Growth Is Essential

My life used to make sense.

I knew who I was. I knew where I came from. I knew where I was going. I knew what I was living for. I knew all this with a surety that was beyond questioning.

But then life changed and suddenly the belief wasn’t there anymore. And neither were the answers. What I have now is a “God-shaped hole” and it makes me doubt the choices I have made. Change isn’t easy. I start obsessing over thoughts like “at least I was happy then. Was leaving a mistake? Am I destroying my life? Do I even deserve to be happy? What if they’re right and I am going to hell?”

But then I have to remember that I wasn’t happy. I remember the first day I didn’t want to be alive. I was in sixth grade. I proudly declared to my parents my brilliant realization, “you know, the more time I’m asleep the less time I have to be awake!” I thought that was a jolly good thing. Maybe that simple declaration was innocent enough, but I remember the dread that accompanied it. Just looking out the window hating the fact that I had to do it all over again the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, for the rest of my life. Life stretches on forever when you’re young. What’s up with all those people proclaiming how short life is?? Maybe every sixth-grader had those feelings, I d’unno. Like I said, I don’t have any answers.

Looking back now, I would say that overall I was happy. I had a great childhood and a very fortunate, blessed life.

There are a couple things about the past (in my own experience) that are worth noting:

  1. We tend to view the past with rose-tinted lenses. Makes sense, right? Whoohoo, coping mechanisms! Go brain! I think we’re all glad we’ve forgotten some of the shit that went down. But that doesn’t mean your past was all safe, healthy, and happy, so even if you remember it as being better than where you’re at now, that doesn’t mean it will be good for you to go back. At least, for me. Speaking for myself here. I don’t know anything about you.
  2. Humans are creatures of habit, just like any other animal. We like to fall back to the familiar. So while our past may not have been all teddy bears and rainbows (this may appear to contradict above point, but nah, I can clearly view my past as totally great and totally sucky at the same time), at least it was familiar. When you’re lost in unfamiliar territory, you will give your right leg to get back to what you’re familiar with, even if it sucked balls. At least you were adjusted to it and equipped with the tools to find your way. Now that you’re in new territory, you need new tools. But why buy new tools when you can just use the old ones you’ve had for years, even if they’re broken and don’t work quite right? Right?

No, not right. Wrong. Life is all about getting out of your comfort zone and stretching the limits…. or busting them altogether. Growth is a good thing; it is absolutely essential.

I am going through unbelievable emotional turmoil over leaving the church. I feel scarred, angry, guilty, and not without a couple mental disorders and at least one personality disorder. In a way, I’m leaving behind my old identity and forging a new one. But that old identity was a lie, a lifestyle taught to me before I could decide for myself, so I can’t go back. I can’t go back to how I was before any more than I can be anything more than who I am right now. Does that make sense? No, probably not. The point is, I am me. I’m healing and moving on. I am living my life for myself and seeing where it takes me.

I’m finding that life is hard, it’s just hard. I have a belief system in flux, debilitating communication problems, no safety net, and a minimal knowledge of pop culture, hip wine selections, or words like “hors d’oevre”. I feel totally unprepared for this new life in the city. I’m lost, incompetent, shy, foolish, awkward, ignorant, yadayadayada. Two-hour-long panic attacks at work aren’t fun. Most of the time I want to die. And I still can’t stop pulling my hair out. But I am learning. I’m getting out of the basement, or closet, more apt, and experiencing life. I am being brave enough to continue living, and showing up to work every day and trying. For now, that is enough. I am enough. Someday I will be a badass. Someday I’ll find something I love that I will make a career out of. Someday I’ll meet someone who can love me in return. Maybe these things happen gradually, over the course of a lifetime…  I surely won’t learn all there is to know, “I know that I know nothing” (perhaps the only belief I do live by), but I will come to know my true self, not the version of myself that others believe I am. At least, I will live my life getting to know myself, as I don’t think the point where I can close the book titled “Andrea” and store it away on the “finished” shelf actually exists. So, is it a learning experience, or a creation experience? Am I writing my story, or only reading to find out what happens next?

Yet another question I don’t know the answer to. That is quite exciting. No matter how long I live, I will never run out of things to learn. I am looking forward to my next endeavor – getting to know a few of the different religions of the world (I say a few because there’s nearly 10,000 different religions on this planet) – there is so much I don’t know!

I wish my family and friends could understand, but I know that they won’t. That’s okay. I can’t control anyone else’s experience but my own, and I’m learning to be okay with that. I have to find my own truth and go after it. It’s not my design to hurt or point fingers at anyone. Just know that I am doing the best I can and that I am fully responsible for my own experience. I love you all and I am grateful for what you’ve given me!


PS – on a lighter note! – I am going to London for a week at the end of April! I’m so excited I’ve bought no less than five books about England and I’m going to rewatch all my favorite British TV shows and movies in preparation… It’s gonna be bloody brilliant!