I recently got Dwarf Planet - and the challenge at the end of chapter 2 is to share. I’m going to take it a bit further and share as much as I can - to chronicle with a document of how I currently feel. It might be a long with, so if you read it all, my gratitude is yours.
It’s important for you to know that I grew up in church and that I still cling to my faith, despite everything. I say that so you can understand the way I think, as well as the way I was raised and how that has impacted me.
If I quote from my journal, be aware of that fact there might be a lot of swearing in here. Not sure yet what will happen.
I’m a guy, if that’s important at all. But I think that’s enough of an introduction.
My life compared to most is pretty easy. Grew up in a nice home, two wonderful parents, enough money to live somewhat comfortable, and plenty of friends. At least, for the first 12 years of my life. I didn’t get bullied much, but I wasn’t a popular kid. My objective in life was to please my parents. I rarely got a B, I worked as hard I as I could. But it never felt like it was enough. Maybe my parents didn’t care, but that wasn’t their message. I remember being about 9 and thinking, “What if I just bombed this school year and see how they reacted? Would they still care?”
(heads up, I’m ramping up into real stuff real quick) I also had some disturbing fantasies. I remember being told never to masturbate, and guilt started growing from a young age. I used to daydream about saving women from rape all the day. Bondage especially. I’d sit at the piano and play whilst imagining I was the hero.
Of course, at this point in my life I’m not that observant or worried. I go to church to hang out with friends, connect with Jesus, and then go home and imagine saving girls. I do everything I can to help out. Help people move, setup dinners / fundraisers, help with worship… but it’s never enough.
Fast forward to where everything becomes real. At 13, my dad quit his job and got a new one, so we moved. My sister’s OCD hits overdrive. I spend hours and hours alone, at a computer, spending 2 hours doing schoolwork and 3 watching pornography. Our family no longer functions. My mom and dad are ready for a divorce. I tell my mom I want to kill myself, and she tells me, “not you too.” So I have to be okay, even if I’m not. I get involved in a youth group that actually seems to care, but I didn’t want to be real. I wanted them to like me. Fast forward three years, and I had become a leader. I’ve been on three mission trips at this point, leading a worship band, and teaching middle schoolers about God.
But I’m dying inside. I barely get up in the morning. I take scalding 40 minute showers to wash the blood and semen away. I spend car rides crying back from church. And I believed that I deserved it. That God hated me. That I would never amount to anything, or be enough for anyone.
From my journal, "I have begged, which feels humiliated. To be so powerless, as one disrespected or cast aside as nothing at all. God, I don’t write this just to feel heard. I felt neglected from the start. You know everything right? From page one to whatever the hell I’m on now, is this progress? Is this sanctification? I’m fucking asking you! Tell me what the fuck is going on. I can’t. I can’t wrestle with you much longer. If this is not the sunrise just kill e so I don’t crawl the rest of my life. I know you’re real. I know you’re what I fucking need. Are you even real? I’ve never felt so cold. What are you doing to me? I’m scared, lonely, afraid. I don’t know you as a gracious, loving overflowing and giving God. You have always been stagnant and reluctant with me. Surely there are others in the same pain. Will you help us? Will you leave us to die?
After a long time, I made a move toward counseling. I saw an awesome guy named Jon, and we spent hours talking about my life. I eventually left feeling considerably better, but God wouldn’t leave me alone. I’m hardwired to spend my time thinking in the darkness, about pain and suffering. But since I’m a “leader”, surely I must be spiritual. Have joy. All those fruits.
And I just hate it. The church. The religious part of it. There are some amazing people I’ve met there, but they just don’t connect with me. I’ve tried pouring my heart out to many of them. But I am met with lame spiritual solutions and the expectation that everything will be fine next week. I once broke down and couldn’t lead worship. So I meet with my youth pastor, who tells me the story of a woman who was paralyzed. One day she realizes she’s better, but she keeps acting like it so she gets the same special treatment. He gives me this warning, and then what do we do? Plan the next worship set. I swallow my anger, as I have done for all my life. Do you think I have been faking it this whole time? That I want to feel this way?
The worst part is, that I went back and realized all the things I’ve done as an attention seeker. My struggles with getting attention while my sister’s problem raged, all the time I spent alone. My first mission trip I remember feeling amazing because people were noticing me for what felt like the first time. Is that wrong? I don’t even know. But everything I do makes me feel guilty. No, ashamed. Worthless. It attacks my identity and my soul. Everything I do. Because I can’t do anything right.
I have this thing against expectations. When people expect something of me, or try to assume I have this responsibility, the pressure I feel (or imagine) is absolutely unbearable. Maybe you could blame this all on the church and how I was raised in it. Maybe I just don’t believe anyone could care about me for me. I buried my personality years ago when I tried to become the person everyone was telling me to be. Strong. Happy. Servant. But truthfully, more like a slave. I barely know who I am anymore.
I’ve been dealing with these feelings for 8 years. I’m 21 now. And I think I’m just going to stop here, but there’s so much more. So much hate towards myself. I see sinfulness and selfishness in every part of me. I twist scripture and words to condemn myself and my every action. It feels like I’ve tried everything. Like I’m the wrong who’s doing something wrong, that my life is like this. That I think this way. That this is who I am.
Thank you for reading.