Friggin’ Depression, and Random Rambles

Welcome back to my Rantings, Ramblings, Ravings and Musings. Aren’t you so glad to be here?

Yeah, that makes two of us. I feel your pain.

My poor roommates. They’ve had to deal with me, since my job ended, being crankier than normal. Crankiness is me in the pits of depression. I don’t get sad, just irritable.

My counselor’s been working with me on this, helping me realize how this is quite often my inner child, triggered by that which I deem to be unfair. Because I didn’t have a very fair childhood, at all, and I wasn’t really allowed to just be a kid.

Oh, woe is me.

Anyway, I’m still cranky as hell. Because life is unfair. I have a headache. That’s unfair. Everything hurts. Also unfair. I don’t have a job. Also unfair. I can go on. And on. And on.

I went to a dance a few weeks ago. It sucked. First, because I had to go alone, and only knew one person there. Second, because depression. I had to go hide in a corner for a while and just chill, and then fend off the awkward “are you okay?” questions from concerned passersby who happened to stumble upon me.

Friggin’ depression.

My cat, Captain, had to have dental surgery, because of unfortunately rotten teeth. I’ve had that cat for twelve years now. He’s quite honestly the love of my life. And every day, I have to face the fact that he’s getting old, and I’m going to lose him one day.

That also sucks.

Friggin’ depression.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Scott, too. (Friend who committed suicide four months back.) It’s really hard, because I miss him, I’m pissed as hell at him, and I still have those wistful suicidal thoughts at night, but I annoyingly promised myself I wouldn’t do it, because he made me realize how freaking selfish it is, and I can’t do that to everyone. I mean, think of the funeral costs. That’s enough of a deterrent. But, honestly, I’m still perfectly okay with dying. I’m just not actively seeking it.

Betcha know what I’m going to say next.

That’s right. Friggin’ depression.

I’m trying to watch my language, as my roommates have instituted a “Swear Jar,” and I don’t want to lose the money I’ve got because of a few strong words. Mormons, sometimes.

But, hey. At least right now it’s just the f-bomb. I can even get away with the blatant use of my middle finger, right now. So I’m okay. My freedom of speech isn’t in that much danger. But you can thank them for today’s use of milder language.

I’ve also discovered that I am a valuable resource to my fellow-writing roommates. For instance, one of these roommates was writing a literary story for a class, and I helped her make it less boring by putting excellent elements of drama into it, such as a narcissistic mother. I am their go-to person for abuse and mental illness research, even if they don’t freaking want it. I will shove it down their throats if need be!

By the way, any aspiring writers out there: RESEARCH IS YOUR FRIEND! ALWAYS DO THE RESEARCH!

Anyway, friends, followers, or random people out there, thank you for tuning in. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming. (Saying that makes me feel powerful, okay? Don’t judge me.)

And, just once more, for the sake of my amusement:

Friggin’ depression.

Mormons in Church

As Mormons, we prize intelligence. But we’re also the first to admit we’re nowhere near perfect. Which is great! It leads to some fantastic memories to be made during meetings! Why? Because we assign speakers from the congregation—not just the local church authority!

So, for instance, one time when a girl said, “my friends have been very detrimental to my college experience.” And then she just kept going. Everyone else was quiet, but my Writer Roommates and I were cracking up in the back.

Or, standing up at the pulpit, reading her talk verbatim, a girl says, “I had some really scary health issues. I was scared and afraid.” Or a stake authority (higher up than the local, ward level, but still pretty local): “How grateful it is to be able to talk to you.”

Things like this are why Mormons are laughing during church.

On the first Sunday of the month, we have a testimony meeting, where members will volunteer to get up in front of the congregation and bear their testimony–tell us that they know certain things are true, and why. It can be a really powerful religious experience for us.

However,

One time, when I was a teenager, it was just me and my sister at church during one of those meetings. Behind us sat this little kid with an affinity for blowing raspberries.

So, a stay-at-home mom gets up, and starts talking about how she knows the Church is true, getting rather emotional about it all. How she loves her family. . .

*raspberry*

. . . and her three beautiful children. . .

*raspberry*

. . . and is so grateful to have them in her life. . .

*raspberry.*

That’s one of those things that had me fighting not to crack up. It’s undeniable proof–God has a sense of humor!

Manure Occureth

Nearly two weeks since my best friend, Scott, took his own life. I haven’t broken down since the funeral. I feel that’s an accomplishment. I guess the funeral gave me the closure I needed—final knowledge that this wasn’t some kind of sick joke. And now, life goes on. It’s too short to waste grieving.

