Alone in the world.

As I child I was alone alot. I spent my time at the library reading books after school. Home was not a welcome place for me. My mom and older sister made home a living hell. I would get yelled at for every little thing I did and didn't do. At school I got picked on and made fun of. This occured all through school into high school. I was a loner and didn't have many friends. The one friend I had I sacrificed for what I thought was a chance to be popular. I really regret that now. I wish I could apologize to Tina for that. So I spent my time reading,watching television, and living in a fantasy world.I was very lonely growing up.

Religion was a comfort. The thought that a God was out there somewhere thinking about you and caring for you. Angels were fighting battles for your spiritual welfare. God was looking in on you from birth (Psalm 139). It gave me comfort to believe that someone out there cared. When I found a church that seemed to consist of people who cared I felt like I had hit the lottery. I was no longer alone. I could be myself and my efforts to care for others would be appreciated. I realized twenty years later that I was a statistic and not a lost soul to these people. I did make some life long friends and forged some close relationships but most of them didn't seem to last.

When I left the church I felt that childhood lonliness creep back up into my psyche again. I tried to escape it by ignoring it. I looked to my husband to fill the lonliness but he was depressed too ( for different reasons). Reading books wasn't something that gave me comfort like they used to. I really felt alone and exposed. I felt as if something terrible was going to happen to me or my husband. After all life is full of surprises. What happened before can happen again and usually does. I felt an extreme sense of anxiety and vulnerability. It was hard getting out of bed and leaving my home to go anywhere. I felt angry and betrayed that I had fallen for such a lie as religion.

There was no god watching out for me. No angels are protecting me from harm. Jesus didn't hear my prayers because He'd never existed. If I wanted good things to happen in my life I was to be the one to make them happen. I have to answer my own prayers. When I was alone I was really alone. I had some friends and some family pulling for me but that is it. In this world we need to help and encourage each other and answer each other's prayers.

Feeling lonely is a realistic emotion. We are social creatures. We are raised to seek out other people in relationships. Child molesters know this. They take advantage of a child's innocence and desire to connect to other people. My parents took care of my physical needs but they never took care of my emotional needs. That's why me and my sister were willing marks for the church we joined. We were still looking for that connection with people. We wanted to be loved. The church recognized that need and love bombed us. We were hooked; constantly trying to find the love we didn't get as children.

What I have learned is that it is o.k. to feel lonely. For so long I thought there was something wrong with me. Feeling alone and lonely is natural and doesn't have to be scary. Listening to music, reading, writing, all help me with my lonliness. Staying connected with friends and family also helps the lonliness in my heart.

Now that I am an anthiest I appreciate the human spirit so much more. People overcome adversity in their lives with astonishing strength and force of will. The human spirit can be indomitable and full of positive energy. In my own life being able to work despite my illness was my own personal victory over adversity. To be honest I gave up a few years ago. I just existed and didn't try to forge a new path. I was extremly depressed and discouraged; especially after I was denied disability for the third and last time. I just sat down and waited to be thrown out on the street. It was hard to overcome my feelings of failure.

The last five years have been hard but they are part of my journey in life. I had to experience this depression and lonliness to appreciate the positive things in life. I think writing this blog has helped me put things in perspective. I am able to see the changes I have made since my last manic episode. I am able to take small steps toward feeling better about myself and my future.

Life After God

I became a Christian believer at the tender age of 9. I read the New Testement and immediately fell in love with Jesus. A few years later at the age of 12 I was offered the chance to be baptized but I opted out. I was terrified of going in front of a bunch of people and reveal my faith to the world. I participated in the church youth group until I graduated High School. I was considered to be very spiritual. I remember going to a youth group retreat and praying that I would find genuine Christianity and a real conversion.

My sister was going to a church so after a semester of spiritual backsliding I felt compelled to try it out. I met some girls who were also attending the University of Colorado. I gave one of them my number. She called me and invited me to a Bible talk. I thought it was harmless so I went. Next thing I knew I was studying the Bible with them. I studied for seven months. I was baptized on July 3, 1988. I was really excited. My prayer had been answered. I spent the next 20 years trying really hard to be a good disciple of Jesus. Most of the time I felt like a spiritual failure. Having Bipolar disorder really made hard for me to live up to the demanding standard of discipleship that people in the church taught.

