When I was younger, I went to church on Sundays with my parents. I went to two different private schools growing up. I remember going to special masses for Christmas Eve, Easter Sunday, and sometimes even New Years Eve. I also went through communion practices, confirmation lessons, and even vocational bible school.
However, when I started going to public school, I dreaded going to any type of Catholic church event. For a while, I thought it was because I was getting older and just did not see the point when I could've been sleeping in like a majority of my other friends. I remember pretending to be sick, and then eventually, I just stopped going altogether.
It took me nearly 7 years to realize that going to a Catholic elementary school caused me to lose my faith.
It wasn't the mandatory masses on Fridays we were forced to attend, and it wasn't the religion classes we had to take. It took a girl bullying me to cause me to stray away from the church.
This isn't the typical bullying situation either. I remember telling multiple people what one certain girl kept saying to me. She told me repeatedly that I was worth nothing because I wasn't on the cheerleading team. When my dad was deployed to Afghanistan, she said, "you know he's going to die for shooting at people, right?" She kicked rocks at me during gym class. She even told me, "I hope you drown" before a swim meet. This one girl made my life a living hell.
It got to the point my parents called my principal to discuss the issue. However, he didn't believe me. This one guy believed my bully because her mother passed away when she was two years old and she was still mourning. That I, was the one who was causing the issue, because I, of course, had to be causing the bullying. He also implied that God must be punishing me for being a bad child.
We even talked to the priest of my church, who just told me to pray for her and that, "I need to find it in my soul to forgive her. That's what Jesus would do, right?"
Why would God intentionally send someone into my life to bully me to the point I got depressed in the fifth grade? This one bully caused me to feel so many self-esteem issues and develop anxiety at the age of 10. I did not understand why God was punishing me?
All of this caused me to become afraid of the Catholic Church. I only grew more afraid as I began questioning my sexuality and how many Catholics talk about the LGBTQIA+ community. I no longer felt safe like I did when I was only in the second grade. I lost my faith.
Now that I'm 19, I've slowly begun gaining rediscovering my faith. I know I believe in something, but I'm still not sure what it is I believe in.