I get inspired at the oddest times – mostly when I am nowhere near a computer or any sort of writing implement.  I come up with what I think are amazing ideas and can’t wait to get somewhere to jot them down.  But by the time I can actually sit down and write, the thoughts are gone and they’re replaced with an all too familiar feeling of dread.

I’ve never been a confident person.  It’s not to say that I don’t think that I’m good at things, but I’m constantly comparing myself to other people.  I’ve always found people that are better and smarter and more talented than myself.  The conversation in my head goes like this – “Hey, you’re really good at x, you should do that more!  But this person Y is a lot better at x than you, so why should you even try? You’ll never be as good as Y”.  And lately it’s gone even a step further “Furthermore, Y probably thinks that your work is crap and that you’re a horrible person for even attempting to do something like that.  Why bother?  You’ll just fail or quit like everything else”.  With that battle going on in my brain, the confident part of myself becomes smaller and smaller, shrivelling up into apathy.

The rational part of myself recognises this battle but doesn’t ever step in to call shenanigans.  I can see it going on and since the confidence is gone, I feel absolutely powerless to stop it.  I have to keep fighting every single day to accomplish anything.  This takes perfectionism and polarized thinking to an entirely different level where I’m afraid to enjoy my own life. I’ve blamed the depression for the fact that I can’t enjoy things I used to love.  And while the wonky chemicals in my brain probably have a lot to do with it, I think my confidence level is probably the bigger culprit.

Sometimes is never quite enough
If you’re flawless, then you’ll win my love

Be a good girl
You’ve gotta try a little harder
That simply wasn’t good enough
To make us proud
~ Alanis Morissette “Perfect”

If I trace the journey that my life has taken thus far, I’ll see many forks in the road where I made a choice to quit because I was scared.  I was scared of not being perfect, of not being good enough.  Fear has kept me from trying anything outside my comfort zone.  And I’m afraid to even pat myself on the back for the times when I did leap.  I trusted enough to fall in love.  I moved across the ocean to follow my heart.  I went for a job I didn’t think I’d ever get.  I am strong, but not confident in my own strength.

I used to love writing.  I did it all the time, scribbling on any spare piece of paper I could get my hands on.  When I got my first computer, I was banging away at the keyboard pouring my heart out to the empty pages.  Then I found Livejournal and started sharing.  Sharing feels like it was the worst thing that could have happened to my writing.  I started limiting what I said based on what I thought other people would want to hear.  I started over-editing and over-analyzing every word. I tried to brand myself as an interesting and funny person.  A good friend of mine (at the time) told me that my writing was crap, and I wasn’t an actual writer at all.  She said I was a fraud who would never succeed, certainly not enough to make a career out of it.  And as a result of that critique, my confidence weakened and I stopped.  I stopped sharing.  I stopped writing all together. I only wrote when I had to, when the words were so powerful they were ripping through me.  But I stopped sharing those moments too.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs by strong and brave activists lately and they have awakened in me those same longings to share.  I’ve started keeping a notebook of things I want to blog about.  There are currently 3 or 4 pages of bullet points of things that are important to me that I feel like I need to share.  Topics that are important for me to explore for my own good, and maybe inspire someone else into seeing things in a different way.  I’ve been mad at myself for making excuses as to why I’m not actually WRITING about them.  Today’s topic was not on the list.  But if I can’t conquer this fear, none of these ideas will ever be anything more than bullet points in the spiral notebook in my handbag.

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Unprofessional is crying in a bathroom stall in an office bathroom before it’s even 11 AM.  Unprofessional is someone who can’t take constructive criticism without folding into a stupid crying girl.  That’s me today.

