Recently, I ended a 23 year friendship with an individual whom I once considered one of the most beautiful people I had ever met.
Twenty-three years is a long time to have known another human being, and I have to admit, getting to the point where I could finally say “enough” was not necessarily easy.
Yet once I was there, it was surprising how simple it was, and what a huge relief it lifted off my shoulders to actually say, “I no longer wish to be friends, and here is why.”
Sure, I still struggle with a bit of doubt. I know that it hurt this person to hear those words, but at the same time, I know it is not as though I did not try.
I made my sincere attempts to express the hurt that she caused, and was willing to validly sit down and work out any difficulties that may have existed (even if she had any to point out to me that I needed to change) – difficulties that I knew affected not only me, but others as well.
The problem was, she wasn’t.
The concept of legitimate change for the sake of a better friendship was simply not on her plate.
Not only was it not on her plate, it was not in her vicinity, her realm, or anywhere near a world-wide radius of her very existence.
The air that she breathed as she responded to my concerns could have perhaps simply screamed, “I am who I am! I do not care if that affects you. If I hurt people, so be it. But do not ask me to stop, because I refuse to change.”
I can remember feeling as though I was in this strange, surreal mental “zone,” where reality was metaphorically spinning around me, and all I could hear was a lifetime of people saying, “no!” to legitimate change, despite the fact that often I was willing to make my own legitimate changes with them.
No! to becoming a better person.
No! to growing.
No! to listening to valid hurts and concerns.
No! to working together to do the very things that could make relationships stronger, love deeper, and bonds more profound.
No! because I have spent a lifetime dealing with self-centered people, and I have been mired chin-deep in the slop of dysfunctional love.
But as this odd, rather imaginary reality spun around and around and around me again, I had the distinct, empowering sense that it could stop.
Not only because it could, but because I saw through it.
I was in a car crash when I was 18, and I can remember having a feeling much like that.
As my car spun around and around, time seemed to morph into this still, calm void, where nothing else mattered except this one thing; that some peaceful essence of me was still there, and because of that, I was still ok.
No fear, no panic, no dread.
Just absolute awareness, acceptance and recognition of what is, even if what is had the potential to become the most terrible thing that had ever happened to me in my life.
The sight of the truth from that still, calm place carried me effortlessly through to the end.
That was how “breaking up” with my friend felt in those moments.
I registered her words, took in her excuses, understood her reasons and her self-created beliefs, yet at the same time, I simply knew: “you are not speaking the truth. That is not love, and I do not have to put up with it anymore.”
And when it comes down to it, I have been through much of that same experience with certain members of the Catholic Church on many different occasions.
From some of my earliest years, I have watched cruel dysfunction play itself out amidst members of the Church, which at the time was, for me, the Novus Ordo.
Transitioning to the traditional Church left me hoping that the landscape would be a little better…but humanity being what it is, that was not to be.
Even there, dysfunction could rattle around like a rat in the rafters, unleashing its tiny, slimy droppings whenever and wherever it could.
Worst of all, positive change in regards to the inevitable dysfunction that can creep in whenever human beings are present seemed to be this sort of anathema, as if it was some kind of unhealthy thing to want to grow and become better.
I realize that it was the brokenness of humanity that I was facing, not a defect in the absolute truths of the ideology. It was a certain lack of empathy, compassion, and love which can be found anywhere, and in any system of belief.
I also realize that I am not perfect, and have made my own share of mistakes along the way.
That said, all of my experiences, from those with members of the Church to non-Catholics as well, they have all taught me to experience a sort of fear towards the refusal of another to consider legitimate change… for such a refusal is the very red flag of so much dysfunction that we see not only in the world today, but in the Church at large.
After all, we cannot see empathy, or its lack of, but we can certainly recognize the red flags when they are flapping dangerously in the wind.
And so, as funny and humorous as it may seem, I am “breaking up” with my blog.
I am doing so because I am “breaking up” with a certain ideology that I once had, and which I no longer wish to carry…because it is a burden all its own.
The ideology that I am breaking up with is the Catholic Church as seen through the lens of a skewed variation which we know today as “traditionalism.”
Now, I want to get one thing straight.
