Alright, so I've suffered my share of anxiety attacks, mental breakdowns and severe bouts of PTSD. I've previously went into how my past wasn't always the most friendly. My homelife wasn't too bad, my parents loved me and tried their best to do what they could for me. But affection was not common in my home growing up. Opening up about your feelings wasn't either. I was certainly not innocent while living at home with my parents back then either. I rebelled hard, got into constant trouble at home, with the law and was always a step away from being expelled from school and thrown into juvenile hall.
There were more than a few occasions where my parents threatened me by shipping me off to military school. While it wasn't really good parenting, I honestly deserved some of it too. They'd ground me, I'd just sneak right out of the house through my second story window, didn't even care. I grew up around a pretty shitty area, so I was was constantly around violence, hard drugs and chaos. I just had to walk down the block to see regular domestic abuse, attempted murder and a slew of strung out junkies. So I struck back in the only way my confused and angry teenage mind knew how. I took what I wanted, did what I wanted and stomped over anyone who attempted to stand in the way of those things. I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of, and some truly terrible things to other people. Whether some of them deserved it or not could be put up for debate, but I digress. In short, if I'm being completely honest with myself I was a piece of shit.
But hell, my nasty reputation took me where I at least thought I needed to be. Almost every gal I ever dated since my teenage years was drawn to my bad boy attitude, for better or worse. Often the latter. I had a reputation as someone who didn't put up with shit form anyone. And also as someone who would solve both my own and the problems of my friends with my fists.
Even fast-forwarding into my twenties when things were starting to get a bit better for me, I was still doing my share of fucking up. When I met the lady who would later become my wife she showed me absolute devotion and fawned for my attention. I was ignorant and didn't always recpriocate that affection. But worse was when we'd argue over something. My anxiety levels would go through the roof and at times I'd end up having full-blown PTSD episodes. I'd close down, wall her out, say at times some pretty venomous things. This persisted for more than a few years. We had good times too, but there more were plenty of bad ones as well. She loved me even when I couldn't love myself. She tried hard to stick around even through the worst of it I had to give. But in the end it almost came collapsing down on top of me. She wasn't finding much comfort or even affection from me and so she sought it from other sources. This eventually lead to a final evening where she came into my room and told me it was time to end things. She couldn't put up with the bullshit anymore. She stood in my doorway with tears in her eyes waiting for me to lash out, to make her difficult decision validate itself.
I surprised her by breaking down instead It wasn't the first time our relationship had been on the rocks and close to falling apart. But I guess something inside of me knew she meant it this time and that I needed to get it together. Something clicked that day. I vowed to become a better person, the person she claimed she'd saw in me within a month of knowing me. I kept my word. I unloaded a lot of baggage from my past and decided to move forward with her by my side, through hell or highwater. And I did. We married a year or so later.
Now, at this point it seems my self-pity story ends on a happy note here. But while I kept my word to Christine, my wife, I still lived in near constant regret. Regret of the things I'd put her through. Regret over how much of a piece of trash I'd been to almost anyone close to me. And even some regret for some of the less savory things I'd done to my enemies. I had changed for the better but my mental state was arguably worse than it had been before. I had almost zero sense of selfworth. While I worshipped my wife and she kept trying to persuade me to stop beating myself up, it just never ceased.
It's something that only in more recent years I've really came more to terms with, honestly.
However, another thing kept surfacing in my life. Persecution for spiritual/religious beliefs, or really lack thereof. I'll have to start by going backward here to a few years before I met my wife. In my mid-late teens I decided to fully embrace the path of atheism. I had grown up initially in a pretty religious world. My parents weren't overly zealous or anything, it was kind of just a...thing. I was regularly labeled as a Satanist or devil worshipper by my peers at school. Which in itself is whatever, it's hardly a thing really. I mean, I guess I kind of looked the part and as I discussed above, I didn't exactly have a reputation for kindness. But things came more to a head in 10th grade when a group of five guys jumped me behind a drugstore while walking home. I doubt they truly cared about my religious beliefs one way or another, just another excuse to start shit and take it out on someone. The scuffle didn't last too long because the police were called and arrived quickly. But plenty of blows were thrown and I got carted home in a police cruiser and my parents had to talk with the officers as they explained what they'd gathered from bystanders who'd called them. My uncle Herb, the husband to my very religious, yet very sweet aunt Judy happened to be there at the time.
