Pain makes me have A.D.D. Particularly emotional pain. Perhaps I should clarify, pain makes me unable to focus on anything but the source of my frustration. Eating, thinking, painting, conversing…everything suffers because of this ONE issue I can’t seem to resolve. So far this afternoon, I’ve had a few conversations, sketched several paintings, and written a page or two of my thesis. Productivity occurs when I’m just distracted enough to forget that my heart is broken. But the moment I’m reminded, I may as well turn my computer off and grab a beer. Emotional struggles are like a one-way ticket to the couch. I can’t even listen to music. It’s like everything becomes irritating as hell. None of my coping skills are working. I’m just fucking angry and sad…almost all the time. I want to bite things or break things or do something besides feel helpless.
There is a perpetual ache in my chest and tears threaten to fall. Today is one of those days when stillness makes me want to rage. Everywhere I look there are reminders. Seriously, everywhere. I’m sitting in a room full of reminders and I want to pitch a tantrum and destroy everything. I don’t know how to escape. I’m either trapped in the space or trapped within myself, unable to turn off my brain. God, I wish I didn’t give a shit. This would be so much easier. Out of sight, out of mind. I could toss the physical reminders into a barrel and light a match. Poof, gone. But I can’t do it because…reasons. Tangible reminders make it more difficult to let go of the emotional attachment. And I’m getting tired of holding on…
I don’t know if I’ve ever been this chronically troubled in my life. The struggle is real.
Yesterday I visited a church. Of my own volition. I haven’t done that in four years. I haven’t wanted to. I’ve been at peace with enjoying my Sundays at home since I stopped attending church in 2011. I’ve experienced enough trauma in church over the last 30 years, I should have PTSD…but I don’t. If anything, I’m just bitter and skeptical.
But yesterday, I decided to try again. The decision to cross that threshold is much more difficult than I wish it was. I wanted to talk but I also wanted to be invisible. I hid in the corner by myself like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club. I thought maybe if I didn’t make eye contact, I’d go unnoticed…but I didn’t. This particular community remembered me from a visit last month, when I met the lovely/kick ass artist, Frank Schaeffer. Granted, when I went to hear Frank speak, I didn’t know I was joining a small group of people holding church at the World of Beer. As I waited for my turn to talk to Frank, I conversed with a few of the church members. I met one of the “pastors” who was intrigued by my Fuck Cancer shirt and flip flops. He said he can always tell a lot about people by the shirts and shoes they wear. He said that by the way I was dressed, I wanted to be casual and not give a shit but was still a bit too afraid. Astute assessment, but this guy is also a top attorney in the area. He probably knows how to read people. In any event, I saw some potential in his little flock and decided to put my fear in the Fuck It Bucket and scope out the scene again when I was ready.
Sometimes I feel bad for declining an invitation to join a group. Yesterday, several church members asked me to move out of my corner and into the open to join the circus of conversation. Each time, I said no…preferring to stay out of sight. The collective dialogue was about the metamorphosis of church and how it’s become a cumbersome entity that hates gays and persecutes anyone who looks or behaves contrary to some arbitrary set of rules. And yet the religious assholes wonder why the church is dying.
In church, I’ve seen pastors cheat on their wives, verbally abuse members with racist/misogynist ideologies; witnessed people being accosted for having an abortion or for being gay; watched marriages dissolve from infidelity between church members (including my own); seen people falsely accused of heinous acts (including myself); and wondered what the fuck is wrong with people. So why in the hell would I ever choose to pursue this endeavor again?
I guess I keep trying because as much as I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve also managed to have it healed in the company of people who actually believe in love and act on it. The last two churches I participated in, I was nearly destroyed…but there were specific individuals who picked me up out of the ashes and spoke compassion into my bruised soul. And I’m kind of hoping that I’ll find some measure of what church is supposed to be while participating in this new community. I know there will never be a perfectly safe place because we’re imperfect people. But I’m starting over with a new awareness of who I am and what I know to be true about others. I hope this is the beginning of something great but I know I’ll be okay if it’s not.