Author Archives: angryfishrants

How “God” gave me panic and anxiety attacks.

This blog has been a great way for me to deal with some deep emotions and issues I’ve been dragging along for a while now. I don’t got a lot of traffic or feedback here, but that doesn’t matter, I need to express those feelings and here is the right place for that.

So what’s up with that title huh?

It all started a few years ago. Lets say I was at the height of my life as a charismatic religious zealot and the depth of my life as a happy healthy functioning human being.

I had been in the circus that is overspecialized religion for a while and everything that my life had been before that was as good as gone. My hope of ever making it anywhere with my music, my hope of finding love, my hope of being myself…all gone.

All replaced with, prayer, fasting, trying to find what inner demons still needed to be cast out and what family curses still needed to be broken. You know that kind of stuff you look back at and think “what on earth was I thinking?” …or even worse “what in the hell are they still thinking telling people that same crap to this day?”. It was only until recently I realized, what I was part of wasn’t a religion…it was a cult. Or at the very least something that was well on it’s way of becoming one. Not sure where they’re at now, don’t intend to find out.

As you might imagine, such an intrusive time in your life doesn’t just happen without it taking it’s toll… and for me that was, you guessed it, a series of panic and anxiety attacks.

During my lowest point I was very desperate to find a goal in life, and the church was the constantly making hollow promises that only seemed to push my real dreams and goals further away. To make matters worse, I didn’t really fit in either. I asked too many questions, was either too zealous or too skeptical…

During the weekends I’d be alone by myself, because my real friends became of limit as the church environment kept reminding me over and over again. And in church I didn’t have any real friends either. So I was alone, friday night, saturday, only to be interrupted for an hour or two on sunday…and then back to being alone again.

It was hell on me. There would be times where I’d have to go to the supermarket and as I left the house I felt this strong pressure building, fear, anxiety. My heart racing as I didn’t know what was going on trying to “act normal”…when I got back home I broke down and started crying uncontrollably. That happened several times, and naturally my response would be to try and find counsel or support from the church people. That was a big mistake I made. One told me “oh that’s normal, comes with the territory of being a christian”…nice propaganda pastor. Another one said “how dare you even be surprised, you did this to yourself” thank you for understanding, my so called friend.

This went on for a while, but it also seemingly went away as I tried to get control over it…by working out and not thinking about it. …oh right and “prayer”.

But you can’t shove something like that under the rug and expect it to never show up again. I grew more bitter and desperate, life seemed to slip away further and further…until I snapped and started praying a lot. (keep reading)

I’d pray to tell God, that if this was going to be my life and that if I had to give up on all my hopes and dreams only to sit in some two-bit church without a future, then God himself might as well kill me. I told him it wasn’t fair that he gave me hopes and dreams only to crush and destroy them. An everlasting unquenched thirst, sounds like a good description of hell. It wasn’t fair, it was a crime that was done unto me. In the name God himself. And I let it happen because I am/was a believer.

I know I write against putting prayers online, but for the sake of setting an example here goes:

God damn that church, and all the other ones like them. They are a disgrace to your name and a disease unto humanity. Release the captives like I once was oh God. Heal your children and set them free from the religious and malicious lies that are the cults called church.

At any rate, I was struggling with my faith, myself, my choices, my hatred,…I didn’t even know where to begin to turn. But slowly I managed to break free. Suddenly people started reaching out to me. One particular pastor comes to mind, a very different guy then what you’d expect under the name “pastor”, all tatted up, long grey hair, dressed in black,…my kinda guy. And he made an effort to guide me through it, hear me out, and comfort me through the pain and chaos. And gave me kind nudges about what healthy faith is and what isn’t. That man is still my friend to this day and I deeply respect the holy work he does.

From there I slowly started reconnecting with my old friends, started staying away from church and surrounding myself with healthier influences. I stopped watching all the ridiculous teachings of charismatic Christianity. Started looking at life through different lenses. I felt like I started getting more room to question things and to rediscover life little by little.

