I would like to summarize my experience with faith. The Roman Catholic Church in particular.
My parents hoisted me into baptism as a child. I began my incursion into religion without any context or explanation. Why did I do anything when it comes to Catholicism? I went to mass in our local community by force.
I remember with clear distinction a certain event. The part where you have to shake hands with strangers. I wanted to go home wash my hands afterwards.
Then the catechism began. Once more, the imposition of beliefs, values and punishments occurred. I did not agree with many. I understood some of them even less. I went with my sister.
She understood how to play the game. How to curry favor from others. What to say. How to say it. How to act. When to pull and when to let go. Psychopathy at its finest. For her, I was an embarrassment. As expected from someone who values validation from outsiders. Why would you waste time validating someone who is not you? Why would you comfort somebody who is not in fact you? I was meaningless to her machinations. Invisible at best, the victim of abuse otherwise. You can forget words, even if you cannot forgive them. Physical violence lasts a lifetime.
It was a time where I was wrong and told about it time and time again. I was wrong for saying a male name whenever someone asked if I liked someone. Part of who I was, my sexuality, was a sin. Being left handed was wrong. Being left handed is sinister and marks the influence of Satan. Questioning religion against science branded me laughing stock of the group. Of course humanity began ten thousand years ago. Every other piece of evidence is a way for God to test our faith. You can see the mountains over there, right? That is proof that religion is right and science is wrong.
Knowledge was a sin.
I was born in sin. You cannot ever recover from your flawed life. That is what I learned from catechism. That and how to partake in Holy Communion.
My formative high-school years began in a private Catholic institution. I started to question the worth of life from there on out.
I remember by first day of class. I tried to approach everyone in a gentle manner. Greet them and try to come up with a topic in common. Everyone likes video-games. At least everyone did, back then. That wasn’t enough.
I do not carry social status. My family holds no influence whatsoever. I was someone irrelevant and, worst of all, poor. Being part of a working class family is loathsome to the eyes of the Catholic education.
It did not help matters when the formal education started to fail me. The cracks started to show. Struggling, the subjects piled up every year and I had to pass them all. I was incapable of handling physical education either. Team sports were beyond me.
My mental disjunctive manifested. I could do nothing about it. It did not bother me. It bothered everyone else.
I was stupid. Slow. I needed remedial lessons. I slipped away from normality. I am not going to lie: I was happy. Even while suffering abuse, discovering yourself is wonderful.
In an stupor of studying by using alien methods, I succeeded. I studied how I perceived a normal person studied. I am not normal. Nothing I studied nor wrote in those exams remains with me to this day. I learned nothing from those years in high-school. I attempted to learn to cope with an ever encroaching depression.
And so the years slipped away. Depression trickled into my psyche. I began to believe the venom spouted by others. I started to think it was a mistake for me to be there. Not in the institution. It was wrong for me to be awake. Conscious. Alive.
We began to get ready to receive the sacrament of Confirmation in a mixed group. Classmates of a disparity of grades were there. The process went without a hitch nor a care. A formality.
At that point I was not alive. I was a subject for a psychiatrist. I took prescribed drugs. Many of them. A combination of them. According to this professional, I had a problem. Silencing the problem took priority. No need to fix anyone. Lay them dormant with happy pills. These pills did not induce happiness. I felt an intense sensation of poisoning in my mind. And that is where I had an epiphany.
I started to play the game. How to get the right drugs from my dealer. What to say to make them increase the dosage. How to say it in a way that placated their guilt. How to act like a distressed, depressed youth desperate for help. When to pull a scene and when to let go and put on the masquerade. Psychopathy at its finest. I learned from a master, after all.
My collection of venom grew week by week. A myriad of brands, names and colors. An abundant amount of death candy. I remember feeling happy. Everything went as expected. Blisters of demise, hidden from prying eyes. Maintaining the pretension of a medicated patient was easy. Be dull. Act as if you were out of sorts. Pretend that they tamed you.
One day, out of the blue, I pulled the trigger. Mixing my collection of toxins with alcohol, I gulped everything in one go.
I felt the grip of death pressing upon my wrist. The adrenaline of self-destruction.
In a foolish lapse of judgment, I decided to walk to class. I did not make it far. I passed out.
I remember seeing red. Vomiting. There was a lady next to me, bed-ridden. She told me that things get better. I dozed off. By the time I came to my senses, she was not there anymore. No one wanted to tell me anything about her.
Instead, my dealer was in front of me. She made me sign a paper. Suicide cases cause fines for Psychiatrists. This contractual contraption kept her safe. I signed it. I gave up on people. On others. On me.
Time passed. The room had artificial light at all times. Night and day were all the same.
My family visited me. Both my parents were heartbroken. I felt pity for them. My sister kept her act, unyielding. I was a crazy relative she visited for appearances. I still feel pity for her, to this day.
Then the visits began. At first, I was honest. I kept failing the tests. I was sick. Crazy. Unfit for society. I tried again and again. For some naive reason, I thought these professionals would be humane. I was wrong, once more.
I needed a gambit. A way to outmaneuver the slaves of order. And so I did.
I love playing games. I started to play the game once more. How to get the right reactions from my answers. The intonation of my voice. My posture. My mannerisms. Complete composure against adversity. Weaving a story of how I’d turn my life around. My cure came thanks to them. Of course, I was nothing if not for them. They were essential in my recovery.
Never underestimate the benefits of stroking someone’s ego.
They let me go with flying colors. My depression vanished. I had a shining future ahead of me. They considered me smart, witty, a go-getter. I did not care for the praise of monsters. In the end, only one thing mattered.
I was free.
How does this relate to religion? The burden of my self-destruction emanated from its discourse. Everything is wrong. Everything is sin. You are a flaw. Fixing you is impossible. You cannot solve your problems. Ask for forgiveness, that is all you can do.
At least, that was my view on religion until very recently. A resentful teenager incapable of forgiving. I am an adult now. I refuse to forget. I am willing to forgive.
And for that reason, I am willing to give faith a second chance. The onus is on them, not me. They must show me that there is worth behind their dogma. I will be there to witness their attempt.
Good luck, the Roman Catholic Church.