I have been having a difficult time writing lately. Well, I’ve been having a difficult time in general. Every time I think that my depression has receded a bit, it comes roaring back. I started this blog to mostly write about my Olds, because I felt that their behavior is sometimes too ridiculous for a single status update on Facebook. The Olds have more fans than they know [and I would prefer to keep it that way, thank you very much, tattletales]; plus, laughing at my day to day existence keeps me from remembering why I am where I am and how bleak the overall picture of my life really is. But it seems like I am writing less about the Olds and more about myself, and specifically, about how bad I feel most of the time. And that was originally not my plan here. Maybe the Olds are not the only ones who need parenting.
Usually, when I am depressed, there are things I can do to distract myself. Watching Criminal Minds for nine or twenty hours without stopping can help. I admit that it may be a little off-putting to some that I enjoy watching serial killers so as to make my own life seem more bearable. But it does help. No matter how miserable I am, no one has broken into my house and stabbed me with an icepick. (Yet).
Watching the serial killers themselves at work does not make me feel better; quite the opposite. It usually makes me feel worse; most of them seem to be incredibly organized with a real talent for planning ahead, so it is just another profession at which I could never succeed. If I can never find the ice scraper in my car, what makes me think I could remember to keep a tarp and a few axes in the trunk? Answer comes there none.
The problem with my depression this time, is that it isn’t the the usual chemical dark cloud that descends for no reason. This time, it is situational, and the situation cannot be fixed. I have mentioned leaving my church, and why I did it. I am tired of talking about it, and I am tired of defending my position, and I am tired of spending so much time and energy on thinking about a place where I am no longer welcome, and where, even if I were, I would never set foot again.
I am tired of being angry and exhausted by sadness, and I’m also tired of mourning. But I can’t seem to stop doing any of that. I knew that the church was a huge part of my life. I knew that leaving it would hurt, and that I would probably feel lost for a while. I also knew that I really, really didn’t want to go—but that my own mouth would, sooner or later, open up and say things that could never be unsaid. I would have become increasingly bitter and unpleasant, which had already started happening before I left. And I didn’t want to do that, because I didn’t want people to hate me. Well. So much for that.
I’ve realized that the only way I’m going to be able to get through this particular bout of depression, is to write, but I don’t have happy or funny things to write about right now. So if you are looking for funny OldsStories, you might have to wait for a few days. Right now, I can only write what I have, and what I have had for a while now is a broken heart. Glossing over it hasn’t helped. Crying hasn’t helped. Neither have venting, wishing, being angry and bitter, pretending it never happened, ice cream, reading Elizabeth Bishop, or any of the usual cures for a broken heart.
That’s the difference between losing an individual and losing a community, I guess.
I also need to write about it because I do not want to forget the good things. If the church had not been so amazing, this wouldn’t hurt so much. Even up until two weeks after I resigned, I hadn’t given up on it completely. I still trusted the beautiful parts of the church to eventually triumph over these problems.
Most of all, I still trusted people I loved and respected to see beyond their defensiveness, and to believe that I acted with only the best of intentions, and to see what I did as something that came from a good and loving place. After all, I’ve been asked to do that continually since last December. It is only recently that I realized that the same consideration has mostly not been extended to me or to the friends of mine who share my position. Yet, all of us acted out of the best intentions, and all of us are people for whom honor and seeking the right path are as natural as breathing. None of us have done anything but tell the truth, and ask others to do the same. So, here we are, most of us on the outside. And until I really understand why we are out here, I don’t think I can set this aside without the danger that when I least expect it it will all coming flooding back.
These are the things I need to figure out:
What does it really mean to believe only in peoples’ best intentions?
How realistic, useful, and even safe, is it to only ever assume the good in someone’s actions?
How far am I willing to go for what I believe, even at the expense of people I love?
What obligation, if any, do my loved ones have to support me when we disagree, or when I’ve taken a stance with which they might agree, but would rather not deal with the hassle of defending?
This last one is something that I have thought about quite a lot, and probably will continue to.
This week, a dear friend let me read something she wrote about this situation, and something she said has been circling around my head ever since:
“I realized that I want a church where someone will run after me when I run out”.
When I read that, I realized how much I wanted the same thing. After all, isn’t that what everyone wants in life? Don’t we all want to matter enough to at least one person so that if–when–we run away, from something, there will be someone comes after us and says:
“Stop. Please don’t go. I care about you. I want you with me. Nothing is perfect and it never will be, but my life is closer to perfect when you are in it, even if right now that seems too hard to do. And, if you absolutely can’t stay, then I am coming with you.”
My friend and I don’t agree on some things about the events that led me to leave the church, although when it comes to our deepest selves, we agree on pretty much everything. One night we played that game where you have to draw out something, like a phrase or name that someone has to guess. My friend and I were sitting across the room from each other and couldn’t see what the other was drawing–but most of our drawings were so similar that it was almost creepy. And also, amazing.
So when she has opinions that are different from mine, they are opinions that I take very, very seriously, and do everything I can to understand, even if I can’t always agree. She is still part of the church, and this is the right thing for her, even though it isn’t for me. And when I read that about how she wants a church where someone will run after her, I knew that even though some of our drawings might not match up, that most of them probably always will.
You see, she ran after me, even though it has been difficult and terribly hard for her at times to do so.
She is not the only one, either. The fact that she and other people ran after me has meant everything to me, because I can’t remember the last time anyone ran after me, for anything. Some of the people who ran after me completely shocked me, because at least one of them is someone I have taken for granted more often than not, and because I am someone who goes much more by words than actions. I am finally starting to learn that words mean almost nothing if they are not combined with actions–and that actions without words can say more than entire alphabets.
When I applied to college, I took hours and hours over every application; proofreading, correcting the tiniest mistakes, making sure that absolutely everything was as perfect as it could be. Except for my Vassar application.
I had decided to not even apply to Vassar, but at the last minute, to satisfy a nagging Old, I stomped upstairs to my room and whipped it off in 10 minutes, shoved it in an envelope without looking at it twice, and threw it at the naggy Old so he could drive it to the post office before midnight.
On my Vassar application, I was just me, and really, I was the most annoying and bratty part of me. I was sloppy, and I was careless, and unlike all of my other applications, I was completely honest. I answered all the questions about my future with what I really thought, not with carefully parsed sentences designed to make me look as much like Ivy League or Seven Sisters material as I possibly could.
The earliest acceptance letter I got was from Vassar. And I was definitely Seven Sisters and Ivy League material, judging from my other acceptances. But Vassar accepted me when I was sloppy and angry and completely honest. They saw the best of me and they saw the worst of me. And they still wanted me. That’s why I went there, and why I felt so at home, and always will.
The friends that I have left from the church, I think, have seen my best and my worst, but they still ran after me.
And that has made all the difference.