Observing the Anniversary

Posted: November 9, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Sorry, it’s not a book title. Yesterday was my fourth anniversary on WordPress. This is my fourth blog here (the other three have been deleted and now reside only on my hard drive and back up CDs). In honor of this historic occasion, I’ve decided to repost my first ever post. It’s good to look back and see what’s changed, and what hasn’t.

A bit of context: I was still in the closet, still working at the college with Scribble Feather and her partner, still married and living with my children. All the names here are fake, btw.

First Post, Nov 8

So, what am I writing for? [Virginia Woolf would say that the question should be, who am I writing for, but I’ll talk about her another day.] Let me tell you a story…

My acupuncturist Gianni told me a little while ago that depression is often the result of an attempt to repress emotion. A few days later, I was looking for a good place in my house to hang myself. I looked for exposed rafters, decorative architectural features, supports on the posts that hold up the porch roof, but there are none. My only hanging options that evening were doomed to fail in embarrassing ways (pulling down either the gutters or the ceiling fan). So then I started wondering about options to burn the house down. I could light the candles on the kitchen table and then light the table on fire. I could spread the hundreds of student essays I needed to grade around the house then drop a match somewhere. I then realized that I had spent a good half an hour planning a suicide I didn’t actually want to perform. This qualifies as depression, I think.

So I looked inward and saw an enormous ocean of pain, with no limit to depth or breadth. Normally, this ocean has a lid, made of heavy concrete that I had scooted back to peek in and see what the depression was about. I couldn’t spend much time looking at it, because this glimpse of my subconscious actually manifested itself as physical pain. So I pulled the lid back on and buckled down to my grading. In talking with Gianni about this later, he said I needed some help. He also made me promise to call him if I start looking for another way to kill myself.

I met with Father Jim this weekend. He does this “healing prayer” therapy that I’ve used in the past with some success. This time, things were different. He starts by chatting with you about your issues (I’ll get to those another time) and then tells you to let the Holy Spirit take you to a place that is safe and comfortable. I knew I was in trouble when I had a strong negative response to letting some spirit, no matter how holy, take me anywhere. But I wanted to be a good sport, so I tried to visualize someplace safe. I couldn’t do it. Most people seem to have some memories of a home that is safe, but I never did. Most of the places where I have felt safe in the past no longer work. Eventually he said just to use the room we were in, the library at his Episcopal Church of BFE.

Then he wanted me to meet Jesus there. I looked around the room: tall bookshelves, a few chairs, and two doors. In my head, the door to the hall was covered with extra furniture: a dresser and several chairs stacked in front of it. I kept trying to pull down the furniture so I could open the door, but every time I took down a chair there was another in its place. After a few minutes of this, God came in the other door (the one to Fr Jim’s office) and told me that the old ways of interacting with him wouldn’t work any more. I’ve blocked the old methods of communication, despite the fact that I keep trying to force them to work.

Then the images combined: still in the room, I saw that the ocean of hurt I’m carrying around is really just a well, but I’m still keeping that between him and me. He told me to stop blaming everything on him, because most of the events that shaped the well were not his fault. People have their own free will, and God is not going to stop them from hurting me, no matter how far-reaching the psychological consequences. He also said that it doesn’t do me much good to moan about not feeling like God loves me (I’ve been feeling like he’s at least indifferent, possibly antagonistic toward me) because I don’t actually know what it’s like to be loved. In this conversation, the lid came off the well and I looked in it, and he told me to keep the lid off the well. When I asked him how to deal with everything in there, he told me to write.

The most encouraging thing that happened, though, was when God told me that he loves homosexuals, even those who are married with three children. It’s good to know that drifting sexual identity doesn’t affect that relationship, at least. At least it doesn’t have to.

I talked over most of this with my wife Ruth, minus the bit about sexual identity, and realized that I can’t call the God I met in that room Jesus.  God seems like an inadequate name also, it being more of a title than a name. I don’t know what to call God anymore. Maybe I’ll start calling him Steve.

Steve has not proven to be an effective codename for God. He is what He is. I still have a hard time worshiping Jesus, but I can go to a Christian church and sing the songs about a Father who loves me, and even though I may not know what that would look like in the real world, it brings me some peace. It’s helpful that this church is the only place I feel really accepted. But, while I’ve been focusing on healing my emotional issues, it’s surprising to me that as far as my attitude toward God goes, I’m right back where I was four years ago. I had a longstanding flirtation with atheism, but I can’t commit to him any more than I can to Jesus.

But when I talk about my time as one of the faithful as being full of hallucinations and delusions of grandeur, this is a pretty representative example.

I’m having a hot cocoa in my favorite coffeeshop as a small celebration. Raise a glass with me; let’s honor the man I was, and look forward to meeting the man I will become.

  1. Steve says:

    Congratulations on the milestone!

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