Lessons from Pius XIII

As I watched the season finale of The Young Pope, something hit home to me. My eyes couldn’t look away from the television as the show wound down. The closing scene nearly stopped my heart and brought actual tears to my eyes. Pius XIII and I are too much alike. The way he talks, loves, dreams, views visions … it was as though someone had peered into my life and decided to make a character out of my personality. Of course the incident is purely coincidental; the likeness is what kept me watching the show from one episode to the next. If you haven’t seen this show yet, you should go to HBO’s website and see if you can join HBO GO.

So how did Pius XIII, a completely fictional character wake me up? At the beginning of the series, you come to understand that his parents were hippies back in the 1970’s and one day had taken him to a catholic orphanage where he first meets sister Mary. Now, he’s been chosen to become the pope and feels quite overwhelmed, but takes it on gracefully. From there, the cardinals and other church hierarchy begin to work against him. They find him diabolical and unapproachable which is what he did strive for. While all of these people began to work against him, you witness him losing trust, even of his most loyal people. As all of this occurs, he realizes the cards are stacked against him but he doesn’t completely give up. The thought of giving up was there, but he simply kept trying. Of course others nudged him along the way, but the fruit of his demeanor came from within himself. At some points he questions the existence of God which is natural. We all do it in the face of troubled times. Nobody wants to accept that suffering is a part of humanity and yet it is a prominent factor. What Pius XIII wanted the most however, was to find the parents who abandoned them.

He begins to suffer through dreams and visions of them appearing, and running away from him. Rubbish is what one would think about dreams but what we don’t understand is that sometimes the sub-conscious accepts the truth before you do. It tries to show you through signs and even music. Ironically, if you’ve read my recent entry, this is something I too have been dealing with for quite some time now. My dreams are often visions of what I recognized early on but neglected to truly accept. Like Pius XIII, no matter what the messages were, I kept going forward assuming that I was merely reacting badly. As season 1 concluded tonight; there before me on the screen I saw myself standing in the character’s place as that shocking revelation came to be.

There stood an entire crowd peering up and smiling as Pius XIII had asked them and as he looked down at all of the faithful, there in the center of this enormous crowd he saw his aged parents looking back up at him. It took him a second to understand, but then he realized that what he had been working so hard for was staring back up at him. What happened next put real tears in my eyes that silently dripped down my cheek. Just as he dreamed, the parents turned around and abandoned him again. It didn’t matter that he had reached that impressive level of success, they still turned around and walked away. The exact message of this is simple:

You can want something so bad that you work extra hard at it. You put forth all of this effort and despite the red flags and other warning signs, you continue trying, and why. You saw the signs, you thought it, you pondered, you replayed the dreams a million times in your head but you continued blindly, often ignoring those signs. Then something occurs that finally jolts you to the depth of your soul. Something so upsetting that the truth of it stops your heart. You come to terms with accepting that no matter how bad you wanted it, no matter how hard you worked for it, or how much you sacrificed and tried, it just didn’t want you. At that moment as Pius XIII realized that, he grabbed his chest, and collapsed shortly after. Love, in whatever form can do that, destroy the healthiest person and almost kill them from a broken heart. What Pius XIII did for me was take away my blinders and hit the messages he gave out through the entire show home.

The first lesson was that absence is presence. I have been in a relationship with a man who at first seemed to love me more than he’s ever loved anyone.. I wanted to believe that this was true and I was swept away deep in a love that convinced me I had finally found my soulmate. He said lovely things like he had looked for somebody like me his entire life. I really wanted to believe him. I wanted it to be true more than I have ever wanted anything. While lost in this whimsical of love and desire, signs came, and came, and came. I told myself I was being foolish, to view the items from his former relationship in this home as some sort of shrine to their love. Being a deep thinker, I came to convince myself that perhaps I was just being jealous and ridiculous and I told myself not to overreact. Besides, it is his home and whatever he adorns it with is his business. What makes it hard is how he would say one thing (like about how deep he loves me) and yet his actions didn’t quite match. So I convinced myself that I am the problem, I am being too needy and I must kill that form of myself off so that this relationship will survive.

From the items in the home to constant mention of both of his exs coming into most conversations, you would think that it would be more obvious. He had even called me by the woman’s name a couple of times to which he quickly tried to explain that he was used to her in the background. But, what is it really? When we first started seeing another, he was sorting through his jeans asking me if I had wanted any. I explained that I don’t wear men’s jeans and they are a little too big for me. His reply was snarky and petty, to which he said “well June fit in them.” I wasn’t too afraid of losing him at that time so I was swift by stating that then perhaps he should invite her over to wear his jeans. But it didn’t stop there. Before long, I recognized that he was comparing me to both of these women on many occasions. He tends to assign fictitious beliefs onto me because Sue did it. Or my foot isn’t healing fast enough for him because June’s healed differently. If I am not hit on one side, I am punched on the other will the realization that no matter what I do, it won’t measure up for this man because I am neither June nor Sue. Though they are absent, they are very much present. Just like Pius XIII, I could have everything going for me but destined to collapse from a broken heart simply because he is in no way over one or maybe both of his former lovers. Absence is presence.