I made a silly mistake, and it got escalated to one of my higher ups.  He emailed me directly advising of the mistake and how to fix it.  And he’s really a nice guy and wasn’t trying to be mean, and even said “hey, it’s a learning thing, and it’s been fixed now, so no worries”

But to me, it awoke in me this horrible fear.  Fear that I’m completely stupid and way over my head and out of my depth and have no idea what I’m doing.  I have been afraid of this for 9 months, that someone is going to find out that I’m a fraud and have no business being in this job.  I’m not confident in my abilities at all, because I have absolutely no background in this kind of thing and I’ve been making it up as I go along this whole time.  Mistakes like this, to me, are unforgivable.  No one died, it didn’t affect the company at all, but in my head, I feel like this is something they could fire me for.

Other times I feel like I’m really good at what I do, and that what I do is important.  But I changed job roles recently, or rather I got more duties handed to me without any training, and I’m still getting my legs under me when it comes to the job I was originally hired to do.  My work ethic seems to be detrimental to myself because I can’t give myself a damn break and forgive myself.

I don’t have time to really analyze where all of this is coming from, but I wanted to post this while I was still feeling it.  I’ve been censoring my posts for weeks, only writing at convenient times and not in the heat of the moment.  There’s something to be said for editing, but I started this blog to analyze the times that I felt irrational and to try to make some sense of them.

Somewhere in my brain, I know that I’m smart enough to handle this job.  I know that I’m not a fraud, and that people are allowed to make mistakes.  But if I know all that, why am I holding back tears as I try not to call myself a stupid pathetic loser?

I remember vividly the first time I ever told my mother about my husband.  I was in the blissful throes of “omg he likes me so much” and I wanted to tell her all about it.  And she said “You know what I love?  Is that you found someone to love you despite your body type.  You know, he loves you as you are”.  I know in my brain that these words were not meant maliciously, because I know my mom loves me.  As I am.  Whatever that means.  But tell my heart that? The words were like weapons and I took them to heart.  As if I was this unlovable person that couldn’t possibly be loved at my weight.  As there was something absolutely wrong with me that someone would have to completely overlook or “get over” before they could decide to love me.But isn’t that what society tells you? If you’re fat, you’re going to die alone and no one will ever love you unless you fit some mold?

A few years ago when I was living in Alabama, one of my coworkers asked why I wasn’t married, since I was about to turn 30.  Ignoring the rudeness of that, I just told her that I hadn’t found the right person yet.  And this woman, who I’d just met a few weeks earlier said to me “Well, you’re just too picky, then.  I know lots of guys who would go out with someone like you“. 

So what can I ascertain from that phrase “someone like you”?  Intelligent? Geeky? Funny? White? Short? Curly haired? Of course not.  And in case it wasn’t clear the first time, she made sure to spell it out for me.  “There are lots of guys who like women with extra meat on their bones”.  Well…good for them, then.  And thanks for thinking that I am not capable of finding someone to love someone like me and that I am being TOO PICKY with something as important as the person with whom I will spend the rest of my life. 

My husband observed that people are so worried about being “PC” that making fun of fat people is the only thing that’s allowed these days.  And in his way, he’s absolutely right.  Being fat is regarded as something that makes you a second class citizen.  And it’s perfectly acceptable for people to tell you how fat and disgusting you are.  As if you had “no idea”! And that it’s “for your own good”.  It’s ok to be prejudiced against someone who’s fat because we’re conditioned to believe that weight = unhealthiness.  So if someone’s unhealthy, they don’t deserve to live.  Or they don’t deserve to live as comfortably as everyone else.  So why shouldn’t you be able to discriminate against them? Because it’s really all their fault, isn’t it?  And if they really wanted to change and be better, they would be.

Guess what? You can’t tell a damn thing about what kind of person I am by looking at what’s on the outside of my body.  You can’t instantly tell me what my cholesterol levels are, or my blood sugar, or the status of my organs, or my fitness level.  You could guess, but you’d be wrong.  And do ANY of these things make me a person of worth?  And furthermore, are any of these things any of your business?

