
I think that one of the legion’s biggest problems is how it handles people who leave. They really don’t offer much in the way of transition. Also, the cutting off of one’s past can be difficult. For example, some of us grew up with people that we can no longer contact or maintain any relationship because they are inside and we are outside the legion.
You made some excellent observations. Perhaps something can be done to help people with the practical aspects you mention in (2). Talking about how much the legion is a cult may help keep others from entering the legion, but it really doesn’t much help those who have left and are in transition out of the legion. On the other hand, offering some practical tools (i.e. advice, sources of info, etc…) on how to transition will actually benefit them.
Lia, your last post was quite something to read. You sure are dealing with a lot of issues there and your self analysis seems right on the mark (at least for me, who was never an RC). The type of writing you created there would maybe be excellent to add somewhere on our website as an anonymous former RC. You have lots of insights and great introspection. Sounds like you?re on your way to independence and freedom from that former life.
I?m not sure which was worse, what I went through or what you went through when you left. While I horrifically lost my wife and had to go through the realization that she was even turning on me because of my refusal to buy into the Legion, at least I knew my feet were firmly planted on the ground.
I knew there was something terribly wrong when my wife was talking about her salvation being linked to involvement with the Legion: that extreme form of thought was so bizarre and, in some ways, she grew so self-righteous. I never could have imagined that happening.
I hope you are doing well on your road to reconnection with the real world and your new spirituality outside the Legion. I?m sure you will find that you can do just great without that organization and you are even trying to do justice by sharing your stories and insights to what happened to you. Let?s hope you can help others now avoid the Legion trap.
I decided to put my story on the web so others could see and know what can happen: To warn them; to tell a story. Maybe you can post at the website as well as it needs fresh material. It is http://www.unitypublishing.com, and you can email the fellow who runs the website, Rick Salbato. I?ve not analyzed all of the topics he writes about but his Legion section is impressive and I?m sure gets peoples? attention when they do web searches and stumble on his site looking for information. Think about it. Your post was awesome and could help others. In the meantime, may Jesus? peace be settling in to you during this time.
I noticed a ‘strange likeness’ to the first article in the Recovery and Healing section of the page: [and they say the RC is not a cult!]
What Are the Recovery Issues following a Cultic Experience?
1. Identity Crisis
– Who am I now?
– What do I believe? (Take your time with this one!)
– Integrate cultic experience into prior personality
– What are my interests? Talents? Relationships? Education? Hobbies? Even favorite color is a starting point
2. Feeling disconnected, sense of anomie
– People you left behind
– Loss of a cause
– Loss of
– Losses you had to give up in order to join group
– Loss of innocence
– Loss of career goals; finances; belongings
– Missing the
buzz; looking for it elsewhere
4. Boundary issues
– Rebuild healthy boundaries
– It?s okay not to divulge everything to everyone
– Learn how the group tore down your boundaries between you and other group members/leaders
– Learn how the group built up unhealthy boundaries between you and the outside world
5. Trust issues
– Test the waters, build up a relationship before you trust someone
6. Magical Thinking of cultic group
7. Varying symptoms of post-traumatic stress
– Panic attacks
– Sleep disorders
– Inability to make decisions
– Inability to concentrate
– Fears not grounded in reality -? fear the group was
8. Difficulty with relationships and authority figures
PATIENCE! PATIENCE! PATIENCE!