Me and God…It’s Complicated

I am unabashedly Catholic.

If you have enough kids to field a baseball team and still aren’t sure you’re “done,” you get high fives from me for being open to God’s will.

Do you like a little Latin and incense on a Sunday morning? Hey, me too!

Are you ok with the idea men and women are created uniquely by God and therefore have unique roles in His church? I’m right there with you.

So having said all that, it seems a bit scandalous to admit I haven’t really prayed on my own in nearly 3 years, maybe longer.

I can’t. I just can’t.

One stops, the other starts

I stopped praying right around the time my agnostic husband started asking me to prayer. There is a whole lot of backstory that I can’t unpack in this particular post, but let’s leave it as this: I knew God wasn’t going to work a miracle for us and so I stopped trying.

However, at just about the time I stopped finding comfort in prayer, Tom was finally tuning back to it. He was Catholic-in-name when we met, morphed into Catholic-in-spirit while we dated and then the flame went out a few years into our marriage. He settled into a belief system that could probably best be summed up with “I don’t know.” He seemed to think there had to be a higher power somewhere so we always though the agnostic label was probably the best fit.

But a few months before he died, Tom started to get nervous about falling asleep because, well, he was worried about not waking up. We used to Netflix in bed until I dropped off exhausted, and then Tom would nudge me awake when Jimmy Fallon was done (this was back when he had the Late Show). Then I would dole out the pain meds that would hopefully get him through the night, and he would ask me to say a rosary while he tried to get to sleep.

The last rosary I said was on his last night – desperately hoping it would help him stay calm until the medicine kicked in and simultaneously pleading with God that the 6 month-old on the other side of the bed wouldn’t wake up.

God was good. He answered both of those prayers.

Tom died in the morning, and I promptly stopped talking to God after that.17275792384_0cda758e76_k

God’s shoulders may be big enough, but mine aren’t

For those of you who aren’t Catholic, the sacrament of reconciliation (confession, as you might know it) may seem like an intimidating or scary event. But it’s really not that bad. Every priest is different, but more often than not, it’s basically a 5-10 minute conversation about where things have gone awry in your life followed by some advice. (P.S. If you have something embarrassing to confess, a screen and a priest you’ve never met before are your best friends.)

And while what you say is secret, it would be a bit hard to deny that failure to make time for prayer has been a topic of discussion every time I’ve visited the confessional in the previous three years.

During one of these conversations, we talked a bit about the anger that makes it impossible to pray. I was told that God’s shoulders are big enough to handle whatever rage I needed to throw His way. I agree. They are.

But the problem is I don’t want to live in that anger. I don’t want to let that rage loose. And every time I try to pray, it comes bubbling back up. Surprisingly, I’m not angry for Tom. He drew so many short straws in life that I think he was almost relieved it was all coming to an end (he told me as much). So I’m not angry Tom suffered this horrible disease and died as much as I am furious God sent me down this path of marriage and motherhood, only to abandon me alone with five kids.

I know. It’s so self-absorbed, but it’s true. Before I met Tom, I had every intention of entering the convent someday. And then we got married and hit a horrible period in which it would have been easy to walk away, but we worked so damn hard to make our relationship right. And it succeeded.

So why God? Why send me this man if you weren’t intending to leave him with me? Why encourage us to work so hard on our marriage if it wasn’t going to last?

I’m sure God has good answers, but I’m too freakin’ furious to hear them right now.

I hope I’ll eventually get my prayer life back but for now, when it comes to me and God, it’s complicated.


    1. Maryalene, I came over to your website from There was a link to your blog at the bottom of an article you wrote for U.S. News on seniors and living in their own home as they age.
      The name of your blog made me curious enough to click on it. I read your story and I was very touched. I just want you to know that I’m Catholic also and it sounds to me like you are living a prayer through your children, through your writing and through your life. Just wanted you to know that I said an “official” prayer for you today, no worries, I’m lifting you up this evening. You have humbled and blessed me through your life.

      1. Thank you so much for both your kind words and your prayers, Mary. I truly appreciate them!

    1. Hi Maryalene,
      I came to your blog for selfish reasons, I wanted to see if there was a way to get in contact with you – to talk with you regarding an article you wrote and research I am doing on aging, finances etc.
      But your your post on the T Man, I will not give him the dignity of spelling his name, peeked my curiosity, since it reflected so many of my views. Well I loved it and agree with you completely! Then I got curious and clicked on the “about me” and read about your beloved husband and the hard work you both gave to your relationship and your marriage and your 5 kids and I had to read, Me and G-d… your honest and beautiful words touched my heart. I have not gone through what you are going through, my Dad passed away on my birthday and that is weird, but what you have gone through and are going through is something completely different.
      I am glad you write, there is so much comfort in words. Writing them, reading them. Keep writing Mary, through your words I am hopeful you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. I do not know when, no one does. But keep writing your thoughts and feelings, they will help you and others. I do not mean to sound cliche… Time… it just takes time.
      My best to you and your family.
      In friendship,

      1. Thanks Heidi! Your comment really means a lot to me.

        I’m sorry to hear about your Dad too. I lost my Dad in 2009 and while it was a different experience than losing my husband, it was still difficult. Hard not to feel a bit abandoned and alone when the man who’s had your back since birth is taken away.

        If you want to discuss work, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn:

        Thanks again for your very kind words!


    1. Hi
      So true regarding my Dad. I still see his smile.
      I would love to get in touch with you… and will as soon as I assemble my research. Which I hope will be in a week.
      Be good to yourself.

    1. Hi Maryalene,
      Thank you.
      So true about my Dad; I still see his smile.
      I would love to discuss what I am working on.
      I need to finish another project and gather my research… I hope to finish in a weekish:-)
      I look forward to connecting with you.
      My best,

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