To the worlds standards, I had become somewhat of a fanatical Catholic. My faith influenced what I wore, ate, drank, who I hung out with, what music I listened to, how I spent my free time and what I taught my children. More and more over the years I felt a chasm between my lifestyle and that of most other Americans. I am a convert to Catholicism and so the very extreme differences in how Catholics live is very obvious and divisive when it comes to gathering with my family. Even on my husbands side, his mom, dad, sisters and brother are Catholic, but none of them devoted themselves to living out the official teachings of the Church like us.
On one hand I was out of touch with most of society, and on the other, I felt like a flagging Catholic. It seemed I could never pray enough, love enough, sacrifice enough, be humble enough, be joyful enough and so to actually live in that peace which surpasses all understanding. Towards the end, my life of Catholicism felt like a war for reality. On one hand, I knew I was a wonderful person, imperfect yes, but doing well. On the other, I felt guilty and selfish and unholy.
Many people who are ardently Catholic will say that God loves us unconditionally and that we are just trying to purify ourselves from our sinfulness. And I do believe that is the teaching of the Church. But, there is the reality of the constant examinations of conscience, the penance, the prayers, the pondering on the holiness of Christ and our personal unworthiness.
For me, the dichotomy between these two extremes became overwhelming. It's like a perpetual cycle of pride and humiliation, each feeding into the negativity of the other.
*Update* The politics issue was just the last straw of many things, I did not make this choice because of politics. I see my comments below are confusing. It was just the final thing. I will try to give a better picture in a new post.
What finally spit me out of the loop was when my perspective on politics changed and I was standing in contrast against what most Christians and Catholics believe is the moral decision in this country when it comes to politics. I became a libertarian. For me, my conscience could be completely clear as a Catholic and promote libertarianism. I could see the evil in American Republican mainstream politics. I could see the deception and lies. But when I tried to bring these thoughts up with Catholics, often I would get a mind numbing look that what I was saying did not compute. And, what's more, they did not CARE to even consider it. They were happy in their world view and it fit. They were content to not consider it.
I saw Church leaders supportive of either major political party, but none supported a third party. This for me became a final straw that lead to my decision. How could I devote so much time and energy to trying to live for Christ the way that the Church teaches when it seems that they could not offer another option to the mainstream dilemma? For me, this was a very big deal because my husband is a Army Officer who has deployed twice to Iraq. I have seen first hand the suffering of military families. I have seen the insane waste of military budgets. As a Catholic, all life to me is precious, but most seem to be blinded by Abortion to not consider the overwhelming damage made by illegal war. I disagree with abortion and I disagree with murdering and destroying innocent lives through military might.