The realization I’m slowly coming to is that I’ve spent most of my life letting these judgements define me.  I see myself reflected back in the eyes of strangers and I have learned to hate what I see staring back at me.  And it’s hard to break that habit.  It’s hard to be allowed to love someone like me when I am told by everyone else that I don’t deserve that love because of what I am.

Someone like me is someone who is a person of worth who is loved BECAUSE of who I am. And I have to keep telling myself that I am a person of worth until I can shut out the voices that keep telling me that I’m not.

 

Today I was late leaving the office for circumstances not entirely in my control.  Plans fell through, yadda yadda, and so I was late.  Leaving late meant that I had to take the 5 PM bus, much much much more cramped than the earlier one.  And I was late getting to that bus as well, so I barely made it.  And since I was so late, I didn’t have the luxury of picking my seat.  I like to sit as close to the door as humanly possible, because there’s only one exit door on this particular bus and I like to be able to see it.  Today, there was only one seat left.  At the very back.

I settled myself in and tried to relax.  My normal bus takes 40 minutes, this one almost an hour and a half due to traffic.  I tried not to panic, but only when we were almost to my stop did I start to completely have a meltdown.  People and luggage were clogging the aisles, all the way to the door.  And to make matters worse, the idiotic bus driver started letting people on through the same door! I am pushing my way past people, having to shove some of them just to squeeze by.  

This situation was completely avoidable.  There would have been a seat for EVERYONE if the bus driver had done their job and ordered the idiot tourists to put their luggage in the luggage racks or in the luggage area and NOT ON THE SEATS.  And also, tell the people to put their buggies away and in the luggage racks and hold their children, then there’d be more room for luggage. And finally, let everyone get off before you start letting new people back on.  I know you  have a schedule to keep, but for fuck’s sake.  Seriously.

I wasn’t thinking about that as I tried to claw my way to the door.  I heard the huffs and saw the rolling of the eyes, and I could feel the stares.  I heard someone grumble to get on with it, as if I could suddenly make myself thin and magically squeeze myself through the giant horde of passengers.  I could hear the (imagined) shouting and the loud condemnation from every person I passed.  As if it was my fault for being fat that I couldn’t get off the bus.  As if I should make allowances and sit nearer the front (like I always do), as if I should know better.  Ok, so no one was shouting, but I felt it, and heard it, and experienced it as if they were.

This has happened before, and the last time, I just found a dark corner and cried until I felt better.  Today, I ran.  Ok, not really running, but I walked faster than I have in a long time.  I was pissed. I clenched my teeth, and glared at everyone who happened to walk past.  I was so upset, I imagined that everyone was saying something about me as they walked past me.  I wanted to punch something and punch something hard.  I wanted to hurt everyone who had ever hurt me, or anyone who thinks that it’s perfectly acceptable to judge me because of my size.  I wanted to scream. A lot.

I got home in record time.  I honestly don’t remember most of the trip.  I’m still seething with all this pent up rage. I want to scream and tell the world that I AM SICK of being demonized because of who I am. I am SICK of it being ok to bully me because I’m fat.  I am SICK of being the object of years and years of torture that was acceptable, because it was “for my own good”.  And most importantly, I am SICK of being made to feel like I should get to a “breaking point” and “hate myself enough to change”. FUCK THAT.  I am so sick of hating myself.  I’m so over that.  

I know that I’m not going to wake up in the morning into a world where people stop allowing people to be judged solely on the size of their bodies.  I know I’m not going to wake up and be magically “normal” either.  And I know it’s going to take a long time before I can find the peace to be ok with all that I have.  

For now I just wanna scream.  Who’s with me?

I feel like I have so much to say but my voice is barely a whisper.

I have a very bad track record with journalling (my LJ is one example) because as soon as I find the comfort to really say what I’m thinking, I start worrying too much about what other people want to hear.  I would obsess over every comment (or lack thereof). I would be waiting for the comments to tell me how much someone understood what I was saying.  My entries were my way of shouting “Hey, world, I’m here, pay attention to me please”! I wanted…no, I NEEDED the validation.  And I still do.