I am not leaving behind the actual Catholic Church, nor am I leaving behind my love of its history, its ancient rites (cue the Latin Mass), or any of the fundamental doctrines and dogmas that it does contain.
In fact, I am not even leaving behind “tradition.”
What I am leaving behind are the negative, soul-crushing ways of thinking, sharing, relating, and just plain existing that I have seen manifested to me over the last six years – both during my travels, my research, and as I got to know different people who would label themselves as “traditionalists.”
I am leaving behind a mindset.
I have come to understand that if certain people want to process the traditional Catholic faith as a sporting field for their frustrations, that is up to them.
But I do not have to put up with it anymore.
Like the situation with my friend that I mentioned above, I can see a certain refusal to recognize dysfunction within traditionalism, and with that refusal a resistance to legitimate change.
And that does not have to be something I share.
You see, when I first discovered the Latin Mass in my own state, I decided to get serious about it, and delved into learning all that I could.
Yet the more that I searched into what we today call “traditionalism,” the more I noticed certain tendencies that seemed to prevail, and even breed. There were even times when I have had to check them in myself, it was just that natural and easy for such a mindset to spread.
They are not tendencies that you could not find anywhere else in the world, or in any human heart, but they seemed to be particularly characteristic to traditionalism, just as a sort of “intolerant tolerance” seems to be characteristic of the liberal side of things.
Amongst other things, those tendencies included a certain inclination towards continual negativity and criticism, at an accelerated, high-speed, modern, tweet-me-if-you-hate-it…rate.
Now, I got that the concerns were legit and valid.
I understood that something needed to be done.
But I just got really, exhaustingly tired of some of the behaviors that seemed to emerge, not only online, but at the personal level.
After all, when you exist in a tunnel of negativity and criticism, you run the risk of become brittle, and incapable of something that can make this world a better place – change – and it is the ability to change that reveals someone most likely has empathy (love), and that is what this world so desperately needs.
To be clear, I am not talking about unnecessary change, like telling people that they now have to accept gay marriage, or that they need to let go of their dearly held ways which the Church never actually said they had to let go of to begin with.
Nor am I talking about the sort of change that another human being is incapable of, such as asking someone without legs to walk, or expecting an individual with a severe mental illness to consistently behave like everyone else.
I am talking about the ability to actually engage in the dynamics of things like personal growth, positive action as opposed to negative, empathy for another human beings suffering, or kindness towards another when in their weakness they break some little “rule” that is rigidly held…ultimately, I am talking about love.
Much of traditionalism, as it is experienced today (you know, with all the negativity, criticism, politics, and closed-door policies) seems to form a sort of breeding ground for a general loss of this empathy, even though many of the things that it says are true, honest, and even fair.
Yet any ideology that one comes to hold can breed this potential, from the Novus Ordo Catholic Church, to Protestantism, to Buddhism….from politics to just the very fact that we are human….that potential is there.
In the end, it is not really a problem with an “ism” as much as it is a defect of the human condition, which religion is supposed to remedy, but if not used correctly, can petrify it more and more….and more.
That said, the fact remains that it does seem to be a “characteristic” of traditionalism, and many in its fold.
So yes, I am “breaking up” with my blog.
I am leaving behind a time and place in my life when I was willing to put up with all the negativity, the complaining, the refusals to change, and all of the dysfunctional behaviors that I have seen.
I am taking a stand and I am saying, “enough is enough. That is not always love. If anything, that can compromise love. If you want to be apart of such behaviors, do so at your own risk.”
I am not walking away from tradition, but towards a better understanding of it; an understanding that I could not comfortably put together here without running the risk of falling into all sorts of preconceived, contorted notions of what traditionalism should look like, and how it should be.
I am leaving behind what I thought I knew to go in search of what I do not know…and somehow, that just makes a whole lot more sense.
I do not know if I will link where I go to this blog, but it is a relief to leave it behind.
It is a relief to say, “I no longer want to be apart of this blog, or apart of a certain negative ‘cultural idea’ of how a traditionalist should be, and here is why.”
Traditionalists have taught me something, but so have just plain people in general….and they still are.
Something that can still be legitimately found in the word change.
Here is to an abundance of lots, and lots, and lots of wonderful, beautiful, profound, meaningful, much needed, gushing, flowing, completely legitimate…change.
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