Sad as it is, I’m sure this did happen for a reason. Now, I have some tangible, first-hand experience with the grief of losing someone close to me. The experience of having a friend so lost in life that he felt he had no other way out. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. I just wish he could have found some help, like I did. But, too late. For Scott, the great test of life was turned in early, and the rest of us still have to struggle through all the joys and sorrows that come with it, constantly hoping we finish before our time is up.

And this is a test I intend to ace.

Scott’s death has grounded me, given me some more traction to make it through my own life, and maybe be better prepared to help others make it through theirs. This isn’t an experience I’d want anyone to go through, but at the same time—even while I’m grieving—I recognize that it’s enabled me to be a better person. Just like my sister’s abuse helped balance out my mother’s constant praise, keeping me from turning into a narcissist like her.

Whoever may be out there, going through hard times and wondering just what it’s all for, I hope you can take a step back and realize that even though it hurts—sometimes so much you can barely stand it—it’s helping you become better, in some way. You’re strong enough to make it through, and when you do, the sun will shine out all the clearer.

So, here I am, sitting in front of my computer, being oddly optimistic. Don’t worry. I already know I’m crazy. And cheesy. I get all my best lines off Hallmark cards, and I have a ridiculous flair for the dramatic. That’s okay, though. Life goes on.

Christian Weirdness: Mormon vs. Catholic

Tonight, I took the opportunity to expand my Christian horizons by going to a Catholic mass.

Now, there are those among the Mormon church who believe Catholicism is the whore of Babylon mentioned in Revelations. That’s incorrect. The whore of Babylon is not necessarily a denomination, just a state of mind. Opposition to righteousness.

That in mind, I decided that I needed to stop just thinking Catholics were weird (besides wrong, of course), and that I was so much better than them, and actually try to understand. Besides, I’ve always found Catholicism somewhat interesting. Maybe because the majority of demonic possession movies have a Catholic background. Plus, the stained glass windows and cathedrals are beautiful.

So, tonight, I attended mass, dressed as I would for an LDS service—in a skirt. I was advised by the Internet that it was the only way to dress for Catholics as well. Imagine my surprise when people started showing up in jeans!

In the LDS chapel, we have hymn books out for the congregation. In this chapel, they had three song books and a missal and a book for you to follow along. I was having a hard time switching back and forth between them all.

LDS church is composed of three different meetings: Sacrament meeting, Sunday school, and the age- and gender-specific classes (Primary for children up to twelve, Priesthood for males over twelve, Young Women for girls twelve to eighteen, and Relief Society for women eighteen plus). A total of three hours, sitting down except when traveling from one to the other. Our Sacrament meeting is most like a standard church meeting, gathering in the chapel, taking the sacrament. It’s really a very simple organization. Opening hymn, opening prayer, ward business, sacrament hymn, sacrament, first speaker, second speaker, hymn or musical number, third speaker, closing hymn, closing prayer. Mass isn’t anywhere near that simple. I couldn’t keep track of all the prayers and hymns and things sung! Most of it was routine. And plus, there was so much sitting, standing, kneeling. Good way to stay awake, I guess. Bravo to Catholics for figuring that out! Maybe us Mormons could use a little more of that, and a little less of the classic elbow in the ribs.

To say I didn’t feel comfortable? An understatement. All in all, I found it too formulated, leaving too little room for revelation. See, Mormon’s don’t really use formulated prayers very often. Just for things like baptism, confirmation, the sacrament, and so on. I guess you could say our prayers are free verse. Reciting something like a prayer will never feel right to me. Also, I found a bit of it was really showy—more of the body than the mind and heart. Beyond that, I was depressed by the limited amount of scripture: just the Bible. I’m so used to the classic Mormon quad: The Bible, the Book of Mormon (testament of Christ in the Americas), the Pearl of Great Price (miscellaneous things, including the books of Moses and Abraham, and the Joseph Smith translations of the Bible), and the Doctrine and Covenants (establishment of the LDS church, and related revelations). To be cut down to one. . . is weird.

Now, I can’t tell you I felt the Spirit there. And I can’t say I didn’t. I’m not very spiritually sensitive. But the pastor did say some good things, and I had good notes to take.

After mass, I talked to the pastor long enough to give him my name and tell him I was Mormon. He made sure I felt welcome, and introduced me to another girl, who introduced me to basically everyone else. To be perfectly honest, I was overwhelmed by how included they made me—how nice everyone was. I’m a Utah Mormon. Here, Mormons can be nice, but they can also be very judgmental and cliquish, for lack of a better term. But I saw so little of that in the Catholics I met tonight. They invited me to an activity later in the week, and I think I might have to go. Because, honestly, in my own ward I haven’t ever felt so included.

