I used to hear about Divorced Catholics when I was a kid. Who are these people? I didn’t know any divorced people. I pictured chain-smoking gloomy people in a dark room in the back of the rectory attending the monthly Meeting for Divorced Catholics. Did this have anything to do with that adultery commandment? Nobody would ever explain to kids what that meant. It could mean anything. We never knew for sure if we made a good confession. We never knew if we did adultery or not. I had invented masturbation so I always worried that was it but could never explain it to the priest. Besides, how could I trust him not to go ahead and patent it himself? How could you trust somebody you saw through a handkerchief attached with thumbtacks?

I’m no longer a Catholic, and I’m sure the Church isn’t as rigid as it was when I was an active member, but you never totally get over that Baltimore Catechism mindset. And although intellectually I don’t put a stigma on people who are divorced, there is that residual dogma that has me feeling some kind of stigma toward divorced people. Tomorrow I will be one of them.

In my defense, I didn’t get married in the Church. I didn’t get married in any church. I got married by the mayor. His wife had a beautifully decorated canopy for the situation, but it didn’t have any saints’ relics in it. So, technically, I had an 8,850-night stand.

With me, it’s really important that I wasn’t the one who filed. I’m really into not breaking promises or commitments. But, again, intellectually I know that sometimes that’s OK, too.

Yeah, I know a lot of things. But those default doctrines I seem to fall back into make feeling what I know a slow process.

But since, paraphrasing Monty Python, I’ve been a Catholic since the moment Dad came, this may take awhile.