Why religion never worked for me

Melina Ramirez, Arts & Culture Editor

“I am Catholic.” 

That is the biggest lie to have ever come out of my mouth.

While I’m not, my mom, sister, aunts, grandma and most of my mom’s side of the family are Catholics — not to mention Mexican. Due to this, my Sunday schedule used to consist of waking up, eating breakfast, getting dolled up — otherwise I’ll relish in elderly scorn—, going to church, staying for around three hours, going home, doing homework and finally reaching sleep. On my lucky ‘less homework’ days I got to watch a bit of TV.

Yet, I never went to church of my own accord. I always went either indifferently or with what my mom would call my ‘jeta,’ which was just another way of saying I was angry. This led me to not use religion for its intended purpose and instead grow to deeply abhor it. 

I am a pure bread Catholic, at least that’s what my documents say. I have my baptism, first communion and confirmation certificates (right, we all know what happened when the Catholic church relied on pieces of paper). I know the “All Father,” “Ave Maria,” “Creed” and “My Guardian Angel.” The first two in Latin, of course, because knowing them in English and Spanish didn’t satisfy my mom. 

I’m not bragging, though. In fact, the space those prayers take up in my brain could be put to better use, like for memorizing math equations or learning the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect.’ 

Ever since I could think for myself, I’ve tried getting out of going to mass. I would feign getting sick; unfortunately, that only worked one time. I tried to get my dad to take me to work in the mornings; my mom would just send me alone to mass at 6 p.m. Using homework as an excuse never worked; my mom always thought I was exaggerating, even when it was true. As a result, I would end up not sleeping until the early a.m.’s or just not finishing it, depending on the day.

I was 12 when I first thought of sticking two fingers down my throat or rolling my ankle to avoid going to church. 

During that time I was going to church four days a week, directly after school, after lunch or late at night. 

I was 12 and weighing the positives and negatives of harming myself over going to church. Granted, my thoughts weren’t severe, but the most a 12 year old girl should be worrying about is Shawn Mendez and Justin Bieber. 

Since then, I’ve moved on from those thoughts. For now, I still pray the rosary with my mom every night, attend mass despite the current global conditions, making my mom and grandma happy. I always tell myself, endure it, you only have two more years, then you can leave

How sad. 

I’ve been planning on leaving San Diego for college ever since I learned what post-secondary education was. I’m applying to scholarships; I’m putting my blood, sweat and tears into my late nights of work, all for the sake of leaving this suffocating environment my family has created.

Religion itself hasn’t hurt me, but being Catholic has mentally strained me. All religions ultimately work for the same purpose: peace. However, the message of religion is oftentimes transformed by the devotees, as they choose to follow cookie cutter molds of the ‘perfect religious family’ without question. 

That mold has melded with my family’s expectations and subsequently taken over my life; I feel like a prisoner in my own mind. What I dislike the most is the fact that by just being named a ‘sinner’ you are suddenly banned from Karen’s book club and you’re kids can’t play in the same park as hers.

All religions were created to spark hope for people when they needed it: to give them something to believe in. I am not against religion, and I don’t have a personal vendetta against Catholics and priests. I am just one of the many who have been forced to play along as a member of the ‘perfect religious family.’

If religion is a tool constructed by man to uplift spirits in times of tragedy, then shouldn’t it be used by those who are in need of hope and direction? I personally have no need for it, so why should I be pushed and pressured into it?

Religion is a choice. Everything in my life is my choice. There will inevitably be a time where something will be out of my hands, and if I chose to use the Catholic church as a means to reflect and persevere, then that will be my choice.

In spite of any future potential misfortune, I know that I will not need my religion. I don’t believe in god, I believe in myself. I don’t need a savior— I’ll probably need a therapist.