What’s interesting is that I read so many blogs, and I don’t comment on anyone’s entries, even if they particularly touched me in some way.  As if my comment would just go ignored and unanswered and would be unappreciated.  I will go as far as posting on my facebook links that I find interesting, but unless it’s about something frivolous people don’t really comment on those either.  I’m sure this doesn’t help.  To make friends, be friendly and that.

I wish that I could be content with being tedious.  What I mean to say is that I wish I had a way of actually connecting with other people online.  It hurts my heart to see someone write a status like “wow, I really like cheese” and 800 people like and comment on it, but then someone else writes something insightful and meaningful and is virtually ignored.

All of this is connected to my confidence.  I am really good at faking like I have some, but inside I am still that 7 year old girl needing validation that I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it people like me.

But is it really every man/woman for themselves online?  Are we really any more social now that all this “social networking” developed?  I feel more invisible than ever.  Because it should be so easy to connect.  Even a moron who can only talk about tedious life updates has more interaction than I do.

It’s incredibly frustrating because I feel there is so much I could say or do that would make a difference.  So even if I find my voice, what difference does it make if everyone has stopped listening?

It’s very difficult, damn near impossible I’d say, to explain triggers to someone who doesn’t really understand them or doesn’t –seem- to be affected by them.  My triggers are as if someone put post-hypnotic suggestions  in my brain.  They’re like a landmine , and one small trip up into that dangerous territory causes a tumult of emotions that I don’t feel like I can control.  I’ve been called weak for being slave to such things, but in order to cope I’ve figured out my workarounds, and it’s hard to tell people I love what they are.  Especially when they either don’t have them or aren’t as aware of theirs as I am of mine.

It should be no surprise to those who know me that my biggest trigger is the topic of weight loss.  It’s a very difficult area for me to even talk about or write about, and I tiptoe around the subject as much as I can.  Even the words put me into either a blind rage or a blubbering 7 year old.  I become a slave to that raw emotion, and I wish to hell that I could control it.  So I dance around the subject, trying to talk about it the best way that I can.

It wasn’t until I came across an inspirational woman’s blog that I was finally able to find the words that I could use to talk about the issue without tripping my triggers.  It’s when I took away the words weight loss and replaced them with “getting healthy” that my head instantly started to clear. .  The Health at Every Size movement is really fascinating and I had never heard of it before.  It was the freedom of being freed from the dependence on the scale and the pounds that I felt like maybe I was ready to take control of my life. I am not talented enough to put things the way that she does, so you should give her stuff a read if you get a chance – http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com

Now, I am definitely not saying that I am Healthy.  I eat like crap, I don’t get enough activity, and I am really bad at taking care of myself.  But I think that if I can focus on loving my body enough to WANT to change things to make me feel better I can actually do it.  And if I don’t even focus on the losing weight as a measure of my progress, then I might actually succeed.  I want to stop hating myself.  And that doesn’t start with getting healthy, but maybe in the process of appreciating the skin I’m in, I will learn to take better care of it.

So where does this body shame come from?  Is it any wonder?  We’re surrounded by imagery every day of the ways that we should hate ourselves.  But they’re telling us this for “our own good”.  As if they will FINALLY get our attention that we should hate the way we look and do something about it.
And it hurts worse when it’s taught from a young age how much you should hate yourself by someone who is supposed to love you unconditionally.

One of my previous therapists wanted me to write out what I thought were “pivotal moments” in the development of my self-image.  I was in a bad place at the time and didn’t take it seriously.  But now I think it’s quite helpful to try to pinpoint where it all went wrong.  Does identifying the source of these triggers make them go away?