My conclusions: Catholics are still weird. Their religion seems to be as steeped in tradition as Judaism. And, of course, I won’t ever believe the Catholics have it right. But they’re wonderful people—far better than I’ve been led to believe by Utah Mormons.

On Agnosticism, Atheism and Mormon Weirdness

This past week, a girl I work with was talking to me. She was born and raised Mormon, but has since become agnostic. Now, I’ve got no problem with that. If that’s the way she wants to live her life, all power to her. But she kept asking me questions. Like how come if Jesus ever lived the only records of him were in the Bible? There’s no birth certificate or journal entries or anything.  And Joseph Smith was never actually told to form a church—just that the ones that existed already weren’t true. With all that, she wasn’t sure she could believe in God.

I’ve never been good at answering those kinds of things. That’s part of the reason I’m not going to go on a mission. I just answered as well as I could.

How do we know there are no other records of Christ? They didn’t exactly keep birth certificates back then. And journal entries could be destroyed. With most of the Jews getting into spitting fits at the time whenever Christ was mentioned, is it so hard to believe they destroyed some of the evidence?

As for Joseph Smith—that one stumped me. She asked it in Sunday School and stumped the teacher, too. I read the Joseph Smith History we have in our scriptures just to be sure I had the whole story. And no, in that piece of it, God never explicitly says, “Give me a church with a side of weirdness, hold the coffee.” I also browsed around the Doctrine and Covenants (our record of modern—back in the 19th century—revelations). After a few minutes there, I found Section 18, which speaks a bit of how the church should be built on the scriptures, basically. After a quick search I found that in Section 115,  God gives name of the church—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So, when I see this girl, I guess I’ll have to offer that to her, for all it’s worth.

This girl has a way of putting me and my beliefs on the spot. Some days, it seems she wants to be Mormon again. Others, it’s like she’s criticizing. But I find it sad that she’s not sure she can believe in God. It’s been so central to my entire life that it’s hard to think about what it must be like not to believe. I have been told from birth that God is there, the same way others are told that Paris and London are real. And when I see what could be interpreted as divine intervention and a higher purpose in my life every single day, it’s hard not to know He’s real.

I could never bring myself to be agnostic or atheist. I definitely believe in God—because the alternative is too horrible to think about. If there is no God, then what is our purpose in life? What is the point of anything, good or bad? If we’re just some accident of science, what’s the point of even getting out of bed in the morning? If we have no higher purpose, what’s the point of progression? Because we’re just going to die, and that’s it—lights out, close the book. If we don’t feel that we can talk to anyone about our problems, then we are truly alone. And even when people will listen to us, they’re still judging. They still don’t totally understand, because we don’t really understand, ourselves. And that’s it. We’re alone. Some of us, nobody must even love us.

Personally, I decline that. God is there. He is the great writer, scientist, mathematician, artist. Everything testifies of Him. He knows and understands us better than we do, ourselves. He loves us and wants us to be happy. And He will always listen, with that perfect understanding. The best friend to loners everywhere.

Some people will say I’m stupid, blindly following all these rules, believing in a higher power that died and came back from the dead, and let’s not even get started on Kolob. And yes, some of the things I do and believe are weird. But you know what? That weirdness is worth it, for all the comfort and courage my faith has given me over the years.

So, yes, I am a Mormon. I will always be a Mormon. Weird is part of the job!

Soften Your Heart and Know God

A replica of the Christus statue, on display at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
A replica of the Christus statue, on display at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

With the semester starting up, that means Institute for us so-inclined Mormon people of college age. I’m taking two classes—one about the New Testament, the other focusing on the Book of Mormon (the weird Mormon bible). So, this means that I might be posting more religious stuff now and again.

Last week’s lesson in the Book of Mormon class focused a lot on how a hardness of heart meant receiving a lesser portion of the truth (aka, being deluded by pride, self-righteousness, etc). So, in order to know more of God and be open to His will, knowledge and so on, we should pray for our hearts to be softened. My teacher asked us to think about that for a minute.

In church on Sunday, we had a lesson on our personal relationships with God. After all, He is our literal father. The source of all knowledge. Why do we never just ask Him for answers? Do we ever listen to Him when He speaks to us? Who is He? The fire-and-brimstone God to be feared? Or the loving Father and Lord who cares about the silly things like our latest crush?

I know God is there. It’s never been much of a doubt in my mind. The only doubt has been in myself. I know, today, that He loves and cares about each one of us. He knows us personally, better than we know ourselves. He may not always give us what we want, but He gives us what we need. He wants us to be happy. And He wants us to know Him. And I can’t wait to see Him again face-to-face–this being of flesh and blood who loved all us idiots so much that He allowed His perfect son to suffer unimaginable agony for us.

