I found a digital journal I had kept for about a year in 2013, the year before I left home and religion. There’s a lot of weird stuff in there… This one gave me some thoughts now:
July 12, 2013
My hatred and anger at God boiled over today and I had a raging argument with my mother about why I don’t want to be religious anymore. She says we should discuss my religious questions when I’m not so angry and when I’m more rational. I say fuck that. I stewed in my resolve to give up religion but when I started thinking about arranging my big moment of blasphemy, I found myself sending up a little prayer that it works out. The irony hit me right away.
So a few thoughts about this journal entry:
- Anger does not make a thought invalid. It may express itself as anger, but it’s still a valid thought. Anger at god does not mean that the person is irrational, it just means that the person feels very strongly about what they’re expressing (sometimes).
- I tended to have these discussions with my mother only when my “anger boiled over,” because the rest of the time I was able to restrain myself – not because the rest of the time I didn’t have these thoughts. The rest of the time, when my anger wasn’t boiling over, I would think about how hurt my mother would be to hear me say these things, and I would silence myself. Not a very good plan, because it meant that I ended up having yelling, raging arguments rather than calm but weepy discussions.
- That “sending up a little prayer” – I interpreted that as ironic, that obviously I still believed that god could help me, even as I was planning to defy him. But here’s the thing: frum people are constantly on the lookout for hints and signs that I still believe – I have to be so careful not to “slip” and say “baruch Hashem” when someone asks me how I’m doing, because the’ll take that as proof that deep down, my pintele yid is still there and I do believe and I’ll come back one day, and cue the doves and ringing bells and trumpets of victory… But the truth is, knee-jerk sayings and reactions, ingrained behaviors that have 25 years of practice – they don’t just disappear.
It was very confusing to me for a long while, that I would “send up a little prayer” – even when I had already realized that I don’t believe there is a power “up there” at all. I tried to stop that for a while, but then relaxed into it – if I want to send out some energy of a request, whether I believe or not in some power that can grant my request, that’s okay. Whether or not I fully understand what I’m doing when I send that thought out into the universe, it’s still okay.
If I’m looking for a parking spot (I don’t drive, but come on, which of us BY girls hasn’t heard the parking spot moshol) and I think “please, oh please, let me just find one quickly,” that doesn’t mean I still believe, and it doesn’t mean I’m a hypocrite, and it doesn’t mean… All it means is, I really really want this right now, and I’m reverting to ingrained behaviors that I lived with for 25 years. I don’t need to try to get rid of them, and I don’t need to understand them. I just need to be.