All I’ve ever searched for in life was the truth and maybe that’s what saved me, despite it being more like a search and rescue for the truth.
I used to believe in God. I gave God everything, in fact. I gave God my mind, my heart, and my soul and at the time it was easy because I didn’t want any of those things, I didn’t want my life at all. Instead, I substituted for what I was taught God wanted. God wanted modesty, prayer, and biblical scriptures memorized. God was supposed to be the only one that truly cared or knew everything about me and my thoughts or feelings, and I was okay with that because God didn’t tell anyone else those things. God was apparently the only one that could take our pain away, and I wanted that more than anything. These were the reasons I was able to believe in God. I first learned about God when I was eleven years old and I immediately took faith.
Everyone stops believing in God, even if only for a few seconds, the moment they feel they’ve been praying and begging God for something and it has yet to be received, especially when it is something that will relieve ongoing pain or torture. Even the church would teach on how faith gets tested the most during those times. But for some reason, I felt like my pain was more than that explanation could give. As if somehow, the majority of those people speaking about it hadn’t quite gone through situations that felt life threatening or ever truly hopeless. Yet, I still clung to this empty cloak of reason, hoping God was in some way, an answer. I stayed believing because everything tangible seemed to not be the answer, so believing in something like God, felt like the only option left.
Believing in God hurt me in a lot of indirect ways, though still not as badly as my life hurt me. For one, if I ever tried to express some of the damage I felt from my life to friends I made at church, their response was never to listen and only to “trust God.” If I ever expressed a hint at how deeply traumatic my home life and upbringing was, they would respond with, “your parents know best and everything they do is because they love you” but how is that true when you have some very serious abusers as family members? Clearly, these were some of my dilemmas back then with Christianity. It’s like they closed their ears when I spoke. And small talk was impossible for me when my abuse was overwhelmingly large for the first decade of my life. All I could think about was all the abuse I went through which lead to me being stunted in something like small talk, or even reading people’s neutral social cues.
Every part of living stung in some way or another. Even when the abuse finally cooled off and I learned how to walk on eggshells skillfully at home, I felt beyond not fitting in at school, but like the world was a different world than home – which it was. In fact, I used to fantasize about a world where people were generally nice to each other, where people meant what they said, where people were who they said they were, and full of people that wanted to help each other out, even in the smallest of ways such as kindly explaining how something works; I dreamed of this kind of world all because these things were so far from all I knew about life. I got an understanding of what it was like to see people be nice to each other through playing video games and seeing the characters interact when they gave advice or insight in that world. I also fantasized a world where people believed me when I spoke. I was gaslit so much, that for years it lead to me keeping the majority of my thoughts raging in my head, thus leading to me feeling angry, defensive or just highly anxious when I did eventually speak out loud.
Things always felt off for many years because the first decade I was alive was full of catastrophic trauma after trauma. I felt like I was always fifty steps behind, or from another book of life altogether when it came to understanding everything that ever happened to me, even when it was something neutral, and especially, when it was traumatic or related to. On top of that, I was alone. Due to so many things happening to me before I could verbalize, before I even knew words existed for it, I had no way to express even if the right person were to listen. Not to mention, I wouldn’t be able to recognize the right person because how can you recognize something you’ve never seen before. They may have looked like an odd-colored brick in a wall of bricks but they’re still a brick and therefore, quickly dismissed. I swear on every cell in my body, I was looking for answers, people, reasons and signs for what was wrong with my life and how to fix it. I was convinced life was meant to be unpredictably dangerous, cruel, and simply against you. Yet, every time I got something nice, or unpredictably helpful, I was eager to change that belief. I didn’t want to believe that life sucked and that was it. I would see people on TV or in video games being treated nicely or actually feeling happy and safe and I chose to believe in that being possible, even though it was quite literally all fiction to my actual knowledge.
