My family is the template for your average European Catholic family. All the kids were enrolled in a Catholic grade school until we reached high school, we gathered to kneel at my parent’s bedside every night before we went to sleep, and went to mass every Sunday until I was about 14. Even though I went to church twice a week, and there hung a crucifix in almost every room I walked into until I graduated 8th grade, religion wasn’t a huge deal for us, except for my mother. Like I said, template. We had our problems, and without going into too much detail, our history is filled with abhorrent instances of violence. Most of my earliest memories are ones that will forever bring tears to my eyes. My mother’s insistence that God will help us through it over and over again never panned out, and a chasm was embedded within my psyche. No matter how much I wanted God later in life, I was never able to fully believe that God was with me. Sometimes childhood abuse leads people to God, and other times it will erase any morsel of faith.
Add to this the fact that the nuns in our school would constantly call me stupid, and write off anything I wanted to say in a discussion because it was always wrong, and I was constantly in trouble (found out years later I’m ADD). The teachers were no better than any clique; a socially awkward kid was not helped but marginalized. God’s house was not a sanctuary nor was it a refuge from insanity
Fast forward to high school. When I entered junior year, I decided to quit doing drugs. My friends at the time were all getting addicted, arrested, or pregnant, and I wanted out. So, they started ignoring me. A few months into it I met a funny kid and we started dating. He became a Non-d Christian, and I came to church with him sometimes. Everyone was so kind; I collected a healthy circle of friends who did more than just get high. Right before I entered the fold, I thought there were only two options. Either God is denying me the happiness that these people obviously have, or I’m not too far from my moment. It felt like my new friends, my increased spirituality – despite it being of Catholic descent – were steps closer to being recognized by god – FINALLY!!! And it happened, I converted.
But the chasm was entirely too deep. A year later I was done. What felt like God’s presence was just a mind trick, hypocrisy was rampant among the congregation, and I read to Bible cover to cover – ‘nuff said. However, I didn’t think that God was bullshit at that point. What was running through my mind was that I was destined for Hell, and I have been since I was born. It wasn’t like I was back to my old ways again; I took no pleasure in anything. For a 1 ½ years I was ticking away the days to Hell. My testimony paints a different picture, but when I was new to the board I was not comfortable talking about fear of Hell, abuse, depression, etc.
How would I have come out if my mother hadn’t waited for God until we were poor? By the way, my mother is still a Catholic and goes to church on holidays, but is not nearly as religious as she was in those early years. When life presents problems, she deals with them. However, there’s still a prayer book in her bedroom for those times when she wants to pray. On the rare occasions that she does, it’s to thank God instead of asking him for help – she prays aloud. I don’t know if this really qualifies under the mentally unstable category, but my mother kept us in a blatantly dangerous situation because she thought God was on his way. That’s what I call an unstable mentality.