When I was 7 years old, I gained 50 pounds in 6 months.  My mother was incredibly concerned and confused, because as a nurse, this was something she couldn’t wrap her head around.  I don’t remember this of course, but I know this happened shortly after I started taking phenobarbital for my seizures.  Again, I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know what happened here, and my memories are pretty cloudy for that time of my life.  So without explaining, my mother took me to the doctor.  Well, no, to a dietician.  I remember sitting next to my mom in uncomfortable chairs on the other side of a huge desk.  And the doctor telling me that my weight was unacceptable and it had to change.  As if I had any control over what I was eating.  As if I wasn’t a really active kid already.  I remember looking to my mom for encouragement or help or something, and she wasn’t saying anything, it was like she was tuned out.  I don’t remember anything else about the appointment.  But I remember crying later when I told my dad about it.  I asked him why everyone wanted me to change who I was.  He just hugged me while I cried.  I remember getting really angry and slamming my door. I remember crying and screaming and throwing things. I remember feeling completely out of control.  My mother never spoke to me about that appointment again.  But put me on what was my first “diet”.

At 7, I was on swim team, and I rode my bike everywhere.  Ok, so I sucked at running and gym class was usually a nightmare for me, but I was a kid.  I was doing kid things.  I didn’t have any understanding of the side effects of my medication.  I didn’t understand what having epilepsy meant.  I was just…a kid.  I wanted to be a kid like everyone else.  But suddenly all this “diet” food started creeping into the house, and my mom started taking me to aerobics classes with her.  And I was hungry all the time.  And I thought I deserved it.  I took everything to heart.  I didn’t understand why my sister and I did the exact same things and ate the exact same things and she looked the way she did.  But I learned to hate the scale, and hate the food, and hate the person looking back in the mirror.  I was 7.

That is just scratching the surface of the layers upon layers of hurt and sadness I have on my body and on my heart.  And maybe I am weak because I can’t control it.  Maybe I’m crazy because I let that still define me.  That was 27 years ago.  But I instantly feel like that 7 year old girl that is out of control when the topic of “weight loss” and “diets” come up.

I don’t want to be out of control.  I want to tell 7 year old me that it’s ok, not to hate herself, not to be so hard on herself.  To enjoy the amazingness of being a kid.  To love every swim meet, and cherish every race, victory or not.  To love the skin she’s in.  I want to nurture her and love her in the ways that I lacked nurturing and love.

How do you explain all that to someone you love without alienating them? I feel like I’m making demands on the types of conversations we have, but I think this small allowance should be ok?  When this topic comes up, I lash out and say things to try to wound the other person to make them feel as hurt as I do.  As if that is fair.  It’s not fair.  And certain things, once said, can’t be taken back.  So how do I admit how scared I am?

I’m scared.  I want to be supportive and nurturing and loving, but how can I do that when I can’t nurture myself?

I am in the middle of a full-blown panic attack while I’m sitting at my desk at work, and I’m trying to calm down.  My heart feels like it’s going to either race itself to death or stop, and I can’t get enough air into my lungs.  I know my face is red and I’m starting to sweat, and there’s no way I can even leave my desk because I don’t know if I can stand.  I’m just hoping no one comes over to try to talk to me, because I seriously will burst into tears the second I try to speak.

There’s no explanation for it, but I just want to get out. And go where exactly?  Home?  Right, so I leave, only to have to get on 3 buses which cause me to panic more.  I got off a bus last week because I couldn’t breathe.  And I took the one that takes twice as long because it was more empty.  If I could walk home the 9 miles, I would.  And getting a car wouldn’t solve it either, because I would panic about driving here – Driving at night, driving in the rain, the roundabouts, getting lost, or driving on the wrong side of the road.  If I just don’t feel like I can handle driving I can’t just get out of the car and find another way home.

And then when I finally get to our place, the panic of all that needs to be done is waiting for me there.  My husband invited people to come out with us tomorrow for our anniversary, but then for everyone to come back to ours.  There is no way the house is even fit for us living there, much less having people over.  Seriously, hives are starting to break out on my skin, and I have to just keep writing and maybe I can ride it out.

