Wow. Everyone strap yourself in. It’s a Religion Post.
This is going to be hard to put out there, because it basically encompasses a HUGE amount of what my life is about. It is also the most complicated thing, for me, and I have a lot of problems with myself, concerning religion. You’ll see what I mean here in a while.
Let’s start out small. My mom’s side of the family are hard to describe, spiritually. My grandparents are Jewish, so they don’t celebrate Christmas, really… but they don’t celebrate any Jewish holidays that I know of, either. They refer to themselves as Scripture-ists, to the best of my knowledge. My mother, for a long time, struggled to find her own religious preference within Christianity, and found herself at home in a non-denominational church. That was not too long ago, but since then, she has gone back to her roots, to what her parents believe. So, there’s that. As for the rest of my mother’s family, with the exception of a few of them, I am not really sure what they believe in– and I’m honestly not social enough to even talk to my own family (which is bad).
But my Dad’s side of the family is a little easier to dissect. I have one word for you: Baptist. This word also speaks for Vlad’s family. Baptist.
But that’s enough about that, really. That was just to show you that pretty much everyone that I consider my family (with the exception of friends that I call family, namely Denkir the Filtiarn) is a Christian.
In another post, or page, on depression, I believe I said something about insulting myself every day to keep myself from becoming vain. That was because I knew it was a sin to be vain (ugliest sin of them all, I’m told) and I saw what it did to everyone else. I grew up under many cousins and my sister who ended up doing things that proved disastrous (like my sister running away from home to see boys, or dropping out of high school) and I was always told that I should learn from their mistakes. I would always tell them that I wouldn’t replicate them, because I could learn. It was a lot of pressure, and it formed the base mask for both Katrina and Xiao (which you can learn more about in the post “What it Truly Means to Hate Yourself”) because I wanted to be more than what I really was. I wanted to be something that didn’t have to rely on others to become what I wanted to be– but it was more than that.
Even when I started writing, I kept God in it, even in subtle ways. Of course, the parts that mentioned God were lost on my mother, who read a part that had to do with slaying demons and she worried that I was writing things that “I shouldn’t have been”. She told me not to talk about my writing to my grandparents, and perhaps that’s why I never shared my story with anyone in my family thereafter. I was afraid of being called Satanic.
Nowadays, I’m called devilish for an entirely different reason (namely being gothic) but that’s irrelevant.
I never really understood God as a kid. I just knew that he was supposed to be there. The rest was lost on me. In kindergarten, I stopped praying, for a reason that to this day makes me upset. My mawmaw was in a car wreck, and I prayed that she would be okay. Now, as a five year old, I had faith that God would take care of her, so I would be able to see her again. I left it at that, and believed that she would get better. That didn’t happen. I think I stopped praying entirely not long after that, feeling betrayed. I didn’t talk about it to anyone, because I didn’t know what to say. No one else seemed to feel as betrayed.
After that, I kept my religion at a minimum, I guess. I knew that God was there, I just didn’t know how to approach Him. I also had this complex going (that I still have today) about asking for help. In my family (at least on Mom’s side) asking for help is enough to get a weird look or a snide remark. So I grew up with a strong negative connotation for asking for assistance. Especially from people I love or trust. I would rely on my writing, on my stories, to get myself through hard times, rather than ask God for help. I felt like he wouldn’t have time to help me, because he didn’t have time to help mawmaw (child logic). Over the years, I let go of the whole mawmaw situation, and tried to appeal to God. I asked for someone to love me, and again was disappointed.
Cue another few years of turmoil. I was alone, and refused to ask for help from anyone. By the time I was in middle school, I was severely depressed, gaining weight, and was questioning whether or not I was lying when I would tell people I was a Christian. I certainly didn’t feel like one.
Enter high school. It was the strangest time of my life– but not for the reason you are thinking. There are things that went on in the background, involving me drinking liquor, giving tattoos, and swearing like a sailor. It was a point in my life where I was starting to sink even lower. Between freshman and sophomore year, during summer vacation, I was almost raped.
I had gotten drunk, and passed out in my bed. When I woke up, my mom’s boyfriend was lying next to me with his hand in my pants, touching me. I told him that I needed to use the bathroom, and ran to the door, which was locked, and thanks to my drunken stupor remaining, I didn’t have the function to open it myself. He opened it for me and then told me angrily to go to the bathroom. I locked myself in there and just stared at the wall for a long time. I was afraid that he would break the lock and force his way in there– he had broken the lock before in a rage– and I waited until I heard him leave. There is a lot more to that story that I don’t know how to go into detail with, or whether I should… Let’s just say that it split my family in two, and I didn’t see my mother for years. She and I have made our peace with that, and I can’t blame her for what someone else tried to do– but the memories sure didn’t help me keep my sanity.
After those events, my depression spiraled to an all-time low. I was thinking of using my father’s shotgun while I was home alone to take my face off, since that was the only thing on me that was pretty (was still gaining weight). In the end, I decided that I wouldn’t do that to him, and I was also afraid that I would go to Hell.
I knew that, even if I thought God didn’t pay me any attention because I wasn’t as awesome as other people, if I killed myself, I would be beyond forgiveness. That much had been clear t0 me.
