I have been contemplating religion a lot. Partly because I realized the Abuser’s mantra that “God can’t love you, if He did, you wouldn’t be in pain” has been (along with the equivalent piece about my family) the hardest thing for me to “fix.”
My family, in the form of my brother, and I may just get to be easy acquaintances, although I doubt we’ll ever be friends — we have few interests in common. My brother made a real effort to see me in my own world and not insist that I meet him in his. I didn’t have to be a student to his college professor and we tried. I don’t expect we’ll ever be buddies, but we can be friendly. He didn’t sneer at me, which was what I was most afraid of. I know him well enough to know/see it when he’s mocking people. He wasn’t.
So my human brother can at least respect me. And, given that I realized not too long ago that I could have loved my sister if she hadn’t kept propping her ego up by making me less to her more, then what does that lead me to with God?
If I believe that I was likely NOT unlovable at birth, then I can accept God/Jesus/Christianity — right?
It isn’t that I don’t think Jesus was likely the Messiah — he might well have been. It isn’t that at all. It’s the “get out of jail free” thing. I don’t want to be forgiven, or not in the traditional sense anyway.
Where I am — seeing myself as flawed and that being okay, is a huge step up from where I was for 50+ years — thinking I was damned, vile and had to be perfect to be merely adequate. To go from that to seeing myself as so flawed that I then need redemption seems like going backwards. Am I perfect? No way.
This is also tied to forgiveness. I don’t believe in that “get out of jail free” card either. I’m sorry. I don’t think if Attila the Hun or Hitler had said “I’m sorry” and done whatever religious conversion that it just washes it all clean. No. More, I want to be responsible for my own actions. I’ve hurt people. I’ve been nasty, judgmental, done careless things which got other people hurt. Done them as a kid, done them as an adult. Am I sorry? Yes. Do I want to be forgiven? I don’t really know. I would like to know that whatever stupid, careless, selfish, arrogant, nasty, hateful, etc. thing I’ve done to or caused for another did not result in lasting harm. I’m afraid that isn’t so and yes, I regret each and every one of those instances.
By the same token, other people have done that type of thing to me, sometimes for decades (my sister for example) and with the repeated pain, I don’t want to forgive them, don’t want to hold the pain/anger tight either. I just want them removed surgically from my life, and no, I do not want to forget the pain — because it is instructive.
I think I have a different perspective about pain, especially emotional pain, than many. I have this completely overwhelmed grieving child stuck in me. I can’t make her feel better. I’ve never found the edges or end to her pain. It’s basically a baby’s grief of abandonment. Not rational, not limited, not controllable.
Because of that, and having to cope with it nearly as long as I can remember, people and things which consistently added to my pain I have written out of my life. No, I don’t want the anger or the bitterness, but I can’t afford to forget either. That grieving baby takes a chunk of my resources. If person A or situation B consistently pushes me that way, it’s too expensive.
That colors how I feel about God and Christianity and that “get out of jail free” card. I didn’t need Jesus to die for my sins in order to be able to live with myself. I had to learn to live with myself without Him, as He was part of the “proof” that I was beyond redemption. If I hadn’t learned to live with my flawed self, I would have kept trying to kill myself until I succeeded.
Having gotten where I can live with being both flawed and human, I have no desire to “chase” forgiveness or redemption. I also have no interest or intention in pursuing relationships which continually push my buttons. My mental health has been too dearly wrought.
At the worst, an encounter with these people can cost me two weeks of well being. Ask yourself, who’s worth two weeks of happiness or just being okay in your life? If you’re me, the answer is: no one.
The irony here is that this means I’m also denied the comfort of religion, and the Abuser wins again — sort of. This is still the best I can manage.