Sunday, May 29, 2022

Happier Hermit

     Six years ago, I chose the religious name "Felicity." Not in honor of the 3rd-century martyr of that name, but because it means "happiness." And it wasn't aspirational, it was thankful. After many years of depression, and more years of anti-depressant medication, in 2016 I found that burden unexpectedly lifted. My life was better than it had been in decades. Depression had been a foundational, defining fact of my life, since I was in elementary school, and finally it was gone. And when I finally made the decision to accept the calling to consecrate my life to God alone, that added even more to my happiness. 

    So, reflecting back on the occasion of renewing my vows again, I've been thinking about how that choice of name has held up. How does the name "Happiness" fit me now? And I am very happy to tell you that I am so much happier now than I was when I changed my name. So much happier, that looked at from the perspective of now, back then doesn't even look like happiness at all. 

Saturday, May 21, 2022


    I renewed my vows this month. Since I've been re-reading and reflecting on my Rule of Life for the occasion, I thought I'd write about some of it for the blog this week. I got as far as the three vows of Solitude, Silence, Simplicity, and my word-count was already about twice what it needs to be. So I'm just going to talk about Solitude, what it means to me, how I define and delimit it, why I love it, why I choose to renew the vow for a fourth year. 

    First, though -- since, lately, I see just about everything through the lens of "neurodiversity" -- let me make this really clear. Solitude is a religious calling. I may talk about how it suits me and my hyperreactive nervous system, and I how I understand the two together, but this is just my picture. This is really important: neurodiversity poses all kinds of unique challenges for relationships, but most people across the spectrum want intimacy, and -- with self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and good communication -- there is no reason why they cannot have it. Plenty of people, introverts like me, with neurocognitive systems just like mine, have happy, mutually enriching, long-lasting romantic partnerships. I want to be a hermit, I'm not settling for it.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Adios España ... where to next?

    I've decided to move on to another European country. I came to Spain first because it's my best second language, so it was a lower barrier to entry. Now, however, I have discovered a barrier to settling here -- getting a Spanish driver's license -- that is much lower for some other countries in my 3rd and 4th languages (i.e., Portugal, France, Belgium). Spain does not have reciprocity with the US or with any US state for driver's licenses. I would have to start from scratch, like any teenager. And it's a process I'm not willing to go through, now that I know that any of those other countries would just trade my old Maryland license for a new national one with no drama whatsoever. But I have gone through some internal drama on the way to making this decision.... 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Fantasy Me --> Real Me --> Ideal Me

     I've spent a lot of time, since becoming a hermit, getting to know who I really am, letting go of the perfectionistic fantasies of who I could be if I just tried harder, and embracing the reality of myself with all my inborn weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Separating Fantasy Me from Real Me has been a thread through this whole blog. Coming to accept myself as I am has involved grieving the loss of who I wish I were.

    Now I am in a new phase of the journey, beginning to explore Ideal Me. What's the difference between Fantasy and Ideal? 

    Fantasy Me is built out of ideas that come from outside of myself. Images of an iconic, mythical, holy hermit; a mash-up of all the things other people have seemed to want me to be, gathered together over the last 55 years; an angry or desperate denial of the parts of me that I wish weren't there. Fantasy Me is the mask I have used to try to hide my weaknesses from the world; but I've ended up hiding myself from myself.

    Ideal Me is built on the foundation of Real Me, out of all my own individual strengths, weaknesses, passions, values, and possibilities. Real Me is at a halfway point: I've learned a lot about who and how I am today, and a lot about why. But I have still a ways to go to get to know who I might become in the future. Who do I even want to be? What are the things about myself that I love? What are my gifts, my talents? What do I love to do, and to think about? What do I care about the most? How do I want to live? What conditions do I need to thrive? What energizes me, and what saps my energy? What do other people see in me, that I can't see in myself? 

    How have I shrunk over the years, because my weaknesses (unacknowledged, misunderstood, unsupported) undermined my strengths? What did I think, when I was a child, that I would love to spend my life doing? And where did those dreams get derailed? Are some of them still shiny dreams, that I regret abandoning? And are there valuable clues still in the old Fantasy Me, clues to what I value and admire?

    There is a whole new learning process to go through, to rediscover who I might be if I believed in myself, if I'm willing to try and fail, to learn new things. Including learning how to support and cushion my vulnerabilities, so that they don't hold me back from becoming more. Learning to believe in myself has to start with a leap of faith. It takes understanding that growth is gradual, that it takes more than a mindset shift, it takes stretching and strengthening parts of me that had been disused and disconnected. It takes trial and error. And it starts with a clear vision of the goal, a vision of Ideal Me.

+++ PEACE +++

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Positive Disintegration

    Last Sunday, I went again to the local parish for Mass. Oh, how I miss my monastery and the oblate community there! I sat there last Sunday feeling that old familiar feeling ... feeling like an alien among the congregation. And I don't mean because I'm a foreigner in Spain! The Costa del Sol is full of foreigners. No, I'm used to feeling like an alien in a regular parish setting. I think it's something a lot of neurodiverse people know about, judging by the name of one online community for people on the autism spectrum: And I'm wondering, what is it about my monastic oblate community that is so different? Why do I feel so at home with those people, and not with these?