Losing My Religion

Literally.

This isn’t a topic I like to talk about, because I think that many people have a very firm mindset about where they stand with it so I don’t see much point in conversation. Especially since I’m not firm in my stance myself.

I was raised in a Roman Catholic household. I know all the prayers, though due to lack of practice over the years I’ve forgotten parts of them. When I was in between middle school and high school, I felt in my heart that there was no more connection to God in me. I took on atheism as my ideology, and revoked anything that had anything to do with religion.

That was the approximate time in my life where I was starting to learn what the world was. When I started paying attention to the news, when I was exposed to criticisms of religion and other religions. I was first and foremost revolted by the way the Catholic church views homosexuality, which was what made me want to rebuke Catholicism to begin with. How they view abortion, how they view gender roles, all these strange Bible passages and conflicting interpretations. I didn’t like it. After that I believed in a higher power, but I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it cared at all what happened to me or anyone.

That’s how I landed at atheism. I just kept reading about horrible things in this world, and I was so sure that if there was a God out there (s)he wouldn’t let any of it happen to begin with. So I lost my religion. I lost all faith. I believed in community and love and goodwill and togetherness and all that, but just not under any deity. Because I was a good person, and you don’t need to be religious to be a good person.

Despite all that, recently I’ve been feeling uncomfortable. Even though I call myself an atheist, I definitely believe in something. Though I don’t admit it, sometimes in private I pray. I whisper all the lines I remember, hoping whoever is out there is listening.

I think this life is too big to be happenstance. I don’t know if I’ll ever call myself a Catholic again, but I don’t think I can call myself an atheist. For now I don’t want to focus on a label, I want to focus on what I believe. I want to sort my feelings out and find that connection I thought I once had with something higher than myself.

“No matter how far you have walked from God, he is still waiting ahead.”
-Creature, Penny Dreadful

Six Feet Under

I’ve been wanting to make a post for a long time, but I never knew what to write about. Long-distance relationships, feminism, maybe a DOMA repeal celebration, but the words never came.

Two events happened this week that led me to what I’m about to write about today.

1) I was at the mall with my 10 year old little cousin. We were looking at movies on my iPhone and passed by the movie Bully, about a kid that gets harassed constantly. She looks to me and says, “That’s so stupid. A person shouldn’t kill himself just because he gets bullied, that’s so selfish. Didn’t he realize that he can just ignore them?” I tried, with great difficulty, to contain myself. I told her not to talk about subjects she’s not yet old enough to understand, and bought her ice cream so she wouldn’t speak.

2) Today I watched episode 1 of Six Feet Under with my friend. *SPOILER ALERT* In it, the elder brother of the family complains about how stupid formal funerals are, and about how fake they are. He ranted about how stupid it is that it’s improper to cry in public, and about how it’s not healthy and it’s all a charade.

I’ve written several posts about my friend B before. For those that don’t know, B was one of my best friends that killed himself Valentine’s Day of this year, because he was bullied for being gay by his peers and family.

Not a single day goes by that I don’t think about him. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could call him and hear about his day, or tell him about mine, or ask him to come over and hang out and just sit next to me. I want to hear him breathing, and laughing, and talking, and singing. Not a day goes by that I don’t shed a tear for him.

His picture is hanging in my room. His face is the background on my phone. A piece of him is in every song I listen to and every dance I learn (being the musical and creative person he was).

Suicide is a horrible concept. It can be thought of as selfish, I can understand why. A person is in pain, and takes themselves away from the world and all their friends and loved ones to escape the pain. I hear it all the time. “Suicide is selfish.”

Every time I hear that phrase, I think, “Who the fuck are you to say that?” [Trigger warning: opinion] As someone who has dreamed of committing suicide since she was 7 years old, as someone who has tried to commit suicide, and as someone who knows someone that has committed suicide, I can say that it is selfish to call people that kill themselves selfish. In my experience, only a person who has wanted to end their life can understand my point of view.

B was in pain. He was tortured everyday by peers and family. He was taken out of school, away from the few people he trusted in the world, to be home-schooled by his super religious and super abusive family. Every waking moment was a living hell. Who wouldn’t want to escape?

After my beautiful friend ended his life, that was the line I heard a lot going around. “How selfish.” And I wanted to punch all of them in the face. How the fuck would you handle the situation? Would you have been strong enough to go through what he did? When you see a dying animal on the street after it gets hit by a car, people think, “Put the poor thing out of its misery.” That’s what B did. He took himself out of hell, and in my opinion, he’s in a better place.

I have one friend that is in a similar situation to B’s. (If you read this, pardon me for mentioning you.) He’s strong. He looks to the future. B always wanted to meet you, and I wish with all my heart that it happened, and I always think that if you had met maybe some of your strength could have rubbed off on him? But that’s wishful thinking, and too little too late at that. In my English class we read The Stranger and learned that there are different kinds of people in this world. There are those strong enough to cope, because they have faith in a better tomorrow. B was not one of those people. He believed that the only way to end his suffering was to end it all. He did not think the future had wonderful things in store for him. Not everyone has enough strength for today and tomorrow.