Don’t get me wrong the story doesn’t quite end there yet on that high note. The journey is still going on, and I’m still dealing with my panic attacks from time to time.
There are still moments where I hate life and the idea of a God who is in charge.
But at the same time I’ve learned to appreciate the good things that sometimes can grow from pain, the relativity of faith, the beauty of growing and giving a certain poetry to the victories that I do have in life. And I’m glad to say that those keep increasing.

Today I made my first phone call reaching out for therapeutic help…

…in the end it wasn’t God who dealt me these rotten cards. It was a bad “church”in combination with my honest and naive faith. So if you take way anything from my story I’d love to leave you with this:

Having a faith, religion or a set of beliefs that don’t quite mingle with what the rest of humanity believes is ok. As long as you keep it…

-personal: too many people will try and take advantage of your beliefs, keep them for yourself and the people you REALLY know you can trust (that excludes the churches who happen to say they believe the same things as you, …they are just as much strangers as the people you pass at random on the street).

-simpel: don’t complicate and detail your faith too much, trust me on this, I’ve tried and the only thing it did was mess my mind up really bad.

-relative: don’t try and live by a set of rules (oh the self reflection of this list…) in any case use common sense. God doesn’t expect you to pull a miracle out of your hinders every 5 feet. Neither does He/She/it expect you to be the next John the baptist. You get to live YOUR life, it’s a gift and it’s YOURS, so plan it and live it according to what you feel is best and what YOU want to make from it. Don’t let others their dreams take that place, no matter how noble them may seem.

Now I know that to some this may seem like the most basic advice that should go without saying…but I sure needed it in my life at some point.

A tragedy, a date and an existential crisis

And here we are again, me writing about my existential (and other sorts of) crisis and you the barely existing audience functioning as a therapeutic outlet for me.

So where are we at now?

For a while there I was getting comfortable in my life’s routine. Things were even looking up, found a few ways out of the purgatory of mediocrity.

Oh but we all know that couldn’t last, no the final lap to victory never goes smooth.
Enter the drama that life bestows upon us so richly at times. When it rains it pours.

First off, my grandparents had been struggling with their health for quite a while now and sadly things aren’t looking too good, we might be speaking of months to even weeks for grandfather. Normally I wouldn’t share this so openly but I’ve managed to keep this blog pretty anonymous so far. The family pulls together and we try to make the best of it. The man is in his 80’s so that’s a lengthy life, but that aside it still lands like a pile of bricks.

How about some more?

For a few years now I made it a habit to every once in a while send a certain woman some funny pictures, just to have fun. First time I met her I tried to make a move on her, but she quickly made it clear that it wasn’t going to fly. So I thought, ok “out of my leageu” lets just be buddies.

After a while though, she did seem to take a little interest. And that sort of grew into something. It ended up with a pretty horrible date that would lead to me questioning life. (lets go find out how that went)

So the nature of our development towards the date was that we’d sometimes exchange more and more spicy messages. Personally I found the picture of a cream sandwich to be pretty clever… but that aside. I wanted to talk to her first, given my past with church and still ongoing faith. I feel those are things you gotta play out in the open upfront. And I was pretty sure she also had some stuff from the past she might want to share. Hey, I don’t just date to get down someone’s pants, I play for realsies yo!

So I explained to her my beliefs and gave her an outline of how deeply my stint with organized religion/the occult had affected me. But she didn’t make anything off it.
Then came the part where I wanted to put my arm around her, like an innocent teenager on his first date I stumbled “is it ok if I do this?” …

Only to answered with a surly and uninterested “Just kiss me already, I know that’s what you’ve been wanting to do the whole time now”. … okay then Popeye, I’ll kiss yer salty lips.

And as the evening developed it did manage to become somewhat romantic in a very clumsy way. Even though I didn’t plan on it going this way at all. And in back of my head there was a few things I thought off “I’ll just deal with it”. God, she talks so loud, it hurts my ears,…I’ll just learn to deal with it.
Good Lord, she doesn’t take my faith talk seriously…I’ll just learn to deal with it.
When we arrived at the bar where everyone knows the both of us she didn’t want to them to see we had something going on. Which I can understand I guess, it’s a first “date” that wasn’t supposed to be one yet…but I digress.