So word spreads that all of a sudden I'm this devil worshipping hellion child through half of my family. Now, my aunt being who she was didn't try to bring that all down on my head. She was a genuinely kind woman and she just wanted to help me. She's who I used to go to church with primarily as a youngster. So I had to try and explain to her that I didn't worship the devil, in fact in all truth, I didn't even believe in the devil. She did her best to comfort me, and kept telling me that she'd always be there to try and sort out my thoughts. But my dad wasn't too pleased with this new thing. While my father and I get along quite well now, it wasn't always like that. As I said above, I was a right shithead at home, but on top of that my dad was heavy into alcohol then. This lead to many fights with him during those times. Returning to school the next week almost lead to a second round of the events behind the drugstore. But as it happened only one of the five from before approached me to start shit on that particular day and I guess I beat a newfound respect into his thick skull afterschool in the woods. They never openly fucked with me again after that, but it started a fresh batch of rumors about me in school.
It left me in a position where even fewer people would associate with me in school than the few who already did. I guess it hit me with the right bullshit in exactly the wrong time, because that lonliness and lack of acceptance from my peers drove me to the one of the darkest periods of my existence. My first and only suicide attempt took place during that year. I kept my emotions bottled up and figured anyone willing to listen to me wouldn't want to hear my whining anyway, so instead I just decided it was time to call it quits. THere wasn't much planning involved, really. I just waited until late night when my family would be asleep and went down into my basement with my intended tool, a butterfly knife. The thing that stopped it from transpiring was a surprise visit from my good friend John. He came by just to bullshit, bored. The usual thing for us, he came and knocked lightly on the basement landing door and let himself in. This way my parents wouldn't know he was there, as he was regularly grounded from my place from stupid shit we'd gotten up to together. His random unannounced visit was probably the sole reason things didn't go differently that night. Too embarassed to explain the truth of the matter I just brushed it aside and told him I'd been training downstairs while bored so as not to wake my parents.
From that point forward though I stopped giving a shit as much about what others thought of me. Which in turn actually later would have direct impact on some of the horseshit I ended up putting Christine through in our relationship, being too much of a hardass. But all the same, it was a pivotal moment for me and it was also the moment I completely turned my back on any form of organized religion.
Well to make this even more confusing now that I've covered the past, I'll just back to the present, or at least close to it. Late last year when randomly discussing a sense of self worth with my wife she brought up about how I'm so much more than I give myself credit for. I don't even entirely remember how it was brought up, but we began to discuss religious beliefs and I told her that I think I'd been lying to myself about being an atheist. In reality I believed I fell more under the umbrella of atheistic satanism. Her, being her and loving the shit out of knowledge and schooling had taken a class on world religion in college and did a speech on just that. She laughed and told me she'd suspected and believed that about me for years.
And just like that, as insignificant as that moment was it clicked for me. She was of course right. And just finally admitting that to myself felt comforting and I guess just opened the door for me diving headlong down that path. It was a huge moment of personal freedom for me. This lead to me feeling more confident and comfortable with myself, like the real me from deep down inside. And that lead to me caring more about myself, thinking more highly of myself and perhaps finally just taking her advice and putting a stop to shitting on myself as much.
So last night this got brought up because I was talking with my brother and the same friend from the past, John. My brother has been going through pretty severe depression lately, it's something I've known and attempted to assist with, but it seems to be worsening. And he asked me that aside from my family, what has kept me moving day to day even through the hard times when my anxiety flares up. I tried to explain to him how impactful that self discovery as a satanist was to me. How it left me feeling free and empowered. It's a concept he struggeld to wrap his head around, with his own spiritual beliefs being compared closest to that of an agnostic. I think I did suceed in cheering him up a bit, but I know he's still not doing well. And my wife and I have begun actively looking to get him help today.
That said, last night just opened my eyes up to how important that self discovery was to me. It bured so many personal demons for me. It exstinguished some long-burning rage fueled fires too. It's honestly made me into a better person, especially in just accepting that this is what and who I am and anyone doesn't like it, well it doesn't honestly matter because this isn't their life.
I suppose that discussion along with the news of Etika being found dead after a battle with mental instability and depresion this morning prompted this blog. It just made me want to share my story as a form of closure, but also to let anyone who might read it know that even through the darkest, shittiest times, you CAN make it through in the end. Maybe what you're missing in your life is already there and you just need a prompt to dig it out. Maybe it's not, but it's important to keep searching. Don't live in regret and self loathing. Talk to someone close to you, hell talk to a strange online if you need to, just talk to someone. Seek help. We can't do all this shit alone, a lesson it took me way too long to learn. Fuck I wish Etika could have found whatever it was he needed to stop him from tipping over the edge.
I want to thank you all here, even those who'll probably never read this. Thank you all for always listening, replying, joking, helping, whatever. This community has been a cornerstone for me in feeling better during some rough times. You're all fucking wonderful and I truly love you guys. Thanks so much for bothering to read my rambling, seriously you're all the best. For some of you, better than you'll ever know. Thank you.