I'll try and make this as short as I can. I grew up in the rural Southern part of the States, raised in Catholic family. I was a 'good' Catholic girl, went to a Catholic school for quite a while, spent more time in the Church than almost anyone in my family besides my grandmother. Around age 14 something changed, I still am not really sure what triggered it but I started to become really disheartened with the Catholic church. Looking back, I equated Catholic with being Christian in general. I was young, and probably a little dumb to think there was nothing besides this and being Protestant, but then again I was living in a town of 1,900 people and those were the only options around I knew of. By 15 I had decided I would not be Catholic, especially after taking a required class in World Religions. Admittedly, I liked Islam because at the time it seemed like a perfect continuation of Christianity to me. I spent close to a year studying off and on, in secret, about Islam and attending classes at the mosque in the next county. I became Muslim when I was 17 right after my senior year of high school started and got married almost as soon as I turned the legal age to do so(2004). I'll skip the entire bit about my family being unhappy because they thought I was throwing my life away, but know they were highly displeased for a good while. Their unhappiness went up when I started to become more and more extreme, attending a Salafi masjid and going by an Arabic name. I stayed this way until around 2009, after I had my first son.
In a nutshell, I could never be a good enough Muslim. I was too nice, too tolerant, too open minded and so on. I wore the abaya, hijab and sometimes niqab, prayed and fasted, and lead a women's revert group. I am an ECE teacher and I taught 4 year olds at the mosque about Allah, Muhammed and Islam on the weekends, too, all trying to be the best Muslim I could to please my creator and somehow make up for my 'faults' I mentioned. By this time my marriage had turned abusive and much of this was not taken seriously by the Muslim community, if anything it was justified using Islam. There is no need to give the details of how and why my marriage ended, but in 2011 I had an annulment that made it void and left to rebuild my life. At this point I was Muslim by outer appearance only, I was empty inside, I almost felt like my Arabic named alter-ego had killed who I really was. I had many encounters during the 2011-12 year with Christians, inviting me to churches, trying to talk to me and tell me about what they said was the truth yet I always said "I am Muslim, no thanks." There was always a little nagging desire though to just go back into a church and see, I think I told myself for memory's sake or something. I clung to Islam, the only thing I had known since I was 17 because I now thought I somehow wasn't good enough for anything else, yet I did not want my children to grow up as Muslims. I had this fear that I would go into a church and everyone would know I used to be Christian and left the faith for Islam, and it would be like when Muslims leave the faith. I thought they would think I was some type of apostate who should be at the very least turned away instantly.
I had become friends with a Coptic Egyptian, and we had the best conversations about Islam and Christianity. It was through this person that I really got my information about Orthodoxy, and how so many of the good things in Islam I liked were taken from early Christianity. I knew I had no desire to go back to being Catholic, yet at this point I did not want to be Muslim anymore either. I visited a few Orthodox churches(all of which were really nice) before seeking out the one and only Greek Orthodox church in my city and attending liturgy there. I am beyond happy to say that this is what I have been seeking since I was 15, it feels like I've finally found my home so to speak. For now I am just attending, but spoke to Father a few weeks ago about catechumen and am hopeful about starting that journey sometime this summer. Sorry if there are holes in my story, I tried to clip out unimportant stuff and just give the basics!