The next day I didn’t hear anything from her aside and apology that it was best not to go through with it. Which really hurt, it’s been a long time now since I had a date and while this one was quite dysfunctional, it was a date…

I really wanted to talk to her to straighten things out and have things back the way they used to be. She didn’t want to talk at all… which by itself shows a clear indication of why we shouldn’t be together in the first place.

At any rate, a date with a sailor gone bad.

So I was in a bit of a  rut, everything seemed to be crashing down. And luckily here is where I find enormous gratitude, I have so many friends who support me through this. It’s such a blessing. Each and every one of them. I didn’t really know how wealthy I really am. I sent out a clear message of distress to my close friends that I didn’t want to be alone and so many of them came to my aid.

One of these instances has left a mark on me. At one night I was at that bar (she’s outta town so I’m trying to enjoy that place while I still can) and everything came pouring out, I heard what they heard, and I told them what I saw…all the juicy details. But that wasn’t it.

The conversation developed into “why God? why me? why this?…” the result of many years filled with rejections, non-dates, mishaps, all themed around there’s a God who’s overlooking all of this. A friend of mine who’s agnostic said “But are you sure you are a believer? The way I know you, I always think of you more as an agnostic”.

And that’s where I broke down and uttered the words I had been keeping inside for too long, far too long.

“I hate Him, and I feel like my faith is more of a handicap then anything else. I don’t know what to believe anymore”

So is that it? Is this were angryfishguy just jumps off board the faith train?
Not quite.

With me were two agnostic friends trying to comfort me in this moment of falling apart.
And they didn’t want to subtract my views and beliefs, which I find beautiful. Instead they just tried to walk me through it, giving me advice about women, life,… good golly I cried like a baby.

There’s been other aha moments since then, for everything I need to realize there is a moment. A moment to realize she never was out of my league, that I deserve far better then this, and that it probably will happen. A moment to realize life hadn’t ended, in fact the best is yet to come, soon. A moment to realize it’s not my fault, it never was.

What am I? I’m just me, sometimes I pray, sometimes I don’t believe, sometimes I’m sophisticated, sometimes I’m not, sometimes I’m quite the ladies man, sometimes I’m a little shy, sometimes I think existence of God, sometimes I think existence is Godless…

I don’t know what I am, but in general I’ve always chosen to be good.

I found my life back

I’ve been meaning to write another post for a while now, and I’d have many exciting ideas to ponder and write about. But not really to extent that I’d actually sit down and start writing. Also because I’ve been insanely busy lately, lots of activity and productivity, I’m glad.

I thought, lets write another one about theological standpoint this or the other. Or lets write about how much I loathe and despair the Christian cultural heritage in light of a greater truth. Just little ideas you play around with in your head but none of them really that breathtaking that I’d have to share them with the world.

However now that I finally have a moment to myself and am somewhat rested I find the time is right to write. And what I want to share about is a particular moment in my day to day routine. When I’m home there’s always the moment where I’m in the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, or make some food. And while that’s heating up I take a moment to lean at the window and reflect on the day. It’s a moment of serenity. Because I’m not at my pc where I feel I have to keep an eye on social media (now there’s an addiction I gotta kick) or anything else for that matter, just the food doing it’s thing.

And for a good while, it would be feelings of dread, boredom, being tired and annoyed.
As if life was over, you had all the chances in the world, got involved with Christianity and now everything is gone. You made your bed of stupid choices now sleep in it.

I’d look outside and sigh under the weight of walking what seemed like a dead end path of mediocrity into my grave.

And I’m glad to say that slowly that veil of darkness has been lifting. Life has been extremely kind to me by giving me companions that walk a very similar path to mine.
Hah, narrow is the path right? It sure was, some things are just too amazing to just give up on the childlike wonder and hope for what mystery there is beyond this life. Having the right people around you makes such a difference, it has kept me from growing bitter.

And those are different people for everyone I guess. For me it’s the people church has rejected. Either knowingly and willingly by choice. Or ignorant yet persistent by not understanding and not being a home unto them.

