The title for this post might not be the kind of title you would expect on a blog about surviving Narcissistic Personality Disorder abuse. But that is precisely what I have realized this past weekend.
My daughter and I went to a different parish for Mass this past Sunday, Sunday of Pentecost. The parish we usually go to is undergoing renovations and they are now celebrating Mass in the gymnasium. For my daughter, that was probably the best Mass celebration she ever attended. She discovered the end line of the basketball court and decided to sprint back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth. She loved the sound her snickers were making on the floor. At one point, she decided to go check out the pastor up, close, and personal. That was it. I had to leave.
I found this other parish and we headed to that one this past Sunday. For some reason, my daughter always starts to complain as soon as I get her off the car. But this time, she was all smiles and giggling. I’m not sure what she liked about that new, unfamiliar place. But I was not going to ponder that for long. I started to tickle her, trying to keep the momentum going.
We were slightly late. The Mass had just started. Once inside, I asked an usher if there was a crying room. He smiled at me, pointed at the area where we were standing and he said that we were right in it. I figured I would have to go with the flow. Somehow, this nice gentleman might have figured out I was a bit concerned. Well, he didn’t know my daughter: She puts the Energizer Bunny to shame. At church, I usually have to go to those crying rooms so I can keep her “caged.” Anyway, he looked at me and said: “You’ll be okay.”
Something about the way he said it put me at ease. I thanked him and headed to a corner in the back where there was a small, side altar with a beautiful carved wooden image of Jesus. I decided to use the step to that altar as my sitting spot. Where I come from, this is quite normal for us. The parishes used to get overcrowded. We would sit wherever we could and nobody would make a big deal out of it. I guess I just felt at home at this unknown parish.
Surprisingly, my daughter decided to behave like a little lady. I kept on wondering what was going on; if that was really my daughter. Don’t get me wrong. My daughter actually behaves very well. I can’t complain. What I mean is that she’s high energy and usually doesn’t sit still for long. But this past Sunday, she decided to sit on my lap and absorb everything with her big, blue eyes.
She seemed happy, content. Her spirit was contagious. I started to feel peaceful in a way I had not felt in a very long time. This and a few things my daughter has been doing lately, which I will keep for myself in my heart for now, have started to convince me that God and his angels might use children to touch our hearts when we may need it the most.
I usually bring a missal for toddlers and a couple of other Catholic books for very young children to Mass. Unfortunately, my daughter, while very keen on books, she had never shown any interest in these particular books before… until this Pentecost Sunday. She decided to sit on the floor, which by the way, was a beautiful wooden floor. She then grabbed the books and started to look at their pages, one book at a time.
Interesting things would not stop happening there. As it turns out, the pastor was European. Since it was Pentecost, he decided to start speaking in other languages. All of a sudden, he started to celebrate Mass in French. My daughter sprung off the floor as if something incredibly exciting would be happening. (I was also surprised that I could understand everything the priest was saying. Considering I only took two years of French when I was in Secondary School and I have hardly used it in over 10 years, I couldn’t believe what was going on.) Meanwhile, my daughter had walked up towards the aisle and had this big, happy smile and face and would not take his eyes off the priest. She would remain standing there, checking the pastor from the back of the church, until he switched back to English.
At some point, the pastor switched to Italian. While I was surprised to hear Italian, I was delighted to hear it because that was the third language we had at home while growing up. Now, concerning my daughter, I never spoke Italian to her at all. However, she once again ran up to the aisle, big smile on her face, started to even giggle, and checked the pastor from there.
I don’t know what it was. Maybe the pastor sounded a little bit like me when I speak Spanish to her and she might have been enjoying to hear someone else speaking somewhat close to how I may sound. But by then, I couldn’t help but start thinking that everything that was going on that particular day was a gift from God.
With everything that is going on in my life with the divorce and the custody battle, I’m at a point in my life when I try to embrace and be grateful for every and any little thing that brings me peace and some happiness. At some point, I couldn’t help it but started to cry a bit. It has been happening quite a bit when I’m at Mass. It could be something the priest says, some verses from the Liturgy, some line in a song… Since I started to go back to Mass irregularlyand , there has always been something said or sung that was exactly what I needed to hear on that particular day or week.
I don’t remember what brought tears to my eyes this past Sunday. But one thing I do remember is that I have been feeling a feeling I had never felt before. I felt humble.
You see, I have always considered myself a problem-solver. I learnt to be self-sufficient at a very young age. I had set goals for myself and done everything in my power to reach those goals. If I couldn’t reach them for whichever reason, I would look at the path taken and learn from it. I made my mind about coming to the United States when I was a very young teenager. Everything I had done after that has been in order to accomplish just that. So now that I’m going through a divorce, I have been feeling that little to nothing is under my control.
