The Veil, Lifted – Part 2

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Continued from The Veil, Lifted – Part 1

Oh, it came out in spurts here and there, like an overblown balloon letting out little puffs of air. My restrained rebellion continued to grow. Frustration and depression at not being true to myself and being so conflicted within, led to days of uncontrollable crying and rage. It was almost as if I was two different people. I performed very well in school with perfect grades and involvement in several extracurricular activities, and I hated it. Outside of my ‘performances’, I was a dark and angry individual, but I never gave that part of me a voice. I wasn’t normal and being normal wasn’t working for me. I felt like an outsider. No one understood me and there seemed to be no place for me.

At 17 I ran away. I was caught three days later and dragged back home. At 18 I moved out but I wasn’t done running. Over the next few years, I ran off to Florida and California unannounced. I know this was very hard on my family. It was selfish and inconsiderate. I don’t know what I was running from. Maybe I was trying to find myself.

By the time I turned 26 I was ready to settle down and make a go at being a ‘real’ adult. You know, all of that mind numbing, stress inducing stuff like a full time job and a savings account, 401k’s and life insurance. (I’d rather have needles driven under my fingernails.) I also decided that I should go back to church full time.

I tried several different churches, but the judgement, gossip, backbiting, and hypocrisy was more than I could bear. Don’t get ┬áme wrong, I met a lot of great people and there was a lot of good things going on. It just didn’t feel right to me so I stopped going all together and did my own thing at home.

I was really disillusioned by some of the things I encountered in various churches. The Mormons told me the moon would turn to blood to signal the rapture. I suffered from nightmares over this for several years. The moon would turn to blood, the rapture being upon us, and I was frantically running around looking for my children who were nowhere to be found. I was terrified of the moon and, for several years, refused to even look at it.

I tried another church that wouldn’t permit us to leave until we spoke in tongues, and another in which the pastor became so enthusiastic he began throwing the fold up chairs. I don’t know about you, but this just isn’t my kind of thing.

At 29 I began suffering from severe anxiety attacks. When they began, I didn’t know that’s what it was. I thought I was having a heart attack. After my third trip to the emergency room in a month’s time, the doctor put me on prozac. I don’t even know how to put into words how this felt. Aside from the typical symptoms of heart palpitations, an inability to breathe, and numbness and tingling in my arms, I was convinced something was horribly wrong with me. I must have a brain tumor, or I was going to suffer an aneurysm or some other horrible death inducing malady.

I felt disconnected from my body, like I was floating. It felt like I was going to crawl out of my skin and I couldn’t be touched. All I could do was curl up in a fetal position and hug a pillow and breathe my way through it. These attacks eventually tapered off. They were fewer and fewer until they only happened once or twice a year. I mention all of this because looking back now, this was the beginning.

I’ll explain why later.

Not long after the anxiety attacks began, I started researching on the internet. I had questions. I was still experiencing paranormal activity. I developed tinnitus and refused to sleep without the television on because the high pitched ringing would drive me insane. I was afraid of what was happening to me and I was tired of being afraid.

I began my research with paranormal activity. Over several months, I researched ghosts, hauntings, and different types of entities. That led to mediums, psychics, and various other types of psychic abilities. As I was going through all of this I stumbled upon Wicca.

I liked Wicca. It felt right and made sense to me, but I was still a Christian. I found myself trying to reconcile one with the other. Could I be a Christian witch? Could I be a witch that still believed in Jesus? If I don’t believe in Jesus I won’t get into heaven right?

I was at the home of an older friend of mine helping her with some cleaning and rearranging when I happened upon a book. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the book but it was very old with a blue jacket and a title that I found, at the time, somewhat offensive. I asked her about it and she says “Oh, That’s my dad’s book. He doesn’t believe in God. He says it’s all a lie.” I didn’t know anyone that didn’t believe in God. The thought was profound.

The book led me to research Christianity and the bible. The more I learned the more I questioned until it finally hit me that I had been lied to my entire life. I had lived my entire life afraid of what would happen to my soul. Afraid of making mistakes and not being good enough. This sudden realization hit me like a ton of bricks and I. Was. Pissed.

Back at my friend’s house, she asked how my research was going. I launched into a tirade. “I’ve been lied to by everyone my entire life. I’ve spent my entire life fearing for my immortal soul and it was completely unnecessary. Everyone I’ve ever known has lied to me. I’m just done! It’s so much bullshit! I can’t believe everything I’ve always believed in has been a lie! I’m never speaking to God again!” She patiently listened to me vent and when I was finished she says, “I think there’s a joint in my drawer.”

I was truly beyond furious. I stopped researching, I stopped talking to God, and I threw out every bible in the house. I was mad at everyone who had perpetuated this lie in my life. I blamed them all for pulling the wool over my eyes over such a huge and important matter. If someone had walked up to me and said, “Jesus loves you!” I would have punched them right in the nose. This level of anger didn’t subside for a good six months.

To be continued. . .


The Veil, Lifted – Part 1

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It’s hard to say exactly when the questioning began. It was always there in degrees. The way things were done in the world just didn’t make sense to me as a child. I asked “Why?” a lot, and the answer I was always given was “That’s just the way it is.” That’s it. That answer always came with a shoulder shrug, the mouth turning down slightly at the corners. No one really knew I suppose.