What he doesn’t realize is that I did have the revelation. Though it was Pius XIII the character who guided me through the much needed steps I needed to take, deep down I had somewhat known. The signs were all there. But now I have to ask myself, do I want to live like this? Do I really want to play second seat to a former lover? Realistically, I know that I am worth way more than that and deserve so much better. Somewhere out there I am certain will exist somebody who would love and cherish me as a whole of myself without comparing me to any portion of his past. Am I mad about this? It hurts much the same as I witnessed Pius XIII grabbing his chest and collapsing. I really want to tell him that despite what his mouth is saying, that I do know better. However, I think to myself, what’s the use? It’s a waste of energy because I now recognize that his heart belongs to someone else, and really, how can I be mad? I love him enough to let him go because in the end she will make him happiest. It is mature to accept the truth as it is revealed to you because there’s no use fighting it.

I believe that perhaps at first he may have loved me. Perhaps it was really the thought of me. He is 19 years older than me. The thought of being with a much younger woman was probably what drove him to walk in my direction. I’m sure my gullibility and vulnerability was painted all over my face. Whatever I believe, the truth is that I can’t be too sure what feelings he may have had for me. Whatever it was however, isn’t real existent any longer. He had his 20 something years with June and 10 something with Sue before her so it isn’t unrealistic to see the clear picture here. All I want to do now is wish him well and disappear.

Now it takes my acting upon the revelation. He is only the 3rd person I have ever been with my entire life. My first lover was a high school thing where he cheated and I walked away. I really didn’t want to date anyone in high school but felt pressured to do it because the others referred to me as a lesbian and often bullied me. The truth is that even then I had no true desire to be with anyone. I just didn’t see the relevance of a romantic relationship. My second was abusive but had gotten me pregnant. By my faith of loyalty to an innocent child, I stayed so that my child had both parents. Eventually, I learned this was a mistake. Abuse is an understatement for how I lived with him. Cheating was something he did a lot and he wasn’t afraid to convince me it was my fault and that I can do nothing right. Foolishly over time, I believed just that. My heart was dead, and cold. My third one is my current significant other. A man who used to say things to me that swept me off my feet such as loving everything about me, including my children. But the sad crash of reality showed to me that I will continue to feel insecure and lowly because nothing I do will ever compare to the women before me and that sealed my fate before I ever met the man.

Now, I will renounce my emotions, my feelings, and other facets that make me human and I will resume the rest of what’s left of my life alone. Another lesson that Pius XIII taught me was how we can put ourselves aside to work towards a rediscovery of who we are.

Throughout the show, they kept asking Pius XIII who he was. I had to wonder myself, who am I? What I understood was that I couldn’t even answer that question. My road going forward will be a desolate one of self discovery and rebirth. Somehow I am convinced that I will visit the house I had dreamed about for years that sits nestled in a forest with a lake just behind it. Each time I had this dream, I walked through the sliding glass doors onto a dock and just as I reached the edge, I pass away. Perhaps this is where I shed from myself my former life, or perhaps it will be my actual death. Either way, I am finally ready.

3 thoughts on “Lessons from Pius XIII”

  1. Quite similar to my situation, though you have not one, but two to juggle. Working tirelessly towards a resolution in a failing relationship is harder on the human mind than one might perceive. In the event which you are compared and pinned up against anyone other than who and what you are is a clear indication that you have already lost the battle. Not only will you never reach his expectations, but you will find yourself exhausted from trying to achieve his unrealistic expectations. You will also begin to view yourself in negative ways, and this is counter-productive to self growth. By reading you tonight, I did see a lot of myself within your explanations, but remember, though similar, nothing is ever identically the same (are you a psychologist by the way? you certainly have the tools of one.) It appears that you have come to terms with the truth, and are experiencing the aftermath (much like my road to the heart attack) so I will offer you this piece of advice: do all with what you can within yourself to avoid letting this situation get you sick. Nothing and nobody is worth your life and you are on a superior level. A level that most could not possibly comprehend. Spearhead the solitude and reach your inner peace.

  2. I forgot to answer your initial question ‘why Pius?’ This isn’t widely known knowledge but let me teach you. Francesco Forgione was Saint Pio (Pius) of Pietrelcina whom was widely known as a stigmatic and mystic. In my early behavioral studies, we were assigned to dissect unusual human behavior, and Francesco was my subject. My final paper on Francesco granted me my Psy.D. and guaranteed placement.

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