Lent was a big deal for me, growing up in a Catholic household. I’m sure all you Catholics out there are nodding your heads and going, “Uh, yeah, duh. Christmas and Easter. It’s like breakfast and dinner. Macaroni and cheese. Pork and beans. Get on with it.”
Well, these days, I’m not really…actually…um, that is, I’m not really Catholic anymore. I have this niggling case of apostasy that just won’t clear up. Stop looking at me like that. Let’s clear this up: I’m not an atheist. I just don’t really jive with what goes into being a Catholic. Please, please, please don’t think I’m trying to be glib here (Mom); I haven’t actually put that out in a public place to the world. Really, I’ve just ended up having awkward conversations that go like this:
Person A: So, are there good churches in Pittsburgh?
Me: Um. Why, yes. There are several.
Person A: Which one do you go to?
Me: Wow, that’s a great question. I don’t really have one.
Person A: (laughs good-naturedly, head back, hand on shoulder) It’s hard to settle with just one. I know how that is.
Me: (laughs in a way that she hopes sounds genuine but is probably off-putting with a face like this emoticon: O_O)
The point I’m coming all the way around back to making, though, is this: I miss Lent. It’s like marathon-training for Catholics. There’s this period of heavy spiritual cleansing to prepare for the big race (which, to me, was always Thursday – Saturday of Holy Week) and then crossing the finishing line Easter Sunday. There was always this sense of great camaraderie between everyone who was giving something up or praying for ten hours or attending the Stations of the Cross. Everybody was coming together and saying, “Man, this is rough, but we’re all in it together.”
I feel like right now I could use that company-in-misery.
Recently, I’ve been going through a bit of a personal crisis. From about second grade onward, I had a big problem with anxiety and, after puberty, depression. In November, it finally got to the point that I needed to seek help in order to change what was happening in my life.
Imagine having a roommate. You live with this person, and she is insane. Like, bug-nuts crazy. She wakes you up in the middle of the night, screaming about a nuclear holocaust. She helps you with breakfast until she bursts into tears. She constantly talks to you, follows you into the bathroom, invites herself out to gatherings with your friends and bothers you all night. She eats your chocolate and then yells at you about having it in the apartment. It’s your fault she ate the chocolate.
She never leaves.
Then, one day, your roommate just…stops being crazy. She calmly lives her life in the apartment. She’s around, and you know it, but sometimes…she goes out for a while. She respects your closed door. She smiles at you. It’s quiet. You realize you have no relationship with this person because your relationship was based off the crazy. With that gone…now what?
That is what it’s been like with my brain before and after I started taking Zoloft.
I’m not really complaining. It has been so peaceful not being plagued by a constant cacophony of paranoid, obsessive voices nagging me about every blemish of my past and present self. But by accepting this newfound uncrazy, I am redeveloping not only my dynamic with others but with myself.
So, I’ve decided to observe Lent this year. Kind of. It won’t really be the whole Catholic song-and-dread, but I’m going to take the next 40 days to do some soul-searching, re-establish my place in the world and hopefully get to be buddies with my new self. I’ll be writing about it, too, as a way to make sense of what I learn each day. Aren’t you all lucky?! Yay, right?
Gratitude of the Day: I am grateful that God gave me a family that kept loving me even when I stopped being a member of the church. I am grateful for the chance to start again with a new outlook about myself, what my faith means to me and where I’m going on this crazy adventure that is life.