I was raised in the Christian faith. Sunday school and church were a regular weekly occurrence. Each week, I sat in the pew beside my grandmother, my tights itching my legs, and suffering a level of boredom greater than it seemed I could bear. I would mindlessly doodle all over grandmother’s bulletin with those little stubby pencils they put out for marking the donation envelopes.

Even though I was never really listening, the preacher’s words still found their way into my psyche. It always sounded like he was preaching love and morality. Love thy neighbor as thyself and do unto others. These are wonderful messages in and of themselves, but they don’t come alone. There were many other not so nice undercurrents woven through those messages that wiggled their way in also.

Messages that created fear, low self-esteem, and a sense of hopelessness, I am a sinner. I am not worthy. I am an earthly human, with earthly desires and needs, and I will never be able to stand in the presence of God unstained. I will be judged for everything I’ve done wrong, and God sees everything.

For years I worried and fretted over the state of my eternal existence. Every night, I prayed God would forgive me, and hoped I would be good enough to get into heaven. I even asked to be forgiven for the things I did wrong that I didn’t remember or didn’t realize were wrong. It’s exhausting trying to keep your soul unblemished, and since God doesn’t come down and put his hand on your head and tell you it’s okay, you never really know if you’re forgiven. You must have faith that you’ve been heard, and then cross your fingers and hope all will be well in the end.

I was so concerned about my soul, I spent ten years in a very bad relationship because I was afraid I wouldn’t be forgiven for breaking my vows. So upset in fact, I ended up going through several therapy sessions with a pastor from a local church when things did come to an end.

I should mention I had stopped going to church at 18 when I moved out on my own. Sunday attendance was very hit or miss with very long stretches in between. That doesn’t mean I stopped being religious. I read my bible, prayed every day, and pathetically cried, begged, and pleaded for direction and answers to my struggles.

Now, running along side all of this simultaneously, is the fact that I am an extremely rebellious personality. The best way to get me to do something is to tell me not to do it. Every time I would begin to get out of line though, I would be shushed and shamed into submission. I couldn’t stand injustice, and I saw it everywhere. Hypocrisy too. My view of the world was largely colored by archaic church lessons. Passages and stories from the old testament taught me that God was selfish, egotistical, and cruel. When I voiced my opinion about various things that I saw as wrong, twisted, or just plain stupid, I was told “Shush!, Don’t talk like that!”. It was impressed upon me that you don’t question God, and you don’t question adults.

In addition to this, I was experiencing a lot of paranormal phenomena, balls of light, ghostly apparitions,voices, premonitions. All the things I shouldn’t be seeing and hearing. This has been a theme throughout my life. At the age of ten, I had the pleasure of being terrorized by something horrific for several weeks. I don’t suppose playing with a ouija board had anything to do with that.

We lived in a split level home with the main living areas on one floor. On one end was the living room, dining room, and kitchen, and at the other the bedrooms and baths. At two in the morning, without fail, I would be awoken by a high pitched wailing outside my bedroom window. That would stop and then footsteps, that sounded like someone in cowboy boots, would start in the kitchen and work their way back the hallway to stop at my bedroom door. Then the process would start all over. I was also suffering from horrible nightmares of being chased by a black entity. It’s the feeling I remember most, pure evil. I would be enveloped by that kind of fear in which you can’t even scream.

My family looked at every possible explanation for this. Perhaps there was new equipment running on the night shift at the nearby mill. Maybe there’s a bobcat coming around at night. It could be new neighbors that have recently moved in and they’re making noise. No explanation could be found and the episodes continued relentlessly. Out of desperation, I was sent to stay with my great aunt in Buffalo, New York in the hopes that a change of scenery would help.

It didn’t. It followed me there. The nightmares got so bad my aunt would find me sleeping on the bathroom floor. Why there? It was a small bright room and I felt somewhat safe there. And, if I was lucky, I could coax her crazy siamese cat into keeping me company.

One night, really fed up with sleeping in the bathroom, I ventured out on the second floor balcony and lay down on a chaise lounger. I lay there dozing on and off. At one point, I opened my eyes to see the image of a demon face staring down at me. Let me tell you, I lost my shit. No one knows that though. At this point, I had stopped mentioning it. It was too disturbing for the adults.

Believe it or not, the end of this story is really simple and uneventful. Once back from New York, my mother took me to see a therapist. She suggested I change bedrooms. She told me that would fix it. So we took her advice, and it never happened again. Just like that. Power of suggestion? To this day, I have no idea what all of that was about, but I know I never want to experience it again.

Anyway, the point of all of this is, here I am, rebellious, dealing with a level of psychic hoodoo, and religiously indoctrinated. We all know this kind of stuff is frowned upon by the church. (Church and God were synonymous for me at this point.) Can you imagine the internal conflict? So I buried this stuff as far down as I could, and when something happened, I put my hands over my ears and squeezed my eyes shut, and said, “La, la, la, I can’t see you.”

Don’t you suppose, at some point, all of this is going to blow wide open?

To be continued. . .