When I finally gained freedom and independence, and was able to attain those concepts of happiness, safety, and security, I was still missing one important thing: validation. I felt like a hollow shell after the highs wore off of reaching this dream-like state of joy that seemed so far away from the trauma. No matter how happy I got, it never erased the pain I felt from my upbringing. I’d smile at day and cry my eyes out, begging and asking why for hours at night; How could such people treat me like they hate me then tell me they love me? Why does no one believe me and why am I called a liar for feeling hurt? I needed validation for what I went through, desperately, but I was too afraid to speak about what happened. The idea of being called a liar one more time when I did nothing but tell the truth was sure to break me. Church didn’t give me validation, friends either in or out of church didn’t give me such, and family members were certain to only gaslight me. And so, I eventually gave up faith after more than ten years. I stopped believing in God because how can God be real if my pain isn’t real? I needed to know my pain was real because it was all I could feel yet no one could see. Everything and everyone in my life convinced me that what I went through was bullshit, no matter what I felt, remembered, and knew for certain. At the end of the day, the real trinity to me was God, love, and pain. Without believing in one, the other two would fall just as flat if not more.
If God/love/pain wasn’t real, then it didn’t matter what I did to hurt myself or others. That, at the time, made sense to me. I acted out of control for a couple of years. If God were a real person, I was flipping them off in every possible way. I then hit a point where I realized I needed to live for myself, even if there was no “God” to hold myself accountable or to help me. I remember it feeling heavy and near impossible, but I knew I had to try. I realized that I was the one that needed to believe in me and what I went through. The bigger picture was that it was terrifying to confront how much I went through because the slightest thought of it would fill me with regret, shame, self-blame and suicidal thoughts. The truth was, I wasn’t at fault for what happened to me but was made to believe I was wrong for years. The truth was, I was rare to withstand as long as I had even after all that happened to me. The lies were the verbal abuses swimming in my head day and night, the gaslighting that had been done to shut me up, and the fear projected onto me from everyone around me. I was always strong enough to stand up and speak up, and I was strong enough to leave. Still, I fought inside myself, wanting to tell myself everything that happened to me was a lie – partially because my family’s brainwashing, and also because I really wish it hadn’t happened. All I’ve ever searched for in life was the truth and maybe that’s what saved me, despite it being more like a search and rescue for the truth.
I was struggling trying to live for myself, still not knowing how to have my pain validated by myself or others. The need to feel validated is something everyone has since infancy and perhaps most get that, even if only at infancy, and then, never again. But I know I didn’t even get that much. Finally, I found music that connected so deeply to my wounds, to the core of my existence which was undeniably pain, and it breathed life into me – it breathed faith. God was once again alive in me, but this time, not the same biblical God, but the trinity that I actually believed in all along. Something in me just wouldn’t allow anything less than the belief of: if pain doesn’t exist, how can love? If those two agree, then I believe we have God in us, a higher self, a higher power, our spirit guide, whatever you want to call it. Whatever it is, I now pray again, and for once I believe in manifesting, and I believe in my power. Having my pain validated allowed me to see how powerful I was to overcome, and I am now unbothered if others don’t understand. What I needed was for me to believe in it. It took someone relating through art for me to feel that way. It was pure feeling…and feeling doesn’t work for everyone, but for me, that was all I needed, as hard as it was to find.
Now, I live for not only myself, but also for the concept of good in the world. No one wants to live in a world where they don’t believe love exists. That was me for awhile. Everything and everyone can try to tell you that there are many signs of love and hope in your life, but when you’ve come from a dark past and had every door closed on you when searching for reasons to believe, those words don’t quite land. So I can tell you that there is good in the world and that you will someday, somehow find peace of mind, but that is, all in all, your unique journey to take. Whether you will ever believe in God or even the same one as me, no one may never know. I will, however, leave my readers with these three wishes: I hope you believe in the strength of your heart, I hope you don’t ever hate yourself for how you survived, and I hope you find god in you.
CLICK PAGE 2 for the artist that inspired me.