Thursday, April 2, 2015

Existentialism versus New Horizons

I have started on several new ventures, which increased pace with the close of others. This month, I quit my job cleaning houses and am now pursuing a career as a fantasy author. I will give you a little teaser summary when I come closer to publishing time, but right now I am just writing another draft. But in the meantime, I want to give a little testimony of what's been going on in my life, and I apologize for the length. Take it as a memoir.

A couple weeks before I quit my job, I began to feel very depressed. In learning about MBTI theory, I've come to the conclusion that it is normal for an INTP to have difficulty interpreting their emotions, so although I recognized I was depressed, I couldn't tell why I was feeling so down, and I began to explore. I will spare you some of the details, but in my observation, the first and foremost reason for my emotional shutdown should be attributed to spiritual warfare. I am about to pursue a career that involves a close study and revelation of the God of the Bible, so it is only natural I would meet his enemy in the field.

It began as pure fear, but I slaughtered that, and things became weird. The weird started right before my original role-play partner went to bootcamp and we ran out of interesting interactions to play through with our current cast of characters. I had been playing my most Biblically-involved epic fantasy characters for the entire year, because she hadn't had the desire to connect with my other characters and I am a pushover.

Understand, normally and before role-play, I inserted new discoveries relating to God into this particular tale (and sometimes the others) as little scenes and scenarios, which blossomed into a full plot. On occasion, I even got new wisdom back out of it. But throughout my year, I had shifted my focus off of God and onto making the role-play interesting. Without God at its very core; at my very core, my story lost its meaning, and without the meaning the role-plays lost their intrigue for me. Still, when we stopped RP at any point, I got depressed and it was easy to pull me back as soon as I started feeling "better". It wasn't her fault, just so you know. It was entirely mine - I had plenty of opportunities to step away and I just didn't.

I spent several months struggling with disconnect from all stories, and without interest in my most self-defining story, I was struggling to connect with anything at all. I couldn't connect to my friends, because my life was role-play. I couldn't connect to my family because my life was role play. I couldn't connect to myself because I had been replaced with role-play. I couldn't connect to my usual interests because I no longer existed. I couldn't connect to my characters because they died without me there to give them life. I couldn't find interest in my faith a couple months after I started skipping church, and now it is hard to get me to go two weeks in a row. I survived okay until my friend was shipped off for the Navy.

And then it turned dark. I was grasping blindly for a purpose and direction, and coming up with nothing but a handful of logical explanations that I could no longer understand. Yet, I could still see hope when I turned my gaze toward heaven, where God was like a silver disc of sun in the sky breaking through dreary storm clouds, and occasionally I did glance.

It was just the other night that I truly learned what was going on. I already knew I was being spiritually attacked, but I didn't know what with, so in the hopes of inspiration and an emotional connection that didn't happen, I purchased some music about Christian life, rather than worship (which is all I have bought in a long time). It may not have fixed things, but it did lead me somewhere. I bought an album called Carrie & Lowell by Sufran Stevens and listened to a song called "The Only Thing". If/when you listen, rest assured, I have never been as low as the author of the song, and I actually don't relate to most of it (but I enjoy it's pretty sounds). The whole album is inspired by the story of how his mother left when he was young, and he found her again but only right before she died. The point where I related was that I was asking myself, "Do I care if I survive this?"

In short, I could tell I was to the point of requiring medication. I was suffering from existentialism. That night it seemed like every time I tried to break through my disconnected state toward the Holy Spirit, I would actually reach something, so I would crumble and cry for a couple minutes, and then snap back behind my detached wall. Things were starting to seem hopeless (not that the idea made me feel anything), except on Monday night I had found a significant connection to something in me while reading some chapters in the book of Matthew. I have always loved Biblical stories, mind you, but never enjoyed reading them from the Bible. For the first time in my life, the only thing I wanted to read was the story of God and his beloved.

So on Tuesday, I knew that comfort was there and it cheered me the entire day, only for me to relapse that night/on Wednesday morning. But while the song on it's own didn't work to make me feel, I was connecting again. First on Monday night, I had connected with God, and then slowly, bits at a time until Wednesday morning, with a character - the one I thought I had been worn out of. Utilizing that connection, I could push off the existentialism into his imaginary psyche, and create something that would make me feel again. This made me a little happy, so I was able to go to sleep Wednesday morning.

New Horizons
Later on Wednesday, I didn't have enough time to be depressed until I got busy writing this, which took all night so I still didn't have time. I'd been wanting to get out this last week, and I'm banning myself from any more Netflix for a while (save one movie that looked uplifting) because I stayed in most of this last weekend to watch Reign and Arrow. Today I am on the road toward something different. 

But before I explain the good news, because I'm not out of the woods just yet, I want to make the effort to tell you why I am not on medication, because some of you may be worried about me.

1) I am not being driven to suicide, cutting, alcohol, or drugs. Just to Netflix, friends, God, my iTunes library, sleeping in too late, staying up too late, and my writing. If I can eliminate the Netflix distraction and control the sleeping pattern, I will be just fine. I do need to fix some things about my current lifestyle, and am making efforts toward it by providing myself with new responsibilities and engagements. This includes a Bible study on the book of Revelation, the notes for which I will be posting up here as I go.

2) This is the second true depression I have ever experienced. Both times had things to cause them. This time, unlike any other time, I have had moments of feeling truly pointless, and struggled to care about it; but my best friend was just shipped away, and with her she took the only thing I could focus on throughout the last year of my life. 

3) I need a full range of emotion - both the highs and the lows - to really get to the roots of my stories. I don't want to sacrifice any emotional movement, because that puts me where I am now: emotionally flatlined. It would be much better to feel, because when I feel I am connected. When I am connected it means that God is moving me beyond motivation and into inspiration. I don't mind being broken, sad or angry if the alternative is immobility. What else should inspire me? It's the broken, sad and angry I want to understand and communicate with in what I write.

But this is the most important thing that has come out of my experience.

You know that Buddhist concept of finding your "center"?
When I found my center, there was nothing in it's crosshairs.

So I am taking a new vantage point and adjusting my scope a little farther out,
in order to aim for something far better than what is within my empty shell.

*My aspirations to write*
*The characters I made up to interpret humanity*
*The stories I made up to interpret the world*
*Living in my extravagant dream house*
*Paying my bills without fear of debt*
*A clean and comfortable home*
*The knowledge that I seek*
*The places I'd like to go*
*A healthy body*
*My life*

I have come to intimately know this about those things that I used to think I wanted so badly:
 Their value is so little that they couldn't move me to want them at all on their own.
Lately, I would throw them all away if it would cause me to feel God moving in me again, and lately, I've been getting a spark.

I now can trudge through this with a little smile on my face because I know there is nothing I want more than to be the beloved character to the author of my soul.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I really loved this post. If you ever want to talk about Revelation, I would love to. It is one of the more difficult books to understand. I still try to make heads and tales out of it.