I felt incredibly burdened to spread the Gospel to all creation and be a perfect disciple. It was exhausting. I saw a therapist in 2002 and realized how much the church had damaged me emotionally and spiritualy. The constant "discipling" by people who were over me in the Lord really corrupted my self-esteem. I couldn't go to church for a while. Then I was nagged for not going to church. When I had a panic attack at church I realized this environment was wrong. I was afraid to leave because I didn't want to go to hell. I stayed but my love for God was gone. I no longer believed that he would protect me and take care of me. We went through an eighteen month period of unemployment. We lost the house. We almost ended up on the street except for the help of people in the church and my mother-in-law.

In 2004 I had a severe manic episode. I was in the hospital for two weeks. After I got out I was severely depressed and suicidal. I remained that way for 3 years. During that time going to church became a burden. I hooked up with a forum online that talked about my church. I decided to leave. I still had faith in God, though. After about a year away from the church I began to doubt the existence of God. I began to wonder if my spirituality was connected to my illness. When I was manic I was very religious and spiritual. I could feel the presence of God. When I was depressed I felt that God was condemning me. I just didn't feel God's presence anymore. I began to see the contradictions in God's personality and wondered how on earth was anyone supposed to be able to please such a volatile personality. The concept of hell baffled me too. How can a loving god send most of his creation to hell for not choosing to obey Him or follow Him? It made no sense. I concluded that God did not exist. At least the God that is written about in the Bible,Koran, or Book of Mormon.

I went through a period of sadness and mourning for my faith. I missed praying and being in the fellowship. I was also extremely anxious because I realized there was no God watching over me there were no angels fighting for my safety. I stayed in touch with some friends from my church but I no longer had the same outlook on life they had. They still hoped that what I was going through was a phase and I would repent and return to the church. After a year or so, I began to feel better. The anxiety faded and the sense that I was condemned to hell went away. I began to feel more alive and thankful for the small blessings in life. The idea of heaven was hard to part with especially after my sister died.

I now believe that we are spiritually recycled. Nature recycles everything so why not our souls? Who we are dies with us but a part of us becomes part of another life. I think Evolution is a theory that is still in development and isn't perfect. It is an observation of nature and I accept it as the closest thing we have to what happened to life. Now when I think of the Bible I think it's a nice fictional story. I don't think Jesus ever really existed. He was created by men. So were Mary and the disciples. I think there is a purpose to nature and it is directed somehow by a force of life but that isn't a God necessarily.

I feel better as an atheist than I ever did as a Christian. The guilt and drive to be perfect has melted away into a general feeling of goodwill towards mankind. I don't fear death as it is a natural cycle of life. I still have some anxiety about life but I don't feel suicidal and defeated when I did as a Christian.

I don't think being a Christian was a waste of time. My character was forged in church and I made some lifelong friends. I think there are good things about Christianity I just don't need it in my life at this point.

Glory Days???

My husband was talking about glory days; a reference to a Bruce Springstein song. He asked if I had some glory days of my own. I said no. My past is full of failures. Failure to get a college degree and failure to get and keep a job. I struggled with Bipolar illness for over a decade. I remember having depressions that would last for years. When I felt better I tried to do things but then the depressions would come back. It's been a constant struggle to keep from killing myselft out of pure misery.

It is really hard to get people to understand what a struggle having a mental illness is. I struggle to get out of bed daily. When I was working I strained and forced myself to go to work and be productive. Some days I barely made it. When I was going to school it was the same thing. I had to "beat my body and make it my slave" to quote Paul in the Bible. People didn't see my struggle. My father believed that I was stupid and lazy. He never saw the struggle I made to get a job and live on my own. He was never proud of me. I was a failure in his eyes. He died worried about me and whether I would make it in life. That thought haunts me but there is nothing I can do about it now.

I need to make the most of the present. I need to work on my writing and find a part time job. If I do these things I'll feel better about myself. I need to make the most of each day and try to take some pleasure from it. It's hard for me to think positively and not worry so much about what might happen. I spend a lot time thinking about the bad things that could happen. I also spend a lot time regretting the past. I don't know how I could have changed the things that happened to me because of my illness. I need to move on from the past and focus on the present and future.