As the bitterness fades I learn that I’m willing to let go of adversity towards those who have wronged me. It’s in the past and my life must move on. The time has come to let go and pick up where I left off so many years ago. And this has been a process that’s been going on for a year or two now. Healing takes time.

The church downstairs has moved out, and as final symbol of new and better days ahead the place is being stripped down in order for someone else to move in. I hope to everything that is holy and good it’ll be a nice and quit store of some kind.

And my personal hopes and dreams have been given chances again as well. It’s hard work and the road takes many twists and turns, but all of a sudden the goal is clear again.

When I stare out of the kitchen window now, I don’t see the road to my grave so much anymore. I see adventure and hope ahead for things to come.

Life has meaning again.

(I might close this blog since I feel it has served it’s purpose, or maybe I’ll keep it only for it’s sentimental value and for others to learn, I might start a new one…we’ll see)

…then why doesn’t it work?

 

“Give your life to Jesus and you’ll never be alone again”

Or any other variation of that exact pitch. The promise that God in your life is going to make all the difference. The promise that he has the perfect spouse for you, the perfect goal or job in life or even health and wealth if you play your cards right.

The idea that making a spiritual alliance with the creator of all existence will somehow solve your deepest inner dilemma’s once and for all. Always with the disclaimer that it won’t be easy all the time.

And that’s only the starter kit. After that we have plenty of groups and programs to help you on your way to finding whatever it is you’re looking for. Prayer meetings, soaking sessions, seminars on the gifts of the holy spirit, preaching  and teachings on whatever we can construct out of the bible, and if that doesn’t work we’ll build on top of what was already built on top of that. Weekends where one church visits another one so you can all mingle. Weekends where we’ll tell you to be guilt free while at the same time telling you what a horrible sinful abomination of a creature you are.
And have you heard of our special one on one spiritual/therapy hybrid sessions?

Also, if you stick long enough with us you can even aspire to become part of our team.
You’ll fly like an eagle distributing pamphlets, praying for people, operating lights and sound, being on stage giving a pre-made preaching or even, yes you guessed it, doing the dishes and cleaning the toilet for the glory of God himself no less.

It doesn’t matter what you want to do in life we’ll try to make it work…just as long as you try to become like us.

And whatever you do, always say Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to you.
Did I say Jesus? I meant to say our church.

What more can we do to sell our Lord and savior, I mean Church, I mean product to you today?

*applause*
What a sales pitch huh? All of this buzz and activity around this cute and innocent idea they’re trying to sell. And surely it must work because these people are highly motivated.

Lets get back to the title. Then why doesn’t it work?
Why is it that after years and years of this crap I’m right now in a place in life where I’m putting the pieces back together again after leaving the aforementioned circus behind? Why is it that I am seriously considering getting some professional therapy to help me through the damage that’s been done by this sort of malarkey?
Why?

And please don’t tell me I didn’t try hard enough. Just don’t.
You can’t promise a God and a church that will take care of everything eventually and then shove it all in my shoes, that’s not fair by any stretch of the imagination.
That sounds more like a cheap scam.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not knocking theism of any kind. We’re all entitled to experience the contemplative journey that lies behind that door if we so desire to and I feel we have a right to pilot that one ourselves as well in a healthy way.
But organized religion is just a scam, it’s just another way people found to exploit one of life’s wonderful innocent things and turn it into yet another gaping wound.

It’s the market place where a certain Nazarene once got quite angry.

A snapshot of the journey

 

Sometimes I’m grateful and happy,
Sometimes I’m sad, bitter and regretful

Sometimes I dream, hope and pray
Sometimes I contemplate, bicker and curse

When I pray I speak to “my Lord, my God,…Jesus”
But then other times I express gratitude and worship to life itself, to existence.
That’s when I feel no need to put a face or a name on “it”.

Sometimes I’m hardly grateful at all.
It’s when I give up on the future, dreams and love.

And yet there are also times, where I’m amazed that I still get out of bed with my head held high, convinced that my adventure has only just begun, and the best is yet to come.

