Thursday, September 3, 2009

Prayer Bugs Me

My mother never pried. She had faults as a mother, but invasion of privacy was never one of them. She knew the importance of private thoughts. While I think her unwillingness to pry into my feelings left her unaware of the pain and mental confusion I was in for a long time, I have to say I value and respect the choice she made to let me be my own person, with my own thoughts and feelings. I could leave my diary open on the coffee table and know that she'd never read it.

Yet, I always felt better writing outside of the house, somewhere secret and quasi-magical. It was down by the blackberry patch at the creek when I was a small child, then onto a copse of trees beside a frozen golf course waterfall at the first place in Iowa, and either in a tree at the edge of a cornfield or on top of a wall holding back a hill from a parking lot at the second place in Iowa. When we first moved back to Florida, in to the apartments, I would sit beneath the willow tree on the bank of the man-made lake; once we moved into the house in the suburbs, I sat at on the dock at the riverfront park down the road.

So it shouldn't have surprised me, at 20 years old and living in my own place, that I still might feel the need to leave to write in peace. I remember crying, gasping in big tantruming toddler gulps of air, sobbing out loud to Jesus. "They say you won't give me more than I handle, but I'm telling you, I can't handle this! It's too hard. It never gets any easier and it never gets any better. Every time I think it's gonna get better, it just gets worse, and I'm tired of fighting all the damn time!" At the time, I was crying about money and how there just didn't seem to be enough of it. At other times, I cried nearly the exact same script, at the end of my rope, utterly desperate, crying heavenward and begging for mercy. Sometimes things would seem to get a little bit better following one of these break downs, but I didn't seem to be getting spiritual fruit or reaping any benefit for the trials I was going through. I was under the impression that when God tested you, when He gave you all that you could handle, when you survived it, you were rewarded for remaining faithful. Wasn't that the whole point of Job?

I feel sad and betrayed when I look back on those times. I knew that I needed help to carry life's burdens, but because I thought God was going to do that - and when there were only one set of footprints in the sand, that meant He was carrying me - I didn't look hard enough at the resources around me. Two weeks later, one night instead of calling on God, I called the suicide hotline. I'm typing this today because that was the right choice. It would still be another year till I got my first mental health diagnosis, and another five years till I found the right combination of diet, exercise, sleep, and medication, but it was a start. I was beginning to deal with my problems, instead of waiting on God to fix my breakfast.

Because God was nothing more than a voice in a head, He could never offer any comfort I wasn't capable of giving myself, or any insight I was incapable of having. Reliance on God, in mental and emotional anguish as in all things, caused me more pain. When I depend on God, when I say "It's all in His hands", I stop taking positive actions in my own life.

I would have gotten a therapist, a diagnosis, and medication sooner if I hadn't been raised in a faith healing cult, certainly. But I think I would have got them sooner still if I hadn't been raised a believer. I hate prayer now. It actively infuriates me when people bow before an imaginary construct, grovel and beg NOTHING, to fix their problems instead of working to fix them themselves.

I still struggle with money and I still struggle with a list of mental disorders. I am still crazy. But I don't have to beg any god to make me sane now - I can take medications, make alterations to my lifestyle, avoid certain foods. I can manage my life without a higher power. Believing in one hindered my drive for self-sufficiency and kept me dependent and child-like long past the time the world expected me to behave as an adult.