Sometimes you just feel destroyed. Sometimes you can’t think straight because you’ve got a million different fucking theologies flying around in your head and you just can’t process it. Sometimes it sounds nice to have a nice professional blog but the only time I can seem to write is when my life is falling apart. A nice professional blog I will most likely never have. I’m going to art school and I don’t even feel okay about it because I’m riddled with ridiculous guilt from an angry, tyrannical god. I want to fly, to make art, to put it in a perfect portfolio and have everything listed out on a webpage but most likely, it won’t be. Most likely I will drop out after three semesters at best and have all my artwork saved in random folders on my computer and shuffled into random spots around my house. I can’t fucking do anything right. I’m sick of all the cliches and tips stuffed into my fucking head. I knew how to live a normal life before Christianity and now I feel as though 45 full sized millstones were hung about my neck and I’m drowning. Just drowning because I don’t pray right, I don’t have discipline, my house is a disaster. And that one girl from bible school is posting about how we’re too obsessed with “messy culture.” Well excuse us for trying to push back against the legalism. God forgive us if we admit this life is hard, God forgive me if I admit I don’t want to be a stay at home mom, don’t feel like birthing children will make me feel complete, forgive me if I struggle hard with my bisexuality and what that means and who I am and my calling to be a Pastor but that’s WRONG so NEVERMIND! I feel like I have no feet planted on the ground and I’m just fucking floating away, seeing pictures of old friends getting Christianmarried and wishing them good luck because I’m sitting at my kitchen table bawling for the first time in weeks because I’ve been too shut down to shed a freaking tear, because marriage is so fucking hard and I literally cannot keep my head up I literally cannot keep my head up I literally will drown if someone does not help me I am literally going to die. Because I want to jump on the train of my favorite slam poet Emily Joy from Moody Bible Institute who actually does things FOR THE KINGDOM that I believe ACTUALLY MATTER and I wish to disassociate myself from John Piper and Franklin Graham and other conservative Christian things as much as possible, but those I love and respect more than anyone else believe the same way they do, including my mother. I need to write more because there’s really no one in my life that can feel my pain, who will sit with me in it, who is open to thinking that maybe the Bible isn’t saying what we think it is? It’s easy for the cute housewife to affirm things that make me want to vomit out my own soul. I’ve contemplated suicide, but I don’t have the nerve. As we speak I can feel God’s presence in the air and I appreciate it. I like it. That’s all I know is that I feel God’s presence all around me in this FUCKING mess and I like it. I don’t even know anything else, fuck it.
So, I went to New York this past weekend!
Man, everything was so overwhelming. I love cities. I beg Nate all the time to move me the heck to Detroit. I’ve rocked Chicago, powered through D.C., and live in the glorious mini-city of Jackson. Okay, it’s Jackson, so what? It has buildings.
But like, New York, right? It made me want to crawl into a manhole and hide with the sewer rats. It felt like a thousand hammers were repetitively hitting me in the head with millions of multi-colored stimuli. So many people live in NYC. Millions. I felt like my eyes and brain were going to explode into graffiti all over the concrete. I can’t even explain if you haven’t been there.
That’s how I felt for a while, at least. You kind of ease into it. I’m a pro now, after being there two days. And after going somewhere, I compulsively have to think through everything to figure out what I learned. Or else it was meaningless.
So here’s what I learned.
1.) There is a sad, beautiful and small remnant of John Lennon, and it is living in Strawberry Fields in Central Park. I’ve known for a while and for many reasons that I needed to go to the Imagine memorial in New York. One obvious one is that Imagine is the most influential and life-shaping song I have ever had bleed into my heart. So much so that I had it tattooed on my hip. Do I need to list more reasons, or?…
As soon as I walked up, I couldn’t. I broke down and just fell apart on the bench. Musicians take shifts playing Beatles songs around this small circle in the ground that has the word Imagine engraved in the middle. I saw two couples get engaged. I heard Imagine three different times, in between other classics, accompanied by different groups of tourists singing along quietly. We were sitting by the man who was playing the current shift. He was young, friendly and stoney with a cool story. And he had met Yoko Ono multiple times.
A young man who looked like the kid from Almost Famous come up to the current guitarist. He had a haircut like an early Beatle and he said what I already knew – that he was a “big Beatles fan” and that this “means a lot to him.” But he didn’t need to say that. You could tell. He belonged to the 70’s. A group of people gathered around the guitarist and sang Imagine – it was glorious – and he looked so happy.