All I want to do is hide.  Sleep.  Sleep and not wake up for a few days when this feeling passes.  I want to stop feeling like I’m falling apart.

My co-worker just spoke to me and I was able to act normal even though I feel like my brain is going to fall out of my head.  I can fake it very well.  But it’s a really lonely thing.  Faking it and keeping people at a distance.  In case they find out…find out what? 

I want to reach out to the people that love me instead of pushing them away.  When I “get like this”, I shut everyone out.  I don’t want to talk to anyone, and I don’t want to confide in anyone.  Friends who have been around a while refer to this as “hermiting”.  But it seems I have been doing this for years this time.  Not letting anyone get too close, because I’m too afraid of…what?  Disappointing them?  Disappointing myself?

My husband suggested that I get out and visit people over the next few weekends.  The thought of it horrifies me and brings me to tears.  I can barely even face him, how am I to deal with seeing other people?  I know these people are friends and I love spending time with them, but why would they still want to?  I’m a really shitty friend who isn’t there for the people that love me.  I will end up hurting them too.  I shut people out because I’m petrified.

I love the friends we’re seeing tomorrow but I can barely even breathe thinking about it.  Why do I consider myself a social person if I am having all this anxiety about seeing people that I know already like me?  Because they haven’t seen me as I see myself.  As a completely crazy person who has stupid phobias.  A crazy person wearing a normal person’s outfit.  A high functioning lunatic.

I feel like the darkness is closing in on me, and I just need to survive the next 3 hours until I can get to my bed and close my eyes and try to escape from myself.

It’s the time of year where my Facebook and twitter feed fills up with people talking about their resolutions for the new year. Most of them break my heart.  And most of them are about things that they are going to be doing less of and “giving up” so that they can “become a better person”.

Can anyone define what a “better person” is?  Because most of my friends are fantastic people, or they wouldn’t be my friends in the first place.  So why during this time of year do people shame and hate themselves so much? Everyone seems to buy into it.  Like you feel like you “should” feel this way and look back on the last year of your life with regret.  Like you “should” look forward to a bright happier you.  Or the best one, “that skinny person inside you screaming to get out” (thanks Mom, she’s screaming because I ate her and told her to shut up. 😉 )

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to better ourselves.  But how about we start with loving the person we already are?  That’s the goal for me. Not to weigh less, eat less, whine less, cry less, etc.  I want to love more, laugh more, write more, walk more, and do more.  I want to have more.  Not things, not status, just more happiness.  I want to look in the mirror and be ok with whatever is staring back at me.  I want to add things to my life, not subtract them.

I want to be uplifted today, I want to make a difference somehow.  My depression has been bad since we got back from the states, and I haven’t even left the house in three days.  I’ve worked from home, thankfully, but I can’t even face getting dressed.  There’s all this expectation about how the holidays are supposed to feel, and I suppose I just feel let down.  And I hate that, because my husband and his mother tried to make Christmas in Manchester as lovely as they could.  But all I could think about was my family back home, including the sister I haven’t spoken to since her birthday.

I want today to count for something.  But not just because it’s the dawn of a new year, I want to be able to embrace every single day with as much enthusiasm as people are embracing tomorrow.  A fresh start. A clean slate.

I don’t know where to start.  I think the writing will help.  I hope it will.  There’s so much that I need to work out.  So much I want to say, but I’m too afraid that by revealing those things I’ve kept buried, that I will only find more reasons to be ashamed of the person I am.

I need to learn how to nurture myself.  I need to learn how to forgive myself and others.  I need to learn how to let go and just be so thankful of everything wonderful and amazing in my life.

Another acquaintance of mine posted all the crappy things that 2011 brought her life.  Maybe that works for some people.  And hell, I’ve been that person before.  But the thing is, I can’t list very much if I did the same thing.  And that is what makes me so mad at myself.  2011 was a great year, why am I letting this depression win?