It has been a very humbling experience. In many senses. Coming from a country where from the policeman standing at the corner to the president, most people in power were corrupt, my trust in the Justice system is not necessarily an unshakable one. And now a judge, a custody evaluator, and some psychological tests are going to decide my future life with my daughter, or lack thereof.
It is a very frightening experience. I looked at my daughter, so happy at that church, and all of this hit me. I realized the actual extent of how much I cannot control and how much I have to learn when it comes to trusting God and letting Him deal with everything that is out of my hands. It is not an easy thing to do for someone who has been taken care of many of her own needs since the age of 14 and then taking care of her family since the age of 19. I was always used to praying and doing what I needed to do. A do-er, a problem-solver, an optimist but realist at the same time.
I’ll give you an example. If I wanted to find a new job, I would pray to God and St. Cajetan for his intercession to help me find a new job and then I would actively do everything in my power to find said job. The funny thing is that every single job I ever had, I didn’t actually apply for it. They were offered to me. It is interesting how things turned out in that particular area.
But a lot of things in my life have been like that, as well. I didn’t seek or apply for the job that eventually brought me to the United States. I didn’t pursue the career that allowed me to land that job. I just happened to stumble upon it. I came to the United States under employment sponsorship. I didn’t ask that employer to sponsor me for a green card. They offered that to me. So many other things happened in similar fashion. I did the best out of the circumstances presented to me. As I grow older, I start to think that it was all part of a plan that He might have for me. I only get to see some of its pieces.
At this time, I need to trust that He is still laying His plan for me. This particular part—my marriage and the divorce—might not be the easiest part of that plan. The thing that I need to force myself to think is that I need to learn to trust Him and that the better might be yet to come.
I am very scared while I type this. The first psychological test that will decide custody is scheduled for next week. I am honestly freaking out. However, I have to trust that He will take care of me, my daughter, and my mom.
I’m glad that the parish I was attending Mass is now under renovation. Had that not happened, I might have not ended up at the other parish, I might have not attended Mass with a multilingual priest, I might have not seen my daughter so happy at a church, and I might have not had my heart opened to these truths about being humble that hit me like a 16-wheeler while being at Mass. I guess it was a special day and the right day. After all, it was Pentecost. For those who may not know what Pentecost is, it is a special celebration when we remember when the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ apostles after His Ascension. It is normally celebrated the seventh Sunday after Easter. (More information here.)
It brings me peace and some comfort to think that maybe the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something that day, the Sunday of Pentecost. I feel more at ease with that thought in my mind. That day, sitting at the feet of a statue of Jesus, watching a little girl browse through those Catholic books for toddlers with delight, giggling every time the priest was speaking a language other than English (he also spoke in German at some point,) dancing in little twirls (yep, she started to dance at some other point,) and running from one side of the church to the other one while her mother felt a bit embarrassed until one of the ushers signaled to me that it was okay, that day, I felt like a child myself, wanting to be hugged and embraced and to be told that everything would be alright. And somehow, watching my daughter, with her two pigtails and those big, blue eyes that seemed to me as if a little piece of Heaven might live in those big, rounded eyes, somehow, I felt that I might be heading home once and for all and that, no matter what happens, I will be okay and things will be okay. Those thoughts brought me hope.
I cannot control certain things, but I can certainly control what I will do with the next minute in my life. And right now, all that matters is that little girl who God has entrusted to my care. I can’t control or know what tomorrow will bring, but I can certainly control what I do now with that little girl. And I will take advantage of every minute I’m with her. That’s as much as I can do at this point. And my love for her grows every second and that is one thing I’m very glad I cannot control. I am also very grateful that God brought her to my life. Maybe the price I had to pay was not the most desirable one. But like my best friend said to me a couple of days after I got served divorce papers, maybe that was God’s plan all along: That my husband and I met so this beautiful little life would be created and born. And I’m grateful I was part of that plan. I look at my daughter and there’s no doubt there’s something special going on with her. Sometimes she looks at me with this big smile and hugs me in a way that sounds like she’s the adult and not me. That’s when I feel that she’s being an instrument of God to let me know that we will both be alright (and my mom, too.)
As hard as my marriage was and still is until our divorce is final, as annoying as the slander I’m enduring can be, as hurtful as some of the things my husband is saying about me, I know my truth, I know who I am, and I know what I need to be for my daughter, my mom, and myself. And now that’s something my husband cannot take away from me and will not destroy, no matter how hard he tries or how many lies he says. In the end, I will have to be accountable to God, not my husband. And if one day my daughter asks me what happened between her father and me, I hope that God will send me His Holy Spirit to show me the way to answer those questions so that my daughter grows closer to the person He intended her to be, no matter how painful those questions might be for me.