It might sound silly, but I felt a connection with that guy. He was also from Michigan. He loved the Beatles, too. He understood the meaning of this tourist attraction in a deeper way, too. We both are from the 70’s and are walking around now for some reason. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he was feeling sad, like me, because this was the closest to the spirit of the beautiful music from times past that I would probably ever be. Singing in unison with strangers while I cried and wished that music was still good.
I took a picture with my tattoo out in front of the circle and that was that. I learned that I’m very sad about this generation and music. I learned how to cry better in public. And I really think I need to go to festivals.
2.) Cities are scary. Being away from home is scary. But vacation is very refreshing and worthwhile.
3.) Sleeping in a tiny hostel with your husband and 2 guy friends is fine, but not ideal.
4.) There’s just something about climbing on a roof.
5.) Advertising will suck your soul dry. Around the end of the first day, I was so exhausted that I wasn’t speaking and my legs were moving only by the sheer knowledge that a bed was waiting for me at the hotel. But Derek and Nate wanted to stop and watch some dance battle.
I was too short to see. What I could see, though, was an H&M advertisement in the reflection of the window in front of the dance routine. So I watched that on loop. Oh my gosh.
Basically, impossibly attractive, skinny – skinny – skinny girls (all white), tan, with long hair and beautiful clothes and big boobs. They’re running around in bikinis, eating expensive dinners, being physically picked up and swung around by boys, riding on dune buggies, and swimming late at night. The way these ads zoom in – on girls butt and breasts – and perpetuate this ideal, like – look at this, this is beautiful, look how much fun these girls are having, don’t you wish… It’s disgusting.
I could tell from the onset of this disease that if I did not treat quickly – if I did not have severe, acute, balls out on point discernment that I would leave from watching that ad feeling completely insecure and ugly. And feeling like some girls have reached an elite level of sexy that I will never ever obtain, so I will never have the spontaneous, fun lifestyle that these women have.
Although really, these girls are probably just as insecure as I am. And yea, I’m sure they have way more fun than I do (given their profession), but I’m willing to bet that they have a whole other slew of issues I can’t even imagine from being in the industry and having to keep up incredible standards. Unless they’re robots.
So, that made me sick all over. I’m glad I made it out of that one without (more) severe body hatred and self-shaming issues, but what about the cringe-worthy reality of all the girls who eat that stuff up and don’t sift through it realistically? It’s awful, and it’s playing on repeat on a big screen in New York City. I know for a fact that 13 year old Sam would have thought about that ad for days, and probably wouldn’t have eaten much for days, and would have tried her darndest to change into someone who could have a life like that – the glorious life of an H&M model – for days, weeks, years. And even my current self isn’t completely unaffected by any stretch of the imagination.
I learned that advertising sucks and I have to stay aware. And that I get to add H&M to the list of brands that I hate. (Victoria’s Secret, lookin @ u)
6.) I don’t know where I stand on everything concerning self-sacrifice, except that I know you should.. you know.. do it. Often. But NYC (and a wise psychiatrist) helped me realize that I want to live a good life. (Why does it feel so scandalous to say that? Seriously…) I want to know what happy feels like. I do want to travel, I do want to enjoy, I do want to fall more in love with my husband in fun places. I do know that I’m allowed to live life based on what I want sometimes, because there is actually good inside of me. And I don’t have to feel so damn guilty. So, no, I’m not flying overseas to a dangerous remote location anytime soon to sacrifice my entire life. I’m spending my money to go to NYC and drink beer and see new things with my best friends. Because that’s what I want to do. And that’s where I’m at. So sue me.
I’m in a place right now that looks like this: I am in the midst of a deep soul-rocking depression that I am learning to treat, with medication. I am hoping it helps me to feel happy again. I am learning to be married to someone who is as messed up and worthwhile as I am. I am finding myself, is that okay? I’m 22 years old. I was an Atheist for 18 years, believing in nothing. And I am not learning to walk with a God that I cannot see, while working through every lie that my demolished spirit has believed, and rebuilding my brokenness with the truth of who I actually am. Also, did I mention I’m 22?
Demons telling me I’m going too fast or not going fast enough. Demons telling me I have no freedom to watch a good TV show and drink chocolate beer. Demons telling me that I’ll never amount to anything if I don’t figure out my ministry soon enough. Telling me pressure and guilt and shame.