I wish I could say I’m mostly the later guy, but to be honest I seem to spend equal amounts of time in both moods. The optimist and the pessimist.

But that’s not all bad, there have been times where I hardly had any optimism at all. In fact that was only a few years ago.

I’m going to turn 31 soon and after a very turbulent and intrusive time in my life I finally have found moments where I feel more at ease with myself and who I am.
Where there is no need to pretend for anyone or anything.

My life was going a steady course. But then slowly the”God”-thing made it’s way into my life. And that it did a lot of damage, something most church Christians give me a funny look for when I bring it up…  Don’t get me wrong, as immensely conflicting and frustrating faith can be at times, I do love God.

My faith was simple and pure. Not very complicated, adventurous,…everything you want in your movie. But then the church got involved…and it all went to hell.
I learned a lot and my world became a whole lot bigger, but there are plenty of times where I honestly can say “I wish it never happened”. And sadly that is where most church goers will never understand me. But I don’t need them to anymore either.

I am part of the demographic Church has failed to cater to, you’ve hurt us by not understanding us. And now we’re all leaving you, the institutionalized religion, behind.
And some of us are angry that you refuse to understand us, instead of admitting you’re like us you keep clinging onto empty traditions and practices, because they feel safe.
The disenfranchised have gotten the message. You don’t want to play nice with the other kids…

Luckily there is love and life after church. It took a lot of contemplating, spending time with my feelings, going over all the things that had happened. I have found a certain peace with the idea that, I don’t need to belong there. As much as the “church” wants you to believe that.

It took friends, friends that are people I genuinely want to spend time with rather then Mister “Youthpastor-Mc-go-getter”…God I can’t stand those kind of people.

It took my real parents, it took my real sister, it took my agnostic friends, my atheist friends, my satanist friends, my fellow believers who also have been pushed out of church.

It took all of them to heal bits and pieces of my heart.

It’s true, sometimes it’s hard, and I feel like giving up.
But then again, there’s also plenty of moments where I feel like I’m going to be just fine.
If you’re lucky enough like me, you might find a certain poetry in your life that makes thing bearable. And that gives you just enough hope to be a dreamer.

 

 

This is not a prayer

Have you ever noticed how some Christians post their prayers on social media and completely ignore Matthew 6:5-6? But lets not be hypocrites here, every believer no matter what kind ignores plenty of scripture, because lets face it, living by the book 100% is just impossible.

No, what irks me more about that is the idea that somehow by posting their prayers “to God” in public they want to achieve… what?

Lets rephrase and deconstruct that a bit shall we? The interaction with God, the prayer, is being interacted with other people. So either it’s a prayer to God or it’s a message to people.

Because ask any “christian” or even people from other faith’s and you’ll notice that nearly all of them will confirm that prayer is to be done unto God, not other people. Well, there’s always that weirdo sitting in front of church of course…

Then why is it that Christians do this? Why do you so often see some “defender of the faith” taking on the internet trying to win an argument by obnoxiously stating their beliefs and finishing that of with a nice big fat “AMEN”?

It’s not like their statements get more validity that way right?

No it’s not that either, there is something about posting a “prayer” that is cringe worthy and  a bit hypocritical. And it’ll usually come from the same people who post those flowery and quaint pictures with scripture on it along  the lines of “a prayer a day keeps the devil away”…(for the theists among you: that’s not how that works btw)

The interaction of posting a prayer is more likely to be a false way to either:

1: “Win” an argument with a non argument

2: Gain approval and favor from fellow believers

3: Tell people what you think is right

4: Get attention

5: Christian slacktivism

6: Showboating (self-)righteousness

I’ve noticed this at prayer meetings as wel (that was back when I used to attend those gatherings of awkwardness). Some poor girl praying her heart out telling God she was so grateful for her parents accepting her for who she is. While she was sitting right next to them. And sure that might be a little ironic it’s also absolutely beautiful, humanity showing one of it’s more humane sides.

