Ruminations of a Red Dirt Hussy

December 8, 2011

A big old sack of dead cats

Filed under: General — Vadasmaker @ 8:30 pm

Here is how I deal with who I am and what I’ve been.

I think a great deal more about God and the nature of God, about the state of my soul, at least in the way I define soul, than one might suppose, given my behavior and potty mouth. I’ve searched for peace longer and harder than most people I know, partly because for a long time I only thought I was looking for peace.  I’d never find that until I dealt with something I couldn’t even articulate back then. I called it lunacy, sickness, sadness, fear, brokenness, damage, anger, sin, no more than I deserved (I was going to say just deserts/desserts but whichever I used, if it was wrong it would just make ya’ll laugh and lose the thread).

The people-fixers told me there was an app for that—that app was pills. They eased the panic, anxiety, and depression that kept me from thinking clearly about what I needed. They helped me set the cornerstone that someday would someday be the basis of a whole person. They leveled the playing field for me, helped me start to—oh, crap, this is so Dr. Phil—start taking care of me from time to time.  I still didn’t know what the root of my instability was. Strangely enough, I figured it out at a conference.

 

Someone had been trying to get something going with me for way longer than a man with any pride would have. I think I exercised a great deal of verbal acuity in saying “no” in a way that did not say “I would rather eat frog innards than even kiss you, much less—” well, you know. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I just wanted him to go the hell away. He started in again during happy hour, which is probably the wrong time to talk to me about things that irritate me.

I was on my third Margarita and about my tenth “I’m married. I don’t screw around. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror,” when he popped up with “I don’t do guilt.”

Ordinarily I would say the man wasn’t smart enough to make me think about much, but “I don’t do guilt” struck a chord. I long thought that guilt was the way God kept us in line, and if you weren’t weighted down with it, you weren’t living right. I also thought God was a man who looked like Santa Claus and had the temperament of an abused Rottweiler. He was hunkered down around the corner, waiting for me to screw up so he could bring the hammer down, only I didn’t have to actually screw up, and the hammer wasn’t really a hammer, but guilt, along with all the things that accompany it—depression, sadness, self-loathing.

It would be bad enough if guilt was only something visited upon me. It wasn’t. It didn’t function only as a noun. It was also a direct object. I did guilt. I REALLY did guilt. I looked for guilt. I took it when it wasn’t mine to take. Fifteen years in a fundamentalist church had given me lots of practice.  I had subconsciously chosen the strictest, most unbending denomination I could find that required neither burka, bun, nor snake-handling. A girl can only go so far. I draw the line at unflattering headgear and hair-dos, and slimy things, too—my ex-husband not withstanding.

Even though my choice of places to worship, or whatever it was I did, lay under my cognitive radar, I know me, and if I was going to do something, I would by God be perfect at it, and if I wasn’t, I would accept as much guilt, would do as much guilt, as it took to find perfection.

And so it went. The road really does go on forever when you’re working on your own self-destruction. I worked at it full time, too—trying to be as bad as I thought I was. Not so anyone would notice—I would never cause a scene. But to stop, I had to let go of religion. So I did. But then I felt guilty because everybody knows God lives in a church. If I didn’t go to church, where would I find God? And that’s where it stood for many years.

That’s the short version, according to me. Other people’s version is like all of history—half bullshit and written totally by those who think they have all the marbles.

I finally realized I was going to carry around this sack of dead cats for freaking ever if I didn’t make peace with God. That had to happen. Screw fundamentalism and the self-righteous horse it rode in on. If I wanted to live, I had to know a god that wasn’t confined to a building, wasn’t some personified figure with a bag full of whup-ass just for me. I needed a god more like the spirit that hovered over the waters, if not in the beginning, then just at times when the waters needed some hovering. I needed a god who was shapeless and formless, who was everywhere at once, but probably not in the Wal-Mart parking lot waiting to find me a good parking space.

