So according to my therapist, I am still angry, I am still fighting giving up my autonomy, and I need to redefine the God in which I believe, since the one that I used to believe in doesn’t jibe with my new world view. Which is true. I used to believe in a God that cared about you and watched over you. I don’t believe that any more, and I haven’t had much luck trying to fake it, either.
So what do I believe?
I don’t know any more. All of the constructs I used to employ to allow faith to co-exist with my otherwise science-heavy world view have fallen apart. There appears to be no larger lesson, no ultimate purpose, and certainly no answer to the question, “Why me?” Which means that life is just as random as I have lately grown to suspect, and suffice it to say, randomness has never been accused of benevolence.
My therapist offered that the inner resources to deal with said unbenevolent randomness is what some people mean when they talk about “higher power.” It seems reasonable enough, and less construct-dependent than my previous god. After all, something has been keeping me from giving up through all of this, and I’m having trouble assimilating that fact with my historically anemic coping strategies. While it’s true that over the last few years I had developed some good ones: running, which was replaced by swimming when my knee gave out; writing and playing music; and cleaning/organizing my personal space, this injury has taken all of those away from me, and I’ve had to travel pretty far outside my brief to come up with a couple of new ones.
Still, the fact that I haven’t slipped into my old habits of wine, chocolate, and wallowing is pretty surprising in and of itself, and could, on the face of it, point to some other resource that has been bearing me along. But now there’s a little voice in my head saying Is that all? Because I’ve been barely hanging on, over here. Whatever might be providing some modicum of assistance doesn’t seem to be up to the task of serving as an anchor.
I used to think that people who didn’t believe in God (or at least, didn’t believe in a caring, benevolent one) were missing out on some essential secret to happiness. I thought the eventual state of spiritual peace was inextricably linked to a belief in a God-presence acting palpably in one’s life. I pitied atheists’ cold, godless existences, states of perpetual dusk with no such comfort.
Now I am one of those athiests, and I miss the sunny playground where I and my prodigal God used to live. I’ve since inferred from various mentors that leaving that playground is a necessary step for continued spiritual growth. This is a new idea, to me, and at first, I didn’t get it. Why wouldn’t I want to stay in the sun, if I could? Everyone I knew there was so happy. Isn’t that the point of living, to be happy? I wanted so much to be happy, like them, and the hazy, soft-focus lens of recall has tricked me into thinking I was happy when I was there, although I have to recognize that this may not be true.
It doesn’t matter either way, though, because just like my dream in the abandoned lot, I apparently don’t belong in that playground, and it’s been hammered home with authority that life doesn’t come with a happiness guarantee. But if not, then what is the point?
Perhaps there isn’t one, and I should just get over it. “Why?” is the wrong question, my therapist insists. So what is the right one? Is it, “How?” as in, “How do I find the resources to keep going?” Not that I’ve gotten much guidance in that department. I feel completely unprepared by prior experience to deal with the gaping abyss my condition has dropped me into. Through much of the first twenty-ish years of my life, I was bombarded with messages from school, parents, teachers, and other adults-who-know-these-things, that I was supposed to “follow my dreams” and “live up to my potential.” I was special, they all said. (Did they say that to everybody? Because that would make it rather cruel, if you ask me.) I was so talented, and smart, and clever, and funny, so clearly, I was destined for great things.
Well, clearly, I wasn’t. And I wonder if maybe this wouldn’t have been such a long drop and a hard fall on my ass if the expectations hadn’t been set so high. Because despite being blessed with all of this supposed talent, it appears that I’m not going to be physically able to actually use much of any of it. Nor pass it on to anyone else, because I am also an evolutionary dead-end; I will not bear any children of my own, both because of bad choices before this happened, as well as, of course, because this happened.
There’s supposed to be a God in this post somewhere. The whole point of this entry was to try to talk myself into one, or at least, into a place of being open to one. But perhaps with heartbreak and resentment occupying all the available space, there’s no room for anything else to take hold and flourish right now. Even though I know, intellectually, that once I do find a God of some sort to inform all of this (or at least, inform my part of it) things will get easier, I’m just not there.
Truth be told, I don’t want to be there. I’m pissed that I’ve lost all control over what happens to me, and that all choice in what I do with my life has been yanked away, such that my only remaining options are “much less” and “nothing.” What the hell kind of choices are those? And in darker moments, I’m ashamed to say that of my limited options, “nothing” can look pretty good.
I’m so tired, all the time. Even this low level of functioning that I’m asking of myself is exhausting. It would be much easier to admit defeat, concede any independence I might have hoped to gain, and be done with it, instead focusing my energy on getting used to the idea of being someone’s (or something’s) ward. Although, does anyone ever really get used to something like that?
Well, I used to be comfortable being God’s ward, I suppose. But I’ve recently come to the realization that I’m an orphan. And as the list of things I thought I could do but now never will grows longer and longer, it’s become more and more obvious that whatever parent-type God I thought I had never really existed at all.
And if I’ve gotten this far without it, what’s the point of trying to build up another one?
Hey, I just thought I’d drop you a note to say I always look out for your posts and find your style of writing to be incredibly subtle and beautiful. This piece was particularly moving.
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Wow, thank you so much, I’m honored.