In recent months, probably the last year, I have discovered much that I am ashamed of. My religious background, my sexual past, my education, my current lifestyle, and more. Some of those I have begun to work on, and while extremely difficult, I persist.
I’m finding that every time I open up the door to work on my shame, I find more things I’m ashamed of. I’m now at the point that I’m hoping beyond belief that there is a finite number of things of which I am ashamed, and that eventually I’ll have addressed everything by a certain time. Right now, I’m aiming for by the time I have children and need to raise them.
The other part of me believes that this is false hope. That shame is something that continually develops and requires constant effort.
I just had a revelation. While I have your average run-of-the-mill fear of failure, I also just realized I have an intense fear of success. Everything I’ve ever done in my life, I’ve done as well as I could without being “too good.” Even in things for which I’ve been passionate. I’ve ALWAYS stopped just short of achievement. Because of fear. Frantic fear.
Until now, this has been entirely subconscious.
Here’s an email I just sent my dad. He had expressed to me he thinks he’s a failure because of the way my brother and I have rejected his religious values. He often wonders where he “went wrong.” I’m posting this because we all sometimes think we’re failures, especially after we make a big mistake. We also all have a natural power within ourselves to get out from under that wet blanket.
I just want to say I don’t write poems. The last time I wrote a poem was in high school. But I’m grieving the loss of my God. And this is what came out.
I’ve never lost anyone particularly close to me. So when I read that people who leave their religion often go through the stages of grief, I thought it was interesting, but it wasn’t like I could relate. I don’t even think I know what grief is.
A couple Google search attempts (I definitely do this too much) led me to an article by Matt Oxley about the stages of grief, as applied to a loss of religion. It was the first time I realized I had already gone through some of the stages, and I was currently struggling with the rest. It felt wonderful to have someone almost perfectly describe some of the difficulties I’ve had in my recent life.
For those of you who are reading this thinking that it was fairly easy for you to accept that you no longer believe in the religion you grew up with, I ask that you understand that I wasn’t just a regular Jew who went to services on High Holidays or every once in a while on Saturday.
I’m on a quest to improve myself.
For about 6 months now, I’ve been struggling with my connection to my past. I was dating a girl, whom I am no longer seeing, and the nature of our relationship was forcing me to address many things about my religion that I’ve sealed off in a box in the corner of my mind. There were some painful memories hidden in that box for obvious reason, but plenty of happy ones were stored there as well.
Skip to the present, and I’m finding it much harder to deal with the issues of my past than I had expected. I’ve found that in the last 5 years or so, I’ve begun to disassociate from my religious upbringing, and for the longest time, I just assumed it was a phase. Now I’m beginning to understand that I no longer wish to live the life I was taught to live. This has brought me to try to understand my life, and I’ve found some marvelous tools to help me with this.