The Other I

February 10, 2008

Growing up after the convent

Filed under: Life as a Nun — theotheri @ 3:10 pm

The apartment on 86th Street where I first moved with three other ex-Maryknollers after I left the convent served as a sort of half-way house.  By the spring, I’d been accepted for the Ph.D. program at the New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village, and was vastly lucky at the same time to be given an NHS fellowship that covered both my tuition and modest living costs.

I found a studio on West 13th Street within walking distance of the university.  It was about 10 x 14 foot with a small stove, sink, and refrigerator and bathroom.  I bought a fold-out couch on which I slept, and a fold-out chair on which guests could sit and sleep.  A friend gave me access to the miscellaneous furniture used as back drops for TV shows and commercials, where I liberated a used table and several chairs and what I needed to make the kitchen functional.  Dad gave me a small black and white TV, a radio, and electric typewriter.

I didn’t need much else.  The grant meant I could afford the books and food I needed and I was embarked on an academic career where I thrived.  I loved the university, and loved the work.

I did, however, have some glimmer of an insight that perhaps I needed to understand a little better why I’d gone into the convent in the first place.  My fear was that if I didn’t get it, I’d repeat the whole process again in some hidden form.  I tried a variety of different kinds of psychotherapies, and finally settled on psychoanalysis, with three sessions a week which I paid for at a vastly reduced rate of about $9.00 a week.

I was eminently successful in my academic life, achieving my Ph.D. in three years with highest honors, and landing an academic position in the psychology department at Montclair University.  But for five years after I’d left Maryknoll, my sexual relationships were chaotic, neurotic, and immature.

Then I met Peter.     

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