Monday, April 11, 2016

Silently Judging You With My Smile

This is a post I wrote a couple months ago. I noticed that I never published it so here it is now:

One big fear I have these days that keeps me from going out and doing things is the people will ask me what I'm doing now. When I do have conversations with inquiring adults, they tend to go something like this:

Well-Meaning Grownup: How are you doing?
Me: I'm okay, thanks.
Me in my head: Things don't suck as much as they used to. Or maybe they suck more...I'm not sure. Well, they suck in a different way that isn't as intensely sucky. Does that work?

Grownup: Only "OKAY"?!
Me: Haha yeah. Not too bad, but things could be better.
Me in my head: I mean, I guess my hands don't shake as much from the medication any more. And I don't have to take two naps a day any more. And since I decreased the Zoloft, I have been able to go out shopping sometimes. A few weeks ago I couldn't leave the house so I dropped out of the community college classes I was taking to justify not being officially enrolled in college. But I guess I don't feel as miserable as I did now that I don't have the added stress of classes. Does that count? Do I have to feel great? Oh yeah. I guess that is, like, the 13th commandment of Evangelical Christianity...

Grownup: Are you still at school?
Me: No...I'm, um, actually taking a break from school right now.
Me in my head: I dropped out. Er, well, not really. Withdrew. I did finished three years...doesn't that count for anyone?? I don't really want to go back but not finishing college is one of the Seven Deadly Sins of Suburbia so I guess I should try to assure you that I will return and this is just a little break. 

Grownup: Oh. For how long? A semester? A year?
Me: Uh, I'm actually not sure yet. I'm still looking into my options and waiting to see how things go.
Me in my head: It was a semester but now it's looking more like it will be a year judging by the tailspin I took three weeks ago. I wish I could finish the damn degree after all my work, but I just get so overwhelmed, especially by the stupid group work they always feel the need to assign. And what should I even study?? Anything I choose, I have to start from scratch to finish the requirements. Even my old major needs a lot of work in stupid classes I'm not interested in to complete...oh, sorry...I'm rambling...

Grownup: Oh. Well, do you have a job?
Me: No, no...I'm just hanging out for the time being.
Me in my head: I really wish I had something to justify my existence to the world. I applied to ten jobs even though I really wasn't fit to work yet but nothing worked out. Not too long ago I was sleeping about twelve or so hours a day because I was having a bad reaction to a medication, so that probably wouldn't have worked too well. Sorry I'm not productive enough for your tastes. I wish I was doing something useful. I guess this all looks pretty confusing from the outside and you're probably judging me right now, but you don't know what happened and, trust me, it was bad. I do a lot of craft projects now though. It's nice to have time for art. I was always so fixated on schoolwork before that I never gave myself the chance to do this kind of stuff too much before. But no one seems very interested in that part of my life. I have to either have a job or a degree in progress.

Grownup: Oh. Well, I bet you're probably praying plenty about what to do next. I'll keep you in my prayers!
Me: Oh, thank you.
Me in my head: I wish I still felt like praying, but I don't. I can't. I never thought I'd find myself feeling this way; I thought my bond with God was unbreakable, even when things got really dark. But something snapped at the end of the school year. All I can remember now when I think about God is how I sat on my bathroom floor one spring afternoon just before school ended and sobbed. I mean, wept. Screamed. I don't remember what happened, but all of the weight of what had happened to me sunk in. The disappointment of a year plagued by incommunicable pain. The frustration of God letting it all crash and burn in spite of my desperate prayers and pleas. I had been so faithful and dedicated to Him, to His people, preaching his truth even in my darkest hours, trying to share my story with others to bring hope to anyone in a similar place, trying to show his love to friends even when I felt so abandoned and alone. My faith finally gave out. I felt betrayed. I always judged people who walked away from God and I assumed their faith had never been true, but now I see that their hurt and disillusionment was real. I don't think that prayer can fix me. If God really cares, he seems to have made it abundantly clear that he doesn't want to fix me.

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So maybe you can see why I dread running into any old acquaintances. I don't want to come out with my story to people who won't appreciate it or who will outright judge it, but if you don't explain what happened to people, your situation is just odd and confusing. For someone who already feels very self-conscious in social situations, it's rather unbearable. The awkwardness of having no good explanation for not performing up to standard. The irritating nature of people's optimistic, even insensitive, comments (why do I have to always be doing great?!). The reminder that everything got really screwed up for you and now you're a lump on the back of productive society.

No, thank you. I don't need anyone else to judge me. I already judge myself.

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