“An eternity in hell, or another 80 years in misery? And surely it would get better eventually, right? Just take it day by day. You don’t even have to talk to anyone about it. Just keep to your stories, and keep to your songs, and keep your head. Literally. Plus, isn’t that what you deserve, for being so weird? You deserve all this misery that comes with memory and with day to day activities.”
That was seriously what I would tell myself. Every day.
Things actually improved a lot when my boyfriend at the time dumped me. I cried happy tears when he did. When I told him what had happened, his first reaction was “Are you still a virgin?” And I told him, yes, I was. He said, “Okay. Good.” Like it was no big deal. No problem. He just didn’t want to date damaged goods.
The space thereafter was still an almost God-less time. I didn’t know how to approach Him because I felt like I didn’t deserve forgiveness for any small thing that I’d done. I felt that there was some kind of thing I needed to do, some kind of sacrifice I needed to make to make up for the stupid stuff I’d done, and the times I’d considered killing myself.
I felt like trash, made worse by the treatment that reinstated that feeling.
Now. I want you to take a wild guess as to what turned my life back around? Or rather, who?
Yup. Vlad, again.
When Vlad and I started dating, I was terrified that I would get dumped right when I started to get attached to him (like what happened with the boyfriend before him). I even intentionally tried to run him off by telling him about what had “Almost Happened”. No matter what I said, though, he stayed with me. I started to think that maybe God had just been waiting all that time to make me really appreciate what I had asked for so long ago, when it finally appeared to me. Vlad never pushed me into anything (he was too shy. I was his first girlfriend) and would frequently talk to me about God. That was a first for me, relationship-wise. Or friend-wise. Basically, I had never had anyone sit down and talk to me about God.
But the journey out of the hole was a long one. My mood improved quickly, especially when he was around, but when we were apart, I found it hard to believe that I was anything special. I found it hard to love myself at all. I started to think that the damage was done and I would always hate myself.
We were together for over two years before we had our first fight. Seriously. We never once argued in those first years. Our friends were envious, and we (or I at least) feared that there was something wrong because we didn’t fight. During that time, I had come to a plateau in my mind. I still hated myself a lot, and refused to ask for help.
It wasn’t until I started living on my own and “became” gothic that I started to get over my self-hatred. Living on my own went smoothly for a while, but about a year ago is when things changed. In two weeks time, I crashed my car and my purse was stolen. When I got my card renewed at work, that was stolen, and all of my money was lost. It was right before Christmas, too.
I remember I was sitting there, and Vlad was talking to me. He told me that I needed to learn to ask for help, or I was going to end up living on the streets. I broke down and started telling him about how I was afraid to ask, and how I had told myself “just get through tomorrow” every night before I went to bed, so I would feel like I was succeeding at surviving, at least for that day. He told me that he wanted me to pray. I think I just looked at him stupidly for a while. He told me, “Every night, I pray for you. I worry about you a lot. Even if it’s just for my sake, would you try praying tonight?”
That was actually when things started to get better, I think. The lady that lives in the apartment below me has also helped me a lot, concerning religion. I also got back in touch with my mother, and she became closer to God. There were people all around me, pushing me toward God, and I was afraid to go with that pull. I was afraid to look up, and I didn’t even understand why.
Since that time, though, I have got to where I know God is helping me. I still have trouble asking for help, but He still helps me. Even if it’s just something simple, like someone smiling at me even though I am wearing all black (which is hard to find around here), I know that there’s someone on my side out there.
Now, for people who don’t believe in God. I understand that. And I’m not forcing my opinion and beliefs down anyone’s throat. I expect the same courtesy. I might not be the most amazing success story, but that’s because my journey is not finished yet (“This isn’t even my final form!” lol gamer reference!) and I know that there is a lot of stuff I have yet to do and a lot more stuff that is yet to challenge me. I’m not saying I’m the most religious person, because I’m not. Plus, the word “religious” is not what I would use. I believe in God. I believe that he created the world. And I believe that he actually does love everyone, and doesn’t play favorites.
On a final note: my insecurities about my beliefs (the word religion is not what it used to be, in my opinion).
My biggest problem so far throughout life is that God loves everyone, and yet for some reason, I thought that I was different. I thought that I didn’t fall into the brackets “everyone”. I thought that I was the exception to the rule, for no adequately explained reason. Sometimes, I still feel that, but I have no idea why. Then I started writing another story (this was during high school. I believe it was after the “Thing that Almost Happened”) and was writing a section of it about a character that I had created that at first I hadn’t liked at all. In fact, I created him specifically to abuse. However, I later discovered that the character was beloved to me. It came as a shock. When I wrote more about him, he became the focus, the one who, even through abuse and sadness, was the one whose death brought a tear to my eye.
I got to thinking. Maybe I was like that. Hated by myself and maybe others, the person who created me sees something in me that isn’t obvious at first. Something heart-wrenching that makes a huge difference somewhere down the line. I am necessary. I am needed, in this story. I might not be the protagonist, but I exist, and I exist for a reason, whatever that may be.
I might share that exerpt to that story (if I can find it anywhere. I might have lost it over time). It was heart-rendering just how suddenly my attitude toward the character changed.
If you’re curious about that, do ask.
Okay… I think I answered all of that. I think I did okay.
If not… tell me.