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“How was your break?” is a totally normal way to greet your school friends on the first day of the semester. I wasn’t ready to talk about it yet, but I can’t lie. 

In the first month of the decade, I quit my job, left my church and was dumped by my boyfriend of two years. And I feel fine. 

I knew I needed to leave one of my jobs last semester when I couldn’t handle the time commitment of working at a coffee shop and at the college paper. My grades slipped, my performance at both jobs suffered, and I was having more than one panic attack a week from the stress of not sleeping, not studying and not making enough money.

It took a long time to come to terms with leaving the job I had kept for almost three years. How would I pay rent? What would I do without health insurance? I knew if I was going to choose between working in food service or working for a student paper, I needed to make the choice that would get me closer to starting my professional career after graduation. And because I’m a pushover, my two weeks-notice was extended to four weeks, but a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

I had been unsatisfied with my faith for years, but I was too entrenched in the community to leave abruptly. I attended the same church as my mother, my hero, and I know it would break her heart to see me leave. My mom already worries about me not sleeping or eating enough, I didn’t want to make her worry about my eternal soul, too.

My plan was to get a job after graduation away from my hometown, and stop attending church after I moved. That way, my mom would never have to know, and she could have peace. I would simply live a double life, very practically. But one night, the pressure to perform was too much.

I don’t know what emboldened me, but I called my mom to see if she was home. I told her I needed to talk to her about something important. After assuring her there was no emergency, I told her I decided to leave the church, that religion wasn’t helping me anymore and I didn’t want to be part of a system I saw as hurtful to others, especially LGBT+ people.

My mom was heartbroken, of course. She was worried about my salvation. She said I needed to pray. But she respected my decision. She said she didn’t want me to live a lie, she said she still loved me. Hearing that was worth having a hard conversation. Another weight was lifted.

My relationship with my boyfriend was disintegrating, but we didn’t really talk about it honestly for a long time. He wasn’t happy. He was carrying a lot of guilt for not doing things I wasn’t asking for. It was like we weren’t speaking the same language anymore. So, we said we would take a break. But really, people just say that because it’s easier than saying you’re breaking up.

I thought I might get engaged to my best friend in 2020, but I was single before the first month was over. Heartbroken. But I know once someone decides they need to leave, it’s time.

My father, a recovering alcoholic, took me to an AA meeting years ago where I heard the Serenity Prayer for the first time:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I don’t know if I’m praying anymore, but I’m asking myself to find serenity in the things I cannot change and thanking myself for the courage to change the things I can.

January was incredibly hard. If I was asked just two months ago if I foresaw these changes, I would have avoided even thinking of the possibility. Now February is two days away. My daily routines are adapting. I’m spending more time with my friends and at therapy. I’m making more choices for myself rather than to comfort others.

And I’m fine.

Category: Opinion