In 2011, I got married.  Got to go home and have a separate celebration with my family in the states.  I got to wear the big white dress and be a princess, which I didn’t think I ever wanted but absolutely loved.  I got a job on my own merits.  Got a promotion and a raise.  I was lucky enough to go back home 3 times this year.  I got over my fears of public transportation and living in another country.  I have a great husband who is also my best friend.  Life should feel like the most amazing journey for me.  And it’s everything I ever wanted all wrapped up into 12 months.

But the dark cloud still hangs over it.  I want to kill those irrational thoughts in my head that constantly tell me how shit my life is.  It’s really not.  So how does my rational side win over my irrational heart?

According to my father, when I was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck 4 times and tied in a knot.  To the amazement of the doctors and my parents, I was breathing fine, and my face was pink and healthy.  When I’m at my lowest, he reminds me of this story to tell me that there is a reason God wanted me alive.  He reminds me that no matter what I think, my life has a purpose.

I used to be a fervently religious person.  And I don’t mean that in a negative way.  It’s sad that I have to qualify that statement, but I don’t mean that I was out proselytizing or standing on corners with street signs condemning others.  I went to church every Sunday, sang in the choir, and actively participated in bible study, religious education, and youth group.  I felt that I had a purpose.  I felt that I belonged to something bigger than myself and I felt that I always tried to treat my neighbour as myself, because wasn’t that the whole point?  As I got older, certain things just stopped making sense.  I couldn’t see why there was division in religion at all, and why certain friends of mine would get upset regarding our religious differences.  I was Catholic, they were Baptist, but we could still be friends?  “Love your neighbour as yourself” does not have qualifications.  There aren’t any exceptions to the rule.  At least that’s how it should be and how I believe it to be in my heart.

The first pivotal moment in my crisis of faith happened when I was a senior in high school.  I was president of the youth group, we had just gone on a pilgrimage to see the pope, college was right around the corner, and I thought I had it all figured out.  Then my best friend and boyfriend at the time, came out of the closet.  It was hard for me to accept, but even harder for him to deal with.  Like me, he was Catholic, and we belonged to the same church.  His mother had given him books on how to “treat” homosexuality and how to “turn back” into being straight.  He was so fractured and torn, and I didn’t know how to help him.

The sacristy of our church was open quite late, so that people could come there and reflect on their faith and pray at all hours.  The church itself was beautiful, cut into a hillside, and full of absolutely breath-taking stain glass windows.  He and I went to the church together one night, and settled in the hush of the candlelight, he burst into tears.  His mother told him how he was no longer allowed or welcome in the church because of his “choice”.  And he looked at me with tears in his eyes and asked me a question that I still don’t know how to answer.  “How can the same God who made me this way turn his back on me?”  I didn’t understand.  I just held him as he cried.

I still couldn’t separate faith from the church.  In my mind, surely if I stopped supporting the Catholic church, that meant I didn’t believe in God.  It meant that I couldn’t believe in God, because according to the church, God turned his back on people like my best friend.

Fast forward 15 years or so, and I’m even more confused.  I don’t go to church anymore, and don’t even talk about my faith.  Most of my friends are atheist, agnostic, or other non-Christian, and some are very open in their condemnation of all things religion.   One of these people is my husband.  We agree to disagree on the subject, but his words still hurt when he condemns people who still believe in some “space pixie in the sky”.

On our road trip, I had this really clear vision of my mortality.  Since I wasn’t sure I believed in an afterlife anymore, what would that mean for me when I die?  The thought is too big and too scary to handle in just one blog post.  But I really don’t have an answer.  Will my life mean nothing?  What is my purpose in life?  Why do I exist at all?  What is the point?

