My parents had both called me expressing their concern and trying to be supportive, but I could hear the pain in their voices (both had called on different occasions) and I explained things to them and basically told them that I had to do what was right and comfortable for me, and that I was sorry.
After the fact, I had started thinking about how much I love them and how much I do want their approval, and if that I didn't want anything to get into the way of my love for them, so I sent them a pretty lengthy e-mail in which I told them that I would no longer be wearing feminine clothing out of love for them and because they really mean a lot to me and it seems like it's the right thing and that my problems with gender aren't an excuse to sin.
|Woman in prayer with a mantilla|
Walking outside and being in public uncovered was very difficult and I felt so awkward and could feel the disapproval of others (even at church) but I kept trying to tell myself that I love my parents and that this would make them happy and with all that they have to deal with, at least they can have peace knowing that I'm being more like God wants me to be. I figured it would take time to adjust and that I would be fine. I felt very impious and impure without the hijab, it had been my protection from strong lustful thoughts and to remind myself to submit to God and to be holy and not to be exposed to the world, but to practice humility and curving the desire to be seen (which covering my head full time has immensely helped with) and then yesterday it hit me and even today a little...
I went to church to pray a Rosary for priests and for the Bishop of my diocese and to offer prayers for an increase in vocations of holy, orthodox men and women to either the priesthood or consecrated life when entering the nave of the church, I felt this huge awkwardness... I didn't feel right, I didn't feel like I should be in there and I was trying to just repeat to myself "Christopher, you're obeying God and you're conforming to society; you're doing the right thing. Relax, relax!" but it just kept getting worse to when I tried to kneel down and pray and struggled slowly through a Pater (the Lord's Prayer) and an Ave (the Angelic Salutation to the Virgin) and just was burning with this feeling like something wasn't right and then it really got deep when someone else came into the church because we thought there would be Mass and upon hearing them, my natural impulse to cover made me throw my hand on my head and then I tried to as inconspicuously as possible get the heck outta there. Almost had a slight panic attack, but calmed down at which point I had talked to a friend of mine who offered some support and encouragement and posed the dreaded question of why I wasn't covered... And it was hard to give the answer, but I did tell her. She didn't agree with my reasoning and encouraged me to reconsider and I really felt even more guilty as I always do when people tell me how my piety has encouraged and helped theirs. I had a huge headache.
I haven't told my spiritual director yet, although he wouldn't mind either way, even though I've been trying to meet with him but he's so busy and I have like no one to really turn to, so yet again, I feel like I'm struggling alone. But it's not true, I know a lot of people are praying for me even if they don't know what I'm going through.
I'm upset that everything that the veil and hijab have done for me seems to have gone to naught. I was trying so hard to be pious in front of the Blessed Sacrament in church that day when I was about to pray the Rosary, but it was like I couldn't grasp the reality anymore of this central Mystery of the Catholic Faith. I wanted to be humble and I just didn't feel like I could be, it turned into fear and like I was not showing honor and devotion to God that is due Him, maybe I'm just very sensitive right now because of these changes I'm going through.
As for the hijab, I feel like purity is no longer guarded and that I'm just all out there for the world to see even though my 'guy' clothes, like my girl clothes, are very covering. I haven't worn shorts in about 8 years and I usually do not wear short sleeves (especially not to church), and I was covered, but I still felt the struggle like I was grasping for purity and then all these thoughts of lust started to come over me again and I went into despair and again I felt isolated from the Sacraments and am having a hard time forcing myself to go to Confession tomorrow.
Another thing I've noticed is now I have a desire to wear shorts and short sleeves out in public in hopes that it will make me seem more attractive to others instead of it just being a thought in the back of my mind. I feel so vain lately and again want to be seen and am struggling to humble myself in church as well as outside of church.
I want so badly just to cover again, but my parents, I can't let them down and I feel like in terms of the Holy Scripture I'm doing the right thing but why am I not getting Actual Grace from it and I hate that I'm going back to how I was before I started covering and am afraid there's going to be a long stretch of me not going to the Sacraments and wallowing in despair or indifference. I don't want that, but I don't know what to do right now. I know my decision has upset a lot of people and probably will upset more people and especially after meeting my Bishop again the other day and after the Pontifical Mass, having that lady come up to me and tell me how beautiful the mantilla was (although that has nothing to do with it), and that she felt called to cover and that she'd been praying on it and that she's hoping to find the strength to do so and thanked me and I told her I would pray and shared my experiences with her about how it deepened my spiritual life so much. I don't know what to say to these priests who see me reguarly, I just don't know.
As for non religious things, I've been getting some very weird and awkward looks from people now and my one teacher was acting funny towards to me and some of the kids in my calc class were a little rude to me after I had removed the veil (although these were guys that you would think would have been glad because they're the jock/preppy cool rich kid types...) and also a couple people didn't really recognize me and made it awkward in public when they asked why I wasn't covered anymore and I just felt put on the spot and in a little malice, I'm so tempted to just e-mail my parents and be like "thanks..." but I won't because I know Mommy has great intentions and Pop doesn't really care either way, he just said he kinda feels embarrassed about it, but it's my choice, I am grown, and that they both love me so much and I love them, but I'm trying to tell myself if God went through ridicule for doing the right thing, then who am I to think I should not? I don't really know what to tell people and it's just embarrassing with them asking me and looking at me weird, I don't know, but I'm not going to Stations of the Cross this evening because I just can't be in church right now, but I'm still planning on going to Sunday Mass, maybe I'll sit in the cry room or the nave, I don't know exactly how I'm going to tackle this, but I'll figure something out. I'm definitely not going to receive Holy Communion until I talk to my priest or to my spiritual director. Please pray for me everyone.
lastly, I do want to mention that these are personal experiences that I have had with covering and I am not implying in any way that any woman who does not cover either in church or otherwise is being impious or impure. The mantilla and hijab were ways for ME to help overcome sinful passions and to bring me closer to God, a devotion just like everyone has his or her own way of showing piety and devotion. The Church does NOT obligate women to cover and a woman CAN be a great Catholic and holy woman without. Some feel called to covering and others do not. I've read a lot of commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians and although some see it as a universal law of church and social conduct in prayer, the Church does not say this anymore (although it very well used to be a requirement).
This is just overwhelming, I'm having all these seconds thoughts, I was so confident at first, but then it hit when I went to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Satan works in some weird ways.
Please pray and any feedback is appreciated (even though I know a lot of you don't usually comment, but I could use some advice/discussion).