Many people jump to the conclusion that I am an atheist because I am not religious anymore and can be very critical of organized religion. However, I am not an atheist. I do often listen to atheist podcasts and read atheist books, but I also sometimes listen to and read material from spiritual or religious sources (even the crazy ones, although I listen to them more for amusement). I find myself overall agreeing more with secular thought, but I do feel that differing points of view are essential for having a realistic, down-to-earth view of life.
If I had to choose a label for myself spiritually, it would be agnostic. I’m not really sure what the hell is going on. I’m not a deist, because I’m not positive that there is a greater being or consciousness, although I hope there is to an extent. I don’t believe in the specific gods of any earthly religions, but I wouldn’t mind if there were some wiser (and hopefully caring) beings, or at least some sort of a meaning to all that is.
Because of the state of the world and the suffering, abuse, and slaughter of the innocent, I find it hard to believe in an “all good” being in power, unless that being gave us a choice about being here and what we would face. If earth were some kind of “school” where we choose the lessons we want to learn or the experiences we want to have, then I could see how the powers that be could still be moral and have values. Otherwise, their absence and inaction in the face of so much injustice and pain speaks volumes.
I do not believe in “original sin”. I do not believe in a God who must spill innocent blood in order to be able to forgive someone else for doing something wrong (seriously, how is that even ok???) I do not believe in a being that has such a huge ego all they want is to be worshiped for all eternity (too Donald Trumpish for my taste). I do not believe that there is necessarily an afterlife or heaven/hell, but if there is I would not be shocked or upset unless there was some kind of tyrant running things. If there is some sort of being in charge of it all, I simply hope that they are just and kind, but not cruel or punitive.
Unfortunately, I’ve faced a great deal of abuse in my somewhat short lifespan. Physical abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse, and emotional abuse. Most of this abuse happened when I was growing up and happened at the hands of people I should have been able to trust and look to for protection.
There is a part of me that desperately wants to be open about all the things that happened and purge my heart and soul of them publicly. I want to speak the truth out loud and shed light on things that have always lived alone in the darkest part of my psyche. However, I find myself so scared to share the truth and feeling immense guilt at the thought of outing those who were responsible. I feel protective towards my abusers because I still love them through it all and feel guilty at the thought of tarnishing their reputations, both the living and the dead.
Why, oh why do I still feel such loyalty and duty to those who hurt me the most deeply and betrayed me the most selfishly and cruelly? Why am I swamped in guilt for just wanting to be open and honest about my own experiences? Why must this battle between my need for expression and my sense of loyalty tear me apart? How do I ever find healing?
* Art by Maranda Russell
“Time flies” is an expression we often hear, and there may be some truth to it, especially when it comes to “time flies when you’re having fun”. I’ve noticed time doesn’t fly nearly as much if you are depressed or in pain, which is unfortunate, since that is the time it would be best for time to pass swiftly. Just another little unfair quirk of reality. However, I am thankful for the times that do run as swift as a flooded river, because the memories of those good times help get me through the days when time crawls by like a wounded caterpillar. In appreciation of those good times, I created the above little mixed media collage ACEO artwork and thought I would share it with all of you.
Sometimes I’ve worried about being so open about my own mental illnesses and specifically, my struggles with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. There is a part of me that absolutely know that there are a few narrow-minded people who probably read my posts (if they even bother) and then feel superior or like there is something wrong with me because I have these struggles. Some of these people are even distantly related to me in one way or another. I can see them being gleefully smug, shaking their heads and thinking people like me make all this up for attention or just don’t want to be working members of society. I can hear the Fox News points they would reiterate right now.
So, knowing that is likely going on behind my back, why do I even bother? Because I want to be genuine and real. I want to be me. I want to be honest. I want to help others feel less alone. And I figure if those people mocking me weren’t too narcissistic or proud to seek help, a psychiatrist or psychologist would have a field day with them anyhow! After all, who is the worst person? The person that has real struggles and issues and admits to them and works on them, or the person who thinks they are better than everyone else and has to gossip behind other peoples’ backs to feel better about themselves?
I have found myself
at a loss for words, but here
they come anyhow…
All the lighthouses!
All the lighthouses!
Yet there’s no light to be found.
(Yes, I know the second one is irregular form, but I felt it sounded better with the first line repeated, so I broke the rules!)
I recently came across the following quote by philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and it really struck me as deeply true, at least for me. No matter what I choose to do or choose not to do in life, there is always a part of me that wonders if I made the right choice and won’t shut up with the “what ifs”:
“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”
What do you have to teach me? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Once I thought you did – you seemed so sophisticated and knowledgeable, but those were simply projections of the person you wished you could be. Inside you resides only a quivering emptiness. Every attempt to reach outside of yourself slowly sinks into the abyss, becoming forever lost within the caverns of what could have once been.
Now it is obvious it was never meant to be, and the time has come to move on. If only I could throw this endless, undying desire to be loved back in your face as you vacantly stare through me, always searching for your own reflection. I wish just once you could see only me. But even now, as I walk away, the only reflection mirrored in your eyes is yourself.