Whew, life has been
both good and bad weird lately!
Since the fallout with family, things have slowly improved with relation to how I’m handling all of it. For the first several days, I was in full meltdown mode and did nothing but replay the email exchanges and phone call in my head to the point that I hardly got any sleep. I put in an emergency call with my therapist as well as discussed the situation in my post-fundamentalist religion recovery support group. Well, bawled and discussed is more accurate. Everyone was supportive. The doctor asked me whether I’d rather have truth or peace, and I sobbed out, “peace!” That probably wasn’t the answer she was expecting to hear.
A few interesting things came from the call, though. For one thing, a woman on the call said that it’s a misnomer that being a believer means you’ll have peace on your deathbed. She gave the example of her parents who were both believers but did not have peaceful deaths. Another woman said that when her grandmother died, she kept repeating, “I believe in Jesus, I believe in Jesus…” over and over, almost as if she were trying to convince herself. She said it was a very sad thing to witness. A few people on the call shared that they had also had the extreme anxiety that I was having about the afterlife but that it lessened or was eliminated by the work they had done.
In thinking about my life over the last couple of weeks, I’ve come to realize that my fear of death and damnation in the afterlife is really just a part of a bigger problem with anxiety rather than THE problem. I had thought it was this core issue I needed to figure out and fix. In reviewing my life, fear/anxiety has been a major issue. If, when I get these episodes of terror about eternal damnation, I can remind myself that this is an anxiety issue over an unknown that I can’t control rather than a terrifying reality, then I can focus on accepting the anxiety as it is.
Annnnd, my mom’s behavior has actually helped me to let go of some old baggage with Christianity. I was thinking that if she were really worried about whether I’d have peace on my deathbed, then she’d be responding to me in a way that exemplified Jesus’s behavior. After all, when she dies, all that I’ll have left are memories and emails/letters. So are her words about genuine concern regarding the state of my soul on my deathbed, or is it more about inciting fear in retaliation? I think the latter.
In Christianity there’s also something called the “fruit of the Spirit,” and it’s “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentlessness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (Galatians 5:22-23). She does not exhibit these qualities, and while there are likely some Christians who do, it’s been my experience that most do not. One might say that these are not intended to be proofs of salvation; however, I see them as indicators of a greater issue, which is that Christians don’t seem to act any better than those who don’t have faith. In most Christians I’ve encountered, their behavior is worse. So what do they have that anyone else would need? Nothing. Is it just delusion and a coping mechanism? I’m beginning to believe so.
Before that conference call, I wrote to a prominent southern California psychologist, Dr. Robert Duff who runs The Hardcore Self-Help Podcast, which I’ve mentioned here before. I shared a brief history of growing up fundamentalist, being labeled rebellious by my mom, and my grief and guilt over needing to distance myself from my family. To my surprise, he shared (anonymously) my email on the air and gave some feedback. You can listen to it here (episode 142, first question).
In other news, yesterday I had an appointment with my hand surgeon regarding that lump in my hand. I was glad to see it did show up on the MRI. They said it’s a mass (benign) and that it won’t go away, so I opted to go ahead and have it removed. My surgery is next Wednesday on January 23. I was surprised to hear it’ll be under general anesthesia.
Not much else going on. Social life has been nonexistent. We had a book club meeting, but I opted not to go because medication was giving me an upset stomach and I didn’t read the book and just didn’t want to go anyway. C. is still depressed but has been placed on an additional medication that is supposed to start helping within a week or so, and I’m hoping he gets relief soon.
We’re still watching The Man in the High Castle, and oh, it’s good! If you haven’t checked out this Amazon series, I highly recommend it!