As much as I loved the beauty and peace that came with living in the convent, I was also coming to realize that religious life was not for me. As much as I loved the sisters, I just did not "fit in" there. I'm very physically affectionate, and that was (obviously) not allowed very often, the sisters are extremely competitive and athletic, and I'm definitely not. I know that sounds like such a little thing, but the sisters said that "fitting in" is part of knowing you have a vocation to that community (I'm paraphrasing there). I was EXTREMELY lonely. I would get letters from home and curl up in a fetal position on the floor of my cell and just sob. That sound super dramatic, but it's true. My health was also going down the drain (honestly I don't think I've recovered). I was being worked harder there than I ever had before, and I was losing weight. I think I got down to 111 lbs (being 5'8", it's not a good place to be). I was also having, um...digestive issues about every other day and had to ask permission to stay out of class in case I had an...episode. lol My hot flashes were getting more frequent and more intense (to the point where I almost passed out or had to sit down during prayers), and my legs would suddenly go numb-ish and heavy. I was very, very worried about myself. Oh, and my hair was also falling out. :) I got blood tests done, and my FSH and LH levels were crazy (my FSH was 151.).
At some point, I decided to read Litt.le Wom.en (for the millionth time-it's my favorite book ever). While I was reading, I couldn't stop thinking, "I want that! I want to be Marmee! I want to serve God through a husband!" I tried to shove it to the back of my head, but it wouldn't leave. I mean, at this point, I'd already had an inkling (I love that word) that I didn't have a religious vocation, but I was scared to leave. I was afraid that I could never be holy living in the world. During the rosary on Thanksgiving day, I was meditating (I can't remember if it was on the hidden life of Jesus and Mary at Nazareth or the Nativity...either way I know it wasn't the Luminous Mysteries like I was supposed to. lol) and all of a sudden, I just KNEW I was supposed to be married. I really don't know how to explain what happened in my soul, other than suddenly, I just knew I was supposed to be married to Boomz. :) A huge wave of peace washed over me, and I told my superior at my next conference with her (we had a scheduled meeting with our superior once a week for some spiritual direction). She agreed that I didn't "have a vocation" (I hate that phrase-married life is a vocation too!), but asked me to think and pray about it for another week, just to be sure. Well, a week passed and nothing had changed, so I prepared to leave. I called my mother at work, and her reaction was so funny. She said, "Are you serious?! Are you serious?!" and just broke down sobbing. I don't really understand why I think that's funny, but I do. lol
I wasn't allowed to tell any of the other sisters until right before I left (except the first year professed sisters, since I wouldn't have a chance to talk to them the next morning), so I had to act like nothing was wrong the whole morning, which was really difficult. I cried so, so hard saying goodbye to my postulants. All of us had grown very close. For some reason the goodbye I remember most was with Sr. S.ophia, a Cajun novice. I kind of saw her like my big sister-she was so smart and funny and scrappy, and we had great talks about politics and saints. :) Anyway, after I said goodbye, I went back to my cell and changed into the clothes I had worn when I entered the convent. I had kept them to give to my family on Visiting Day, but forgot. It felt SO WEIRD wearing jeans for the first time in months! I really, really hated it, to be honest. I told myself I would wear skirts for the rest of my life (yeah, that lasted like one day lol)! I met my family in the chapel, and left in a huge ball of emotions. I was weirdly mad, happy, and very sad all at the same time. However, in my soul was the most profound peace I've ever, ever experienced, and it lasted for two weeks. I knew I had done the right thing. :)
P.S. This is the closest to the version of the Salve Regina that the sisters chant that I can find. :) It's a little different, especially since it's men singing it. lol :)