I’m not a very good person, in my heart. I’ve never been tempted by sex or drugs (although I love rock’n’roll!). My pride is my greatest enemy. I judge others harshly, undeservingly. And when I’m proven wrong, I have never once asked for forgiveness. In my heart, I have few good things to say about my sister and mother. Because wrath is better than the forgiveness that would leave me open to mockery.

So,  for me, having a squishy heart might be nice sometimes—for the benefits of the fuller portion of the word—knowing and understanding more. But. . . I can’t allow that softness. It’s what I’ve fought against for too long.

Having a softer heart didn’t help anything! Love didn’t keep Mom from throwing a VCR at my head. It didn’t stop my sister from trying to beat me senseless. Sharing scriptures didn’t keep the house clean. Forgiveness didn’t make my sister choose a higher path. Crying never stopped the fighting. In my family, all you can get for those valiant efforts is labeled the fragile snowflake—the sensitive, whiny crybaby.

I separated myself from that girl. Yeah, she’s still there inside me, but I dosed her with chloroform, beat her half to death, and tied her in a corner. She won’t be making an appearance. I can’t let her. She’d ruin everything I’ve worked so hard for. Me. Mac. The shell of a girl-woman who is sadistic, twisted, sarcastic, antisocial, blunt, and confident.

And thus we see the dilemma—defeating Pride and becoming that version of me that I hate the most. Oh, what to do. I’ll sort it out eventually.

Holiday Cheer. . . or something like that

Twilight Zone logo

Dysfunctional family during the holidays? Play the theme song!

Sometimes there will be those days—days where my family pretends to be a normal, happy, loving family. They’re called holidays. Oh, we’re a fine bunch, spending Thanksgiving at the empty house where my sister is staying. Traditional down to the cranberry sauce. And then you think, this isn’t my life. It’s too foreign—like an episode of The Twilight Zone. Invasion of the Body Snatchers. My family is anything but traditional. We hardly know what a table is for!

This, I think, is where my hatred of holidays comes from. The only one I proudly participate in these days is Halloween, and that’s because Halloween means horror—fear. All things quirky, weird and dysfunctional. Thanksgiving and Christmas, on the other hand, are two of the worst offenders. You try to pretend to be a positive, happy family. Shove all the problems under the rug for a while. Me, I can’t stand that. It’s just putting on masks and pretending, and every store in the area lives for it. It’s all so commercial. They know we long for those happy families that really don’t exist, and they ruthlessly play to our weaknesses for all they’ve got. You can have a happy family if you do this.

I’m so sick of playing house.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are for the fakers. New Year’s is an excuse to throw wild parties. Valentine’s is for the mushy romantics. St. Patrick’s day—the sum of all evil on my list—is for the idiots. Easter for the Christians and family enthusiasts. Mother’s and Father’s day for the family enthusiasts to ignore all the crap their parents ever did to them. Independence Day for family enthusiasts and red-blooded American nationalists. And Halloween—it’s for the dysfunctional screw-ups like me: the freaks and the loners.

So over Thanksgiving, while around the country people were sitting around with their friends and families and having a fantastic time, and others were wishing they could, there I was, sitting in a dark corner of a stranger’s house, wishing I didn’t have to play the charade.

Now, with Christmas on the horizon and the stupid Christmas music becoming practically unavoidable, I’m dreading a repeat. Out comes the rug again, just waiting to be put to good use. This time, though, at least we’ll all be at my apartment, where there won’t be the awkwardness of a strange house. Even better? I’m working that day! It’ll cut down on all the cloying, saccharine-flavored bull crap I have to put up with this year.

Today in church we had a special Christmas program, where a few families sang some Christmas songs, and talked about how lonely we college students who weren’t going home for Christmas must be, because Christmas is a time for family, etc, etc, etc. It’s a time for being together, and being grateful for what we have. They all talked about how grateful they were to have such an awesome family, and singing about how there is beauty all around when there’s love at home.

It’s moments like these which can cut the people like me to the core. Those of us who maybe don’t have parents kind and dear. Who look at our own homes and think, there’s no love spoken here. Those of us who got lost at the dysfunction junction so long ago that we don’t know the way back. What are holidays but a reminder of what we’re missing?

To those of you out there who are like me, I wish you the best. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and so on. Enjoy this time in whatever way you see fit. If you don’t have a family you can spend this time with, remember that family doesn’t need to be defined by blood. Do what it takes, but happiness, joy, and peace to you all.