I needed a god who was compassionate, slow to anger, and constantly shaping me with unfailing love. I needed a god who knew my weaknesses and knew also that my only solace would be the tender mercies that emanate from whatever and wherever “God” is.

I can’t say that I “discovered” God (although I do have a magnet that says, “I found Jesus! He was behind the sofa the whole time!) because God was always there. What I can say is that the dead cats in that bag fell away one by one until only the tattered bag was left.

I’m keeping that. You know. Just in case.

 

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8 Comments »

  1. I am so glad you started blogging again. You make me laugh. I need that. By the way, yes I’m still going to Toastmasters, might be Jan. before we can connect though. ~Nita

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    Comment by Nita — December 8, 2011 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  2. Exactly.

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    Comment by Michelle — December 9, 2011 @ 12:04 am | Reply

  3. Carol, this rumination was just what I knew about you. Oddly enough, we often know ourselves best by osmosis. Self-deprecation is adorable as long as we both know it is built on solid ground.
    My solution to the god-dilemma and Catholic guilt (not as showy as fundy guilt, but sincerely as devastating to life, joy, and expansion) was to throw the baby out with the manger!
    I un-discovered gods. I returned the idol to the niche. I have no secret penpal in heaven. No invisible friend behind the sofa. And don’t want one.
    If I were going to build a god—sorta my own Assembly of God—she would be a lot like yours only be a mother, like mine who died and left me feeling guilty for not even being worthy of a mother’s love.
    Therapy helps. Now, I am cutting back and only self-destructive at night from 7:00 to 9:00 weekdays.
    Writing helps more. I invent the players I wish existed: playful mothers, kind-spirited kids, brave fathers, generous friends, and loving gods when I need one.
    You are an awesome person and writer.

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    Comment by lottie — December 9, 2011 @ 8:46 am | Reply

  4. I wanted to comment about God having the temperament of an abused rottweiler, waiting for us to mess up so he can bring the hammer down, because I used to feel the same way, but further study has caused me to have a different view of God.

    2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    God doesn’t want us to perish, but he has standards that he wants us to live by.

    Look at the story of the thief on the cross. Jesus was quick to forgive him when he repented. (Luke 23:40-43)

    God calls us his children, and I see him more as a loving father who cares about me than a King ruling over me like a peasant. My father on earth wants me to do right, and if I went out and did something that he didn’t approve of, he would be quick to let me know, but he’s not waiting for me to mess up so that he can punish me. He wants to see me do right, and assumes that I am doing right unless proven otherwise, because I’ve gained his trust.
    I think we have, or can have, that same type of relationship with God if we obey him.

    Just my two cents, for whatever it’s worth.

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    Comment by Random Student — December 9, 2011 @ 9:45 pm | Reply

    • Your two-cents is worth a lot. I admire your faith. I always thought that if I could raise my son with one constant it would be a belief that God is there for him in every circumstance. I hope that I’ve done that. I don’t think it’s too late for me to become comfortable with the concept of a loving God, but it may not be a traditional one. Moreover, I think I’ll have to learn to see myself as a worthwhile person before I can accept that anyone else does.

      You’re a very kind person to have bothered to post here, and I think I’ll look back at your words more than once.

      Like

      Comment by vadasmaker — December 10, 2011 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  5. Nice read. In the movie The Devil’s Advocate”, near th end, after Pacino has officially come out as Satan, he does a rant on God/Guilt/Lif in which he compatres guilt to a bag of bricks. I’m not sure which is worse – a bag full of bricks or cats. . . .

    Yesterday, when the couple married in Ct was recognized in the church, it made me realize how heavy the burden of fiath at the fundamentalist churches is and how freeing it is to just believe that god loves each of us.

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    Comment by petriesan — December 12, 2011 @ 10:30 am | Reply

  6. […] killed you or just maimed you, I would never get over it. And I’ve got way too many things in my sack of dead cats to include your death or […]

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    Pingback by How to avoid becoming Asphalt Butter « Ruminations of a Red Dirt Hussy — March 15, 2012 @ 6:30 pm | Reply


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