B belonged to a baptist family. From what I understand, instead of Wakes like in the Catholic religion, they have what are called “Celebrations of Life.” From what I was told, you are not allowed to cry. Death should be celebrated, because the soul is joining Jesus and Mary and God and who the fuck ever in heaven. It was the most painful 3 hours of my life. Watching people walk up one by one talking about how close they were with B and how great he was and how he’s with Our Lord and Savior and he’s so close to God now whoop-de-fucking-doo. It was a celebration, tears were not allowed. I thought I was going to die. So much pressure and tension in my chest. There were pictures and videos of him everywhere, all these stories about how wonderful he was. It was a fucking nightmare; like my own personal Holocaust museum or something. All I wanted to do was scream and hit stuff and fuck shit up and cry and let it all out, but I wasn’t allowed to. It was 3 hours of sitting in silence while my emotions were slowly setting my heart and soul on fire.

At my funeral, I don’t want anyone holding anything back. I don’t want anyone that didn’t know me there. I want everyone to bawl and scream and cry and break shit. I want them to let everything out, and I’ll be watching from wherever the fuck I am nodding and saying, “Hey, I miss you too babe, just let it all out.”

4 months and 13 days. That’s how long my B has been six feet under. It feels like it’s been years though. They say the wounds heal, but they never do. Not really. They scar, or scab over, but the slightest brush makes them fresh again. 4 months and 13 days and I’m still sitting here crying. I’m still sitting here sobbing and cursing and wishing for him to come back.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to talk about suicide openly. Maybe one day I’ll be able to think about him and feel no pain. Maybe one day the scars will begin to heal.

But that day is not today.

Let It Wash Away Your Fears.

As I’ve said, one of my dear friends passed away yesterday. I haven’t been dealing with it well at all. There’s been a lot of turmoil going on, and I just need to write it out to clear my thoughts.

Something I’ve been thinking about and have been asked about by my counselors is: Where do you think he is now?

B was Shinto. Though his parents were crazily Christian, he believed in Shintoism. He just liked the belief that everyone was equal and shared the same force. But he also believed that after death, a human’s life energy goes into nature. I think that’s beautiful, and I hope that’s where my angel is now. Since I’m agnostic, I’d like to believe in his beautiful concept of the afterlife.

Then they asked: What part of nature do you think he is?

I thought for a second, and I decided: Water. B is now pushing the flow of water. He’s giving life to the living, and traveling all around the world. He could be a cloud or a stream or just part of the ocean right now, but I firmly believe that right now he is water.

B wanted with all his heart to go to Korea, because he loved the culture so much. I hope with all of my heart that he floats there soon and settles in a beautiful Korean lake, or wherever makes him happy.

After school, it rained. It made me cry, but at the same time I wanted to believe that it was B telling me it’s okay. He did it, he finally escaped his personalized hell right here.

Do I miss him? Like hell, and it hurts worse every second.

But right now, I know he’s off fulfilling his dreams. Somewhere.

Red Fish, Blue Fish, Gay Fish, Straight Fish.

The most liberating thing happened to me last night.

I was having a huge fight with my mom. It had been going on in pieces all day and I was going crazy. It was about 10 PM and I still had so much homework to do. She comes in and starts it all over again, and we go back and forth for a while. Lots of things were said, and I can’t remember how we got to it, but somehow I ended up confessing to her that I’m bisexual and agnostic at the same time.

The bisexual pride ribbon.

The bisexual pride ribbon.

Those were the two facts about myself that I’ve been hiding from my family for so many years. My super religious, Filipino, Roman Catholic family that opposes gay marriages and abortion.

Once it was out I started crying because I couldn’t believe what I had just done. I was expecting one of two things: a fit or rage, or a cold silence.

There was silence, but what came after wasn’t cold. It was warm. It was a hug. My mom sat next to me and said, “It’s okay. There is nothing you can ever do that will make me dislike you, so stop crying. Because it’s okay.” The biggest weight that I’d been holding on my shoulders for so many years had finally been lifted.

But just a little.

Of course afterwards she asked me how I knew those things about me and if I was sure, asked me what I do believe in and tried talking to me about God, all that. I expected it though. But when her questions were through and all comments were made, she said it’s fine. She’s not “happy” about it, but she’s fine with it.

Sure she told me to not tell any of my super duper even more frighteningly conservative family members, but you know. Okay.

Some weird things about my family:

They’re Filipino. And they’re intense Catholics. They have all those conservative and religious beliefs. But despite that, they all accept and love gay people. I actually have lots of gay cousins (wondering where those genes came from), and one of them is even married with an adopted son who I love very much. Even though they accept them, they just don’t think they should get married because it’s not what God wants.

…there’s a bit of a disconnect here…

So my family acknowledges that homosexuality is natural and that gays can’t control it. They can be together and stuff, but they just shouldn’t get married…

-sighs for the rest of eternity while face-palming-

But considering that gays in the Philippines get hunted down and hazed and murdered and whatnot, my family is a step in the right direction.

The most important thing to understand is that we’re all just fish in the sea. Though we may all look different and act different and just be different, we’re actually the same. Glub glub.