When I had religion, these questions had answers.  I’m here to live the best life possible, to better myself for the next life to come.  But if we’re only here as an accident, as my beloved seems to believe, then what is the point at all?  From a biological perspective, I’m failing my purpose since I’m not having kids like everyone else is.  I don’t know if we can…ever.  Our evolution dies with us.  But that whole topic is a subject for another day.

For the past 6 months, I feel like I’ve just been existing.  Getting up, going to work, coming home,  eating, and sleeping.  I’m losing my hair, and it’s coming out in big clumps.  I don’t know why that’s happening, but it really doesn’t help my already tenuous grasp on sanity.  It’s just hair. I get that.  It grows back.  I don’t know why I mentioned that, I guess sanity is out the window.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been moments of happiness, sure, and moments of contentment. I wish I could lift this veil of sadness and anxiety and learn to see the sunshine again.

This started as talking about my crisis of faith, but kind of explores the root of it all.  Call it depression.  Call it whatever.  But I feel like I’m in a crisis, and in that black hole, and I can’t see the sunshine.  I can’t even let anyone help pull me out, and I don’t want to pull anyone else with me.  It is exhausting that I have to keep pretending that I am just like everyone else.

“It’s not the end of the world”. I can’t even count the number of times my father has said that to me.  And it’s a phrase I’ve heard all my life from other people that I love.

I have a very long history of catastrophizing.  My old therapist used to get frustrated with me when I said something was “horrible.”  For example, bad traffic was “annoying” but not “horrible”.  Hurricane Katrina was “horrible” and “devastating”, but not me having a bad day.  I get that.  My logical brain gets that.  Of course, any reasonable person can understand that line of thinking.  And when I’m not wailing like I cut my foot off, I’ll be able to see that clearly.

I like routines. Routines help my life make sense.  I do things the same way everyday because otherwise I won’t remember where my keys are and whether or not I’ve taken my meds.  I always put my Oyster (transportation) card in my wallet when I get off the bus.  But today, I put it in my pocket with my phone.  When my phone rang on my walk home, I pulled it out of my pocket and my card must have fallen out onto the street.  I didn’t realize this until I got all the way home.  The realization that I lost my card with £20 worth of bus pass on it made me lose it.  I started crying as if I’d lost a limb or something.  In fact, I’m still crying.  I feel this complete sense of loss.  This horrible feeling.  And yes, to me, it feels like everything is falling apart.  I almost blacked out because I was crying so hard.

And again, I know that I shouldn’t be this upset over £20.  That a bus pass can be replaced.  That it’s “not the end of the world”.  But I feel like such an irresponsible idiot for not following a routine I know works for me.  For not doing what I always do.  When I deviate, bad things happen.  I’m trying to calm down before my husband gets home but I just feel so awful about it.  And I can’t stop crying enough to suck it up and walk down the street to get another one.  I just want it to magically appear again.  And what’s even dumber is that if I had registered the card last week, then I could just transfer it to a new card. But I didn’t.  So, again strike it up to being a complete dumbass.

Ok, so losing my Oyster card is really annoying.  But that doesn’t describe this overwhelming grief I feel.  There’s no other word to describe this absolute pain in my heart. I feel it all through my chest and my throat is tight and my head is spinning.  Everytime I think I’m ok, the tears start all over again.  I know that I shouldn’t feel like this because it’s not the end of the world.  I know that normal people are not like this.  I know that I don’t have many people I can tell about this who aren’t sick of hearing about it already.  As if they can’t understand why I shouldn’t be the happiest girl in the world.

I want to be the happiest girl in the world.  I don’t like being this way. I don’t like being gripped by sadness that I can’t even explain.  I hate having to try to explain that I suck up the sadness of other people like a sponge and sometimes own it as my own.  I’m terrified that I’m as crazy as I think I am.

I still can’t stop crying. I can’t get out of my own way.  I hate the voice inside my head who is making fun of me right now and taunting me and telling me “it’s not the end of the world.”  I just want it to shut up.