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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Anxiety, Lack of Religion, and Existential Angst: the Three BFFs of Messing Up My World Right Now

I feel like I'm having some sort of anxiety-induced/fueled existential crisis.

I've become a decidedly NOT religious person, which has been quite the process considering I was raised in a religious home and at one point in my twenties had such strong faith (which I truly believed I would have forever), that I had a cross permanently inked on the back of my left shoulder.

Now that cross just seems like a joke and a lie.

It's a joke because it is a glaring example of the ludicrously naive beliefs of my youth.  It is a lie because others who see it probably take it to mean that I am a Christian.  The lie is why I want it removed.  I'm fine with keeping my first tattoo--a cheap little design off the wall plus a phrase in my own handwriting.  I keep it willingly as a testament to my overcoming my fear of needles and also as a "remember, you have to live with your choices" reminder.  And I would gladly keep the cross for the same reasons, if it didn't represent something I am very much NOT.  I feel like I'm misleading people.  I fear someone will see it and inherently trust me, thinking that we have a very crucial (to him or her) life foundation in common.

Wait, how did this turn into talking about my cross tattoo?  Fuck it.  Welcome to my train of thought--if you need things like "direction" and "logical progression," I suggest you jump off now.

Anywho, I don't "have" religion.  And trust me, most of the time I wish I did.  I remember the comfort: everything was all part of a plan--a plan by someone who had my best interests at heart and was always looking out for me.  I remember the company: I was never alone because He was always with me.  I remember the peace: I could let just about anything go because I didn't really have to deal with it; He would deal with it for me OR give me the strength/ability to deal with it.  I mean, I didn't have to rely on myself practically at ALL.

Now?  It's all me.  And my life?  That's all there is.  I love the idea of some sort of afterlife, ANY sort of afterlife mythology--I desperately don't want to believe that one day my brain functions will cease and I'll just be GONE, that there will be nothing of me left but a human shell and whatever people can remember.  Problem is, I just don't believe it.  I can't.  Because I can't believe in any of the other constructs that come along with those afterlives.

If you're happily religious and you feel bad for me, I don't blame you.  Hell, I've BEEN you.  When I was happy and warm and secure in my beliefs, I genuinely felt bad for those who didn't have such a thing.  I knew how much it helped me and how it comforted me, and I thought that everyone deserved to feel that.  I didn't look down on people or think "you're going to hell;" I just thought, "if you only knew what you are missing out on, how happy (or how much happier) you could be."  But to me, faith has always been an intensely personal thing, so I didn't proselytize or try to make anyone a believer.  Even now I don't try to convince someone out of his or her faith, just as I request people not try to convince me to return to the fold.  What you do or do not believe is yours and yours alone.

But honestly?  Having religion just used to make life easier, more bearable.  When I was worried about something I could do nothing about, I actually COULD do something: I could pray.  And then, having actually "done" something about it, I could let the worry go.  I no longer have that outlet; now I have anxiety meds. Yay.

And that's really when I miss religion the most, in situations I have virtually no control over.  Husband going out of town for work?  God, keep him safe.  Someone I care about critically ill?  God, heal her.  Son getting evaluated by experts?  God, let him actually be the child I see on a daily basis and not the little distracted yet intensely focused and super stressed little boy he becomes in brand new, overwhelming places.

That last one is a little telling, isn't it?  The kiddo needs special ed prior to kindergarten, that's a given.  But how much and for how long and to what extent is trickier.  Those things are initially based on an on site (i.e. at the school) play evaluation.  My child is practically fucking FAMOUS for poor evaluations.  Evaluations in which he shows less than half of what he can actually do--my husband likened it to test-taking anxiety: you totally know your shit, but in that particularly stressful situation, those parts of your brain/knowledge necessary to your success just shut down.  THANKS BRAIN, YOU'RE A REAL FUCKING PEACH.

Needless to say, I was not pleased with how the evaluation went and what the evaluators got to see.  Again, is the kid delayed?  Yes.  Does he need services?  Oh yes, most definitely.  Is he some flat-expressioned little boy who never mimics, barely says a word, and can't point to the triangle? NO.

He is a beautiful smiley faced child who loves to sing and talk nonsense and picks out the triangle every. single. fucking. time.  But that's not who they got to see.

Fortunately, we're getting another chance.  They're going to come here, to our home, to watch him during a normal services visit in a place that is familiar and comfortable to him.

Aaaaaand now I'm worrying about it.  What if he's having a bad day?  What if he doesn't do anything differently?  What if they end up thinking it's a big waste of time perpetrated by yet another mother who can't see past her love for her child to realize that he belongs on the spectrum?

I am drowning in "what ifs" that I have virtually no control over.  I mean, I can practice with him and . . . well, that's about it.  I can't make him not be sick.  I can't make him wake up in a good mood that day.  I can't dictate his feelings or his actions.  I can't beg him to let them see who he really is so that they have as much accurate information as possible when deciding which program and which class to place him in.

If I were religious, I could pray.  I could leave it all up to God and be reassured that however it worked out was the way it was meant to.  But I'm not, and I can't.

Instead, I'm here writing a blog so that I can be doing something, anything, other than ruminating on what will or will not happen on Thursday.  I'm also trying to avoid the even bigger thoughts that I fled to my keyboard to avoid.  That if I can't get my anxiety under control, all my life--the ONLY life I will ever have--will be is one big anxiety attack.  I'll have heart attack by the time I'm 45 because I couldn't stop stressing the fuck out over things I CANNOT FUCKING CONTROL.  And then I'll be dead.  I'll have wasted my one opportunity to live on FUCKING ANXIETY.

All I want to do right now is hug my son, cling to him until I feel better (which, by the way, sounds soooooo super healthy; I mean, if I don't have Jesus to make me feel better, why not shift that burden on to my child?).  But he's napping.  Instead, I'm just left here in the kitchen to go insane, shifting between worrying about Thursday and worrying about my lack of an eternity.

NEITHER OF WHICH I CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT.

Did you know that one of the definitions of insanity is "extreme foolishness or irrationality"?  (Fuck that movie trope about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results--that is not in any dictionary I can find, except the dictionary of bullshit definitions.) I mean, that really just about says it all as far as I'm concerned.  When I'm in the middle of anxiety-land, that is EXACTLY how I would describe myself and/or my thoughts.

Oh noes, someday I'm going to die and then there's just going to be nothing!  So?  I'll be dead and nothing.  The beauty of being nothing is that you can't possibly know that you're nothing.  That's where the fear comes in, right?  The thought of being nothing.  Of being just done.  Basically, fear is a problem of the living.  Hey, I could make that a trend, like first-world problems?  #livingproblems.  Don't steal that; it's mine.

Though sometimes it's not the whole "I'm going to die and be nothing" that gets me; it's more the, "I'm going to die and be nothing and THIS is how I'm choosing to live my one life that will culminate in that?"  Yup, I have anxiety about living an anxiety-riddled life.

Ugh.

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