I want to conclude the story of my life this week. Of course it’s not the whole story, just an abbreviated version. I’ll be getting into the subject of “god” and that has me a little anxious. In the book, “Living Buddha, Living Christ”, Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Discussing God is not the best use of our energy.” I agree. With that in mind, all I can do is share my experience regarding the spiritual/emotional side of life.
In September 2001, during a time when the US experienced a horrific attack, I was experiencing my own emotional breakdown. Things were ending for me. My dad had died the year before, my relationship was ending. I had left my religion, marriage and friends a few years before that, and ultimately had no God to turn to. I had started therapy but it wasn’t working fast enough. Plus I didn’t have the resources (money, health insurance) to get much of that kind of help. I was in absolute terror about my financial future and the future in general. My sister brought me to a 12 step meeting and when I saw and heard the word “God”, I knew there was no hope for me. If having a god in my life was the solution, I was screwed because I thought I knew all there was to know about such things.
I heard people sharing about “a god of your own understanding” and I thought “oh yeah, as if you can just decide for yourself who god is.” I didn’t believe it was possible to let go of my ideas and beliefs regarding this. I thought my god and religion were the only truths, absolute, set in stone. I didn’t want to go back to my religion, but I didn’t know how to move forward.
I really, really REALLY didn’t think I could go on living because I was so terrified. At the same time, I was afraid if I killed myself I would be transferred to another realm of eternal torment…not very promising. This is what you might call a spiritual crisis. I wanted desperately to be put in a hospital where I could be pumped full of drugs to shut off the chatter in my head.
I stayed up all night after that first 12 step meeting, (Friday September 28, 2001) just spinning in my head. I called my mom the next morning and informed her that I really couldn’t go on in this world, “you know how sad I’ve always been” I said, and she agreed. My sister lived downstairs from me and she came up and talked with me, and listened to me all day. I didn’t realize how much fear I had carried around most of my life. I shared with her a few things that had happened when I was a teenager…just a lot of fear and depression.
She could see how my current belief in god was keeping me in fear, and suggested that I find a new god. I wasn’t confident that I would be able to do this, but I did feel better by the end of the day. Not completely recovered, but better. The next day I went to another 12 step meeting and felt really connected to the group. By the end of the day I felt so peaceful. I thought maybe there was hope for me. That was September 30, 2001. The evening was really warm. I stood outside and looked at the stars and the moon and felt such utter and complete serenity, an absolute connection to the universe and all living things. At some point, in my state of new found bliss, I prayed. I asked this new god, whomever that might be, to review my life with me and show me where he (still patriarchal in beliefs) had been present in my journey. Suddenly I was terrified of what I had asked…I had opened a door to something new and “outside the box” of safe parameters that I had been accustomed to. Exactly who was I now praying to? The possibilities were endless. I quickly wanted to shut that door, but it would not be shut. I said I’m not ready for this. This new god said “yes you are.”
Ok, so I thought I would conclude this week, but look how much I’ve already written and there’s still a whole lot more to this conversation. Plus my arm is ready to fall off, carpal tunnel stuff.
I must leave you in suspense…next week for sure!