How I ended up in therapy.

I thought I was “okay,” for years, for decades…until I realized that I wasn’t. And that had to be okay.

My grandfather had a nervous breakdown in 1962 from exposure to polishes and solvents he was working with and from badly-handled grief from losing his 18-year-old son in 1944. I was born in 1963, and I never got to know the man who raised my mother and aunt. He spent time in the state hospital and underwent electroshock therapy. Afterwards he was on drugs to manage his mental state for the rest of his life. He spent some time years later in a psych ward. I was 9 or 10, I think. Then he had to go back in for a while a few years later.

The idea I got from seeing those places was that I never wanted to end up there, and along with that, I thought that psychiatrists (I didn’t know about psychologists then) were the people who put you there. That there might be a reason for it was something that I didn’t spend a lot of time considering. As a result, my thoughts on therapy, for most of my life, were “HARD PASS.” I thought that I’d say the wrong thing and end up somewhere, and not be able to get out. So I developed the idea that I was in good shape mentally and didn’t need counseling.

Enter 1983 and Christianity, and an episode of the 700 Club (I watched this I kind of stuff early on) where Pat Robertson had some “expert” on who said that psychologists, by profession, were serving evil, and Pat threw in a 2¢ summary that a Christian psychologist was the same as a Christian witch-doctor. I now felt justified in my aversion to therapy. And that stayed with me for the rest of my time in the church.

As a Christian when I would struggle with something, people would verse-vomit and tell me to rely on dubious, and very badly explained things like the “Mind of Christ” and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I never trusted that because I did not understand how it was supposed to work.

Being laid off from a job I had held for over 17 years placed me in some rather uncertain work situations, then selling my house and moving compounded the stress that I was dealing with. After a few episodes of rage at pretty manageable things, a friend pointed out that my problem had to do with stress and not the things in front me. So late in 2017 I found a therapist. There’s a lot to unpack, and losing my dad in June of 2018 only added more.

Your brain is an organ. It processes information. And when too much bad information overwhelms it, there are effects that you may not notice or be able to simply bounce off of like they’re of no regard. Recognizing that and seeking help for it is not a sign of weakness.

Pretending nothing is wrong is the weak move.

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All that was ever missing was the cheesy houndstooth coat

Sometime in ’83 after I said the prayer, someone asked me if I wanted the people I was talking with about Christ to have a good understanding of “the message,” or to just hear it. Since I was new to all of this and was trying to defer to “the experts” (people raised in the church or who had more experience with this evangelism crap) I asked someone the same question. They said, “Well, I think they just need to hear it. There’s too much at stake. And the lord could come at any moment.”

Well 35 years have come and gone and still no ‘lord.’

If there’s really that much ‘at stake,’ a loving god would want you to have a good understanding of what you’re committing your life to. A loving god would not want to just ram it through like a high-pressure, door-to-door sale. And the more I think about the years before I converted, when I was dealing with the Campus Crusade guys, that’s what it feels like.

Like I said, it’s been over 35 years. And a couple of years ago I decided I don’t want the vacuum cleaner anymore. It never worked very well, and I’d rather just pick up a broom and a dustpan, and sweep.

More reasons for unbelief

Shit like this is why I cannot be a part of this religion anymore. All my life growing up teachers and others were feeding my head with this idea that Lincoln freed the slaves. 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments all ratified. Then I get to the church and find out I’m still a fucking slave. Christianity is the slave-master’s religion, and I recognize it as such. If Hell is the price then I’ll pay it. The world’s white idol can fuck off.

Date setting: A neurosis that will not die

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” Acts 1:7, NIV

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36, NIV

Christians engage in two types of date setting. Sometimes they assign an actual date to the second coming and other apocalyptic events. We’ll call this hard date setting. This always ends up in some degree of embarrassment for the person setting the date, and anyone who bought into their pitch. The most notable of these debacles is the ‘Great Disappointment,’ which eventually led to the formation of the Seventh Day Adventist church. Most of the time people engage in what I call soft date setting. Soft date setting takes several forms. In 2015, Michelle Bachmann spoke after returning from Israel, “We recognize the shortness of the hour,” she said, “and that’s why we as a remnant want to be faithful in these days and do what it is that the Holy Spirit is speaking to each one of us, to be faithful in the Kingdom and to help bring in as many as we can — even among the Jews — share Jesus Christ with everyone that we possibly can because, again, he’s coming soon.”

Ms. Bachmann was careful to not assign a specific date. There’s no call to be at any particular place or ready at any particular hour. Just, ‘soon.’ Of the two this soft date setting is the worst. It is the most subversive and pernicious. It places people in a constant expectant mindset, and at the end of the day, when there’s no trumpet sound or chorus of legions of angels in the sky, they go to bed a little disappointed, even if on an unconscious level. It’s a constant source of stress for many. I’ve even heard people testify that they had experienced stress effects from anticipating the rapture/second coming/end times eschatology.

Humans have caused all the problems we have today. We’re the problem, and we’re the solution. We don’t deserve a divine ass-wiping. It’s not needed. Pathological expectation of a heavenly revolution on earth happens in direct conflict with the Bible. It is neither healthy nor helpful. It leads to a depraved indifference to suffering, and has people on one level or another wanting their lives to be over. It was something I dealt with and chose to abandon.

Excuse me. I’m trying to eat here.

I hate proselytizers. The few times I did it when I was a Christian I didn’t like, and I don’t like having it done to me. I was sitting in one of my favorite Asian buffet spots, minding my own business, and eating when a woman at a table catty-corner to me came over and dropped off a paper business card. I was annoyed, but thanked her and went back to eating. I went and got another plate, and one of her companions came over with a full tract. This is the 2nd time in twenty minutes that my lunch is being interrupted with this Christ-crap. I said very curtly, “Thank you.” She finally went back to her table and I was able to continue eating.

You are under orders. I get that. Preach to everyone and baptise everyone. I also don’t give a fuck. Interrupting someone’s meal with any kind of a sales pitch is rude, and it just fucking sucks.

I will not be as civil next time.