Lucky for me, I have gracious people in my life who tell me it’s okay to do what I want. It’s okay to be gentle with myself. It’s okay to take care of myself. It’s okay to learn to love myself, and slowly learn who I am. It’s okay to take baby steps. It’s okay to travel. It’s okay to go to New York City.
It’s okay. Like, really.
Grace, man. I’m swimmin’ in it.
How the hell does anyone function with this? I was laying outside yesterday with my husband in lovely sunny downtown Jackson on a big baptist church’s steps. Sounds romantic, but it wasn’t. I had to stop walking after I couldn’t get myself to go any father because a feeling beyond feeling was making it hard to do anything, including move or hold a conversation.
“What do you want to do?” he asks.
“Nothing,” my answer.
Which people say all the time but I meant, Nate, I literally don’t want to sleep or eat, or watch TV, or drink beer or walk around or have sex in a hot air balloon or fly to the moon. I don’t want to draw, play, write or read. I could possibly eat pizza, but that’s it, and I’d probably be worse afterwards anyway.
The moments that most devastatingly clarify my depression are ones like these.
Let me explain – when I was in my Senior year of high school I started feeling this feeling that I had never felt before – the familiar frienemy I now label “depression.” And of course, anyone who has struggled with depression knows that this thing – this monster – goes far beyond feeling. It’s heinous in it’s inability to be explained. It sneaks around at first and bugs your mind with little emotional traps – not enough for you to get a clue, but enough to break you down slowly. And by the time you’re broken down, you’re on Prozac and it’s all over.
Pictures and comparisons are almost always necessary to explain my depression, and even then most people don’t “get” it. So when I began to be sucked into the enduring silent vortex that is the deadlock of a word with no synonyms; the black gruesome monster who was simultaneously consuming more and more of my friends and family as he silently did me; affecting my mind, body and soul, I questioned everything. I questioned what this was because it wasn’t sadness – Sadness is sadness. Depression is collapsing headfirst into a rabbit hole you never saw coming, looking around and realizing that you have landed in a different dimension that is the same as your own, except it has lost it’s flavor. It’s color. It is more distant than before, more gray, and less exciting. People act the same but are more exhausting and more terrifying. You grasp the fact that there is something off and wrong, but you’re never able to fully grab hold of the entirety of it. That’s depression.
That’s what I felt for the very first time sitting in Finance class, and realizing that I felt worse than I had in my entire life, but not knowing how to fix myself. Not knowing anything anymore. That was my depression.
Naturally, I got a therapist, and the therapist put me on Prozac. Great choice, therapist. After months of cutting, smoking myself silly, and absolutely draining the life out of everyone around me, the Prozac kicked in, yay! Does Prozac actually work for anyone? UGH.
So Prozac made me want to kill myself. I made this discovery when I went to go for a run. Running was the one thing I had that would without fail calm my mind and get some of my tired endorphins to move. That is, if I could get myself to actually go. I started, taking the usual path that I always took, and dead stopped after less than 400 meters.
Shit. I don’t want to run, I realized. I don’t want to run, and I should want to run. Running makes me happy, and it’s not.
And then for the first time ever I wanted to die. Because why live at that point, really.
So when I was laying next to Nate yesterday, feeling the sun on my face – the sun that I had begged God for for months, that I said I would be so much happier when I could feel – the sun that promised Summer and adventure and road-trips, the sun that warmed me all over, my favorite feeling in the world, I tried to choose to feel happy. I tried to convince myself that this was a great moment and I should just choose to feel happy about it.
But I couldn’t. Because I’m depressed. It’s like eating a donut, expecting to taste a donut, and instead tasting sand. But everyone around you tries it and is confused because it tastes like a donut, why don’t you just taste the donut, Sam? No matter how fabulous that moment was, it wasn’t going to break through the jail cell that is this icy cold prison where I, and so many others, live all the time.
I hated my life yesterday. I questioned God extensively yesterday. And I remembered that familiar feeling of not being able to run yesterday. I wished I didn’t have to exist anymore yesterday. And I had no resolution yesterday. It only got worse and bled into today.
I love how the Psalms are so honest, and always end with a bit of hope about God. Even if the whole thing is a cry of total despair, the writer always chooses to end with hope.
As much as I like that, I don’t have a whole lot of hope or faith right now. So maybe, hopefully, this isn’t the end of the story. But right now I’m in a prison and God has the key. And for some reason He won’t hand it over, which really pisses me off.