Patron Saint of the Liberated Yet Perpetually Made to Feel Guilty
I am Santa Divorciada, patron saint of the liberated yet perpetually made to feel guilty. I give women tools to combat religious and social stigmas that are attached to those who have chosen the forbidden path toward independence by breaking a holy sacrament. A holier than thou sacrament that imposes a lifetime of condemnation if we blindly remain faithful to it.
Published on LatinoLA: February 19, 2002
Besides, I?ve always wanted to dress up like a saint. I canonized myself as Santa Divorciada when it became painfully obvious that as women, we are subjugated by religion, via our parents, many times our own mothers, to generations of guilt for choosing a four-letter word that begins with Ffffffff...
Religion always played an important role in my life, especially as a child. Then, the idea that a woman could grow up and marry Jesus, the epitome of all goodness, so appealed to me that I would sit in front of the television set, waiting for Sally Field to appear to me, beckoning me to my inevitable vocation. I went to church a lot growing up and I would sit there, staring at the statues, thinking of ways I could sneak back in and steal their clothes. I would imagine the next day, the parishioners would come in to find the saints standing there, blessing them in the nude. But, pretty soon, the best thing about going to mass, was staring at Jesus, hanging half naked on the cross and fantasizing about my wedding to him. Me in white dress and veil, he in soiled loin cloth and thorns. Ah, the dreams of a girl.
But then I didn?t know that the success of a marriage isn?t always guaranteed. The once upon a times, don?t always mean there will be happily ever afters. I married when I was 22. He was a smart, good man who was a friend. But he should have remained my friend instead of becoming my husband. But there I went, participating in one of those seven pesky sacraments recognized by the Catholic Church, Holy Matrimony.
Holy Matrimony Batman, where were you when I was walking down that aisle!? I only realized much later that in Spanish, the word ?esposo,? husband, can also be said, ?es? ?pozo? - it?s a hole. And wife ?esposa? in plural ?esposas? means handcuffs. It was then that I realized that marriage for the woman can and sometimes does mean handcuffed to a hole.
The word sacrament means something that possesses sacred character or mysterious meaning. I found out that the mysterious meaning of matrimony is how to continue in a marriage when neither one is really happy. And sacred character is absolutely necessary to continue the charade. Neither of my parents was so lucky. And you know what they say, the apple doesn?t fall too far from the tree. To play the terminal role of happy housewife, well, I?m just not that good an actress.
Needless to say, we don?t live under the same circumstance my parents did and that?s a good thing. I returned to being my husband?s friend when I became his ex-wife and I left the marriage. Only, I couldn?t tell my parents. I wouldn?t tell them. In fact, I didn?t tell them for almost a year. My sister did -- the Bitch! When they found out, boy oh boy, did the cultural Catholic shit hit the gender oppressive fan.
I remember my mother yelling at me ?Crees que yo no sufri con tu papa?? ?Mom, I never said you didn?t suffer. I know you did because as children, we suffered too. I don?t want my children to grow up like I did, knowing that my parents hated each other. I don?t want to suffer as a wife the way you did. Or is that what you want for me??
?Not only have you broken a sacrament, you?ve abandoned your family!?
?No! I?ve freed us from a lifetime of misery and regret!?
?How could you??
?Mom, how could I not??
So, I was banished, excommunicated, relegated to the land of the sinners, of the sacrament-breakers, left to find my own patron saint. And I did. She stands before you now. I am Santa Divorciada, patron saint of the liberated. I teach those still searching that they have but to look at their own countenance, at the mask of flesh we call a face to give sanction to their existence.
So, if you are seeking liberation from the institution of cultural Catholic rhetoric and perpetual guilt, this is your path. Every morning for the next few days, light a candle to Santa Divorciada, and standing, not kneeling, no never kneel to anyone.... (except for pleasure, of course) recite the following prayer until you too are a believer in your own destiny:
?Oh Santa Divorciada, who has said ?I don?t want to suffer in a charade, playing a role I don?t believe in? behold me standing before you, tall, independent and strong. I know if you faced discontent from your Church, and more importantly, from your mother, I too can find the light of your wisdom in the darkness of marriage. I only have to will it and my liberation will be granted. From this day forward I put my trust and my faith in my hand and defiantly raise my fist to the enemies of my happiness.
I?ll stop the guilt, I?ll have no more,
I?ll undo the handcuffs and close the door.
I?ll leave the role, but not my life,
I?ll be my self, but not a wife.
Known for her intimate, poetic illustrations of life, Consuelo has performed throughout the United States including the J. Paul Getty Museum. She works at the Writers Guild of America to increase employment opportunities for federally protected groups.