An Accidental Existentialist

I do not wish to philosophize about the possibilities that exist, but my intellectual capabilities make it impossible for my brain not to fire in that way. My anxiety ensures these unwanted mental meanderings cause me great discomfort – for anxiety does not like to float freely; it prefers an anchor. And what better an anchor than the rabbit hole that is philosophy?

We are raised with certain belief systems, borne out of our caregivers’ bestowing. At some point, we have the option to choose a different value structure. If it does not align with our family traditions it can cause angst. This is where I often find myself. Sitting in the middle of historic teachings, my own experience, and the ability to see multiple perspectives. I joke that things were simpler when I had the checklist of religion and the prescribed wife and mother role from the 50s that I readily adopted. “Married with 2 under 2 by 22.” Life was neat and organized by childcare, housecleaning, and meal prep.

Now my kids are teens, I rarely cook, prefer to call myself a partner rather than a wife, and the only codified activity I participate in regularly is Pilates. Despite my existential angst, how I function in the world today is far more congruent to my authentic self than the identity I put on in my twenties. Important people in my life experience a bit of confusion, however, when I act in ways that seem to contradict their concept of me. It would be simpler for them if I retreated to a more predictable identity.

I can’t retrace my steps. I can’t unring the bell. I can’t pretend I don’t know what I do know. If I do, I betray myself.

When My Religion was Wrapped in a Perfect Box

With a little shiny bow on top. I was the dutiful follower, going to church, singing my little heart out to my Jesus and doing my best to love as Christ loves. I had a tidy little checklist I could cross off everyday to prove I was a good Christian and look upon the mirror of self loathing for the areas I fell short.

The problem was the areas I fell short were determined by humans. And in my absolute quest to be “good” I lost my intuitive self. I began to question my own reality. The Bible says God is not the author of confusion. So how come going to church became so confusing? Why all of a sudden did love and evil look the same? Why was the only place I was growing was in self destruction?

I had to go. I could no longer hold the conflicting realities, trudge through the muck to see where – and even IF – the truth existed. The God I once understood did not create me to live in chaos, of that I clung to. And I walked away from organized religion.

It took me 5 years to recognize my pain. 2 more to speak about it. And a decade in therapy before I could sing my favorite songs without dissociating. I’m not in a hurry to find out if there’s a building for me to worship at. I’m content singing alone, just me and Jesus.