But in a way I do feel bad for her, she was raised in a way that this was the norm. Why do we have people who feel so locked in their beliefs that they can’t just flat out say what’s on their hearts? Why did the christian culture evolve into something where prayer has become a vessel for our communications to other people when according to “our beliefs” it’s supposed to be an interaction with God exclusively?

So tell people what you want to tell them, and do it directly. Trust me if you start doing that, you might even cut down the church gossip in half.
Pray to your God, and do so privately. You’ll be less confronted with people knowing too much about you, or even taking advantage of such information.

If I may even may raise the challenge a bit higher, do it like you mean it.
Say what’s on your heart even if it’s less holy.
Don’t pretend with your God, after all, he’s supposed to know every nook and cranny of who you are.

And for the love of keeping your souls hinders out of the eternal frying pan, keep your prayers of the internet.

The silence of the sheep

Our little church fellowship was quick to adapt to the latest internet trends and implement them for their own use. That’s how we ended up with our own little private facebook group.

And the fact that it was private was great for a while, you could ask for prayer or similar things of a more personal nature that you didn’t feel comfortable sharing outside of your own church community.

That’s also how I approached church. I shared everything like it was family, some people were even surprised sometimes. Someone told me once she was impressed with how I openly shared that I had my heart broken by a girl back then (to give an example). And as much as I appreciated her positive noticing. I couldn’t help but also feel a slight disappointment.

Why was this noteworthy? Why wasn’t this commonly practiced to really share your feelings among another? It’s supposed to be a family right? But she was right, this wasn’t an everyday practice. In fact it would happen more often that I would open up about something deep during “smallgroup” like gatherings and it would lead nowhere or awkward silences. Oh don’t worry I always kept things appropriate. It’s that they just didn’t know how to deal with real conversations. Look if you’re going to encourage your church members to open up about personal feelings and experiences, don’t be surprised and stand by helplessly when they actually do come to the surface.

It’s embarrassing and hurtfull to the person opening up and it makes you look like a  jackass. It’s the equivalent to saying “fall backwards, I’ll catch you, just trust me” and then just letting the guy drop on his ass. (Yeah I’m a theist who uses semi-salty words, what about it?)

Which brings me to another instance. I once posted on before mentioned private facebook group an article about things that athiests and christians can find common ground in, and how we can improve living alongside one another.

In fact here it is=>
http://www.cracked.com/article_15663_10-things-christians-atheists-can-and-must-agree-on.html

It’s a long read and I don’t expect you to read all of it, it kind of boils down to this=> regardless of what your views and/or beliefs are, don’t take them too serious and cut others some slack.

I’d say that’s a healthy approach to things and one that everyone should be able to find some common ground in right? If all of humanity collectively unlenched a bit once in a while about their “way”. Maybe we’d end up with less decapitations and bombings.

But apparently this is against the agenda of the average christian church pastor. Apparently posting articles like these causes you to be called aside to receive a stern talking too. He found it necessary to point out that spreading ideas like these might be bad and confusing to the newcomers.

What newcomers? And what’s confusing? Suddenly when someone visited your church they’re automatically considered to be a convert? And those so called newcomers can not be subjected to ideas that aren’t yours? What are you going to do, lock them up until they learned to interpret existence and everything in it your way?

*cough*CULT*cough*

To close:
In all seriousness, if you find in ANY way shape or form that the church you attend shows any sign of oppressiveness towards ideas that are humane, loving towards others, and open minded, leave that place. If you are like me, a searcher of truth and honesty you will be dissapointed and disillusioned sooner or later with that place so you might as wel save yourself a lot of heartache and get going. Sadly there are more power hungry pastors out there then you’d like to know. Also, if you find that some church gatherings are awkward and leave a lot to be desired, don’t go and be honest about it. And don’t let anyone shame you or talk you into going, that is a shame on them, not you. God never wants you to go to any of these meetings if they don’t feel natural to you. God never needs you to share your personal feelings, thoughts or history with anybody from “church” in order for Him to work with it. Don’t be too trusting of “churchleaders”, they have to earn your trust just like anybody else. And they can also lose it like anybody else.

God bless you on your journey through life, I hope you’ll be safe and spared from situations like these.